Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Letters to the Editor

A roundup of e-mailed letters sent to us recently.

Greetings Dr. McAdams:

Regarding: https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/marquette-professor-raises-concerns-over-universitys-version-of-social-just

It is a sad irony that a university educator makes the news because he promotes critical, independent thinking in students. It has become obvious that over the last few decades that most educators are more concerned with indoctrination than the pursuit of truth. The average academic has neither the wit to see the truth nor the courage to speak to the truth if they do. American academics’ worship more sacred cows than the Hindus in India, if you’ll pardon a little hyperbole.

I’m heartened that some of you still have the courage to speak-up.

Pax
Steve Graves, O.P.
Editor
CatholicWitness.com
DominicanWitness.com


Professor McAdams:

Love the blog title.  Have long simply refused to call the Marquette teams anything else but the Warriors, PC be damned.    On the other hand, have you heard the following argument about the term “Redskins?”  All the other team names; Indians, Seminoles, Chiefs, etc., are terms that American Indians called themselves. Unfortunately, they NEVER called themselves “Redskins.”   I was stopped in my tracks when I saw that one.  I wonder what you think.

I did very much enjoy your essay about the philosophy class that is no longer permitted to make arguments contrary to gay marriage.  I work in the [redacted] at a small college in [redacted], and walk lightly around those issues as many of my academic co-workers are gay.  If they decided to create a problem for someone they are well aware that  they have the power to destroy careers.

Out of self-preservation, I’ve taken to turning my back and leaving when the term “bigot” or “[X]phobe” rears its head in an argument.  In my view, that exact moment is the moment that the argument is over. 

It has long seemed to me that the term “bigot” refers to someone who is irrationally convinced of the superiority of their worldview.  The term “...phobe” as in “homophobe” or “islamophobe” refers to someone who suffers from an irrational fear.  In both cases, what appears to the shallow academic liberal as a “trump card” is instead the lowest of ad hominem, and a blatant accusation of innate irrationality.  Not very polite, but the stupid liberals are shocked when I react as if I were insulted.  From where I stand, there is simply no rational reason to continue arguing with someone who is supposedly incapable of rational thought. Thus, having been accused of that condition, I simply leave.  The moment that someone calls me mentally ill (or implies it) in an argument is the moment that argument has ended.

[Name Withheld]

Dear Professor McAdams,

I write to respectfully urge you to publicly condemn the reported incidents of hate mail and harassment received by Cheryl Abbate, as a result of spiraling reports about her Ethics class. As a Marquette alumnus, I believe that it is possible (and necessary) to address pedagogical issues without abandoning the University’s mission.

Regardless of our views on this issue, I am compelled to ask: what benefits or outcome do you foresee from your silence about the treatment Ms. Abbate has received on student ratings websites and from National news outlets? I believe that if you remain silent on this issue, people will conclude that you support incidents of harassment and hate mail directed to a Marquette Instructor. I also believe that you can publicly support Ms. Abbate in this regard, without abandoning your own personal political views.

Please publicly condemn harassment and hate mail in this matter.

Sincerely,
Nicholas Zettel
Marquette University Arts and Sciences, ‘06 & ‘08

[Editor’s Note: There is no need for us to condemn anything, since it goes without saying that people who write abusive e-mails are jerks and idiots.  Should you condemn all the abusive e-mails we have received?  We won’t ask you to do that, since we don’t think you have ever condoned them.

You should note that her ratings on student ratings websites have nothing to do with our reporting, and her treatment on national news outlets has consisted of reporting and fair commentary.]


Hi Professor McAdams,

I was just reading your blog post about the Theory of Ethics Class, and what you are saying does not surprise me at all.  

I graduated from Marquette 15 years ago, and I was also intimidated by another professor in the same class, and had to drop it.  I wrote a paper for the class about a pro-abortion article, refuting it, because I am pro-life.  

Well, my professor gave me a D on the paper and told me my opinion was wrong.  I don’t even remember his name anymore, but this was already going on nearly 20 years ago.

I also had a problem with a history professor who forced us to read a short story in which abortion was praised as birth control by three generations of a family.  

I refused to read it.  And when I wouldn’t discuss it in small group discussion, my professor wasn’t happy with me that I hadn’t read more than the first few pages.

If you discuss my response, please do not use my name.

 [Name Withheld]

[Editor’s Note:  While we don’t particularly like students simply refusing to read and discuss things, if this student feared that any dissenting opinions expressed in a discussion would hurt her grade, we can understand.]

Labels: , , , , , , , ,

Monday, November 24, 2014

Politically Correct Marquette Faculty Attack Marquette Warrior

Out over the weekend, a nasty attack on this blog by several Marquette Arts & Sciences Department chairs – and signed onto by a handful of Marquette faculty – posted on a blog that has been dedicated, for the last few days, to harassing us.

It resulted from our reporting of the misconduct of a Philosophy Department instructor who told a student who wanted to discuss gay marriage in class that his views were “homophobic,” and that any airing of opposition to gay marriage should not be allowed since it would “offend” any gay students in the class.

The list of department chairs who signed on is interesting.

Lowell Barrington, Political Science
Nancy Snow, Philosophy
James Marten, History
Jane Peterson, Social and Cultural Sciences
Krista Ratcliffe, English
John Grych, Psychology
Anne Pasero, Foreign Languages and Literatures
Robert Masson, Theology

With just a couple of exceptions, it’s pretty much a roll of the politically correct department chairs. Masson, for example, is a big proponent of the doctrine of “white privilege” which holds that white people owe what they have to the exploitation of black people. It doesn’t matter if you never owned slaves. It doesn’t matter if an ancestor died fighting on the Union side in the Civil War. You should feel guilty.

Snow was the lesbian philosopher with the bullhorn heading protests demanding the hiring of aggressively lesbian Arts & Sciences Dean job candidate Jodi O’Brien.

