Monday, April 20, 2015

Affirmative Action Debate in Madison Tomorrow Night

These two fellows are heavyweights, and this debate should be excellent. We expect to be there.

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Monday, April 13, 2015

Writer of Bizarre Anti-Police Tirade Was Mover of Femsex at Marquette

It created quite a stir:  a column in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel where one Claire Van Fossen demanded the abolition of police!

Titled “A just and free world means a world without police,” the lede paragraph sets the tone:
Whether we call them because of a dispute between neighbors or a robbery, a shooting or sexual violence, the police rarely meet our needs. They don’t help us heal. And they don’t prevent future harm. Rather than serve as advocates for true justice, they use their nearly limitless power to reinforce the oppressive status quo. They threaten us with violence and incarceration and target the most oppressed and vulnerable people in our society. By blaming “crime” and “criminals” instead of systemic oppression for society’s ills, the police exacerbate societal problems, harm citizens, and bar the people from liberation by maintaining the capitalist social order.
And further:
What’s perhaps worse is the fact that, because the police do not keep us safe, their predominant role in society is maintaining a social order that enables people in power to operate with the least amount of disruption possible and thus continue to exploit and oppress the already disenfranchised. By targeting low-income individuals and people of color, the police maintain a racial and economic system of social stratification that is profitable and beneficial only for the ruling class.
Yes, it’s a left-wing tirade.

Van Fossen, however, is not a stranger to Marquette. She was one of the organizers of the Femsex Workshop at Marquette in 2013. We exposed the event here, and Marquette eventually decided it was so over the top in terms of the way it dealt with female sexuality that the university ordered the Gender and Sexuality Resource Center to cease its sponsorship.

Van Fossen responded with a deranged rant. She sent the Journal-Sentinel (which covered the story) an op-ed saying:
As a Marquette student, I demand punitive action on McAdams and am prepared to convene any and all students who have been hurt or slandered by him in order to ensure that he is held accountable.
And further:
McAdams and his blog . . . are regular sources of oppressive, hateful content and blatant misogyny, not to mention homophobia, racism, and slander of Marquette students.
All this is the standard politically correct denunciation of any politically incorrect ideas, showing the nasty authoritarianism of campus leftists.

But demanding the abolition of the police is extreme even by the standards of campus leftists.

[Note:]  As of right now, the Van Fossen column is online.  There is a report that the Journal-Sentinel has decided to withdraw it and take it offline.  If so, an archived copy can be found here.

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Thursday, April 09, 2015

Politically Correct Intolerance in Schools of Social Work

From National Review, an account of narrow, bigoted liberal intolerance in schools of Social Work:
“I can’t have you participate in class anymore.”

I was on my way out of class when my social welfare and policy professor casually called me over to tell me this. The friendliness of her tone did not match her words, and I attempted a shocked, confused apology. It was my first semester at the Hunter College School of Social Work, and I was as yet unfamiliar with the consistent, underlying threat that characterized much of the school’s policy and atmosphere. This professor was simply more open and direct than most.

I asked if I had said or done anything inappropriate or disrespectful, and she was quick to assure me that it was not my behavior that was the problem. No: It was my opinions. Or, as she put it, “I have to give over this information as is.”

I spent the rest of that semester mostly quiet, frustrated, and missing my undergraduate days, when my professors encouraged intellectual diversity and give-and-take. I attempted to take my case to a higher-up at school, an extremely nice, fair professor who insisted that it was in my own best interest not to rock the boat. I was doing well in his class, and I believed him when he told me he wanted me to continue doing well. He explained to me that people who were viewed as too conservative had had problems graduating in the past, and he didn’t want that to happen to me. I thought he was joking .  .  . until I realized he wasn’t.
Read the entire account here.

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Monday, April 06, 2015

The Bogus Male/Female Wage Gap

Friday, April 03, 2015

Scott Walker Using Mitt Romney Mailing List

This blogger gets a lot of spam e-mail. That’s true of everybody, but we tend to get more political spam than other people.

Recently, we got two e-mail messages from Scott Walker. Since he’s clearly running for president, this is hardly surprising.

Here is one of the e-mails.

Here is the other.

What is interesting is that both come from the Mitt Romney campaign, apparently using a mailing list left over from 2012.

But clicking on the link sends one to “Friends of Scott Walker.”

Of course, it doesn’t say “Walker for President,” but everybody knows that’s what it is, de facto.

The e-mail says “This message reflects the opinions and representations of Friends of Scott Walker, and is not an endorsement by Mitt Romney.”

Sure. But we will see how many other candidates get to send out fundraising e-mails with the Romney list. At a minimum, this is “endorsement lite.”

