Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Marquette’s Suspension of Marquette Warrior Violated Marquette’s Own Rules

We just yesterday reported that we have been “suspended” from our duties at Marquette, due to a blog post of ours that criticized a Philosophy instructor who informed a student that gay marriage could not be discussed in her class because any opposition to the policy would be “homophobic” and would likely “offend” any gay students in the class.

The “suspension” is a bit of a joke, since it’s Christmas break and we aren’t teaching. We are only working on a manuscript, and are allowed to go to campus to do that.

Leave aside issues of academic freedom, and the fact that Marquette, when faced with a brouhaha that was dying down,  chose to heat it up to white hot.  There is the fact that in suspending us Marquette violated its own rules, which can be found here.
Section 307.03

In all cases of nonrenewal, suspension, or termination for absolute or discretionary cause, except Section 307.02(1) and (3), death, and permanent, total disability, the appropriate appointing authority of the University shall notify the faculty member in writing of the University's action. The notice shall include:

(1) The statute allegedly violated; the date of the alleged violation; the location of the alleged violation; a sufficiently detailed description of the facts constituting the violation including the names of the witnesses against the faculty member.

(2) The nature of the University’s contemplated action, with a specification of the date or dates upon which such action is to become effective with respect to faculty status, duties, salary, and benefit entitlements, respectively.

(3) Such notice shall be personally delivered and service shall operate from date of such delivery; if in the exercise of reasonable diligence it is not possible to personally serve the faculty member, it may be served by certified mail addressed to the faculty member’s last known place of residence, and service shall operate from date of mailing.
In fact, all of Section 1 was violated by the letter of suspension we got, which did not specify the statute allegedly violated, the date of the alleged violation, the location of the alleged violation, and any of the supposed facts of the violation.

Since this was about a blog post, there were plenty of witnesses, but none of them were named.

We were also told that the “university is continuing to review your conduct” but were not told the nature of any “contemplated action.”

Did university officials rattle off the letter without consulting counsel?

Did they think they could blow off their published rules? In any legal action, Marquette’s failure to follow its own rules will have negative consequences.

We have first rate legal counsel: Rick Esenberg and his colleagues at the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty.

Marquette’s inept handling of this whole issue has been obvious. They appear to be on track to get into yet more trouble.

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Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Reprisal: Marquette Warrior Under “Investigation” By University

It created more controversy than any blog other post we have done: an account of a Philosophy instructor at Marquette who told a student that gay marriage could not be discussed in her class since any opposition would be “homophobic” and would “offend” any gay students in the class. Not only did the story echo among Catholic outlets and sites dedicated to free speech on campus, but it created considerable blow back among leftist academics, who pretty much demanded our head on a pike.

Today we got an e-mail from Dean Richard Holz:
Dear John:

The university is continuing to review your conduct and during this period--and until further notice--you are relieved of all teaching duties and all other faculty activities, including, but not limited to, advising, committee work, faculty meetings and any activity that would involve your interaction with Marquette students, faculty and staff. Should any academic appeals arise from Fall 2014 semester, however, you are expected to fulfill your obligations in that specific matter.

Your salary and benefits will continue at their current level during this time.

You are to remain off campus during this time, and should you need to come to campus, you are to contact me in writing beforehand to explain the purpose of your visit, to obtain my consent and to make appropriate arrangements for that visit. I am enclosing with this letter Marquette’s harassment policy, its guiding values statement, the University mission statement, and sections from the Faculty Handbook, which outline faculty rights and responsibilities; these documents will inform our review of your conduct.


Richard C. Holz, Ph.D. Dean
We wrote him back and asked what the charges against us are. He failed to respond. Since we have done nothing particularly controversial lately besides blog about the Philosophy instructor (one Cheryl Abbate), we have to assume that’s what it is about.

The fact that Holz sent the “harassment policy” suggests that somebody thinks that merely blogging about questionable conduct by a Philosophy instructor constitutes “harassment.” Marquette’s harassment policy is absurdly vague and includes “behavior is intimidating, hostile or demeaning or could or does result in mental, emotional or physical discomfort, embarrassment, ridicule or harm.” That’s right, even mental discomfort (which should be a normal part of having one’s opinions challenged in a university) is considered harassing.

