Strong words. Few things could make Texas seem like a bastion of reason. And yet, Thomsen's HR 1015 is actually the nicer version of the resolution. Thomsen started with the much harsher HR 1014 (RTF link), before toning down his disapprobation in HR 1015:
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, not indoctrinate students in one-sided study and thinking; and
WHEREAS, the Department of Zoology at the University of Oklahoma has, as evidenced on the departmental homepage, been framing the Darwinian theory of evolution as doctrinal dogmatism rather than a hypothetical construction within the disciplines of the sciences; and
WHEREAS, not only has the Department of Zoology at the University of Oklahoma been engaged in one-sided indoctrination of an unproven and unpopular theory but has made an effort to brand all thinking in dissent of this theory as anti-intellectual and backward rather than nurturing such free thinking and allowing a free discussion of all ideas which is the primary purpose of a university; 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 controversial 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 further the indoctrination engaged in by the Department of Zoology at the University of Oklahoma by presenting 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 Representatives hereby expresses its disapproval of the current indoctrination of the Darwinian theory of evolution at the University of Oklahoma and further requests that an open, dignified, and fair discussion of this idea and all other ideas be engaged in on campus 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 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 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.
Yep, he thinks evolution is being presented as "doctrinal dogmatism rather than a hypothetical construction within the disciplines of the sciences," that Dawkins and OU are engaged in "one-sided indoctrination of an unproven and unpopular theory." And don't forget that the excellent scientists at the "the Department of Zoology at the University of Oklahoma [have] been engaged in one-sided indoctrination of an unproven and unpopular theory but has made an effort to brand all thinking in dissent of this theory as anti-intellectual and backward rather than nurturing such free thinking and allowing a free discussion of all ideas which is the primary purpose of a university."
And apparently some people are actually taking this seriously. Blogger Brett Stevens writes "In this sanctimonious young liberal's eyes, every place must obey the same standards." Umm, yeah. I've never found moral relativism terribly appealing as philosophy, but that doesn't matter here. Science is inherently universal, so Oklahoma can't impose a different standard of science than that applied anywhere else, which is what this resolution attempts to do. And even that is irrelevant, since Oklahoma has to share certain common standards with other states, since all are bound by this thing called the US Constitution, a document forbidding bills of attainder, and protecting the right of Dawkins to speak freely, and the right of Dawkins and OU to associate freely with whoever they choose. Then again, even if that weren't the case, the University of Oklahoma is protected by the state constitution, which ensures that "The people have the right peaceably to assemble for their own good." Furthermore, "Every person may freely speak, write, or publish his sentiments on all subjects, being responsible for the abuse of that right; and no law shall be passed to restrain or abridge the liberty of speech or of the press."
Even if Oklahoma could establish its own standards of liberty, even if they could determine their own rules of science, this resolution would still tromp all over the standards and obligations that Oklahoma has set for itself. Rep. Thomsen is free to disagree with Richard Dawkins. But he may not use the power of the legislature to block Dawkins speech, nor to call for the University of Oklahoma to withdraw their invitation to Dawkins. And basic principles of academic freedom demand that the legislature not presume to tell scientists how to practice.
I'm told that Dawkins will have a response to these resolutions in his speech.
I have lived in Oklahoma all my life and attended OU in the late 60s. I have a clear recollection of what I'm describing.
This is not the first time in history when OU has experienced legislative meddling of this nature. A 1967 episode was far more serious.
In October of that year, the OU chapter of Students for a Democratic Society sponsored an appearance by Paul Boutelle, who was the first black speaker on campus. Mr. Boutelle, from New York City, was an antiwar activist and also the 1968 Vice Presidential candidate of the Socialist Workers Party. Jack Middleton, an administrator for OU's Southwest Center for Human Relations Studies, co-sponsored the speech.
A speech on the OU campus by a black socialist was more than the Oklahoma legislature could tolerate in 1967. Representative Texanna Hachet organized a witch-hunt committee to "investigate" OU because of this. Dr. George Cross,OU's president, capitulated to pressure from them and, in order to appease them, punished Middleton by re-assigning him to other duties. Middleton was completely fed up by this nonsense and resigned.
One of the members of Hachett's committee was an ambitious young legislator named David Lyle Boren, who is the current OU president.
Yes. Her name really was Texanna Hatchett. The episode is described in the November 1967 issue of Sooner magazine.
Stupidity is alive and well in Amurka, but we really got some dumb mofos in Oklahoma. Texas ain't much better. Book lernin. Who needs it.
What I love is the fact that my own State House and Senate have completely disregarded the fact that there've been IDiots speaking on campus recently invited by the IDiots' club (their real name escapes me.)
Dempsky was recently there. My father, a zoologist, tried to find out where he was speaking, but, sorry, only IDiots allowed!