INTRODUCTION BY MIKE ZIGLER
is being manipulated as it now entertains routine abuse of academic
integrity. In some academic environments, concern for student feelings
trumps any intention to train young adults to be careful thinkers with
a broad base of knowledge. And with no boundaries, political
correctness can be used as a weapon to destroy and defame the most
Such was the case with UNLV
economics professor Hans Hoppe. In academics, a great challenge is
determining how to best communicate with students in order to best
teach them. With Hoppe’s case, diversity and political correctness
shifted the focus from how students learn to what’s being taught.
Openly gay student Michael Knight took offense to Hoppe’s March 2004
lecture on time preferences when Hoppe explained the concept and used,
among demographics, homosexuals as an example. Gays, according to the
concept, spend money with a mindset that is more present-oriented than
While Knight filed a complaint, according to Hoppe it was another man who pushed the case too far.
Sam Connally serves as associate Vice President of Human Resources at
UNLV. Before moving to Las Vegas, Connally lived in North Carolina,
where he held a similar position at UNC-Wilmington.
UNLV general counsel Richard Linstrom explained that the university has
to follow the Board of Regents handbook when handling a discrimination
“A person must be assigned to a discrimination complaint and act as an
institutional affirmative action officer,” Linstrom explained. “That’s
who Sam is.”
What makes Connally’s role in the Hoppe case interesting is that he was
a gay activist in North Carolina. He also made television appearances
to speak about gay marriage and advocated (in his university role) to
expand North Carolina’s equal employment law to cover sexual
orientation, gender identity and gender expression. With someone so
passionate about gay issues, it doesn’t seem like Connally would act as
an fair arbitrator in a case involving a complaint from a gay student
about a concept that states gays, in general, don’t financially plan
for the future. Rather, the circumstances suggest Connally might use
his university role to advance an activist agenda.
So, was Connally the best-suited candidate to arbitrate the complaint?
“I have no idea,” said Linstrom. “I don’t think anybody at the
university would answer that. Maybe the best person to ask would be
We thought so too.
But when Liberty Watch contacted Connally, he refused our request for
an interview. He said, “My understanding is that the matter is resolved
so I would not have anything further to add to what’s already in the
University Regent Mark Alden summed it up. If Connally indeed used his
university role to push an activist agenda, that is unacceptable.
“If Connally did go out of his way to push a personal agenda, that is
an abuse of power and the university president should not tolerate such
behavior,” Alden said.
Alden added that the university regents aren’t expected to review
handbook policies on how discrimination complaints are addressed. As of
now, it’s up to a university’s president to police.
In the following pages, we reprint Hoppe’s personal account of a
year-long battle. Unlike its original print — first found on
lewrockwell.com — this version identifies Connally.
BY HANS HOPPE
as Vegas prides itself for tolerance and so does UNLV, its university. At the university, however, tolerance is selective.
You may assert that white heterosexual males are responsible for all of
mankind’s misery, that Castro’s Cuba is a great success story, that
capitalism means exploitation, or that most university professors are
liberals because conservatives are too stupid to teach. If anyone
should complain about this, such complaint will be dismissed outright.
And rightly so. After all, the university is committed to academic
freedom. Its faculty has the “freedom and an obligation … (to) discuss
and pursue the faculty member’s subject with candor and integrity, even
when the subject requires consideration of topics which may be
politically, socially or scientifically controversial. … (A) faculty
member … shall not be subjected to censorship or discipline by the
University ... on grounds that the faculty member has expressed
opinions or views which are controversial, unpopular or contrary to the
attitudes of the University … or the community.”
However, none of this applies to professors who dissent from socialist,
statist or culturally left-wing view, as I would find out.
In March of 2004, during a 75-minute lecture in my Money and Banking
class on time preference, interest and capital, I presented numerous
examples designed to illustrate the concept of time preference (or in
the terminology of the sociologist Edward Banfield of “present- and
As one brief example, I referred to homosexuals as a group which,
because they typically do not have children, tend to have a higher
degree of time preference and are more present-oriented. I also noted —
as have many other scholars — that J.M. Keynes, whose economic theories
were the subject of some upcoming lectures, had been a homosexual and
that this might be useful to know when considering his short-run
economic policy recommendation and his famous dictum “in the long run
we are all dead.”
