University of Oklahoma: Use of Sexual Harassment Allegations to Suppress Protected Speech

Category: Free Speech
Schools: University of Oklahoma

At the University of Oklahoma David Deming, an associate professor of Geology and Geophysics, criticized an opinion column that stated: “Easy access to a handgun allows everyone in this country . . . to quickly and easily kill as many random people as they want.” A citizen who holds protected beliefs about the Second Amendment, Deming responded with a letter that stated: “[Her] easy access to a vagina enables her to quickly and easily have sex with as many random people as she wants . . . and spread venereal diseases.” In response, the Dean of the College of Geosciences, John T. Snow, sent a letter to Deming berating him for expressing himself, and for upsetting the president’s office by occasioning a large number of phone calls from media and alumni. In an email a few days later, Snow informed Deming that it was “unclear” how the controversy would affect Deming’s professional career at the school. While he was never brought up on charges there was definitely backlash, despite his protection under the First Amendment. Deming’s colleagues continued to ostracize him, essentially forcing him out of the department for his controversial statements.

  • Professor’s case exposes bias

    February 23, 2005

    Tenure hasn’t been all it’s cracked up to be for University of Oklahoma professor David Deming. Sure, he still has a job, but it wasn’t enough to keep him out of the basement. Deming’s situation is a perfect example of what’s wrong with today’s academic establishment. The modern academy is too often characterized by political and intellectual conformism and a willingness to silence people who don’t just go along to get along — people like Deming. OU faces a federal lawsuit for removing Deming from its geology department, stripping him of classes, and, in a ridiculous attempt at punishment, actually […]

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  • UI free speech policy disappoints

    January 12, 2005

    Certainly our freedom of speech is one of the most cherished and fundamental rights in this country. Unfortunately, the United States falls far short of the ideal put forth in the old saying, “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” Far too many people are now more than willing to suppress the speech of others simply because they find it offensive. Perhaps the most frightening aspect of this move towards oppression is that our nation’s universities are leading the way. At the University of Oklahoma, a disgraceful group of […]

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  • Pro-Gun Professor Claims University Denied Him Free Speech

    December 13, 2004

    ( – The issues of gun control and free speech dominate a lawsuit filed by an Oklahoma University geology professor who used a blunt sexual comparison to criticize a pro-gun control newspaper column and later was demoted for that and other perceived transgressions. The letter that geology professor David Deming wrote to the editor of the Oklahoma Daily newspaper in February 2000 argued that the owner of an unregistered gun was no more likely to become a murderer than a woman who had not registered her sex organ was to becoming a prostitute. The letter prompted 25 charges of sexual […]

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  • The Man Without a Department

    February 27, 2004

    Norman, Okla. From David Deming’s old desk up on the ninth floor, he could look out the window over hundreds of houses east of the University of Oklahoma campus here. It wasn’t an awe-inspiring vista, but it was something. In his new office in the basement, he has a great view of a sink. Mr. Deming is a tenured associate professor in the School of Geology and Geophysics. Or rather, he used to be in the school. Because of a feud with the administration, he has been removed, placed in a strange limbo the university calls a “dean direct” position. […]

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  • U. of Oklahoma Won’t Pursue Complaints Against Professor Who Compared Gun to Vagina

    May 8, 2000

    By JOEL HARDI     Facing the threat of a federal lawsuit, the University of Oklahoma on Thursday dropped its investigation into whether a professor’s controversial comparison of a handgun to a vagina broke the university’s sexual-harassment rules.     More than 25 people filed complaints with the university in February, accusing David Deming, an associate professor of geology and a self-described gun owner, of sexual harassment. In a letter to the editor of Oklahoma’s student newspaper, the Oklahoma Daily, he had mocked a columnist’s arguments for gun control, saying that “her possession of an unregistered vagina also equips her […]

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