It's not censorship it's, ahh...

Oklahoma lawmakers are singling out the visit by Richard Dawkins to talk about evolution on campus at OU, but they're not censoring it, right? Just making academics fear for their funding, and perhaps jobs, but seeking all documentation about the visit. Just this visit, mind. Piers Hale, a historian of science at OU, is interviewed in the TV story (which means he gets about sixteen words to express a complex subject.

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I don't think there's anything particularly complex about it. In an attempt to appease the religious vote in the State, legislators are making noises about Dawkins, most of them knowing full well that there is little they can do about it.

It's the politics of expediency. Bang your gong lots and lots, and when it inevitably flops, condemn the courts/academia/Hollywood/liberals for it, knowing that for almost no effort, you've guaranteed yourself another term

By Aaron Clausen (not verified) on 04 Apr 2009 #permalink

Ooooh, my heart bleeds. I am still cross after my alma mater, the University of Leeds, cancelled a talk by a reputable historian who was going to talk about the (well-attested) collaboration between the Nazis and the Mufti of Jerusalem, citing 'security reasons', after they'd received one (very civil) complaint from an Islamic student. Dawkins Schmawkins.

By cromercrox (not verified) on 04 Apr 2009 #permalink

Well,as we now know from Abbie and others,Dawkins actually waved his fee and gave 5000 USD to NSCE.
So its really only bullying by legislators that have no business bullying,and are pandering for right-wing votes.

Aaron Clausen

The angle that I suspect they were going for was to try and catch Dawkins saying something that could be interpreted as promoting atheism, and then trying to raise a stink saying that public funds were inappropriately being used to promote a religious view.

Whether their attitude was along the lines of "give them liberals a taste of their own separation medicine" or whether they just honestly don't see the hypocrisy is something about which I'm not sure. But the harm is not in whether such an argument is tenable (I don't think it is), but in the effective harrassment of individuals they disapprove. If they can harrass through investigation, they could achieve a censorship of discouragement since many speakers and universities would not want to put up with the hassle of an investigation.

By SouthernFriedSkeptic (not verified) on 04 Apr 2009 #permalink

I think there is another thing to consider - the affect this action could have on other schools where faculty wish to invite a speaker not viewed well by state or local officials. How much will this issue influence support at other institutions?

Piers Hale is a bad ass. It's too bad they chopped everything he said down to tiny bite-sized nuggets.