During my lecture no question was raised. (You can hear the same
lecture, given some time later, on the Mises Media server.) However,
two days later a student with the university’s affirmative action
“commissar” filed an informal complaint. The student claimed that he as
a homosexual had been made to “feel bad” by my lecture.
Based on this “evidence,” commissar Sam Connally, who (as I would find
out only weeks later) was a former clergyman turned “certified” gay
activist, called me at home to inform me that he would shut down my
class if I continued making such remarks.
I agreed to meet with Connally in my office, thinking that this would
bring matters to a quick end. The student, Michael Knight, would be
informed about the nature of a university and academic freedom,
including his right to ask and challenge his professor. Instead,
Connally lectured me on what and how I was to teach my classes.
I explained to him the difference between a professor and a bureaucrat
and that he was overstepping his bounds, but to no avail. However,
because the student had falsely claimed that my remarks had been about
“all” homosexuals, I agreed to explain the difference between “all” and
“average” statements during my next class.
In my next lecture, I explained that when I say that Italians eat more
spaghetti than Germans, for instance, this does not mean that every
Italian eats more spaghetti than every German. It means that on the
average, Italians eat more spaghetti than Germans.
Upon this, the student filed a “formal” complaint. I had not taken his
feelings seriously. Knight felt “hurt again;” and as he had learned
from Connally, feeling bad twice constituted a “hostile learning
environment” — an offense that is not defined in the university bylaws.
From then on, Connally made the student’s case his own. Every pretence
of acting as a neutral mediator was abandoned, and he became a
April, I was ordered to appear before an administrative committee
assembled by the commissar and to prove my statement. This was in clear
violation of university rules: not only is there no provision for any
“truth squad,” but as bureaucrats the committee members were entirely
unqualified for such a task.
However, I na�vely provided the
requested evidence. My request to have the meeting taped was denied.
During the hearing, which was conducted in a style reminiscent of the
interrogations of politically suspect academics in communist countries
or Nazi Germany, essentially only Connally spoke.
My repeated request to hear witnesses was denied. One student,
recommended by the complainant, was later secretly interviewed, but
because her testimony contradicted what Connally wanted to hear, it was
suppressed. Furthermore, in his indictment, which I would not see until
November, Connally referred to a previous unrelated student complaint,
but he suppressed the information that this complaint had been
dismissed as without merit and actually resulted in an embarrassment
for the university administration.
The provided evidence was brushed aside, because some of it had also
allegedly appeared on anti-gay sites, which I had never visited.
Indeed, whatever I or anyone else said was irrelevant because Connally
had already found “proof” of my hostility in my writing.
In my book, Democracy, The God That Failed, I not only defend the right
to discrimination as implied in the right to private property, but I
also emphasize the necessity of discrimination in maintaining a free
society and explain its importance as a civilizing factor. In
particular, the book also contains a few sentences about the
importance, under clearly stated circumstances, of discriminating
against communists, Democrats and habitual advocates of alternative,
non-family centered lifestyles, including homosexuals.
For instance, on page 218, I wrote, “in a covenant concluded among
proprietors and community tenants for the purpose of protecting their
private property, … no one is permitted to advocate ideas contrary to
the very purpose of the covenant ... such as democracy and communism.
“Likewise, in a covenant founded for the purpose of protecting family
and kin, there can be no tolerance toward those habitually promoting
lifestyles incompatible with this goal. … (violators) will have to be
physically removed from society.”
In its proper context, these statements are hardly more offensive than
saying that the Catholic Church should excommunicate those violating
its fundamental precepts or that a nudist colony should expel those
insisting on wearing bathing suits. However, if you take the statements
out of context and omit the condition: in a covenant … then they appear
to advocate a rights violation.
My praise of discrimination was part of a frontal attack against what
is sometimes called left-libertarianism – against the politics that
equates liberty with libertinism, multiculturalism and so-called civil
rights as opposed to existence and enforcement of private-property
rights. In retaliation, to discredit me as a “fascist,” a “racist,” a
“bigot,” etc., the left-libertarian smear-bund has routinely distorted
my views by quoting the above passages out of context.
Connally discovered these “quotes” – and voila! I was found guilty as
charged. (Characteristically, upon challenge the commissar proved
unable – also during a second hearing six months later – to cite on
which page the alleged quotes appeared.)
