Tom Leonard - The Life of a Bayesian Boy    

The Field House, UW Madison

A primary-source document relating to a full meeting of the faculty of the University of Wisconsin-Madison in the
UW Field House on 4th December 1989, which received national attention.


‘They’re in for it now!’ as John Nohel, the Director of the Army’s Math Research Center, said, following my speech, to Professor James Koutsky of the UW Department of Chemical Engineering, and our faculty responded by, quite  unexpectedly, voting against the military, by about 350 votes to 250.  Several of their  officers were sitting in full regalia in the front row. Professor David Runyon from UW Whitewater took a film for his television channel and lodged it in the State Archives, and several people ran up to me in the street to thank me for my contribution, which was generally acknowledged as completely turning the tables on the military at the end of an otherwise insipid and quite unconvincing debate.  

         During my surprisingly devastating speech, I reported that a U.S. army captain had advised me, at an otherwise convivial Second Thursday reception, that ‘these freaks have never even opened a bible’. I also discussed a high-flying naval student in Annapolis who’d been stripped of his degree simply because he expressed his fears to his chaplain that he might be gay. I more generally objected to the intrusions perpetrated by the US military on the innermost thoughts of American students.

         Assistant Attorney General for Winconsin, Daniel O’Brien congratulated me afterwards, and he’s visited me in Edinburgh since. The leaders of Madison’s gay community, who were none too keen to raise their own heads above the parapet, congratulated themselves, and gave each other prestigious awards. So much for philanthropy.

Please also google "Gay Discrimination in the Military, University of Wisconsin-Madison"

The item "ROTC under fire" by David M. Halperin describes the enormous impact of the faculty vote. The reports by Professor Joe Elder of the UW Department of Sociology are incomplete in several respects.


  © Thomas Hoskyns Leonard, 2012 - 2013