A gay blogger formally complained to the president of the University of Texas in Austin that a study led by sociology associate professor Mark Regnerus was, yes, homophobic. The study’s guidelines had been previously approved by a university panel. Now the university has launched an investigation of the professor:
The University of Texas defines scientific misconduct as “fabrication, falsification, or plagiarism” and “practices that seriously deviate from ethical standards.”
A panel of UT professors is conducting the inquiry, and the process will be completed within 60 days of the complaint, said Gary Susswein, a UT spokesman. Ultimately, if a university investigation finds that Regnerus’ work constitutes scientific misconduct, Provost Steven Leslie would decide how the administration will proceed, Susswein said.
I have no idea whether or not the Regnerus study was good science or not. Regnerus is a serious scholar — that much I know — and, as I said, the university approved the guidelines for his study before it was undertaken. If his study is flawed, isn’t the done thing to produce scholarship showing that his results are wrong, his methodology is in error, and so forth? I mean, isn’t that how social science is done?
Why does homosexuality get special treatment? How is it that a blogger can write a letter to the president of the university lodging a very serious, potentially career-destroying professional complaint against a professor, and the university can turn around and effectively put the professor on trial? It’s not enough for Regnerus to be wrong, and his results disproved. He must be professionally destroyed for his thoughtcrime.
Whatever happens to Regnerus, the lesson to researchers at the University of Texas is that you should never, ever undertake any research related to homosexuality, unless you are prepared in advance to reach politically correct conclusions. Otherwise, your academic career could be at stake.