Snow, Marten, Ratcliffe, and Pasero all signed a petition to hire O’Brien. Barrington wore a button at the commencement following the hiring fiasco supporting O’Brien’s hiring.

Who’s Not There

Notable are departments not included: Economics, Math, and the natural sciences (Biology, Chemistry, Physics). Those departments are in “hard” disciplines where there is much less room for political correctness. And indeed, every one of the few people who have signed onto the statement in the comments section is (as of this writing) from one of the departments whose chairs signed, with the exception of Sharon Chubbuck in Education. Chubbuck wrote an essay where she demeaned two students who did not want to use the classroom to indoctrinate pupils saying they were showing “ the blinders of their common white, middle- to upper-middle class experiences.”

Of course, if the signers generally represent politically correct departments, it doesn’t follow that everybody in their departments is a politically correct leftist. There is a substantial number of more conservative and traditionalist scholars in the Philosophy Department. But they are a dwindling number, since the politically correct faction controls hiring.

Political Science leans clearly left, but isn’t very politically correct, Barrington’s signature to the contrary.

And it doesn’t follow that departments not involved in attacking us support us. More likely they simply haven’t been following this brouhaha, and/or don’t really care. But it remains the case that this is a tempest in a teapot, involving a very few faculty in the humanities and social sciences.

Evaluating the Claims

The illogic of the Department Chairs statement is not only evident when it is taken as a whole, but also in virtually every sentence. Let’s take them one at a time:
We support Ms. Abbate and deeply regret that she has experienced harassment and intimidation as a direct result of Prof. McAdams’s actions.
All we did was to report, accurately, the inappropriate actions of Abbate in demeaning a student, and claiming that gay students should not be exposed to any arguments against gay marriage. It is true that, when the story went national, she was subjected to some nasty e-mails and blog comments (although nothing required her to read the blog with the nastiest comments).

But then we got nasty comments too. When one does something that gets national publicity, some jerks are going to say nasty things. Neither we nor anybody at Marquette can help that.

Prof. McAdams’s actions—which have been reported in local and national media outlets—have harmed the personal reputation of a young scholar as well as the academic reputation of Marquette University.
If accurate reporting harms someone’s reputation, that is fair enough. And if accurate reporting harms Marquette’s reputation, that is also fair enough. The argument here seems to be that certain information needs to be concealed to protect reputations. No journalist would accept that. The rule should be “tell the truth and let the chips fall where they may.”

This, of course, is a classic case of blaming the messenger. It was Abbate’s actions toward the student which caused the problem, and even then it was not newsworthy until Marquette officials failed to address the problem.

When the student complained to the Dean’s office, he was directed to Philosophy Department Chair Nancy Snow. Snow could have told the student that Abbate was out of line, and that it was not Marquette’s position that opposition to gay marriage is “homophobic” nor that gays should be protected from hearing arguments against it.

Indeed, Snow could have had a little talk with Abbate and advised her against making inflammatory statements to students, and told her that Marquette’s policy is that all students (straight or gay) should equally be confronted in class with arguments they might dislike. No need for even a paper trail on that. But instead, Snow demanded the name of the employee who had advised the student to seek redress.

Having not received any redress, the student came to us.

Marquette’s “Reputation”

Ironically, Snow vigorously attacked Marquette over the issue of its failure to hire Jodi O’Brien. Snow was the lesbian philosopher with the bullhorn condemning Marquette for its action.


 So it seems we have a double standard here: attacking Marquette from the left is acceptable, but any attack from the right is evil since it harms Marquette’s “academic reputation.”

Abbate’s “Reputation”

Does our blog post harm Abbate, for example making it harder for her to get an academic job?

If there are some colleges out there who don’t want instructors who tell students that opposition to gay marriage is homophobic, Abbate might not get hired there. That is appropriate. We feel no obligation to suppress information to help her get a job

But of course, in an increasingly politically correct philosophy profession, hiring in a lot of departments is dominated by people who think pretty much as Abbate does.

Further, she has made no effort to conceal her political views, having on her blog an essay about how all men are responsible for rape.

(She has taken her blog private [https://aphilosophersblog.wordpress.com/] but we got a brief summary of her article from Google cache.)
They have negatively affected campus climate, especially as it relates to gender and sexual orientation.
Just how is this the case? Is the claim that female instructors can’t be criticized, but males can? Is the claim that a good “campus climate” for gays requires that views of which they might disapprove be suppressed? Saying so implies that gays are a bunch of either wimps (if they are fearful upon hearing certain opinions) or bigots (if they get bent out of shape on hearing things they disagree with).

Interestingly, the politically correct crowd cares nothing about the “campus climate” for groups other than their pet victim groups.

How did it affect the “campus climate” for Jews when various Marquette offices sponsored an “Israeli Apartheid” week?

And how about the “campus climate” for conservative Christians who don’t believe in evolution, but get taught about it in a biology class?

(We once had a student who was disturbed that he was being taught about evolution in Norman Sullivan’s Physical Anthropology class. We told him he had to suck it up and accept that if you take Physical Anthropology, you are going to learn about evolution.)

Politically correct people won’t accept these analogies, of course, since they sharply distinguish between victims groups who must be protected, and other groups who must bear the burden of having their beliefs contradicted. But we don’t accept this distinction, and Marquette can’t officially accept it.
And they have led members of the Marquette community to alter their behavior out of fear of becoming the subject of one of his attacks.
We don’t control anybody’s behavior. But if people fear that, when they do something dumb or prejudiced or inappropriate, we will out them, that’s dandy. The politically correct crowd seems to think they have a right to do things that are highly questionable and have them kept secret.

