Thursday, November 13, 2014

#1208: Todd Thomsen

Todd M. Thomsen is the Republican Majority Whip in the Oklahoma House of Representatives, and was elected in 2006 in part for his promise to “improve education”. Of course, “improve education” does, very obviously, not mean improve education, but ensuring that students are taught what Thomsen wants to believe is the truth based on wishful thinking and various deeply nurtured biases. Accordingly, Thomsen has introduced various antievolution bills, and attacked the University of Oklahoma’s Department of Zoology for “framing the Darwinian theory of evolution as doctrinal dogmatism rather than a hypothetical construction within the disciplines of the sciences” and for engaging in “one-sided indoctrination of an unproven and unpopular theory” (note the relevance of “unpopular”) while branding “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, of course, antithetical to free thinking, though Thomsen have no clue what either means] which is the primary purpose of a university.” And no, that is not the primary purpose of a university.

He even managed to gain himself international attention when he introduced a bill trying to prevent the University of Oklahoma from inviting Richard Dawkins, with a resolution stating 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.” All in the name of Academic Freedom, of course.

Well, he didn’t succeed in disinviting Dawkins – who even waived his speaking fees. That didn’t prevent Representative Rebecca Hamilton (a Democrat) from filing 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, information on who provided the funds, and any other “pertinent financial information.” Nor did it prevent Thomsen from concluding that “[h]is presence at OU was not about science […] It was to promote an atheistic agenda, and that was very clear.”

Diagnosis: Yep, people in Oklahoma elect these kinds of leaders. It’s not particularly surprising but it is scary.

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