Oklahoma hates Richard Dawkins

Oooooo-oh!-klahoma where the wind goes whistling ‘twixt the ears!

Richard Dawkins, having visited Scibling Ed Brayton in Michigan, is on his way to Oklahoma, where Scibling ERV is skipping the event (she prefers to watch Casey Luskin and John “hard for Hitler” West, inexplicably).

And if state Representative Thomsen has his way, no one would get to hear Dawkins. Yesterday, Thomsen filed a resolution decrying Dawkins and calling for the University of Oklahoma to withdraw his invitation (RTF link):

WHEREAS, the University of Oklahoma is a publicly funded institution which should be open to all ideas and should train students in all disciplines of study and research and to use independent thinking and free inquiry; and

WHEREAS, the University of Oklahoma has planned a year-long celebration of the 200th birthday of Charles Darwin and the 150th anniversary of Darwin?s theory of evolution, called the ?Darwin 2009 Project?, which includes a series of lectures, public speakers, and a course on the history of evolution; and

WHEREAS, the University of Oklahoma, as a part of the Darwin 2009 Project, has invited as a public speaker on campus, Richard Dawkins of Oxford University, whose published opinions, as represented in his 2006 book ?The God Delusion?, and public statements on the theory of evolution demonstrate an intolerance for cultural diversity and diversity of thinking and are views that are not shared and are not representative of the thinking of a majority of the citizens of Oklahoma; and

WHEREAS, the invitation for Richard Dawkins to speak on the campus of the University of Oklahoma on Friday, March 6, 2009, will only serve to present a biased philosophy on the theory of evolution to the exclusion of all other divergent considerations rather than teaching a scientific concept.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES OF THE 1ST SESSION OF THE 52ND OKLAHOMA LEGISLATURE:

THAT the Oklahoma House of Representative strongly opposes the invitation to speak on the campus of the University of Oklahoma to Richard Dawkins of Oxford University, whose published statements on the theory of evolution and opinion about those who do not believe in the theory are contrary and offensive to the views and opinions of most citizens of Oklahoma.

THAT the Oklahoma House of Representatives encourages the University of Oklahoma to engage in an open, dignified, and fair discussion of the Darwinian theory of evolution and all other scientific theories which is the approach that a public institution should be engaged in and which represents the desire and interest of the citizens of Oklahoma.

THAT a copy of this resolution be transmitted to the President of the University of Oklahoma, the Dean of the College of Arts and Science at the University of Oklahoma, and the Chair of the Department of Zoology at the University of Oklahoma.

One person I showed that to wondered at the passage about “an intolerance for cultural diversity and diversity of thinking and are views that are not shared and are not representative of the thinking of a majority of the citizens of Oklahoma.” But that’s accurate. After all, the majority of citizens of Oklahoma share an entirely different set of intolerances!

I also note that it’s a lucky thing that Oklahoma didn’t pass its proposed “academic freedom” legislation, since that would make this bill demanding that the University disinvite a scholarly speaker an act of clear hypocrisy. As it stands, it’s merely another anecdote Dawkins will be able to use to point out how silly people can be. And in the grand scheme of things, it’s a lot better than having his book banned in Turkey.

Comments

  1. #1 ERV
    March 5, 2009

    Im not skipping it!

    Im giving up my seat to someone who wants/needs it more! Im going if there are still open seats at 7 :)

    Regarding Oklahomas ‘official’ denunciation of Dawkins– Oh for fucks sake.

  2. #2 Lewis Thomason
    March 5, 2009

    Sounds about right. It proves that the only reason Texas doesn’t float out to the gulf is because Oklahoma sucks.

  3. #3 Kristine
    March 5, 2009

    The reaction against Ben Stein came from students and their parents. (I did not write the president of UVM at all, being that I’m not an alumna of that institution.) But this effort is coming through the Oklahoma Legislature?

    I must say, I could not be more delighted with the way in which the right wing continues its march toward Stalingrad.

  4. #4 Mr Hilter
    March 5, 2009

    Not much fun in Stalingrad.

  5. #5 Ian
    March 5, 2009

    Don’t we have such an awesome legislature? Thomsen is probably just jealous of Sally Kern.

  6. #6 Vasilli Putka
    March 5, 2009

    Stalingrad was a real drag, but Auntie Ulyana didn’t taste too bad!

  7. #7 G.D.
    March 5, 2009

    This whole resolution is something of a gem. Think, for example, about what Thomsen is actually saying in this paragraph for a moment:

    “… whose published statements on the theory of evolution and opinion about those who do not believe in the theory are contrary and offensive to the views and opinions of most citizens of Oklahoma.”