This could be a minus for Walker among conservatives who think Romney was too soft a conservative, or a plus as a “semi,” “maybe,” “somewhat” endorsement by an important Republican figure. But it’s early in the election season, any anything one says at this point is little better than speculation.

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Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Airhead Celebrities Tout Ferguson Lies

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Marquette in Academic Freedom Hall of Shame

From the (liberal) Huffington Post, “Free Speech on Campus: The 10 Worst Offenders of 2014.”

Featured, of course, is Marquette, and its attempt to fire us for a blog post that the politically correct crowd did not like.
Marquette University

Marquette University’s chilling campaign to revoke the tenure of political science professor John McAdams due to writings on his private blog ensures its place on this year’s list. McAdams criticized a graduate instructor for what he viewed as her inappropriate suppression of certain viewpoints for in-class discussion (one student’s opposition to same-sex marriage in particular), and the instructor came in for heavy criticism. Marquette then suspended McAdams without due process and abruptly cancelled his classes for the next semester. It also publicly insinuated that McAdams violated its harassment policy and was a safety threat to the campus, despite a complete lack of proof for either charge. Marquette’s disregard of due process and its incredible denial that its campaign against McAdams’s tenure implicates free speech or academic freedom in any way should frighten anyone concerned about faculty rights. Indeed, if the university succeeds in removing McAdams, free speech and academic freedom will lose whatever meaning they had at Marquette.
The fact that a liberal website would post such an article underlines an important fact: among liberals, there is still a substantial number of old-style traditionalists who favor free speech and expression.

Unfortunately, they are becoming rarer, especially in universities, where the center of gravity increasingly shifts toward politically correct people who happily will shut up opinions of which the disapprove. Indeed, this whole business arose when one Philosophy instructor expressed the intention of doing just that.

Vocabulary of Suppression

Campus leftists have a whole verbal arsenal to use against speech they don’t like. They may call it “harassment.” Or “offensive.” Or “uncivil.” Or “hate speech.” Or “cyber bullying.” Or claim it creates a “hostile learning environment” or “hostile work environment.”

The simple message is “shut up.”

And the clear corollary is “we are going to punish you if you don’t shut up.”

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Monday, March 02, 2015

Do Black Lives Matter?

It’s not so clear that they do to the activists who use that slogan.



We are not entirely sure that “broken windows policing” is quite as effective as the hype suggests, but there is no question that it’s a policy promoted by people who really do believe that black lives matter.

Interestingly, it seems that rank and file black people (as opposed to the race hustling activists) favor such policing.

Consider, for example, a poll of black people in New York City, as reported by the leftist outlet The Root.
Despite the looming specter of police brutality, which casts shadows over street corners, neighborhoods and homes across black America, 56 percent of black voters in New York City support “broken windows” policing tactics, compared with 61 percent of the city’s white voters, according to a new Quinnipiac University poll.

The controversial policing style frames community disorder and signs of neglect—such as broken windows, littering and loitering—as indicators of encroaching crime that will lead to more dangerous communities and must be addressed with the full force of the law.

In theory, broken-windows policing, and its variants stop-and-frisk, zero-tolerance and quality-of-life policing, are tactics used by officers who are hyperinvested in keeping communities safe, clean and crime-free. In practice, however, they provide opportunities for racial profiling and resulting antagonistic and abusive encounters between law enforcement and people of color.

Interestingly, when participants in the Quinnipiac poll were asked whether police officers should “actively issue summonses or make arrests for so-called quality of life offenses,” including selling small amounts of marijuana or making loud noise, 60 percent of black voters said yes, a negligible difference from the 59 percent of white voters who said the same.

“It’s different where you live from what you see in the media,” said Quinnipiac University Poll Assistant Director Maurice Carroll. “Overall, black New Yorkers are negative about cops citywide. White voters are positive. But looking at cops in their own neighborhood, the support turns positive among black voters and heavily positive among whites.

“Does it improve the quality of life in your neighborhood when police arrest someone for a low-level offense, or does it increase neighborhood tensions? New Yorkers decide for quality of life,” Carroll added.
Contrary to the activist myth, black people don’t see the courts as excessively harsh on criminals. The following tabulation is from the National Opinion Research Center General Social Survey, combining polls from 2008 through 2012 (to get a reasonable number of black respondents).

Click on Image to Enlarge
The numbers show that while blacks are a bit more likely than whites to say the courts are “too harsh” (27 percent as opposed to 10 percent for whites) a robust majority of blacks (56 percent) say the courts are “not harsh enough.” Another sixteen percent of blacks say the courts are “about right.”

