MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Editorials

April 2, 2009

Free speech issue devolves

State legislators should be more concerned about the devolution of free speech than evolutionary theory.

Rep. Todd Thomsen, R-Ada, recently filed a resolution opposing last month’s appearance of an outspoken evolutionist at the University of Oklahoma, whose science departments have been observing the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin with a series of lectures on evolution.

Thomsen complained the evolutionist, Richard Dawkins, was an atheist, something, Thomsen said, most Oklahomans are not. Thomsen also suggested that at the lectures, the university should be required to present opposing views. The matter didn’t end with Dawkins’ appearance, however. Rep. Rebecca Hamilton, D-Oklahoma City, has filed a lengthy open records request questioning Dawkins’ guest speaker role.

You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure out Thomsen and Hamilton are not concerned about free speech. They are concerned only about promoting their particular point of view and satisfying what they see as the majority view on religion.

If that is what education is about, the world would never see progress because the people who have made positive contributions, who include Jesus Christ, usually question ideological views and suggest new ways of seeing and doing things.

Besides OU is not infringing on free speech and the exchange of ideas in not presenting alternatives at the science lectures. The university imposes no requirement like that on any university department or group hosting speakers on special topics. Any group is allowed to invite their speakers to the campus, even those who might hold to creationism or intelligent design.

No doubt we have people today who want to hold another Scopes Monkey Trial, and Dawkins is one of them. But our state has legislators complaining about the infringement of free speech while they promote it at the same time.

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