February 2, 2004

A Chill Wind Indeed

We hear voices from the left, like Tim Robbins of "chill wind" fame, claim that their brave dissent is being stifled and suppressed. As is the case with their criticisms of the Patriot Act, they are usually long on rhetoric and fear-mongering, and short on specific examples of abuse or suppression. In fact, they veer toward self-parody as they appear on talk shows or in front of microphones or TV cameras and audiences of millions to complain that their voices can't be heard.

But I can see no greater abuses of the rights to free speech and the free press in this country than the "tyranny, with manners", as Charlton Heston phrased it, that thrives on college campuses today in the form of speech codes and discrimination against conservative students and faculty along with their organizations and publications. Please read the story of David Deming, Associate Professor of Geology and Geophysics at the University of Oklahoma, in his own words. Selected excerpts:

My troubles began in March of 2000 when I published a "letter to the editor" in the campus newspaper that some people found offensive. Responding to a female columnist who claimed that possession of a firearm made every gun owner a potential murderer, I pointed out by way of analogy that her possession of an unregistered sexual organ made her a potential prostitute. For writing this letter, twenty-five charges of sexual harassment were filed against me by people I had never met. My attitudes, convictions, and beliefs were put on trial in a secret Star Chamber proceeding.....
.....The archives for the campus newspaper, The Oklahoma Daily, that published my original letter and articles on the resulting controversy, have been deleted from the Daily's website. The records for the months covered by the controversy, February, March, and April, of the year 2000 are conspicuous by their absence. Columnist Wendy McElroy wrote that this was one example of "a politically-correct pattern of purging conservative views from student newspapers [that] seems to be spreading across American campuses." She went on to note that a central theme of George Orwell's classic novel 1984 was the falsifying of history by the Ministry of Truth. People who said or wrote the wrong things were simply purged from the historical archives.....

.....Seven days before Christmas, I was summoned into the office of Dean John T. Snow. My tenure in the geology department was abrogated without due process. My geophysics class—for which I receive outstanding student evaluations—was taken from me without explanation. I was stripped of my right to supervise graduate students in geology and geophysics. I was evicted from my office and relegated to a small, dark room in a corner of the basement. No other faculty member in the entire College has office space assigned in the basement. Dean Snow glared at me and said that the fundamental problem was that I was not submissive to authority.

Is there any counterpart to this kind of madness from anywhere on the right? From the Bush administration? By John Ashcroft? Anywhere in America?

Click on the links, and please support the good work of FIRE and the Students For Academic Freedom. And check out great blogs like Critical Mass and Invisible Adjunct that are largely devoted to exposing abuses like those at the University of Oklahoma.

Posted by dan at February 2, 2004 11:42 PM