Given that rank-and-file black people don’t seem to agree with the race hustlers, how do the politically correct types respond?

The Root went to one Arlene Eisen to provide a politically correct gloss on the findings.
“If [we are to] assume the study is reliable, then you have to ask, ‘What black people?’ Generally, more middle class and professional people will prioritize protecting property,” said Arlene Eisen, the author and primary researcher of Operation Ghetto Storm, a frequently quoted study on the extrajudicial killing of black people. “Then, you need to consider the level of political education of whoever responded to the survey. This includes what a lot of people call ‘internalized racism’—where black people learn a lot of the same views of themselves as whites. Unfortunately, there is very little in the education system and corporate media to counter the hegemonic status of white supremacy.”
Thus politically correct people always end up demeaning the people they are supposedly championing. “Those ignorant blacks,” she seems to be saying, “are anti-black racists too. They just aren’t educated enough to see what’s going on.”

To whom do black lives matter?

To rank-and-file black folks, yes. To people who favor strict law enforcement, yes. To the race hustlers who would rather have a political grievance than to protect black lives, no.

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Friday, February 27, 2015

A Message to Beheaded Christians

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Is Marquette Finally Going to Tell the Truth About Campus Date Rape?

Sent out last fall by Marquette: a “Teal Poster” about sexual violence.

It touts the following statistics:
Believe...
“1 in 5 women and 1 in 70 men will experience rape in their lifetime.”
(National Crime Victims Survey, 2007)
“7 out of 10 rape survivors knew their attacker.”
(National Crime Victims Survey, 2007)
“People between the ages of 18 to 24 experience the highest prevalence of stalking, sexual assault an dating violence.”
U.S. Department of Justice (Revised, 2012)
“1 in 4 Stalking victims are cyberstalked”
U.S. Bureau of Justice, 2009
What is missing? Bogus statistics about the incidence of campus date rape.

We have found that our students have been told that 20% of college women are victims of date rape. And indeed, one “training” module that was mandated for all University employees last fall used a somewhat scarier statistic, claiming that 25% of college women are victims of “some sort of sexual assault.”

Click on Image to Enlarge
We called Susannah Bartlow, director of the Gender and Sexuality Resource Center, which was responsible for the poster. We wanted to ask her whether Marquette is backing off inflated claims about date rape.  We left voice mail, but she never got back to us.

Instead, Brian Dorrington, head public relations guy at Marquette, responded.

(It’s significant that nobody in the Provost’s office will talk to us, but rather gives Dorrington the task of framing an evasive response.)

Dorrington said:
Hi John,

Susannah Bartlow shared your inquiry with me and I’m writing to provide context. This year’s sexual violence prevention poster offers new information and statistics to expand the knowledge base of our university community on this important topic. The information from both posters is accurate and includes widely accepted statistics. We have worked diligently to educate our entire campus community about preventing sexual misconduct. This includes sexual violence prevention and bystander intervention during the past four years and mandatory training for all first-year students.
Dorrington, of course, has completely and entirely avoided our query, which was whether Marquette is backing off of the bogus statistics it has been giving students.  Perhaps he did not understand our query, or perhaps he simply was unwilling to admit that Marquette is backing off something it has been (falsely) telling students.

That colleges (following feminist activists) have been trafficking in bogus, grossly inflated statistics about date rape is not new information.

The first widely noticed article questioning inflated date rape statistics appeared in 1991, written by Berkeley professor Neil Gilbert.

And of course, we have repeatedly blogged on the issue.

Why Inflate the Problem?

The chronic inflation of the problem of sexual assault on campus is the result of the confluence of two forces.

The first is feminism, which casts men as the evil oppressor class. What better metaphor for male evil than the notion that lots of men are raping women. Indeed, why not go beyond that and say that all men are responsible for the prevalence of rape, or that a “rape culture” encompasses all men?

Thus, a certain R. Clifton Spargo from the English Department, in a campus program on sexual violence. . .
. . . rejected the notion that rape is “merely aberrant, deviant behavior,” and told the male members of the audience “you are living in the rape culture.” Where? “On Campus. In the bars.”
The other force is the interests of campus bureaucrats. Hyping “sexual violence” is a justification for programs, and initiatives, workshops, and indoctrination sessions. All which have the effect of inflating the budgets and staffs of campus bureaucrats.

There are a few things that students should be told about rape. The “Teal Poster” is pretty good in this regard. Women should be told that, if a victim of rape, they should not shower, not change their clothes, but go immediately to an Emergency Room. Women should be told to be careful about ever taking a drink if it might possibly contain a date rape drug.