How might we have “altered” people’s behavior?
  • In 2006, a graduate student in Philosophy (note how it keeps popping up) put an innocuous political quote on his door. Department Chair James South decided it was “patently offensive” and tore it down. We blogged about it. Will South be less likely to do things like this again? That’s his call, but we hope he will.
  • In 2008, and student in Nancy Snow’s class responded to her lecture on “racial profiling” by giving the cops’ view of the issue. Snow tried to shut him up, and then, after class, insisted that he write an apology to two black students in the class. It was assumed they were “offended.” (There is that word again) We blogged about it. Did that make her less likely to shut down certain viewpoints?
  • In 2013, the Gender and Sexuality Resource Center sponsored a program called “Femsex” where a variety of sexual issues were discussed (often in ways contrary to Catholic teaching), and participants engaged in a variety of exercises, including coloring pictures of female genitalia in the “Cunt Coloring Book.” We blogged about it. Marquette, insisting that it was contrary to its Catholic mission, removed official sponsorship (although the participants were free to continue sans such sponsorship). Will Marquette bureaucrats think twice before sponsoring that sort of thing again? We hope so.
In short, we have only been able to “alter behavior” when people were doing something that could not stand scrutiny, and could not be defended when exposed.
Perhaps worst of all, Prof. McAdams has betrayed his role as a faculty member by pitting one set of students against another.
So all students are suppose to agree? So undergraduates exposed to abuse by an instructor are not supposed to seek redress? So if it hadn’t been for that troublemaker McAdams everything would be dandy? It would be from the standpoint of campus bureaucrats, but not from that of students who are attacked and demeaned and silenced.
by claiming the protection of academic freedom while trying to deny it to others, and by exploiting current political issues to promote his personal agenda.
Our “personal agenda” is to protect students from the excesses of political correctness at Marquette. The “personal agenda” of those to signed the statement is to subject students to the dictates of political correctness.

It’s deeply ironic that those who want Marquette administrators to shut us up are claiming that we want to deny “academic freedom” to others. We can’t deny academic freedom to anybody. We can only report what they do and say.

Professors have a long history of thinking that “academic freedom” includes freedom from being criticized. They happily say what they want to say, and then whine when others say their positions are wrong, or misguided, or downright evil.

But in a free society, freedom works both ways. The people who criticize the professors have the same free speech rights as the professors. And professors have the right to criticize other professors. The politically correct types, living in the insular little environment of an academic department, have trouble understanding that.

Conclusion

The intellectual shoddiness of the attack on us raises all kinds of questions, the most fundamental one being the lack of tolerance for free speech. Leftist professors who would be quite happy having Marquette attacked from the left on issues like “diversity” and “sustainability” go bananas when their own behavior is criticized.

The notion of a robust free market in ideas is fine when they are the only player in the market.

It’s “free speech for me, but not for thee.” And it’s a symptom of the increasing intolerance of academia.

Labels: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Cheryl Abbate to Marquette: Silence Marquette Warrior

Cheryl Abbate is the Marquette Philosophy instructor who told a student who wanted to discuss gay marriage in class that any expressions of opposition would be “homophobia,” and further that any gay students who happened to be in class should be protected from hearing such arguments.

Our post generated a huge brouhaha, and eventually was the subject of an article in Inside Higher Ed.   According to the article:
Abbate, however, said she hoped Marquette would “use this event as an opportunity to create and actively enforce a policy on cyberbullying and harassment.” She added: “It is astounding to me that the university has not created some sort of policy that would prohibit this behavior which undoubtedly leads to a toxic environment for both students and faculty. I would hope that Marquette would do everything in its power to cultivate a climate where Marquette employees, especially students, are not publicly demeaned by tenured faculty.”
Thus Abbate adds “cyber bullying” to “offensive” and “harassing” and “racist, sexist and homophobic” to the repertoire of terms that politically correct academic leftists use to shut up people whose opinions they dislike.

If simply providing news coverage of an event that reflects badly on somebody is bullying, the Fox News website has been consistently bullying Barack Obama, and the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel doing the same to Scott Walker.

Abbate feels she has been demeaned, but was happy to demean a student by clearly implying that his views were homophobic and “offensive.” We reported that fact.  It was the facts that made Abbate look bad.

The “toxic environment” business is ironic.  Abbate created a toxic environment for the student by labeling his views on gay marriage homophobic.  There is no doubt that the “climate” feels better for politically correct students and faculty if their views and behavior are not allowed to be challenged.  In other words, when there is no diversity of opinion, or when diverse opinions are silenced.

In academia, politically correct people apparently get to attack and demean whomever they want, and then play the victim when their own behavior gets publicized.

Politically correct academics are so entirely convinced their own attitudes are righteous that they cannot accept people disagreeing with them, and even criticizing them.  It’s the result of an extremely inbred, narrow and parochial culture.

As an article on the website of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education notes:
Abbate and her defenders come off in the Inside Higher Ed article as believing it’s perfectly fine for them to silence students if they hold views based on sources they don’t like.
They apparently apply that standard to professors, too.

Labels: , , , , , , , , ,

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Marquette Warrior: Support From an “In the Closet” Philosopher

In the wake of some nasty attacks from politically correct academics following our account of a Philosophy instructor who would not allow discussion of gay marriage because any voicing of opposition to the policy might offend gay students who might be in the class, we have also gotten messages of support.

The following is from an e-mail with the subject line “Support from the Closet.” No, the person is not a closeted gay (so far as we know) but rather someone with politically incorrect political attitudes.
John (if I may), I am a philosopher and want to express my support for your clear-headed critique and analysis of the recent incident at Marquette. This event is consistent with the recent, yet rapidly growing, infection of political correctness that is consuming academic philosophy, a place that was a hold out against this madness. That political correct tyranny could take root in philosophy, the tradition that traces back to Socrates, is a grotesque irony of the highest magnitude. I hope you understand that there are philosophers out there who agree with you and applaud you but that many of us cannot speak publicly for legitimate fear of retaliation. Those of us, like myself, who don’t have tenure, are well aware of the vicious, career-destroying tactics of the politically correct operators in our field. So, I can only express my support for you on this matter in private.

