February 02, 2004


David Deming is an associate professor of geology and geophysics at the University of Oklahoma. Sounds kinda cool, yes? Well, no:

I am scheduled to be moved out of the office I have occupied for the last twelve years into a dank hole in the basement that was never intended to be used as office space. Recent events are the culmination of four years of retaliation, intimidation, and harassment. You see, I don't have the right politics.

By which Deming means, he does have the right politics. It’s just that they’re the wrong politics for the University of Oklahoma.

Posted by Tim Blair at February 2, 2004 11:28 PM

Why oh why am I reminded of the movie Office Space when I read this...

They are trying to make things so uncomfortable that he leaves because he doesn't hold the same opinions. How openminded and inclusive of them.

What he really needs to do is put out an internet call to all donating alumni... Money talks and school alumni calling in to tell the University that they will withdraw donations until this situation is rectified, is the only way to get it turned around.

Any Oklahoma University alumni reading this? Do you donate to your school? Do you disagree with this? Get on the phone...

Posted by: Teresa at February 3, 2004 at 01:45 AM

Reminds me of the movie Office Space and the stapler guy. Anyone have a picture of this guy. It's easy to belive politics is the reason, but sometimes simple things like annoying personality or bad hygiene make molehills out of mountains.

Posted by: Scott S at February 3, 2004 at 01:55 AM

I spent 13 years working at a university in the Midwest. My experiences there taught me that this is all too common an attitude for most university administrators and faculty. "Academic freedom" is an oxymoron.

Posted by: Rebecca at February 3, 2004 at 03:05 AM

Sounds right to me.
The local newspapers are left wing. The local Catholic newspapers are worse --after I wrote three letters pointing out problems with their political correctness, our local priest asked me if I was planning to become a writer. I said no, but there was a point where I had to take a stand...

Probably most OU grads head out to greener pastures (say, somewhere where it doesn't hit 110 in the shade for three months a year), so we are left with left wingers who are too dumb to get jobs elsewhere so come here.
And being "big fish" in little ponds, they think they are smarter/better than us...



are two local blogs for those who think we are just a wilderness...
Yeagley has run into similar PC problems...

Posted by: tioedong at February 3, 2004 at 04:33 AM

At least they didn't take his stapler, or I'd expect the University of Oklahoma to go up in flames any day now.

Seriously, that's terrible treatment. I'm past being surprised by this sort of thing.

Posted by: Bryan C at February 3, 2004 at 06:07 AM

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.

He has got to get some new material.

Posted by: Joe at February 3, 2004 at 11:17 AM

I'm with Joe on this one. This guy sounds like a real jerk. I'm 100% in agreement with his position on guns but couldn't he have written a better letter?! My God! What kind of a debate tactic is it to liken the original letter writer to a prostitute? Okay, he's saying that she's not one, only that by her line of thinking....oh nevermind. What a horrible and convoluted analogy - this guy is a wretched spokesman for a good cause.

Frontpage is not a good conservative magazine. They occasionally carry good re-print material from other places and once in a while there's a good original piece. But most of the time, it's conservative whining and doom-mongering about the evil liberals who want to destroy and defile all that is good and holy in America. That's not what attracts me about conservativism.

I'm sure there's political bias against conservatives in American Universities and I'm sure that it's tough to be conservative or pro-gun in such an environment. But it sounds to me like this guy is an unpleasant character who mistakes his own unpopularity for political persecution. What a pathetic whiner. He is, along with Frontpage, a discredit to conservatives.

C'mon Tim, this is a false alarm. I'm sure you could easily find a real case of Left-wing anti-conservative persecution.

Posted by: John in Tokyo at February 3, 2004 at 12:01 PM

Don't protect the little woman from the mean man. If she wants to fling mud (she called gun owners murderers, guys -- you know, murder is considered a more serious crime than prostitution in my country) she should be prepared to get mud flung back at her. I'll bet you like most liberal feminists she went and cried to her friends about what the mean, nasty teacher said to her. You guys don't help when you coddle girls like this -- this has a tendency to turn them into Psycho Ex-Girlfriends.