And women ought to be strongly encouraged to report rape. The entire student body should encourage women to report rape and support those who do. This is more likely to happen if Marquette can (honestly) tell students that reports of rape will be dealt with in a sensitive and professional manner.

But it doesn’t help when Marquette makes stupid statements about rape.

This page, for example, says that a women has not consented to sex if she is “Giving in or going along with someone to gain approval.” A lot of women have sex to gain approval. A guy who makes his “approval” continent on getting sex is not a gentleman, but he’s not a rapist either (at least if that’s all he does).

Another stupid statement coming from Marquette was in the “training” module required of all employees and faculty. It flatly asserts that rape is “not about sex, it’s about power.” If that’s true, why is it “sexual assault” rather than “power assault?”

Check on Image to Enlarge
Another stupid statement is found in the “Teal Poster.” It tells students:
Consent. If you want to have sexual contact with someone, it is your responsibility to make sure they consent...enthusiastically!
No, grudging consent will do. A guy who gets only grudging consent from his date really ought to back off. But he’s not rapist if he fails to.

Making stupid statements about rape encourages students to blow off the “training” that Marquette offers as politically correct indoctrination, rather than good advice and information.

Marquette Compromised

Then there is the fact that Marquette is badly compromised in dealing with campus rape, having covered up two serious cases of sexual assault during the 2011 school year. Both were reported by the Chicago Tribune. Here is one report. And here is the other.

Conclusion

If Marquette is backing off of bogus claims about campus date rape, good. But it would be better if the University admitted that the numbers it has been giving students are badly inflated, and that a sober view of the situation requires good data.

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Governor Walker’s Son on Political Bias at Marquette

Matt Walker, son of Governor Scott Walker and a Marquette student, gave a fairly lengthy interview to Brietbart.com, and talked about his experiences at Marquette.

Two key issues where how he has been treated as the son of a governor whom most faculty voted against, and how much ideological bias he has encountered in his classes. Quoting the article:
“It always comes down to the professor in the end,” he said when asked if he’s treated fairly.
But one of the most surprising themes of my experience in college has been that political bias appears less in my political courses (as a political science and economics double major), but more so in classes like English, Philosophy, and other humanities.

In the beginning years of my time at Marquette, I don’t think most professors knew who I was. I don’t think too many professors treat me differently when they find out, but every now and then I’ll have a minor issue.
He said that conservatives and Republicans on college campuses who are aiming to fight back against liberal bias by leftist professors and academia figures should work to create bias reporting systems to expose any double standards they face.
This is consistent with our experience, and indeed with a lot of data on ideological bias in academia. Intolerant political correctness is most common in the humanities, and in some social sciences, especially sociology and some subfields in psychology. It’s less common in political science and much less common in economics.

Marquette’s Political Science Department, for example, leans heavily liberal, but there are conservative voices (including ours, which Marquette is trying to shut up), but most of what our liberal colleagues preach is “disciplinal:” more concerned with the theoretical constructs of political science than with raw liberal or conservative politics.

The humanities are very different, and several fiascoes in Marquette’s Philosophy Department are just the tip of the iceberg.

Humanities faculty, lacking any disciplined view of politics, simply give vent to their biases.

With this in mind, the recent move by Dean Rick Holz to water down the Arts & Sciences core curriculum may be a good thing. Students will be more free to pursue the subjects they want, with less burden of politically correct indoctrination in Marquette’s humanities departments.

But in any real “Catholic university” there would be a robust humanities requirement, and it would not consist of politically correct indoctrination.

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Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Terrorism: Being Honest About the Enemy

From liberal New York Times columnist (not a Fox News pundit) Thomas Friedman, thoughts on the inability of the Obama White House to honestly discuss the nature of the terrorist threat.
I’ve never been a fan of global conferences to solve problems, but when I read that the Obama administration is organizing a Summit on Countering Violent Extremism for Feb. 18, in response to the Paris killings, I had a visceral reaction: Is there a box on my tax returns that I can check so my tax dollars won’t go to pay for this?

When you don’t call things by their real name, you always get in trouble. And this administration, so fearful of being accused of Islamophobia, is refusing to make any link to radical Islam from the recent explosions of violence against civilians (most of them Muslims) by Boko Haram in Nigeria, by the Taliban in Pakistan, by Al Qaeda in Paris and by jihadists in Yemen and Iraq. We’ve entered the theater of the absurd.

