Today’s colleges stifle dissent

by | January 19, 2005 12:00 am

Bobby Beecher

You probably don’t know David Deming. But, if you value freedom of speech, you should get to know him. Deming is a professor of geology at the University of Oklahoma, and the latest victim of liberal hypocrisy.

Once upon a time, our nation’s colleges and universities were havens for freethinkers and non-conformists. Not anymore. Today, the groves of Academe are killing fields, where scholars who reject the leftist dogma of the academic majority are exterminated with concentration-camp efficiency.

Don’t believe it? Then consider the shabby treatment Professor Deming has received from his bosses at the University of Oklahoma. OU officials have done everything but tattoo the mark of the beast across the professor’s forehead. They’ve effectively banished Deming from the School of Geology and Geophysics, allowing him to do research but requiring him – according to Larry Scholer of Accuracy in Academia – “to gain permission to teach classes.”

And it doesn’t matter that Deming has written a textbook on hydrogeology and moonlights as an associate editor for three scientific journals. The only courses he’s allowed to teach are entry-level “geoscience” classes.

At one point, vindictive OU administrators even exiled Deming to an office “in a windowless basement room.” There’s no doubt they would love to fire the persecuted professor, but can’t because he’s protected by tenure.

So, what does David Deming do to deserve such malevolent maltreatment? He writes letters to the editor. And, even more damning, he has the heretical temerity to question such sacred tenets of liberal orthodoxy as gun control and affirmative action. He’s even gone so far as to note that the “degree to which free speech lacks support not only on (the OU) campus, but across the country is disturbing.”

Deming considers himself a “mainstream Oklahoman.” But that ideological reality puts him across the river from the higher-educational hypocrites who preach diversity but demand conformity to their Ivory Tower version of liberalism.

Indeed, leftist academicians, aided by sympathetic administrators such as OU President and former Democratic Senator David Boren, have managed to divert the flow of mainstream thought around their Bohemian enclaves. And, more often than not, mainstream thinkers such as Professor Deming are simply swept away with the tide.

Researcher Daniel Klein has discovered, for example, that, on college and university campuses today, liberal instructors outnumber their conservative counterparts by lopsided margins. In a typical humanities or social science department, the ratio of liberals to conservatives is at least 7-1. Among sociologists and anthropologists, the liberal/conservative ratio is an astonishing 30-1.

Students are beginning to resent the fact that so many of their professors are biased blowhards. According to a survey conducted by the American Council of Trustees and Alumni, nearly half of the students at 50 of America’s top colleges and universities say “professors use the classroom to present their personal political views” and that these “presentations on political issues seem totally one-sided.”

The surest way to break the liberal lock on higher education is to hit arrogant hypocrites like OU’s David Boren where it hurts: in the pocketbook. Despite their otherworldly pretensions, learned leftists are like Miniver Cheevy, the character in the Edwin Arlington Robinson poem: they scorn the gold, but sore annoyed are they without it.

That’s why America’s wealthy college alumni, most of whom are conservatives, should (like the Vanderbilt graduate cited in a recent edition of

World

magazine) withhold financial support from schools that deny philosophical diversity.

After all, the purpose of a truly liberal education is to open minds, not close them. –

Bobby Beecher is our regular guest columnist. He can be reached at bobbybeecher@hotmail.com

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