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Antievolution resolutions dead in Oklahoma

With the adjournment of the Oklahoma House of Representatives on May 22, 2009, House Resolutions 1014 and 1015, attacking Richard Dawkins, are presumably dead. Both measures, if adopted, would have expressed the strong opposition of the Oklahoma House of Representatives to "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." Both measures were introduced shortly before Dawkins spoke at the University of Oklahoma on March 6, 2009, as part of the university's celebrations of the Darwin anniversaries.

The sole sponsor of both resolutions was Todd Thomsen (R-District 25). But Thomsen wasn't the only legislator concerned about Dawkins's visit. The Tulsa World reported (March 30, 2009), "Rep. Rebecca Hamilton, D-Oklahoma City, filed a lengthy open records request with the university, asking for any correspondence regarding Dawkins' speech, information on any costs to OU, a list of any money Dawkins received and who provided the funds, and any other 'pertinent financial information.'" In fact, Dawkins waived his speaking fee for the event, and additionally announced during his talk that the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science would be donating $5000 to Oklahomans for Excellence in Science Education.

The Muskogee Phoenix (April 2, 2009) editorially commented, "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," adding, "our state has legislators complaining about the infringement of free speech while they promote it at the same time." Similarly, Piers Hale, a historian of science at the University of Oklahoma, told the university's student newpaper, The Oklahoma Daily (April 3, 2009), "I find it deeply [troubling] that elected state officials appear to be using the powers of their offices to attempt to censor the opinions of those with whom they personally disagree."