Last week the conservative columnist Rich Lowry wrote an essay in Politico Magazine that contained quotes from White House spokesman Josh Earnest that I could not believe. I was sure they were made up. But I checked the transcript: 100 percent correct. I can’t say it better than Lowry did:

“The administration has lapsed into unselfconscious ridiculousness. Asked why the administration won’t say [after the Paris attacks] we are at war with radical Islam, Earnest on Tuesday explained the administration’s first concern ‘is accuracy. We want to describe exactly what happened. These are individuals who carried out an act of terrorism, and they later tried to justify that act of terrorism by invoking the religion of Islam and their own deviant view of it.’

This makes it sound as if the Charlie Hebdo terrorists set out to commit a random act of violent extremism and only subsequently, when they realized that they needed some justification, did they reach for Islam.

The day before, Earnest had conceded that there are lists of recent ‘examples of individuals who have cited Islam as they’ve carried out acts of violence.’ Cited Islam? According to the Earnest theory ... purposeless violent extremists rummage through the scriptures of great faiths, looking for some verses to cite to support their mayhem and often happen to settle on the holy texts of Islam.”

President Obama knows better. I am all for restraint on the issue, and would never hold every Muslim accountable for the acts of a few. But it is not good for us or the Muslim world to pretend that this spreading jihadist violence isn’t coming out of their faith community. It is coming mostly, but not exclusively, from angry young men and preachers on the fringe of the Sunni Arab and Pakistani communities in the Middle East and Europe.
Friedman then goes on to make an important distinction among Muslim communities.
Something else is also at work, and it needs to be discussed. It is the struggle within Arab and Pakistani Sunni Islam over whether and how to embrace modernity, pluralism and women’s rights. That struggle drives, and is driven by, the dysfunctionality of so many Arab states and Pakistan. It has left these societies with too many young men who have never held a job or a girl’s hand, who then seek to overcome their humiliation at being left behind, and to find identity, by “purifying” their worlds of other Muslims who are not sufficiently pious and of Westerners whom they perceive to be putting Muslims down. But you don’t see this in the two giant Muslim communities in Indonesia or India.
Friedman, in other words, is not keen to blame all of Islam for terrorism, but neither is he unwilling to honestly voice the problem.

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Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Marquette Students Ignoring Climate Survey

An e-mail from Kimberly A. Newman, Executive Administrative Assistant in the Provost’s office:
The Climate Study Working Group seeks your help in getting more students to complete the Marquette University Climate Survey. As of today less than 10% of our undergraduate and graduate students have taken the time to complete the survey, falling short of what we need to get the pulse of students’ experiences and observations of life at Marquette. And with a new President and Provost, what information students provide will go far in setting priorities for the future of Marquette.
Faculty are then asked to encourage students to take the survey. Students should be assured, for example, that even if they are Freshmen and relatively new to campus their input is wanted. The survey only takes a few minutes. And further, students should be told “That by ‘climate’ survey, we are asking about what they’ve experienced and observed at Marquette and not their opinions about the weather.”

Good to get that cleared up.

Of course, if students were paying any attention, they would notice some questionable things about the enterprise. For example, Newman assures people:
All responses are anonymous. There will never be an analysis of the findings that might identify any individual who completes the survey, and safeguards have been taken to assure both confidentiality of information and anonymity of responses.
But then you have this:
Why do some demographic questions contain a large number of response options?

It is important in campus climate research for survey participants to “see” themselves in response choices to prevent “othering” an individual or an individual’s characteristics. Some researchers maintain that assigning someone to the status of “other” is a form of marginalization and should be minimized, particularly in a campus climate research that has an intended purpose of inclusiveness. Along these lines, survey respondents will see a long list of possible choices for many demographic questions. It is impossible reasonably to include every possible choice to every question, but the goal is to reduce the number of respondents who must choose “other.”
So students who are asexual or of Croatian ancestry might get alienated if they don’t see that choice in the response categories offered.

But then you have this:
How is a respondent’s confidentiality protected?

Confidentiality is vital to the success of campus climate research, particularly because sensitive and personal topics are discussed. Though the survey can’t guarantee complete anonymity because of the nature of multiple demographic questions, the consultant will take multiple precautionary measures to ensure individual confidentiality and the deidentification of data. No data already protected through regulation or policy (e.g., Social Security Number, campus identification number, medical information) is obtained through the survey….
That’s very reassuring.

But the fundamental problem with the survey is that we know perfectly well how it will turn out. The outside consultant who is doing it (one Dr. Susan Rankin) is in the business of making surveys turn out the way campus administrators want them to.

First, it will not be determined that the “campus climate” sucks for everybody. That would be bad publicity for Marquette. But it will be determined that there are “problems,” almost certainly problems for some politically correct group. It’s completely inconceivable that (say) devout Catholics will be found to face a “hostile climate” as their views are demeaned, or that males will be found to chafe under anti-male sexism from feminists.

