Bruce Gilley of Portland State University
They’re coming for you next: Professor Bruce Gilley of Portland State University in Oregon, who previously had a peer-reviewed paper on colonialism withdrawn from publication because of death threats, has now sued the university because the former communication manager for its Division of Equity and Inclusion blocked him from an internal college Twitter discussion group because he had the nerve to tweet “all men are created equal.”
You can read his lawsuit complaint here [pdf]. Gilley not only sued the university’s Division of Equity and Inclusion, he also sued directly Tova Stabin, the communications manager who blocked him.
What makes the case interesting is that the day after he filed his lawsuit, the university unblocked him and its lawyer sent him an apologetic letter. Here is part of that letter, as quoted in the lawsuit complaint:
In any event, Prof. Gilley (@BruceDGilley) was unblocked from the Twitter account at issue (@UOEquity) last Friday, August 12, 2022, and the Division of Equity and Inclusion does not intend to block him or anyone else in the future based on their exercise of protected speech. My office has reinforced to our colleagues who control the University’s multiple social media channels that, if they open such channels to comments, they may not block commentary on the basis of the viewpoints expressed. I have further confirmed that those social media channels controlled by UO’s central communications unit have no blocked users.
Finally, enclosed with the hard copy of this letter to Mr. Lee is $20 to cover the nominal damages of $17.91 alleged in your complaint. Ordinarily the University would issue a check; however, we are enclosing cash to avoid the administrative hassle and delay of issuing a check. Accordingly, your lawsuit is now moot, as there is no longer any effective relief that the federal court can grant, and we ask that you voluntarily dismiss it.
That same day was also Stabin’s last day working for the university. She had been in the process of retiring, but apparently because of her actions the university made sure she was gone immediately.
Gilley however refused to drop his lawsuit, and the court has ruled that it can go on. Both Portland State and Tova Stabin remain directly liable for their actions. (Note that the court papers say that Stabin always spells her name all lower case. That’s nice when she writes it, but she can’t force me to support her bad punctuation.)
In order to understand why Gilley is likely refusing to drop the case, it is important to review his earlier blacklisting. In 2017 he wrote a paper about colonialism in which he documented the fact that sometimes a colonial take-over by a European power had beneficial consequences for the people in that third world nation. As he wrote:
Research …often finds that at least some if not many or most episodes of Western colonialism were a net benefit…Such works have found evidence for significant social, economic and political gains under colonialism: expanded education, improved public health, the abolition of slavery, widened employment opportunities, improved administration, the creation of basic infrastructure, female rights, enfranchisement of untouchable or historically excluded communities, fair taxation, access to capital, the generation of historical and cultural knowledge, and national identify formation, to mention just a few dimensions.
Not surprisingly, the leftist thugs that now run academia were outraged, and began a campaign to not only get the paper withdrawn but to get Gilley fired as well. Fortunately for him Portland State stood by him during this battle, but because of “credible death threats” against the editor of the journal as well as Gilley, the paper was eventually withdrawn.
As far as I can find, no one was ever charged or arrested for those threats. Thus, the goons won.
It now appears, six years later, that Gilley is no longer willing to back down to such bullying. Good for him.
In the end we can expect his case against Portland State to lose, mostly because the university responded so quickly and properly to events. Tova Stabin however remains liable for her goonish actions, and we can hope she will eventually pay heavily for them.