Oklahoma Legislature Investigates Richard Dawkins’ Free Speech

This is just mind boggling:

Well, it’s official: Oklahoma’s state legislature is investigating the University of Oklahoma for hosting a speech by evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins.

As I noted in a post over the weekend at Dawkins’ website, the legislature first considered two resolutions condemning both Dawkins and the theory of evolution as “an unproven and unpopular theory.” (I highly recommend reading both of the proposed resolutions.) Despite their efforts, the legislature failed to prevent Dawkins from speaking on March 6 to an audience of thousands at the University of Oklahoma.

Last week, however, I received multiple reports that the legislature was now investigating the speech, and I wrote the University of Oklahoma President David Boren directly asking to know if this was true.

Sure enough, I just received confirmation today in a letter from the Open Records Office at the University of Oklahoma. The letter confirms that on the day of Dawkins’ speech, Oklahoma State Representative Rebecca Hamilton requested substantial information relating to the speech from Vice President for Governmental Relations Danny Hilliard. Representative Hamilton’s exhaustive request included demands for all e-mails and correspondence relating to the speech; a list of all money paid to Dawkins and the entities, public or private, responsible for this funding; and the total cost to the university, including, among other things, security fees, advertising, and even “faculty time spent promoting this event.”

Rick Farmer, the director of committee staff for the Oklahoma House of Representatives, also wrote the University on March 12, requesting confirmation that Dawkins had indeed waived all compensation for the speech.

What Happens When a Town Loses Its Newspaper?

From Time:

What effect do newspaper closings really have on a town? Or a nation? Depending on a person’s reading habits, the answers to these questions range from “It’s the death of democracy!” to “Newspapers? What newspapers?” But with the demise of two major metropolitan dailies, the 149-year-old Rocky Mountain News and the almost equally venerable 145-year-old Seattle Post-Intelligencer in the last month alone, the issue is becoming a matter of practical rather than just theoretical concern. (See the 10 Most Endangered Newspapers in America.)

A glimpse into what might happen has been offered up by a new study out of Princeton University. Assistant Professor of economics and public affairs Sam Schulhofer-Wohl and Miguel Garrido looked at communities affected by the closing of the Cincinnati Post at the end of 2007, and it’s not an attractive view.

The study is very small in scope, since the Post had a total of only 27,000 subscribers in Cincinnati and northern Kentucky. And it measures only the outcomes in northern Kentucky, since Ohio has not had municipal elections since the Post’s closure. But even with those limitations, a few trends seemed to emerge: in towns the Post regularly covered, voter turnout dropped, fewer people ran for office and more incumbents were reelected. That is, when there were fewer stories about a given town, its inhabitants seemed to care less about how they’re being governed.