It’s good to know that there are still some reasonable people out there.
The most chilling comments here are those about “legitimate fear of retaliation” and “vicious, career-destroying tactics of the politically correct operators in our field.”

The politically correct crowd does not consist of happy warriors, eager to engage in debate and wanting to prove the superiority of their views in the free market of ideas. Before the era of political correctness (which grew out of 60s leftism, although the current practitioners are the intellectual children and grandchildren of that generation) a lot of liberals welcomed debate. While they could be as biased as anybody else, when pressed they came down on the side of tolerance.

They are a dwindling breed.

Labels: , , , , , , , , ,

Friday, November 21, 2014

More Feminist Fascism in Academia: Ban Debate on Abortion

From the (liberal) Daily Beast: a story about how feminists at Oxford University got a debate on abortion shut down claiming that the two debaters (men) had no right to debate the issue.
Two male journalists, one conservative and one contrarian, were to debate abortion at Oxford University earlier this week. The event was sponsored by a student pro-life group and had all the ingredients to provoke an impassioned campus protest: two men, both right-leaning, debating an issue not often debated in England. And what do they know about terminating a pregnancy anyway?
It’s a fair question, one that could have been put to either journalist in a spirited debate (the very thing we expect to happen within the walls of a university). Or better yet, instead of wasting an evening listening to two men do battle over who controls a woman’s uterus, the aggrieved, pro-choice student could have simply skipped the event altogether.
But for those who were offended that someone with a penis might discuss abortion at all, opting to skip the event wasn’t enough. After the student union Women’s Campaign (WomCam) urged the Oxford Students of Life to cancel the event and demanded an apology for attempting to stage the debate, the university called it off entirely, a move critics slammed as a grave restriction of free speech.
After the event was canceled, in a spasm of alarming anti-intellectualism and illiberalism, Niamh McIntyre, a female student at Oxford, wrote in The Independent, “The idea that in a free society absolutely everything should be open to debate has a detrimental effect on marginalized groups.”
She insisted that she “did not stifle free speech” in calling for the event’s cancellation. (Only school administrators have the power to enact censorship, after all.) “As a student, I asserted that [the debate] would make me feel threatened in my own university; as a woman, I objected to men telling me what I should be allowed to do with my own body.”
Of course, a segregationist apartment owner who does not want to rent to blacks could ask “who are you folks to tell me what I can do with my property?” And a gun owner could ask “who are you liberals to tell me that I can’t own a gun?”
It’s safe to say that, in the United Kingdom especially (where only seven percent want a total ban on abortion), most women object to men telling them how the law should govern their bodies, particularly when it comes to reproductive rights. But that doesn’t mean men, whether or not their ideas are “offensive” or ill-informed, should be denied the right to argue their case.

According to McIntyre, “Debating abortion as if it’s a topic to be mulled over and hypothesized on ignores the fact that this is not an abstract, academic issue.” But her real argument is that only those directly affected by abortion (women) can participate in an ethical debate on the subject. (While we’re at it, are there topics that only men can debate?) And McIntyre’s argument could be made by both sides—or anyone so sure of their position that they no longer believe it a subject to be “mulled over or hypothesized on.”

The Oxford abortion controversy is the latest example of an increasingly common instinct among certain feminists to argue that certain subjects and certain arguments are either off limits or simply not up for debate.

Take feminist writer Jessica Valenti. Responding to a Sunday New York Times column arguing that new affirmative consent laws are too broad and difficult to enforce, Valenti denounced its author, Yale Law School professor Jed Rubenfeld, as a “rape apologist.”

The core of Rubenfeld’s piece—that universities should not be responsible for adjudicating rape charges and that “yes mean yes” policies are deficient—has been cogently argued by legal experts and social scientists, and in turn provoked many cogent counter-arguments.

Sure, Rubenfeld makes some controversial points, like his claim that the “redefinition of consent… encourages people to think of themselves as sexual assault victims when there was no assault.” But controversial or not, nowhere in his piece does he “apologize” for rapists or excuse the crime of sexual assault. To accuse him of doing so is certainly an effective way to end a conversation. After all, what reasonable person would engage in argument with someone who is apologizing for rapists?

Like McIntyre, Valenti argues that “the worst offense is Rubenfeld’s apparent belief that there is a ‘debate’ to be had as if there are two equal sides, both with reasonable and legitimate points.” But worse is Valenti’s suggestion that her views—and those who agree with her—are the only reasonable and legitimate ones.

Predictably, Rubenfeld’s op-ed provoked backlash at Yale too. Some 75 students signed a lengthy letter condemning his “overly narrow view of the purpose of processes that allow survivors to report sexual misconduct and seek support on college campuses.”

The letter gave the impression that Rubenfeld had no support at Yale, but some students have quietly taken his side. “There actually are a large number of students who agree with him but are not at all comfortable coming forward in his defense,” a female law student at Yale who wished to remain anonymous told the Daily Beast. “I think that speaks to a lack of intellectual diversity in the conversation.”
This is a terribly revealing statement. Feminists have managed to exploit the “spiral of silence” to cow dissenting views. Of course, when dissenting views are voiced, it is necessary to move quickly to attack and vilify those who voice them, else the process breaks down, and people begin to feel free to dissent. This, in fact, is what we experienced when we called out a Philosophy instructor who said that gay marriage could not be discussed in her class since any gay students would be offended by any opposition to the policy.
“There is a baseline agreement when it comes to campus rape: the current system is failing these students,” she added. “People who don’t agree on a particular policy to address the campus rape crisis are not rape apologists.”

But lately many feminists seem more focused on setting “acceptable” conditions and standards of debate than on taking political action to combat sexism and sexual assault.
Nobody who has spent any time in academia will find this unusual.  The campus left simply does not accept that people who disagree with them have a right to speak.