These “problems” will need to be “addressed” by more programs, more mandatory “training,” and more “initiatives.” All of which will justify the budgets and staffing of various bureaucracies at Marquette.

The game is pretty transparent.  Except to administrators at Marquette, who probably believe their own rhetoric.

[Update]

From a comment, information on the firm that is doing the survey. Is there any doubt that the “fix is in” as to how this survey will turn out?

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Monday, February 16, 2015

Marquette’s Sex Obsessed Climate Survey

Everybody at Marquette is encouraged to complete a “climate survey.”  At the beginning of the survey is a list of definitions of terms used in the survey.

Most of the definitions are sensible enough.   For example: “Disability: A physical or mental impairment that limits one or more major life activities.”

But where sex is concerned, the list goes wild and defines all of the following:
  • Asexual: A person who does not experience sexual attraction. Unlike celibacy, which people choose, asexuality is an intrinsic part of an individual.
  • Assigned Birth Sex: Refers to the assigning (naming) of the biological sex of a baby at birth.
  • Gender Identity: A person’s inner sense of being man, woman, both or neither. The internal identity may or may not be expressed outwardly and may or may not correspond to one’s physical characteristics.
  • Gender Expression: The manner in which a person outwardly represents gender, regardless of the physical characteristics that might typically define the individual as male or female.
  • Intersex: A general term used for a variety of conditions in which a person is born with a reproductive or sexual anatomy that doesn’t seem to fit the typical definitions of female or male.
  • Pansexual: A person who is fluid in sexual orientation and/or gender or sex identity.
  • Queer: An umbrella term for LGBT people that advocates breaking binary thinking and seeing both sexual orientation and gender identity as potentially fluid.
  • Sexual Identity: Term that refers to the sex of the people one tends to be emotionally, physically and sexually attracted to; this is inclusive of, but not limited to, lesbians, gay men, bisexual people, heterosexual people and those who identify as queer.
  • Transgender: An umbrella term referring to those whose gender identity or gender expression (previously defined) is different from that traditionally associated with their sex assigned at birth (previously defined)].
This seems a bit silly, and for the most part, that’s what it is.

But it does reflect the obsession of the politically correct, especially among college bureaucrats, who slice and dice the population into the most narrow groups possible. Each group, of course, is supposed to have a list of grievances, and each group needs a bureaucrat in the Provost’s office or Student Affairs to cater to their grievances.

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Wednesday, February 04, 2015

Reaction to Marquette’s Intention to Fire Marquette Warrior Blogger Comes Quickly

Less than three hours after our post detailing how Marquette University is going to try to fire us, a post on The Academe Blog. Four key paragraphs (but read the whole thing):
Holz’s letter declares: “faculty members have voiced concerns about how they could become targets in your blog based upon items they might choose to include in a class syllabus. Your conduct thus impairs the very freedoms of teaching and expression that you vehemently purport to promote. Again, the AAUP has called upon University governing boards and administration to exercise their ‘special duty not only to set an outstanding example of tolerance, but also to challenge boldly and condemn immediately serious breaches of civility.’”

This is a complete distortion of the AAUP’s statements. Tolerance requires that a university not fire professors for their expression. Marquette is perfectly free to condemn McAdams for an alleged breach of civility, but not to punish him. And although some faculty might legitimately fear being criticized by McAdams, no one has a right to be free from criticism, or to punish McAdams for their own decision to self-censor.

Holz’s letter emphasizes one section of Marquette’s statement on academic freedom, that a professor “should at all times be accurate, should exercise appropriate restraint, should show respect for the opinions of others.” The AAUP has made clear that its statement that professors “should” be accurate is moral exhortation, not an enforceable standard for punishment. Obviously, if any professor could be fired for any kind of alleged inaccuracy in any sentence, public or private, then tenure would be meaningless.

Marquette’s policy on academic freedom also declares about a professor, “When he/she speaks or writes as a citizen, he/she should be free from institutional censorship or discipline.” Marquette cannot invoke a distorted interpretation of its academic freedom policy to justify firing a professor and then ignore the clear prohibition on doing so in the same policy.

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Marquette to Warrior Blogger: We’re Going to Fire You

On November 9 of last year, we published a post detailing how a student in a Philosophy class confronted the instructor after class. He was disappointed that she quickly passed over the issue of gay marriage in class, since the student wanted to argue against the policy. The instructor told the student that he was not allowed to make “homophobic” comments in class, and further that if he was allowed to argue against gay marriage, that would “offend” any gay students in class.