However, the behavior must be directed toward a protected class (color, race, national origin, ethnicity, religion, disability, veteran status, age, gender or sexual orientation), and leftist philosophers are not a protected class.

As for having to remain off campus — in effect, being treated like a potential terrorist — we don’t know where that came from. The last time we were accused of harassment (it was sexual harassment, since we told an entire class that feminists grossly exaggerate the incidence of college date rape) we were not treated like a terrorist.

We insisted to Holz that we need to come to campus to complete a manuscript we are working on, he said that was OK.

Whether Marquette officials really want to punish us for blogging, or whether they simply feel the need for a pro forma “investigation” of charges someone has brought, we don’t know. Either would be gross misconduct on the part of Marquette officials. Any attempt to censor our blog not only would violate the canons of academic freedom, but would reverse years of precedent, since we have been free to criticize things going on at Marquette for nearly ten years now. And an “investigation” constitutes a form of harassment. Any charges against us should have been summarily dismissed.

Marquette, in other words, has again shown itself to be timid, overly bureaucratic and lacking any commitment to either its Catholic mission or free expression.

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Saturday, December 13, 2014

Who is Al Sharpton


Friday, December 12, 2014

Marquette’s Repressive “Harassment” Training Continues to Create Controversy

We broke the story right here:  Marquette’s compulsory training on “harassment” that basically told employees “shut up.”  Don’t express political opinions that politically correct people don’t like (such as opposition to gay marriage).  Don’t display an anti-war poster.  Don’t make ethnic jokes, even to somebody who is not the least bit offended by them.

It has been picked up widely, first by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, and further by Minding the Campus, as well as other outlets too numerous to mention here.

Some of the comments on Minding the Campus were withering.  For example, the “training” module condemns as harassment a computer screen saver of a man nude from the waist up (his trousers cover everything from the waist down).  A commenter asked:
What if I have a crucifix with a shirtless Jesus? Is that offensive at Jesuit Marquette, too? Better investigate the chapel on campus!
Another commenter noted (referring to the “affirmative consent” laws that require explicit consent to engage in sex):
So, according to universities, I have to practice recognizing nonverbal cues “indicating that a colleague might not welcome certain conduct” or I could be charged with harassment.

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.
The latest round of attention has come from the Catholic News Agency, and has been followed up by the Cardinal Newman Society.

These stories added a sinister twist:  some of the language coming out of the Federal civil rights bureaucracy suggests that opposing gay marriage could indeed be considered harassment by the bureaucrats.

Quoting a spokeswoman for the EEOC:
Christine Nazer, a public affairs specialist for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, told CNA Dec. 4 that courts have found “particular pejorative behavior or remarks about same-sex relationships to be potential harassment (which employers may act to stop even if it has not yet risen to the actionable level of severe or pervasive), or alternatively to be evidence of discriminatory motivation in a termination case.”
Note that the statement merely says that “particular pejorative behavior or remarks” might be punishable. But the instinct of timid conformist bureaucrats is not to protect free speech, and interpret restrictions on speech narrowly. It’s to shut up anything that anybody might object to.

And timid, conformist bureaucrats is exactly what we have at Marquette.

Conform, Don’t Fight

University administrators who have some sense of mission, and some desire to protect the integrity of their institutions can indeed fight repressive government regulations. A long list of Catholic colleges and universities has been fighting the Obamacare contraception mandate. Marquette, shamefully, is not among them.

Likewise, the University of Massachusetts Amherst has been challenging guidelines from the Department of Education that make it absurdly easy to convict a student accused of rape.

We can’t imagine Marquette doing anything of the sort.

Feckless Response from Marquette

When Marquette does something stupid, poor Brian Dorrington, chief spokesman for Marquette, has to produce some evasive, mealy-mouthed response to inquiries. Catholic News Agency described his response as follows::
He said the presentation uses “hypothetical scenarios” are “teaching tools [and] do not necessarily equate to university policy.” “They are simply tools to raise awareness of various forms of harassment that could arise,” he said, adding that any specific harassment case “would be reviewed on an individual basis.”
That’s right. Dorrington is saying that the “training” that all Marquette employees and faculty were subjected to does “not necessarily equate to university policy.”