    Is this what you call an “epic failure”? What is Thomsen actually saying about the average citizen of Oklahoma here? If I were a citizen of Oklahoma I would at least consider the content of the claim embodied here a pretty explicit and severe offense.

  8. #8 Maximus-primus@kc.rr.com
    March 5, 2009

    I wonder if the native americans who live there get university money and time to teach their beliefs???????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????//

  9. #9 mofolotopo
    March 5, 2009

    I submitted this to Digg, hope you don’t mind. Link above.

  10. #11 -------------------------------
    March 6, 2009

    screw this dude.

  11. #12 Hugh Troy
    March 6, 2009

    Oklahoma is lucky to have a visit from professor Dawkins. I live in the UK, in a university town but we don’t see much of him here, unfortunately. I’d love to see the prof in Sheffield. If any of you guys get to talk to him, please ask him if he’ll come to South Yorkshire to give some lectures!

  12. #13 Tony B UK
    March 6, 2009

    @vasilli

    Thanks man, I lost my coffee out of my nose at that one : lol

  13. #14 Cannonball Jones
    March 6, 2009

    So are they going to shut down all the places of worship in the state because they’re offensive to people who don’t believe in gods? I mean that seems only fair, they wouldn’t want to come over all hypocritical would they?

    Anyway Dawkins if coming to speak at the Edinburgh Science Festival in April (I love this city!) and I can’t wait to see him. His talk is titled The Purpose Of Purpose and sounds like a winner…

  14. #15 xerhino
    March 6, 2009

    I’m pretty sure my own statements and opinions are contrary and offensive to the views and opinions of most citizens of Oklahoma. Am I banned too?

  15. #16 Educator
    March 6, 2009

    I’m going!! I’m going with a friend. My two son’s and several of their friends are going too! We’re looking forward to showing our support and I’m getting a copy of The Selfish Gene autographed for my husband. It’s one of his all time favorite books.

  16. #17 Toni
    March 6, 2009

    Good lord, I’m embarrassed to be from Oklahoma. *sigh* I promise, we’re not ALL this ignorant.

  17. #18 Hogan
    March 6, 2009

    This is lame, but a condemnation is not a ban. With all yer fancy booksmarts you didn’t notice that nowhere in the resolution does it “demand that Dawkins be disinvited”? Give me a break. This is obviously a stupid resolution but methinks your and your commenter’s glee at snarking at Oklahoma has clouded your reading comprehension.

  18. #19 rip
    March 6, 2009

    Are you kidding me?

    Well this will make great bragging rights. “They tried to ban me in Oklahoma–beat that, Hitchens!”

  19. #20 Marty
    March 6, 2009

    This Todd Thomsen is Chair of the Higher Education and Career Tech Committee and part of the Education committee. That’s scary. Email him.

  20. #21 Mike Caton
    March 6, 2009

    I have an idea…let’s start an email campaign to the good Representative Todd Thomsen. Really! And request that we all get banned from Oklahoma. Kind of like a do-not-call list, but fore atheists, evolution-accepters, etc. I’d be happy to be on that list. Does anybody have experience setting up petition sites? For every name that signs up he’d get another email.

    http://luckyatheist.blogspot.com

  21. #22 Josh Rosenau
    March 6, 2009

    I take “the Oklahoma House of Representative strongly opposes the invitation to speak on the campus of the University of Oklahoma to Richard Dawkins of Oxford University” as a call for disinvitation. I think you’re splitting hairs.

  22. #23 Marty
    March 6, 2009

    todd.thomsen@okhouse.gov

    His email didn’t show up in my earlier post.

  23. #24 Escher
    March 6, 2009

    @Hogan:
    Or to put it another way, a legislative body with some sway over the distribution of public funds as told a public university that it disapproves of the choices that they are making. Sure, I suppose they could have just come out and said “Drop Dawkins or were takin’ your thumbs”, but I think they made themselves clear enough as it was. That something like this should come from a legislative body of the state is scary enough even without the threatening undertones.

  24. #25 Hogan
    March 6, 2009

    You take that line as a call for disinvitation? Why? Because oppose and disinvite mean entirely different things? The difference between condemning, disinviting and banning (which you, granted, didn’t say but Ron Bailey did at Reason) someone is “splitting hairs”? You realize that if this resolution passed absolutely nothing would be required of him or of the university?

    You didn’t represent the (admittedly stupid) resolution adequately and now you’ve got all your little commenters worked up about this being a “ban” equivalent to “shutting down places of worship” and “banning atheists from Oklahoma.” But hell, what’re important details that totally change the (ethical, constitutional, informational) impact of a piece of legislation when there’s righteous anger to direct at that hated outgroup, rubes?