The post created a firestorm of controversy. First, people appalled that an instructor’s actions weighed in, and then leftist academics who felt we had been unfair to the instructor (one Cheryl Abbate) mobilized to attack us.

Marquette’s administration (most prominently Arts & Sciences Dean Richard Holz) sided with our attackers, and suspended us in December. So it was no particular surprise when, last Friday, our lawyer received a letter from Holz – addressed to us – saying:
Therefore, in accord with Section 307.03, we are commencing as of this date the procedures for revoking your tenure and dismissing you from the faculty.
Hotz’ irate letter, which can be found here, is full of poor arguments and factual misstatements.

Inaccurate?

First, Holz claimed our blog post was “inaccurate.” He rested this claim on two arguments.
. . . by leaving out any reference to Ms. Abbate’s follow-up class discussion in which she acknowledged and addressed the student’s objection to gay marriage, you created a false impression of her conduct and an inaccurate account of what occurred.
According to Holz, in the follow–up discussion she attacked a study claiming that children of gay parents do poorly, and claimed that she declined to discuss the subject because of a lack of class time. Unfortunately, that’s not what she said to the student in the original after class confrontation.

What Abbate said in the class after the after-class confrontation with the student can’t make what she said to the student go away.

Holz includes a complete transcript of that exchange, and it shows Abbate saying exactly what we represented her as saying.

Holz also accuses us of “inaccurate” reporting of the student’s interaction with Philosophy Department Chair Nancy Snow. He recounts two meetings with Snow, and considerable back and forth as to whether the student could transfer to another section or drop the course. Thus Holz claims we were “inaccurate” when we said the student was essentially “blown off.”

But the student wanted something else. The College Fix, which interviewed him explained:
The student said he only wants Marquette to acknowledge the instructor was wrong to tell him he couldn’t bring up gay marriage, and ensure that students in the future will be allowed to speak in similar classroom situations. The student got no such assurances, and no admission from Marquette that the instructor should have handled the issue differently.
Holz implies the student actually dropped the class because he was making a poor grade. But in fact, before he came to us or anybody else, the student went to a personal adviser and complained about the after-class exchange with Abbate. He also complained about it to Nancy Snow and to Sebastian Luft (Assistant Chair in Philosophy). The exchange with Abbate was indeed what provoked him to want to drop the class.

Other Avenues?

Holtz continued:
Multiple internal avenues of review were available to you if you believed a situation had occurred between a graduate student instructor and an undergraduate student that called for a corrective response.
The assumption here seems to be that we should have kept the whole thing quiet, and sought redress for the student from the Marquette administration.

In the first place, the student had tried that, and got no redress (other than being allowed to drop the class).

Secondly, blogging is journalism, and it’s simply not standard journalistic practice to quietly try to right a wrong by appealing to officials to fix the situation. If an issue is of public interest, it is reported.

Holz attacks us for not asking for comment from Nancy Snow, or from the Dean’s office. But both would have doubtless invoked “confidentiality.” When The College Fix asked Snow for comment, she failed to respond.

We did write Abbate, asking for her account of the after-class confrontation. She failed to respond. (Holz includes our e-mail in his letter.) But given that the student had made recording of the exchange, there was never any doubt as to what occurred.

Holz and Journalism

Holz makes an argument that would strike any journalist and quite odd.
While you left the undergraduate student’s name out of your post, and later insisted that his anonymity be protected, you posted without permission the graduate student instructor’s name, Ms. Cheryl Abbate.
. . . and:
You posted this story on the Internet . . . without speaking with Ms. Abbate or getting her permission to use her name. . . .
We left the undergraduate’s name out of the post because he was our source, and gave us the information on the condition that we keep his name confidential. That’s Journalism 101.

Somehow, Holz thinks that when a journalist reports questionable conduct on the part of an individual, that individual has the right to veto being identified. That notion would flunk Journalism 101.

Picking on a Student?

Holz attacks us for blogging about a graduate student instructor, saying:
As applied in the current case, it is vital for our university and our profession that graduate student instructors learn their craft as teachers of sometimes challenging and difficult students. Great teachers develop over time; many benefit from experienced mentors who share hard-earned insights. Thus, graduate student instructors should expect appropriate and constructive feedback in order to improve their teaching skills.
The problem with this argument is that we had no opportunity to “mentor” the instructor, who was in the Philosophy Department. We had no teacher/student relationship. The people who should have mentored her (the Philosophy faculty) apparently failed to do so.