An indictment, recommending a letter of reprimand and forfeiture of a
week’s pay, was forwarded to my dean, who neither accepted nor rejected
it, but sent it to the provost. After waiting for more than five
months, the provost acted likewise.
In November, he instructed the university code officer, who had been a
member of the first inquisition committee, to send me the indictment,
form another committee and order me to show up for a second trial. The
committee was composed of the dean of natural sciences, the associate
dean of the hotel college, a biology professor and the president of the
student government. The code officer served as secretary and Connally
as prosecutor. I was accompanied by a lawyer, in response to which the
university also sent a lawyer. No committee member had any knowledge of
My lawyer’s request to have the meeting taped or have a court reporter
present was denied. After the student explained about his hurt
feelings, my lawyer asked where in the code a “hostile learning
environment” was defined. Neither the code officer nor the university
lawyer could answer the question because no such definition exists.
I read the above quoted passages regarding academic freedom and argued
that my contractually granted rights had been infringed upon. I had
spoken about my subject and beyond that I was not obliged to “prove”
anything. In fact, my statement was hardly “controversial” but utterly
reasonable in light of my adduced evidence. I again requested students
be interviewed concerning my alleged “hostility,” but again the request
was ignored. I offered several student letters written on my behalf,
but they were not admitted as evidence.
The committee members asked few if any questions; only the dean
contributed some precious gems of political correctness. Connally
consumed most of the court time. In the meantime, he had gathered
information about my prominence and me and come to the conclusion that
if he could silence me he could silence anyone. Connally set out on a
tirade against me that in the judgment of my lawyer would have gotten
him thrown out of any regular courtroom. After ranting for almost half
an hour, even the university lawyer had enough and told him to “Shut
up,” and when he continued, the lawyer admonished the committee chair
to cut him off.
Two months later, at the end of January 2005, the code officer called
my lawyer to inform him that the “peer” committee had affirmed the
first committee’s “hostile environment” finding and would recommend to
the provost a letter of reprimand and forfeiture of my next merit
increase. There might be a little room for negotiation, but if I didn’t
accept the offer, even more serious punishment up to termination might
be in the offing. My lawyer’s request to see the report was denied.
the offer and having until then been placed under a gag order, finally
started a counteroffensive. I was put in contact with the ACLU Nevada,
and though our political views are poles apart, the ACLU to its eternal
credit was principled enough to take on my “rightist” professor’s case.
In addition, a prominent local attorney volunteered his services, and
within a few days the Mises Institute’s public relations machinery
began its work on my behalf.
First, the ACLU sent a “letter
of demand,” requesting an immediate end to the charade or the
university would be taken to court, then local news stories about the
case appeared, and protest letters and angry calls began to pour in to
As a first result, on Feb. 9 the provost sent me a “non-disciplinary
letter of instruction” – a far cry from a reprimand and monetary
punishment. But if this letter had been sent to calm the waters, the
The “instructions” stood in patent contradiction to the bylaws on
academic freedom, as even a dimwit could recognize. Whatever academic
reputation the provost might have had before, the letter made him look
like an invidious fool.
A local affair escalated into a national and even international one,
and a wave of protests turned into a flood. The university had a public
relations disaster on its hands. Only 10 days later — almost exactly
one year after the affair had started — the university president, at
the order of the chancellor of the entire university system, officially
withdrew all charges against me.
This was a moment of great personal triumph, yet some things remain
undone: the university has not apologized to me, no form of restitution
has been offered for a lost year of my work, and no one has been held
accountable at UNLV. To accomplish this, a trial would be
While my lawyers agree that I would prevail in court, another year or
two of my life would be lost. This cost is too high. The outpouring of
world-wide support on my behalf and the many uplifting and heartwarming
letters are my satisfaction.
I have long regarded the political correctness movement as a threat to
all independent thought, and I am deeply concerned about the level of
self-censorship in academia. To counteract this tendency, I have left
no political taboo untouched in my teaching. I believed that America
was still free enough for this to be possible, and I assumed that my
relative prominence offered me some extra protection.
When I became a victim of the thought police, I was genuinely
surprised, and now I am afraid that my case has had a chilling effect
on less established academics. Still, it is my hope that my fight and
ultimate victory, even if they can not make a timid man brave, do
encourage those with a fighting spirit to take up the cudgels.
If I made one mistake, it was that I was too cooperative and waited too long to go on the offensive. LW