20 December 2004
The Deming business
I've stayed off the David Deming story, partly because our paths have crossed a few times, mostly in the context of Usenet, and I think it's reasonable to say that there's no love lost.
On the other hand, I am not at all pleased to note that Dr Deming has been gradually reclassified as an unperson by his employer, the University of Oklahoma, as he explained earlier this year in FrontPage:
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. After I admitted (gasp) that I was a member of the National Rifle Association, I was asked this question: do you think the Nazis were bad people?
For publishing "the letter," I received a formal letter of reprimand from Dean John T. Snow. After receiving the reprimand, I asked Dean Snow how the publication of my controversial letter would affect my position at OU with regard to issues such as promotion and raises. Instead of reassuring me that my expression of a political opinion would not affect my professional career, Snow said that the answer was "unclear." In a statement that I believe was intended to intimidate me, Snow said that in making future decisions he would "weigh in" how much I had learned from past experiences.
What Dr Deming learned is that the hand that feeds him was inclined to slap him around, and he continued to bite back. In the summer of '03, Deming ventured the opinion that the University was opening itself up to charges of conflict of interest by naming a new professor who happened to be an officer at a consulting firm in which other faculty members held interests. The University responded by stripping him of most of his classes and banishing him to the basement. Deming sued; OU filed a motion to dismiss; the University's motion has now been itself dismissed, meaning Deming's suit can go forward.
The complete text of Deming's complaint can be read here. [Link requires Adobe Reader.]