Further, she was not functioning as a “student,” but as a faculty member. As one of our colleagues (who doubtless would not want to be identified) observed:
[D]id Ms. Abbate have full authority of a faculty member to lecture, assign readings, moderate class discussion, assign and grade papers, write and grade tests, and assign final grades? If so, why would a graduate student instructor be insulated from all criticism for anything they may do as an instructor with full faculty authority? Yes, the graduate student instructor is a student, but if they are given full faculty authority, then they should be open to criticism of their conduct as a faculty instructor. In short, I don’t think the university can have it both ways.

“Gloating?”

Holz claimed that our blog post impedes Abbate’s ability to find an academic job, and even said “you gloated that your conduct would negatively impact Ms. Abbate’s opportunities in the future:”

The quote he describes as “gloating” is as follows:
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.
Holz, however, failed to quote our next sentence:
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, Abbate hasn’t concealed her political opinions. On her blog, Thoughts from a Vegan-Feminist-Philosopher, she posted an essay about how “All Men Contribute to the Prevalence of Rape.”

Holz blames us for nasty e-mails that Abbate received after our post went viral and was picked up by several other outlets. We, in the wake of the post, got a variety of nasty e-mails too. All this is deplorable. But never before, in our ten years of blogging, have we gotten reports of offensive e-mails received by people whom we blogged about. It may have happened, but we never heard of it.

But Holz, instead of blaming the people who actually sent the nasty e-mails, blames us.

Abbate has apparently now left Marquette to pursue a Ph.D. at the University of Colorado. Colorado ranks among the top 40 Philosophy Ph.D. Departments in the country. Where does Marquette rank? Barely in the top 100.

Publishing Student Names

Holz continues:
You have been asked, advised, and warned on multiple prior occasions not to publicize students’ names in connection with your blog posts.
This is simply untrue. Only once did any university official (Provost John Pauly) tell us not to make any blog posts about students. (Actually, he said it was fine to commend students, but we should not criticize student activities – essentially demanding biased journalism.)

We blogged about this, and made it clear to Pauly that he had no right to tell us what to blog about. This was in 2011, and we continued to blog about student activities. Pauly let us alone, which we interpreted as meaning that he knew he had no authority to censor our blog.

Holz cited another case, but mangled the details:
In March 2008, you published the name of a student who worked in advertising for the Marquette Tribune after she had declined to run an advertisement highlighting alleged risks from the “morning after” pill. Only after that student contacted you to advise of the impacts upon her and to request you to cease and desist did you delete her name.
In fact, if we recall correctly, it was a faculty member who contacted us, soon after the post went up (nobody in the Communications School or at the Tribune responded to our earlier inquiries). She convinced us that the student in question was not in fact responsible for the failure of the Tribune to run the ad (contrary to what we had been told by Wisconsin Right to Life), and we were happy to delete the student’s name.

But the issue was not “mentioning students’ names,” it was the actions of this particular student.  Nobody told us we could “not mention student names” in this case.

Interestingly, this past fall, Holz explicitly told us that one of our posts that mentioned two students’ names was not an issue. We had been summoned to his office on the basis of a student complaint which he would not explain. (It turned out that the president of the Palestinian Student Association claimed to feel “intimidated” when we tried to interview him about “Israeli Apartheid Week” which his organization, and three offices at Marquette, sponsored.)

We asked Holz whether the meeting was about a post we had made regarding a meeting between Marquette officials and a student group who wanted to boycott Palermo’s Pizza. We sent him the link to the post. He replied that it was “not the issue.”

So a post where we named two student activists was not an “issue.” But then all of a sudden a post naming a student instructor becomes the issue when Marquette wants to get rid of a professor who causes controversy.

Value to Marquette

In the first paragraph, Holz asserted:
As detailed below and in my letter of January 2, 2015, your conduct clearly and substantially fails to meet the standards of personal and professional excellence that generally characterizes University faculties. As a result, your value to this academic institution is substantially impaired.
If academic freedom is dependent on administrators’ judgments of the “value” of a faculty member, notions of academic freedom are meaningless.

Campus bureaucrats hate controversy, since it makes trouble for them. Thus the most “valuable” faculty members are the ones who avoid controversy, and especially avoid criticizing administrators.

In real universities, administrators understand (or more likely grudgingly accept) that faculty will say controversial things, will criticize them and each other, and that people will complain about it. They understand that putting up with the complaints is part of the job, and assuaging those who complain the loudest is not the best policy.

That sort of university is becoming rarer and rarer. Based on Holz’ actions, Marquette is certainly not such a place.

[Update   in response to some questions:  we will indeed fight this.  We have excellent legal counsel, and most certainly will not go quietly.]

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