When something like this happens to you, you start to realize there is an upside to paranoia, or let's say borderline parnoia. Paranoic thoughts. Not clinical paranoia, that's another thing entirely. Let us just say tendencies to let one's mind dwell in that area.
"I was unjustly attacked by those lesser than me. I was engaged in a noble pursuit that they were too craven to comprehend. I was upholding higher professional standards than they were; they have a false sense of their own worth. They are hacks and they are too stupid to realize it. They conspired against me."
And so on. The strange thing is that when something like this happens to you, going down the paranoia road, at least a little bit, almost seems mentally healthy in a way. I mean, what's the alternative? You're going to wallow in your faults? After all they've just been laid out to you, chapter and verse, in detail and quantified to boot. In fact the unhealthy thought train seems to go down THAT one. You don't want to go there, because then what?
Trying to be more serious for a minute--I have seen this, and I don't think it is a delusion: tenure and promotion committees have to make binary decisions, at least when it is about tenure and it is up-or-out time. For whatever reason, once they get on the wrong side of that, then the rationalization sets in. They want this to be a clear-cut decision, so they can have no qualms of their own consciences. So they convince themselves that you really were profoundly incompetent. It was a no-brainer. They did the college a service keeping you out. Lost in this is how they could have lived, worked and socialized with a profoundly incompetent person for six years and only now come to realize it.
It goes even further than that. When I pursued my appeal, and finally, after several months, was able to force a face to face meeting with the appeal committee and a the chair of the P&T committee, their attitude was one of petulance. As if they were offended that I would have the temerity to try to work my hardest to save a career I had invested over half my life in. Such a profoundly incompetent professor and he has the gall to waste our time with these proceedings! There was one person on the appeal committee that acted humanly, thank God. But the other three representatives, the chair of the appeal committee, the chair of the P&T committee and the dean, were all just as if they had tasted something bad in their mouth. Not just that I was dead (as a professor) but that I had the horrible ungentlemanliness to actually try to defend my career.
Actually, I have to correct what I said: the dean was not petulant, he was just goofy. He sat there with a goofy grin on his face as he did everything. Yes, what's worse than having Darth Vader as a dean, it's a weak dean. Then the faculty rush to leap into the power void. And all that resentment of being pushed around for all those years, they finally get to wield some power.
If anyone in fact does ever read this, I will need to eventually get out some of the details and that last paragraph leads to one important fact of the most recent denial. In the year and a half leading up to my consideration our small college acquired a new president, dean, and college chair. The president was (is) a businessman, not even posessing of a Ph.D., completely unacquinted with academia. I don't fault the college for taking him--at the time they were on their last legs financially--but the result of taking him on was that he naturally absented himself from all important academic decisions like P&T. At least I assume so. If I were in that situation that is certainly what I would do. So that had been in place for about a year, while we searched for a new dean too. Everbody sort of wondered how that would shake out. They acquired the dean at the beginning of my final academic year. And he turned out to be a wishy-washy empty suit. A sort of goofy guy with a goofy grin on his face all the time.
As the fact of the new dean slowly dawned on the faculty, they (as I had described above) slowly reached out to grab whatever power they could in this vacuum. And all those old resentments then have a time to come to the surface. Now it's payback time!
Oh and finally the college chair. Let's just call him "Mr. Meticulous" for now. That was a blindside. I did not know what an utter asshole he was until this all happened. This is my fault, I should have seen that coming. But he is one of those kind who while wielding knives behind closed doors is overly friendly and nice in public.
Ok, enough for now. Like I said, sometimes a little paranoia is actually just a matter of self-preservation!