Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Gordon Baldwin, RIP

I was devastated to learn this week of the death from cancer of Gordon Baldwin, long time law prof here at UW.

Gordon described himself to me (accurately, I think) as a "moderate Republican." This made him an oddball, extremist, and weirdo in the context of the UW, where political opinion generally ranges from three centimeters to three light years left of center. Gordon was a gentleman of the old school, and his affable manners were not always reciprocated by faculty who disagreed with him, but that never deterred him from requiting evil with good.

Back in the early 1990s, when I started going around, trying to convince people that we had a faculty speech code and ought to get rid of it, Gordon was the very first person I talked to. It was, I said, part of the University's harassment rule. He said he didn't think the current harassment rule contained a speech code because -- he was one of the people who wrote it! However, he was glad to listen to an argument to the contrary. He agreed to meet me at a luncheon meeting at the Madison Club. As I recall, the Wisconsin Supreme Court -- the whole damn thing -- was dining at the table next to ours. I showed him the troublesome sections and what I thought the problems with them were. He was an easy convert, my first.

He was a person of clear convictions. Solid as a rock, or as Emerson would say, a man you can't pass your hand through. I will miss him.

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