This should sound familiar at Marquette. Not only did the aforementioned instructor in the Philosophy Department explain that gay marriage could not be discussed in class, another Philosophy graduate student asserted that opposition to gay marriage would constitute “violence” against gays.

The claim that somehow men are not allowed to debate abortion is essentially dishonest.  Feminists would never admit that women should be excluded from any policy debate.  What the feminists who shut down the Oxford debate objected to was merely the expression of ideas they disliked.

When women with whom the feminists disagree speak up, they are routinely demeaned and derided.

The simple fact is that feminism is not a women’s movement at all.  It’s a leftist movement exploiting the (sometimes real, sometimes imagined) victimization of women to achieve leftist goals.  The phrase “women’s movement” is in fact simply a lie.  The feminist banshees are useful as shock troops for the left, but they represent leftists, not women.

Labels: , , , , , , , ,

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Another Philosophy Graduate Student Wants Classroom Discussion Censored

In response you our post on a graduate Marquette Philosophy instructor who said she would not allow discussion of gay marriage in her class because there might be gay students who would be “offended,” another Philosophy graduate student left a post on an online discussion board defending her.  It’s instructive as to the ideology that pervades the politically correct precincts of Philosophy at Marquette. We are not naming her because, unlike Abbate, she is not in charge of any class (that we are aware of).
I just wanted to write here, as a fellow graduate student and teaching assistant, I support Cheryl and her bravery to confront heterosexism in the classroom even though we occupy such tenuous places in the university. It’s amazing how “free speech” is only invoked to protect students and faculty who intend to do violence against others in the classroom, to make the space less inclusive, but a graduate students can’t attempt to control disruption in her own classroom, cannot tell a student when he is, in fact, simply incorrect. I’m so disturbed by what happened here, and I hope that it inevitably won’t jeopardize anything for Cheryl.
Note the litany of reasons for shutting up discussion.

First, opposition to gay marriage is defined as “heterosexism.” In the world of the politically correct, there are no legitimate arguments against the gay political agenda, but only evil heterosexism.  And is banning discussion of gay marriage really “confronting heterosexism.”  In some minds, apparently.

Secondly, people who want to speak freely “intend to do violence against others in the classroom, to make the space less inclusive.” Apparently, opposing gay marriage is the same as “doing violence.” Beat up a gay guy, let a gay guy hear you oppose gay marriage? No difference to some people, apparently.

And being “inclusive,” it seems, means that certain politically correct victim groups are not to be exposed to any arguments they might object to. This means being highly exclusive toward people who hold those politically incorrect opinions.

Such disfavored groups, of course, can be confronted with all kinds of challenges to their most treasured beliefs.

Third, Abbate is portrayed as trying to “control disruption in her own classroom.” How would discussion of gay marriage be disruptive? And if it would, how would it be more disruptive than other issues? One can easily see how a vigorous discussion of hot button issues could get out of hand, but it’s the instructor’s job to control such discussions. And a discussion that gets “out of hand” is probably better, in a university, than a potential discussion that is stifled. Further, aren’t the hot button issues the ones most worth discussing?

Also, Abbate didn’t claim that discussion of gay marriage would be disruptive. Merely that it might offend some gay students. Had she said “in my experience, it’s not a good use of class time,” that would have been entirely reasonable.

Does “disruption” simply mean the voicing of opinions the instructor doesn’t like?

Finally, could Abbate “tell a student when he is, in fact, simply incorrect?” Whether the student was in fact “incorrect” is a matter of opinion, but Abbate had every right to challenge the student’s opinion. When she was simply arguing with the student about gay adoption, we characterized that as “the sort of argument that ought to happen in academia.” But she didn’t stop there.

As for whether our exposé will “jeopardize anything for Cheryl,” that’s extremely unlikely. Her opinions are quite in tune with those of philosophy professors these days, and further she doesn’t make any secret of her political opinions, as her blog shows.

Conclusion

The rather violent reaction our original post has gotten reveals a lot about academics, especially in fields like the humanities and education. They live in a narrow little world of political correctness where certain things are taken for granted and certain opinions are not to be expressed. They are not keen to argue about things like gay marriage. They think that any argument against it is wrong, evil and bigoted, and must be suppressed.

When somebody attacks the excesses of one of their own (as we did) they go bananas. In their little world, their righteousness is just not challenged.

Labels: , , , , , , , ,

Abuse From the Politically Correct Crowd Over Instructor Who Said Gay Students Would Be Offended at Discussion of Gay Marriage

Some leftist and politically correct blogs have taken up the cause of Cheryl Abbate, the Marquette Philosophy instructor who told one of her students that gay marriage could not be discussed in class since any opposition to gay marriage might offend gay students.

Some of the abuse has been in personal e-mails to us.  For example:
Ben Mulitski [benthono@gmail.com]

You are what’s wrong with this world-- spreading hatred for the sake of spreading hatred. Free speech is unimportant when the viewpoints expressed are blatantly wrong.

http://dailynous.com/2014/11/18/philosophy-grad-student-target-of-political-smear-campaign/
This is the secret id of politically correct people revealing itself: “Free speech is unimportant when the viewpoints expressed are blatantly wrong.” Yes, politically correct people think they have a right to shut up speech that they think is “blatantly wrong.”

Then we have an another e-mail, sent to us:
Buck, Brandon [brandon.buck@tc.columbia.edu]

As usual, just a privileged old White MALE tryin’ to talk about who should feel offended and who shouldn’t. And, as usual, another privileged old white male tryin’ to do all he can to ensure that a female philosopher feels marginalized and denigrated.

You are a small human being.

Sincerely,

Brandon
Yes, another view into the id of the politically correct. Anti-white racism and anti-male sexism. And of course ageism.