  25. #26 SLEZE
    March 6, 2009

    Top THAT Kansas State Board of Education! Will Oklahoma take steps to ban Bobby Henderson from entering the state?

  26. #27 Anton Mates
    March 6, 2009

    You realize that if this resolution passed absolutely nothing would be required of him or of the university?

    Josh didn’t say it would. “Calling for the University of Oklahoma to withdraw his invitation” is not the same thing as legally requiring the university to withdraw his invitation.

    If you send someone a formal communication saying “We strongly oppose you inviting this guy,” then you’re obviously suggesting that they not invite said guy. What else could “oppose” possibly mean?

  27. #28 Irony
    March 6, 2009

    The irony in all of this is … one of Oklahomas first Senators — who was responsible for bringing Oklahoma into the union — was an atheist.

  28. #29 DoctorAtlantis
    March 6, 2009

    If they won’t take Dawkins then we must send them Ruprecht.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dX3ePAOUK7U&feature=related

  29. #30 Matt
    March 6, 2009

    Just got back from the ever-so-frightening Dawkins speech. Despite this one legislator’s ass-backwards hysteria, the event went smoothly with the exception of a lone nut in the crowd who decided to scream belligerently about Dr. Dawkins “offending his God, being a fraud,” et cetera et cetera. Yawn. After security escorted the nut out, though, Dr. Dawkins’ response was calmly flawless: “Actually, I’d have liked it if he had stuck around so I could debate him.”

  30. #31 Kristine
    March 6, 2009

    Joshua, you’re going to have to change the name of your post! Oklahoma Loves Richard Dawkins.

  31. #32 anon
    March 7, 2009

    What baffles me most is that a community of alleged scientifically sound individuals (apparently self-proclaimed to be sure – as a true scientist would have done his or her homework) doesn’t bother to investigate the reasoning behind the resolution, the effect of the resolution, the intent of the writer, or ANYTHING BUT A HEADLINE, for that matter before jumping to conslusions and becoming awfully defensive…..
    seems a little like hypocracy to me.

  32. #33 ruth
    March 8, 2009

    to all, especially fellow Oklahomans:
    I just sent an email to this jerk, I recommend you do the same!
    His email is:
    todd.thomsen@okhouse.gov

  33. #34 Lecretia
    March 8, 2009

    Why are such stupid people in positions of power?
    Who is making sure that our political leaders actually have an ounce of intelligence?

    Evolution and Atheism are not the same and do not necessarily go hand in hand.

    Evolution is fact, you cannot deny it. Atheism is a personal stance, they have no bearing on each other and cannot bias each other.

    It’s about time that people started to realize that science is not mankind’s enemy, it’s our greatest ally. It is the only way we have to solve the problems we have created. Turning science into the enemy is the most irresponsible action a human being can commit and it should be punishable under law.

  34. #35 vhutchison
    March 8, 2009

    #2 Lewis. I MUST respond. The reason that Oklahoma is so windy (‘where the wind comes rushing down the plain’) is because Texas sucks and Kansas blows. ;)

  35. #36 Desertphile
    March 8, 2009

    A resolution denying Ricard Dawkins a forum to speak his opinions, on the grounds that everyone should have the right to speak their opinions?

    Good bloody *GODS* that’s funny!

  36. #37 Tomtom
    March 8, 2009

    If I were a citizen of Oklahoma, I would punch Thomsen in the face for insulting me so.

  37. #38 Rusty
    March 9, 2009

    vhutchinson (#35), you got it wrong: Texas doesn’t slide off into the Gulf of Mexico because OKLAHOMA sucks! (and I should know, I have to live there for now…)

  38. #39 OU faculty member
    March 9, 2009

    I think many of these comments miss the main point: the legislator who proposed the moronic resolution actually chairs the higher education subcommittee of the education committee, and both he and his resolution illustrate why Dawkins’ perspective and prestige were so badly needed here. The fact that our university brought him here to speak in spite of the predictable opposition from those who dominate our state’s culture and politics in my judgment demonstrates the courage and integrity of the university and especially of our science faculty.

  39. #40 guide
    December 6, 2009

    “to all, especially fellow Oklahomans:
    I just sent an email to this jerk, I recommend you do the same!
    His email is:
    todd.thomsen@okhouse.gov
    yes! nice post. thanks.

  40. #41 tn chaussures
    March 11, 2010

    I think many of these comments miss the main point: the legislator who proposed the moronic resolution actually chairs the higher education subcommittee of the education committee, and both he and his resolution illustrate why Dawkins’ perspective and prestige were so badly needed here.

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