Or to put it more bluntly: “we told people ‘you better shut up,’ but if you fail to shut up, you might or might not be punished.”


The university official responsible for this fiasco is Rev. Daniel Hendrickson, S.J., Associate Provost for Academic Initiatives. In preparing our initial story we tried to contact him, both e-mailing him and leaving voice mail. We also copied our e-mail to him to Dr. Margaret Callahan, Interim Provost. Hendrickson failed to respond, but instead we got a bland, evasive response from Dorrington.

The issue is this: if the “training” module was actually reviewed by Hendrickson, he showed absurdly bad judgment in approving it. In fact, his approval would show that he cares little for the supposed Catholic mission of the university, or for free expression.

If he failed to review it, it shows extreme negligence on his part, especially when the concept “harassment” is being used to shut up speech that is merely politically incorrect, and to suppress opinions disliked by liberals and leftists.

And Hendrickson, we learn, has been tapped to be the new President of Creighton University.

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Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Marquette: No Attempt to Censor Marquette Warrior (Yet)

A huge brouhaha erupted when we blogged about an instructor in the Philosophy Department who told a student (in an after class conversation) that his opinions in opposition to gay marriage were “homophobic” and that discussion of the issue had to be banned since any gay students in class would be “offended.”

 It went national in outlets that were appalled at the suppression of the Catholic Church’s position at a so called “Catholic university,” and at outlets that support free expression on college campuses.

It also created a backlash among leftist and politically correct academics who apparently agreed with the actions of the instructor, one Cheryl Abbate.

One of the nastiest (and most hypocritical) attacks came from some Marquette department chairs in humanities and the social sciences.

 Marquette reacted to the uproar with the following statement from the Provost:
I am writing to address recent discussions within the campus community concerning the issues of collegiality, professionalism and academic freedom.

The university has guidelines and processes to ensure that all of our faculty, staff and students are treated fairly. These processes allow us to thoughtfully address both incidents themselves and the ways that others have reacted to them.
Shortly thereafter, Brian Dorrington (Marquette PR guy) told various media outlets that Marquette was:
. . . reviewing both a concern raised by a student and a concern raised by a faculty member. We are taking appropriate steps to make sure that everyone involved is heard and treated fairly. In compliance with state and federal privacy laws, we will not publicly share the results of the reviews.
This claim of confidentiality, of course, sounds like a nice strategy for evading issues and keeping everybody happy. They can believe they are getting what they want from the Marquette administration, but that the whole thing must be kept “confidential.”


We don’t know what consequences came of all this, with the exception of the fact that Arts & Sciences Dean Rick Holz wrote a letter of reprimand to Philosophy Department Chair Nancy Snow for her verbal assault on us in a university café (in the presence of a prospective job candidate).

Marquette has made no attempt to censor the Marquette Warrior, nor have we received any sort of reprimand.

It would be nice to believe that this is because Marquette values academic freedom. But the reality is probably less flattering to Marquette.

Holtz Investigates

On Wednesday, November 19, we got an e-mail from Kim Patterson in the office of Holz. It said Holz wanted to meet with us.

We e-mailed him and made it clear to him that we would not accept any sort of reprimand or attempt to censor our blog. He wrote back with a conciliatory message:
Hi John. I think there has been a misunderstanding. I would like to meet with you tomorrow to just gather facts and listen to your side of the issue. As I have indicated before, I was asked by the Provost to gather information and do the fact finding investigation. So I have listened to the recording by the student and read your blog. I would like to hear from you directly and also hear from you about your run-in with Nancy Snow.
And then in a later e-mail:
Hi John. Your blog is your business but we will have to discuss aspects of what you blogged about as I think it is relevant to the issues. I am not planning to “reprimand, censure, or harass” you in any way. I simply want to have a conversation with you so I have a better understanding about what happened here.
Fair enough, we thought, and we even apologized to Holz for our initial testy response.