Buck then upped the ante by e-mailing the entire political science faculty.
Buck, Brandon [brandon.buck@tc.columbia.edu]

Greetings all,

As an MU alum, I’m thoroughly disappointed because, at this point, your silence is deafening. And your silence renders you equally culpable. This isn’t just another case of McAdams being McAdams. This isn’t a case of intellectual liberty to express unpopular ideas.

Whatever went down in that ethics course, the fact remains that the TA is a Marquette student. As a student, she’s entrusted to the care of MU faculty (that’s you!). McAdams’s actions violated the fiduciary responsibility he has toward ALL students at Marquette. The same fiduciary responsibility you all share. By publicly attacking a student in this way, he has potentially caused her emotional and psychological trauma. He has violated a student’s privacy, and has deliberately and intentionally caused her harm with neither care nor appropriate foresight. For these reasons, McAdams is not fit to serve as a faculty member at ANY university.

To be clear, the university is not only a marketplace of ideas. It’s a place where young people can become grow to become good people.

Maybe as a novice educator with no training provided by the university, the TA felt she wasn’t yet adequately prepared to handle a conversation about gay marriage in a responsible way. Perhaps she intended to consult the advice of her advisor; or maybe she wanted to invite conversation on the topic during another class session in a more structured way. In either case, her unwillingness to engage the conversation at that particular time during that particular class could equally signal prudence and a sense of responsibility for all her students (two virtues McAdams is obviously lacking).

In any event the incident provided a valuable learning opportunity for all students involved. And instead of helping an aspiring academic grow and become a better person and a better pedagogue, McAdams chose to publicly humiliate, disparage and attack her. McAdams is flatly pathetic and there’s no place for that in your esteemed department, at Marquette--or any university.

Along with his immediate termination, he should also be subject to civil liability. And the fact remains that, as long as you all stand silently by, you’re equally morally culpable.

Sincerely,

Brandon
_________________________________________________
Brandon Buck
Doctoral Fellow, Philosophy and Education
GA/TA, Department of Education Policy & Social Analysis
Teachers College, Columbia University
(m) [redacted]

Other Arguments

Some responses were less deranged, but still misguided.

Some attackers accused us of taking Abbate’s comments out of context. We have no time to prepare an entire transcript of the exchange between Abbate and the student, but we did supply the entire audio to a reporter for Inside Higher Ed, and she confirmed both the thrust and the details of what we reported.

The reporter, Colleen Flaherty, got a response from Abbate, and Abbate admitted that she said “it seemed right to me” that a ban on gay marriage would violate Rawls’ principle of equal liberty, which was the text being discussed. This is not precisely what the student reported to us, but it’s easy to see how the student would have perceived the instructor blowing off an issue that he wanted to discuss.

Flaherty confirmed that we e-mailed Abbate, and asked for her version of what happened. Abbate did not respond.

A supporter of Abbate’s, one Justin Weinberg, an associate professor at the University of South Carolina, opined that “the instructor needed to make a decision about how to use limited class time, especially given the topic of the lesson and the subject of the course (which is ethical theory, not applied ethics).”

The problem is that’s not what Abbate said to the student. She explicitly said she did not want to discuss the issue because if arguments against gay marriage were voiced, they might offend any gay students in the class.

We teach a course in Public Policy. We don’t discuss gay marriage for the simple reason that we focus on issues that can be decided on the costs and benefits and their distribution. Gay marriage doesn’t fit that context very well.  But an instructional choice is not the same thing as wanting to protect students from arguments they might dislike.

Only Certain Groups Get Protection

Nobody would say that a biology professor should refrain from discussing evolution because some conservative Christians might object, or that atheist arguments can’t be aired because Christians and other theists might be offended.

Only certain victim groups get protection from hearing things they are presumed to get upset about.  And it doesn’t matter whether they really get upset.  To presume that gays would get upset over hearing arguments against gay marriage, or blacks would get upset hearing arguments against affirmative action is to demean both groups.  It’s true that among both groups there are hustlers who are perpetually offended.  But they should not be allowed to censor the discussion.

In reality, it’s arguments that liberal and leftist professors don’t like that are deemed “offensive.”

Another Argument of Campus Authoritarians

Weinberg made another argument, far more insidious, supporting Abbate’s refusal to discuss gay marriage. Quoting:
It also happened to be a kind of comment that Abbate noted might be offensive, and might constitute harassment according to Marquette University’s policies. So it seems she was being a good teacher as well as playing it safe regarding university policy. That was prudent, given her status as a graduate student instructor. The main take-away, though, is that it would have been perfectly permissible for Abbate to request the student not make the comment even if it weren’t offensive.
This, of course, contradicts Weinberg’s first argument, that not discussing gay marriage was merely an instructional choice. Here, he endorses the notion that allowing any opposition to gay marriage to be voiced would be “harassment” and might violate a harassment policy.

This is the first cousin to the notion that politically incorrect opinions are “offensive” and thus must be silenced.

Unfortunately, Marquette itself seemed to endorse that notion in a “training” module on “harassment” that all faculty and employees were required to take a few months ago.

But that notion would never stand up in court, and it’s unlikely Marquette would ever try to enforce that notion.  But they might not mind if it chills politically incorrect speech, since such speech creates problems for administrators.

Conclusion

So what we have is the academic version of the culture wars, with the increasingly authoritarian academic left wanting to shut up first students, and then professors who fail to toe the line.

Labels: , , , , , , , , ,

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Nancy Show, Philosophy Chair, Livid Over Marquette Warrior Criticism of Politically Correct Instructor

Just this past Sunday, we blogged about an instructor in Marquette’s Philosophy Department who refused to allow a class discussion of gay marriage because if any student voiced opposition to gay marriage, that would be “homophobic” and might offend gay students.

We were just at lunch at the Tory Hill Cafe (in the Law School) with some colleagues and a Political Science job candidate.

