Thursday, December 20, 2007

OK Attorney General Bans Free Speech

The Attorney General of Oklahoma recently issued an advisory opinion to Southwestern Oklahoma State University, directing that the college's state employees may not use the word "Christmas" in oral or written form.

The directive specifically said that words "Merry Christmas" were not to be spoken by any state employees, even if they did not initiate the greeting.

Were I an employee of that school, I would take great pleasure in violating the Attorney General's edict as frequently as possible.

Thursday Afternoon Update: Ed Morrissey checked with the Oklahoma Attorney General's office and they say the story isn't true, although it wasn't an unequivocal denial -- they are "checking with" assistant AG's to see if such an advisory was issued.

Mark Tapscott of the Washington Examiner, whose story is at my subject link, reports receiving a call from the university denying the story, but again the denial was somewhat equivocal. However, Tapscott has confirmed that employees at Southwestern Oklahoma State University received the "no Merry Christmas" order from their boss -- who in the original story had issued the directive based on legal advice from the Oklahoma A.G.

Tapscott's update does not, however, directly confirm that the policy originated with the Oklahoma Attorney General. Check the subject link for further updates.

Thursday Evening Update: Mark Tapscott continues to update his blog with new developments. His source, Liberty Counsel, has issued a statement naming names and giving more specifics about the "Christmas" ban. Tapscott has tried to contact the university provost, one of those named by Liberty Counsel as confirming the ban.

Friday Morning Update: A press release from Southwestern Oklahoma State University raises more questions for me than it answers: "An attempt to be respectful of the diverse religious population at Southwestern Oklahoma State University has been misinterpreted as an attempt to ban Christmas on the Weatherford campus. The rumor of this ban is not true. The university attempted to prevent the appearance as a state agency of endorsing any particular religion." did the university "attempt to be respectful of the diverse religious population" and "prevent the appearance...of endorsing any particular religion"?


Blogger Dana said...

I called the university at the number Tapscott provided and a woman answered and greeted me with a "Merry Christmas!" She said that there was never such an order given and that it was a hoax put on the internet. hm...

From that latest updates provided by Tapscott, it would appear some sort of of directive had been given but its funny how those university employees seem to believe in freedom of speech and are refusing to follow the mandate!

2:07 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Thanks for giving a firsthand report, Dana! Be curious to see if further details emerge on this...

Merry Christmas,

2:19 PM  

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