When we finally arrived at the meeting (on November 20) Holz was congenial enough and got some factual information from us.

But then he offered us some advice that could be interpreted as an attempt at intimidation (although he probably did not see it that way).

He noted that we had (before we went live with the story) e-mailed Cheryl Abbate from our Marquette account asking her for her version of what transpired. He suggested that we should keep our blogging separate from our Marquette business. He suggested we should consult Marquette’s guideline for computer use on that.

We told him that our blogging is a form of publication (if not a particularly exalted one), and research for publication is most certainly something for which we can use Marquette resources. We told him he would be opening a “can of worms” if he made an issue of that.

Then, worse, he told us we should consult Marquette’s guidelines on harassment – the implicit suggestion being that we were “harassing” people with our blogging. We told him we know the guidelines quite well, and that Marquette’s guidelines are absurdly broad, but that for anything to be called “harassment” it has to be directed against a “protected class.” People with politically correct leftist political opinions are not a protected class.

We asked Holz if he had completed the university “training” about harassment, and he replied that he had. We pointing out that the “training” clearly teaches that merely expressing opposition to gay marriage to a fellow employee could be considered “harassment.” He blandly replied [paraphrasing] “yes, the definition is getting broader.”

His response gave no indication that he had any reservations about defining the mere expression of a political opinion as harassment.

We explained to him that if we got anything from Marquette that even vaguely resembled a reprimand we would call our lawyer, and that “we have a lawyer who loves to sue Marquette.”

We have heard nothing further from Marquette

Evaluating Holz

Holz probably didn’t even perceive his statements as questionable. He came across as a conventional, bland, risk averse bureaucrat. Such bureaucrats find free expression problematic, since it creates complaints to the bureaucrats. Holz probably thought he was giving us good advice as to how to avoid controversy and of course, our avoiding controversy would avoid controversy for him. He apparently didn’t understand that we don’t mind controversy.

And especially not at Marquette University, were outrageous excesses of political correctness happen quite regularly.

Evaluating Marquette

Generally, free speech can prevail on a college campus, but only if the speaker is willing to make a stink about it. The preferred mode of operation among campus bureaucrats is to quietly “handle” conflict, and to chill free expression.

Often, a stifling climate of political correctness can do the job for them, as students come to understand that they will be attacked and derided for stands unpopular among the politically correct activists, and as faculty avoid conflict.

All of this is the result of an unfortunate confluence of intolerance among the faculty (especially in the humanities and social sciences) and conformity and timidity among vision-less administrators.

In this, Marquette is probably no worse than a lot of other universities, but it’s also no better.

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Sunday, December 07, 2014


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Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Academic Authoritarianism: Universities Should Ban “Fake Science”

From a science oriented website, a demand that certain ideas be banned from university campuses. How, it asks, should universities deal with “fake science?” The answer:
By banning it—and recognizing that’s very different from restricting academic freedom.

Universities are supposed to stand for the highest ideals in science and scholarship. “Our mission is to advance knowledge and transform lives,” reads Michigan State University’s mission statement, by “conducting research of the highest caliber that seeks to answer questions and create solutions in order to expand human understanding and make a positive difference.” So what is a university like Michigan State supposed to do when it unwittingly lends its name and reputation to an organization that embodies the very opposite of the highest caliber scholarship?

The organization in this case is a Christian fundamentalist group that held an anti-science “Origin Summit” on the MSU campus last Saturday. The conference organizers managed to use a student religious group to book a room on campus. They then proceeded to emphasize in their advertising that the meeting was being held at a big-name research university and “bringing world renowned scientists before the students.” These scientists have “tangible proof and viable evidence” that science and the bible are “in total agreement.” To reconcile the Bible with science, the summit program—which has since been removed from the organization’s website, but can be found here—featured speakers who discussed the role of evolution in Hitler’s thinking, why “the Big Bang is FAKE,” why evolution is impossible, and the evidence for intelligent design in nature. One talk was devoted to criticizing a famous experiment by one of MSU’s own evolutionary biologists.
 Unorthodox, certainly. So it can’t be allowed on campus.
. . . a campus is not a Marriott. Universities should recognize as British Columbia’s Simon Fraser University did after it offered space to an anti-vaccine conference—that when you rent a room, you also implicitly rent your name and credibility. The second principle is that bad scholarship can be rooted out by conventional means, while pseudoscience cannot. Hiring a creationist as a science faculty member or hosting a debate with a figure from an anti-science movement runs the risk of misleading the students and the public, by giving such people air time under the university’s seal. When universities make a commitment to open inquiry, it doesn’t mean that they have to open their doors to fake science.
So these folks need to be banned from campus.