We were accosted by Nancy Snow, Acting Chair of the Philosophy Department.  She said [paraphrasing] “now you are picking on graduate students” in reference to the instructor, one Cheryl Abbate, who is indeed a graduate student.

She added “I’m so mad at you” and added “your student is lying.”

We responded  “we have the audio, Nancy.”  She repeated “your student is lying.”  She further claimed the student should not have recorded the conversation.  Suspecting that he was going to be called a liar, he was smart to do so.

We do indeed have the audio, and the quotes we attributed to the instructor are exactly what she said.

As for “picking on a graduate student:”  when a department puts a graduate student (or anybody else) in the classroom, in charge of a class, they are responsible for the person acting in a professional manner.  Put somebody in a position of power and responsibility and you are responsible when they abuse that power and responsibility.

Excluding certain opinions because they might offend some special interest group, or labeling a student’s views as “homophobic” is unprofessional.  Indeed, it’s intolerant.

Snow, to whom the student complained, apparently thought she could blow off the complaint.  But then our blog post appeared.

If Abbate in fact told Snow that the student lied about her comments, Abbate is in fact lying.  But we do not know firsthand what Abbate told Snow.

In fact, if anybody wants to make an issue of it, we will share the audio with anybody with the authority to deal with the situation whom we trust to keep the student’s identity confidential.

Aside from the audio, it’s easy to see how Abbate would have said what we reported.  Her blog is titled “Thoughts from a Vegan Feminist Philosopher.”  Some of the stuff seems quirky and bland, such as her criticism for a Catholic parish for having a pig wrestling contest.

Less benign is her essay titled “Yes All Men…Contribute to the Prevalence of Rape.” Yes, it’s a common theme among feminists and Exhibit One of the reality that hard-core feminism is, at root, about sexist antipathy toward males.

Labels: , , , , , , , , ,

Monday, November 10, 2014

Marquette: How Do We Deal With Students Who Don’t Accept “Social Justice” Indoctrination?

And e-mail today, sent to all faculty (emphasis added):
One aspect of Marquette’s mission is to form “leaders concerned for society and the world and desirous of putting an end to hunger and conflict” (Kolvenbach, 1989b, 59). The skills and awareness students need are inexhaustible. Whether in STEM, health care, law, communication, the humanities (philosophy, history, English, theology, social and cultural sciences, languages), or business, MU courses should prepare our students to be leaders who will address “the gritty realities of our world.” Many faculty have taken on this challenge with assignments, readings, problems, experiments, service learning, international study, observations, clinics, and social innovation projects. Some teachers experience resistance when they address issues of social justice.

Faculty are invited to prepare proposals for mini-workshops for this interdisciplinary faculty day that will showcase their ideas, resources, assignments, and successes, but also any pushback they experience in the classroom when they treat social justice topics and concerns. These will provide the grist for interdisciplinary conversations that will spark new ideas and ways to proceed.

The University Working for Justice
Wednesday, January 7, 2015—Faculty Conversations on Learning
AMU 157 and AMU 163 from 8:45 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Lunch included. Co-sponsored by the College of Arts and Sciences and Manresa for Faculty in the Center for Teaching and Learning
The goals of this day are to:
  • Provide a framework for justice education in the Jesuit tradition
  • Build faculty capacity to respond across the disciplines with learning experiences in the classroom
  • Explore strategies for confronting roadblocks and pushback
  • Engage in interdisciplinary dialogue and conversation about Marquette/Jesuit education goals
What are some of the examples of “pushback” that instructors might face?

We blogged about one just yesterday: a student who wanted to discuss gay marriage in class, and what told that any such discussion would “offend” any gay students and would be “homophobic.”

So this looks for all the world to be a workshop in “how do we deal with students who resist indoctrination.”

At places like Marquette,  “social justice” is merely code for a liberal or left political agenda.  It’s not just “we should care for the poor,” it’s “we should support every standard liberal and leftist idea about how to help the poor.” It’s not just “we should oppose racism,” it’s “all whites should feel guilty about their white privilege.”

And indeed, it’s about opposing some things (like genetic engineering of crops or globalization of markets) that promise to lift millions of the world’s poor out of destitution, since they are seen as benefiting capitalist corporations.

Among these folks, opposition to abortion is not  a part of social judtice.  Neither is opposition to gay marriage.  On the contrary, any opposition to gay marriage is called “homophobia.”

In short, these folks think that by invoking “social justice” they can pretend to be supporting the supposed Catholic mission of the university.  But in reality their agenda is identical to secular liberal and leftist elites.

If Marquette actually cared about “leaders concerned for society and the world” the university would welcome “pushback” from students directed toward their professors.  That would indicate students are thinking and critically analyzing.  It would indicate they are intellectually engaged.

It would indicate the nature of “social justice” is an open question, and people may have different ideas about it.

But that would be highly inconvenient for professors who want to indoctrinate.

Labels: , , , , , ,

Sunday, November 09, 2014

Marquette Philosophy Instructor: “Gay Rights” Can’t Be Discussed in Class Since Any Disagreement Would Offend Gay Students

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.

As Charles Krauthammer explained:
The proper word for that attitude is totalitarian. It declares certain controversies over and visits serious consequences — from social ostracism to vocational defenestration — upon those who refuse to be silenced.

The newest closing of the leftist mind is on gay marriage. Just as the science of global warming is settled, so, it seems, are the moral and philosophical merits of gay marriage.

To oppose it is nothing but bigotry, akin to racism. Opponents are to be similarly marginalized and shunned, destroyed personally and professionally.
Of course, only certain groups have the privilege of shutting up debate. Things thought to be “offensive” to gays, blacks, women and so on must be stifled. Further, it’s not considered necessary to actually find out what the group really thinks. “Women” are supposed to feel warred upon when somebody opposes abortion, but in he real world men and women are equally likely to oppose abortion.

The same is true of Obama’s contraception mandate.

