Professor Defends Student’s Right to Free Speech. Now He’s Getting Fired. Here’s Why.
ON TUESDAY, Marquette University President Michael Lovell announced that tenured professor John McAdams (pictured) would be suspended without pay and would be fired should he fail to give a loyalty oath to the university’s vaguely defined “guiding values.” The university claims that McAdams’ “reckless” behavior was the problem, but the political science professor maintains that this is really about his conservative ideology.
The incident that led to the punishment dates back about a year when McAdams — known for his openly conservative views, many of which he airs on his popular blogsite Marquette Warrior — posted a story on his site about a conservative student who was told by a graduate student instructor in the Philosophy Department that he could not express any opposition to gay marriage in class (excerpt below). In the post, McAdams shared the name of the instructor who attempted to shut down the student’s ability to express his views in class.
On the eve of Good Friday, President Lovell announced that Prof. McAdams would be stripped of tenure and fired if he did not deliver a written statement recanting of his blog post, apologizing to the grad student instructor he publicly called out, and vowing that his future actions and behavior will align with Marquette’s “mission and values.”
The announcement to the Marquette community cited the 123-page unanimous decision of the “diverse” Faculty Hearing Committee concerning McAdams, Lovell insisting that “my decision has been guided by Marquette University’s values and is solely based on Professor McAdams’ actions, and not political or ideological views expressed in his blog.”
However, McAdams posted excerpts of the letter sent to him from Lovell informing him that he was suspended without pay from April 1, 2016 through the end of Fall 2016. That letter shows that Lovell also added a list of demands to be met if McAdams wanted to keep his job:
In addition, your return to the faculty on January 17, 2017, for the Spring 2017 semester is conditioned upon you delivering a written statement to the President’s Office by April 4, 2016, the details of which are contained later in this letter.
• Your acknowledgement and acceptance of the unanimous judgment of the peers who served on the Faculty Hearing Committee.
• Your affirmation and commitment that your future actions and behavior will adhere to the standards of higher education as defined in the Marquette University Faculty Handbook, Mission Statement and Guiding Values.
• Your acknowledgement that your November 9, 2014, blog post was reckless and incompatible with the mission and values of Marquette University and you express deep regret for the harm suffered by our former graduate student and instructor, Ms. Abbate.
“These demands are reminiscent of the Inquisition, in which victims who ‘confessed’ they had been consorting with Satan and spreading heresy would be spared execution,” wrote McAdams. “It is bizarre that Lovell can invoke Marquette’s ‘guiding values’ to contravene the black letter guarantees of academic freedom embodied in University Statues.”
McAdams goes on to point out that Lovell is being “dishonest” by announcing that he was simply following the committee’s recommendation because he had added the apology and loyalty pledge.
“It is disappointing that a faculty committee would not side with our academic freedom. But given the amount of politically correct intolerance among faculty these days, the committee’s refusal to go along with our firing was the most that could be expected,” wrote McAdams.
Here is an excerpt from McAdams’ original blog post exposing the speech-suppressing actions of the Philosophy instructor:
A student we know was in a philosophy class (“Theory of Ethics”), and the instructor (one Cheryl Abbate) was attempting to apply a philosophical text to modern political controversies. So far so good.
She listed some issues on the board, and came to “gay rights.” She then airily said that “everybody agrees on this, and there is no need to discuss it.”
The student, a conservative who disagrees with some of the gay lobby’s notions of “gay rights” (such as gay marriage) approached her after class and told her he thought the issue deserved to be discussed. Indeed, he told Abbate that if she dismisses an entire argument because of her personal views, that sets a terrible precedent for the class.
The student argued against gay marriage and gay adoption, and for a while, Abbate made some plausible arguments to the student — pointing out that single people can adopt a child, so why not a gay couple? She even asked the student for research showing that children of gay parents do worse than children of straight, married parents. The student said he would provide it.
So far, this is the sort of argument that ought to happen in academia.
But then things deteriorated.
Certain Opinions Banned
Abbate explained that “some opinions are not appropriate, such as racist opinions, sexist opinions” and then went on to ask “do you know if anyone in your class is homosexual?” And further “don’t you think it would be offensive to them” if some student raised his hand and challenged gay marriage? The point being, apparently that any gay classmates should not be subjected to hearing any disagreement with their presumed policy views.
Then things deteriorated further as the student said that it was his right as an American citizen to make arguments against gay marriage. Abbate replied that “you don’t have a right in this class to make homophobic comments.”
She further said she would “take offense” if the student said that women can’t serve in particular roles. And she added that somebody who is homosexual would experience similar offense if somebody opposed gay marriage in class.
She went on “In this class, homophobic comments, racist comments, will not be tolerated.” She then invited the student to drop the class.
Which the student is doing.
Shutting People Up
Abbate, of course, was just using a tactic typical among liberals now. Opinions with which they disagree are not merely wrong, and are not to be argued against on their merits, but are deemed “offensive” and need to be shut up.
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Censorship-loving Lovell says his work as head of the university is largely motivated by his Christian beliefs. He is a Roman Catholic and Marquette is a Jesuit institution. His annual salary is believed to be well over $350,000 plus benefits.
At a news conference, Lovell described how he initially declined to be considered but over time trustees and others at Marquette continued to pursue him, raising his interest. A meeting with Wild also convinced him the move was the right choice.
“He didn’t try to talk me in to it,” Lovell said. “He said, ‘Stand before God, and consider what path would give you the most fulfillment in your life.'”
Lovell said he consulted his longtime spiritual adviser, who told him God was calling him to this decision. …
“I know that many of you will be surprised by my decision,” Lovell said. “Those closest to me, however, know how important my Catholic faith is in my life, and having the ability to integrate my religious life with my professional life is something that I always wanted to do in my career.”
A change in Marquette’s bylaws in 2011 made it possible for Lovell, a Catholic layperson, to be chosen. …
“I have read how much the executive search committee has committed to getting the best candidate, Jesuit or lay person,” said senior Calvin Nixon. “Getting Dr. Lovell shows that they’re committed to raising our reputation as the foremost Jesuit university in the world. And I’m sure he will foster our values to the utmost level.”
Other students expressed mixed feelings about the pick.
Clare Maloney, a sophomore from Cincinnati, termed the decision to hire a layperson “kind of sad.” While she didn’t think the decision would change how the university is run, “It would be nice to keep the tradition.” …
Marquette University Board of Trustees Chairman Charles “Chuck” Swoboda called Lovell’s selection a historic moment for Marquette.
“Dr. Lovell brings the experience and vision to effectively lead Marquette amid the challenging dynamics of higher education today,” Swoboda said. “He clearly values the transformative experience of a Marquette education and, as our president, he will have the ability to lead and live out his Catholic faith as a servant leader.” …
The Marquette community remains keenly interested in hiring a new basketball coach to replace Buzz Williams, who abruptly departed for Virginia Tech.
Lovell said he wanted to be sure Marquette hires a coach who not only is successful on the court, “but who also fits the values and traditions of the Marquette community.” …
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