More Trouble at Oklahoma University

From: Bylund,
Sent: Wednesday, October 18, 2023 4:29 PM
To: [email protected]
Subject: Fwd: Speaker question



From: Bylund
Sent: Tuesday, October 17, 2023 9:47 AM
Subject: Re: Speaker question


Thank you for your comments. I agree with you that Wikipedia is not a good source of information and would add it is often hopelessly inaccurate and misleading. But more information and proper preparation is never a bad thing. I certainly hope that the protestors can behave, which they did when Epstein gave his talk on fossil fuels recently.

For your information, and to facilitate the preparation of whatever responses you or the president’s office may find necessary, the two lectures that Dr. Block will give are based in his books and other publications. The first, on the rationale and implications of legalizing blackmail, is based on a chapter in his 1976 book Defending the Undefendable. Dr. Block’s argument, simply put, is that no one has property rights to one’s reputation, which exists in the form of opinions in the minds of other people. As a result, there is no violation in offering to not share such information for monetary or other payment.

In the second lecture, Dr. Block will argue that the privatization of public or unowned resources (roads, oceans, space) will solve existing problems that arise due to the public goods problem (also known as the ‘tragedy of the commons’) and will increase economic growth and thus the world’s future standard of living. This lecture is in part based on his books Privatization of Roads and Highways (2006) and Water Capitalism: The Case for Privatizing Oceans, Rivers, Lakes, and Aquifers (2016).

Dr. Block’s takes on these topics are both interesting and unusual, not to mention thought-provoking, but hardly the stuff that warrants a protest, as I’m sure you agree. I think you can also see that the issues and his arguments are relevant for many of our students as well as for the Free Enterprise Society, who hosts these events.

I would be happy to make an official comment for any reactive statements OSU finds itself needed to issue.


From: Latham
Sent: Monday, October 16, 2023 7:00 PM
Subject: Re: Speaker question

Dr. Bylund,

Thanks for sharing. Not that Wikipedia is the end all and be all of information, it’s probably a good idea to review the page dedicated to Dr. Block.

The university will now need to be prepared for his visit, which will obviously need to include OSUPD and potential media reactive statements, as the president’s office received complaints from faculty regarding Mr. Epstein’s visit…which we immediatly mitigated because is wasn’t an actual “issue.” That said, this visit is likely going to require a higher level of preparedness given the topics involved and Dr. Block’s past positions.

From: Bylund
Sent: Monday, October 16, 2023 6:21 PM
To: Shannon
Subject: Re: Speaker question

Hi Shannon,

Thank you for your message. First, let me I assure you that Dr. Block is not what the protest flyer makes him out to be. He is a respected scholar, author, and speaker that we should be proud to host on campus.

This protest flyer that you shared (thank you!) was actually brought to my attention a couple of days ago and I was appalled by this smearing of Dr. Block. I am frankly quite troubled by how the anonymous producer of the flyer, presumably a student on campus, so casually misrepresents Block’s position and carelessly quotes him out of context.

The very first quote serves as an illustration of this. It quotes from a New York Times article to make Block out as a proponent of slavery. However, this is a quote chosen in bad faith or, at best, based on very bad research. The quoted statement is one for which Block sued the newspaper for libel – a suit that ended with the NYT settling with Dr. Block and allowing him to publish an article in the newspaper stating his true position. 

The other quotes and comments similarly misrepresent Dr. Block, who is a proponent of every person’s equal and inalienable rights. He has made this clear in his many books, hundreds of essays and speeches, as well as in his scholarship. Dr. Block is certainly not a proponent of slavery or rape, as the flyer makes him out to be, but on the contrary a vocal opponent of force and aggression – regardless of who initiates it.

We have no reason at all to think Dr. Block, his scholarship or opinions, would be unsuitable for visiting our campus. It is quite the contrary.

Best regards,


From: Shannon
Sent: Monday, October 16, 2023 4:55 PM
To: Bylund
Subject: Speaker question

Hi Dr. Bylund,

Our digital media team found this protest flyer being promoted. The comments attributed to the speaker for tomorrow and Wednesday are troubling. Do you know if Walter Block said these things? Who vets the speakers?

Thank you for your help.



4:33 am on October 20, 2023