Posted by: Andrea Harris at February 3, 2004 at 01:44 PM

John in Tokyo, a female in the street I once lived in owned a motor vehicle, always parked on the street in full view of the public, with a bumper sticker bearing the words All Men Are Rapists. (Admittedly, it was in the People's Republic of Moreland, where such opinions are practically a prerequisite for living there.)

Is this the equivalent to Deming's comment? Or is it worse, as it was a bald statement, not a hypothetical analogy?

Seems Andrea's right. The letter writer is a big girl, she can stand up for herself - even against tacky or unfair comments.

Posted by: ilibcc at February 3, 2004 at 02:58 PM

"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."

er, what's wrong with that? it's okay for her to call gun owners murderered, but she can't be called a prostitute?

Posted by: samkit at February 3, 2004 at 04:33 PM

Sorry Andrea and others,

I don't see it. I'm not defending this woman and her letter. I support gun rights and I have no tolerance for radical feminists.

But the professor's analogy was bad and nonsensical. The tone is petty and crude. Don't talk to me about what she wrote either. Just because she was illogical and hysterical, doesn't make it okay for a gun rights supporter to descend to her level. This was a college newspaper, not some email flame-war. If I were a student reading these letters without much knowledge or awareness of the issue, I would be wholly unconvinced by this guy's letter.

Since the first letter was so awful, it would have been so easy to reply and debunk it while being funny and persuasive. You could even be harsh. But this guy's response was just stupid.

I should add that I am a recent convert to pro-gun rights - I started to change my mind about 5 years ago. I grew up in NYC where gun control is unquestioningly considered a desireable policy. Pro-gun people are blithely dismissed as "gun nuts."

Arguments from people like this geology professor had no effect on me, except to turn me off further - to close my mind to counter arguments.

What changed my mind was the voice of reason from intelligent people. Instapundit played a big part, along with some of my old Red-State friends. This is true for any subject. Hectoring language never persuaded anybody of anything and nobody's mind is changed by insulting letters.

This is especially true for an issue like the 2nd Amendment. Gun-control does not make you safer. This is a fact. But it is a counter-intuitive one. You may get frustrated with liberals and gun-controllers but you should stop and admit that for a lot of people who haven't thought too deeply about the issue, it's easy to arrive at the gun-control position, even if your heart's in the right place. Many people like myself could be converted if you lay out the facts and argue the principles and then let them think about it.

To protect gun-rights, supporters should not emulate this professor who let an argument about principles spiral into a fight over personal grievances. Obviously the woman who wrote the original letter is so ideologically blinded that she's beyond reach, and arguing with her would be a waste of breath. But students reading the exchange are a different matter. Any chance of getting through to them was probably ruined by likening her bad analogy about unregistered gun owners and murderes to unregistered vaginas and prostitutes. It would've been so easy to fisk her in a good way.

But perhaps I've been reading too many good blogs for so long that I've become accustomed to good fisking and forget how difficult it can be for some people, even professors.

Posted by: John in Tokyo at February 3, 2004 at 06:50 PM

I'm just saying his material is old.

Posted by: Joe at February 3, 2004 at 07:46 PM

John in Tokyo, I see where you're coming from. Maybe you're right - I'm still suspicious of academics posing as champions of free speech.

Posted by: ilibcc at February 3, 2004 at 09:01 PM

The OU Professor is a regular professor and good teacher... and not reckless
The problem that has come up is a middle of the night "your office is
changed and you don't get to teach a class." and this occurred after the
original issue was settled in Prof Demings favor....period. Now the President
of Oklahoma University, former Senator Boren, does not protect the
Professor from retailation from the prof's department--which should not
have occurred. That is the disgusting thing at OU.

What has occurred is that freedom of speech is destroyed in the
place, hallowed halls of academia, speech should be honored-- pure
and simple.

Of course the fight will go on and the University will loose big time...

ps.... go to the OU.edu web site and find Demings telephone number
and give him a call... he is just a regular professor you would be glad
have as your teacher.

Posted by: John at February 6, 2004 at 09:11 AM