But in the politically correct world of academia, one is supposed to assume that all victim groups think the same way as leftist professors.

The “Offended” Card

Groups not favored by leftist professors, of course, can be freely attacked, and their views (or supposed views) ridiculed. Christians and Muslims are not allowed to be “offended” by pro-gay comments.

(Muslims are a protected victim group in lots of other ways, but not this one.)

And it is a free fire zone where straight white males are concerned.

Student Seeks Redress

The student first complained to the office of the Dean of Arts & Sciences, and talked to an Associate Dean, one Suzanne Foster. Foster sent the student to the Chair of the Philosophy Department, saying that department chairs usually handle such cases. The chair, Nancy Show, pretty much blew off the issue.

Interestingly, both Snow and Foster have been involved in cases of politically correct attacks on free expression at Marquette.

Foster took offense when one of her colleagues referred to a dinner which happened to involve only female faculty as a “girls night out.” He was reprimanded by then department chair James South for “sexism,” but the reprimand was overturned by Marquette.

Snow, in a class on the “Philosophy of Crime and Punishment” tried to shut up a student who offered a response, from the perspective of police, to Snow’s comments about supposed “racial profiling.” The student said talk about racial profiling makes life hard for cops, since it may make minorities hostile and uncooperative.

Show tried to silence him, claiming “this is a diverse class.” This was an apparent reference to two black students in the class, who were, Snow assumed, likely offended on hearing that.

The majority of the class, contacted by The Marquette Warrior, felt the comments were reasonable and relevant, but Snow insisted that the student write an apology to the black students.

So how is a student to get vindication from University officials who hold the same intolerant views as Abbate?

Conclusion

Thus the student is dropping the class, and will have to take another Philosophy class in the future.

But this student is rather outspoken and assertive about his beliefs. That puts him among a small minority of Marquette students. How many students, especially in politically correct departments like Philosophy, simply stifle their disagreement, or worse yet get indoctrinated into the views of the instructor, since those are the only ideas allowed, and no alternative views are aired?

Like the rest of academia, Marquette is less and less a real university. And when gay marriage cannot be discussed, certainly not a Catholic university.

Labels: , , , , , , , , , ,

Saturday, November 01, 2014

Why Do Priuses Have More Accidents Than Other Cars?

Because it’s hard to drive while you are patting yourself on the back.

Labels: ,

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Marquette Theologian Mark Johnson on Terrorism

Professor Mark Johnson blogs infrequently, but when he does he’s worth reading.  Most recently, he’s posted his thoughts on ISIS terrorism.

Here is just a piece of his most recent post, which might well provoke you to read the entire thing. Speaking of the beheadings that ISIS has committed, Johnson observes:
The President has spoken of them as appalling and barbaric, while others say that those who took these four lives—there will be more—are brutal and savage.

But these descriptions both mislead and fail to get to the heart of the matter. . . . Brutal things are done by brutes—lions, bears, snakes, sharks—which are animals devoid of reason. Our human reason or intelligence is the cause and hallmark of our dignity. Brute animals, by contrast, operate in the physical world of nature, red in tooth and claw, where they must kill or be killed. So they attack and kill without thinking, acting instead on the instincts given them by nature, and nature’s God. This is why we don’t put animals on trial when they kill a human being.

So also, savage things are done by savages—humans in pre-civilized cultures, we might say—who indeed are humans possessing reason, but who have not yet had the range of corrective experiences from history and religion that lift cultures to a point of fuller human living and interaction: no belief yet in individual human dignity and worth, and no system of the rule of man-made law with a right participate in their own governance, and to appeal to impartial judges.
Thus the striking thing about the behavior is ISIS is its anachronistic nature. People with access to 21st century social media, 21st century travel and 21st century weapons show a primitive worldview.

Anybody reading (say) the Book of Judges might well be appalled by the bloodshed it contains, but it recounts events over 3,000 years ago. What excuse does ISIS have?

Johnson’s conclusion is that the terrorists have simply chosen not to think. That’s a choice for which they can, and should, be held morally responsible.

Labels: , , , , ,

Thursday, October 09, 2014

Talk on North Korea Tonight on Campus

See the details here.

North Korea is interesting as the worst of the few remaining Communist dictatorships.   An extreme case, in other words, from which much can be learned.

Labels: , , ,

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Marquette’s Bizarre “Harassment” Training Getting National Attention

We broke the story here, and it’s been picked up by some national websites:  a Marquette online “training” program that supposedly warms employees about harassing behavior, but in fact tells them not to say anything that anybody, no matter how hypersensitive, might object to.

This was picked up by Campus Reform.

Another article appeared on the website Minding the Campus.

The latter article was noted and discussed at National Review Online.

Some of the comments on Minding the Campus are choice.  One commenter, for example notes that the course cautions people “Be alert to nonverbal clues indicating a colleague might not welcome certain conduct.”  He or she then notes:
At the same time, according to California, it is supposedly impossible for me to tell whether my sexual partner is okay with what we are doing based on nonverbal cues.
Okay, academia.
Another poster notes that one of the “harassing” images is a screen saver of a man who is shirtless, but fully clothed from the waist down.  He responds:
What if I have a crucifix with a shirtless Jesus? Is that offensive at Jesuit Marquette, too? Better investigate the chapel on campus!
This kind of ridicule is fully deserved by Marquette. But given the insular culture of the Marquette bureaucracy — and especially the part that specializes in “diversity” and “inclusion” — the University can be expected to blow this off and continue to do such silly things.

[Update]

Also noticing this fiasco is the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, which is the premier organization in the nation protecting free expression on college campuses.

Labels: , , , , ,

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Bob Ashmore: Anti-Israel Former Marquette Professor on Foreign Policy

We know Bob Ashmore (but haven’t seen him in quite a while, since he hasn’t been on campus). He’s actually a good guy. But some of his opinions seem to us really far, far out.

Labels: , , , ,