We happen to think young earth creationism is a bit of a crackpot position, but we would rather have a lot of young earth creationists around than nasty authoritarians who want to shut up speech they disagree with.

Where public universities are concerned, attempts to shut up certain viewpoints are pretty much unconstitutional. Our colleague Paul Nolette (who teaches Constitutional Law) responded to this article as follows:
I think that plaintiffs would have a strong viewpoint discrimination case if a public university attempted to ban what it deemed to be an “anti-science” summit while allowing similar discussions to proceed. While public universities are not quite the same as public parks or sidewalks (which are “traditional” public forums), they are nevertheless still limited public forums in which bans like this would raise serious questions. There’s a fairly clear line of precedent that suggests that designating a public forum, such as a lecture hall or other meeting space, to those with one viewpoint but closing it to another would violate free speech principles.

I would also add that such a ban might also violate the Free Exercise Clause as well. There are a number of cases involving student religious groups in which the Court held that school restrictions violated the students’ religious rights. Indeed, there are enough elements for a lawsuit that I would think a university would reverse its policy or settle before such a case even reached the courts.
Another example from the article:
In 2007, astronomer Martin Gaskell had applied for the directorship [at the University of Kentucky] of a new observatory at the university. His application was turned down, and the position was given to someone with less training and experience, in part because Gaskell had given public lectures endorsing intelligent design and claiming that there was little or no evidence for evolution. Though the job was in astronomy and not biology, the hiring committee was justifiably wary of hiring someone who rejected major elements of modern science. . . . But Gaskell sued for religious discrimination. The University of Kentucky settled, agreeing to pay Gaskell $125,000.
We are glad the University of Kentucky had to pay for this egregious instance of discrimination.

It’s one thing to say that if you want a job in (say) Physical Anthropology, you need to believe in evolution to teach and publish effectively.  But demanding orthodox beliefs in a different field really is discrimination (religious, in this case).

Some Crackpot Ideas Acceptable

Interestingly, scientists would doubtless be quite tolerant of crackpot notions that didn’t contradict the scientific orthodoxy.  A job candidate in Physical Anthropology or Astronomy who believed that Dick Cheney arranged the 9/11 attacks, or that the CIA had John Kennedy killed would be tolerated.

Indeed, years ago we had a conversation with a colleague in the natural sciences (we’ll conceal his name to protect the guilty), who loudly demanded that high school students not be taught about the theory of intelligent design.  We asked him whether it is OK that they be taught Marxist economics or JFK conspiracy theories, and he said that was perfectly acceptable.

In short, unorthodox and even crackpot theories are fine so long as they don’t contradict “science.”  Science is sacred.  Science is special.  Science should not be subjected to the rough and tumble of the marketplace of ideas.

Ironically, there is good evidence for one variant of intelligent design:  the anthropic principle, which shows that our universe appears to be contrived — designed — to allow the evolution of life.

Of course, science changes its orthodoxy sometimes.  The history of science is full of fiascoes like support for eugenics and acceptance of Piltdown Man as a human ancestor.  Scientists will point out that science is “self-correcting.”  Scientists themselves will correct their own errors.

After they do, people are then free to change their beliefs and accept the new scientific orthodoxy.  In fact, they better do so, on penalty of being called “anti-science.”

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Sunday, November 30, 2014

Is the Westboro Baptist Church Really Coming?

That’s what they claim, according to a story in the Marquette Tribune.

Of course we have been through this before, when they promised to picket a presentation by Judy Shepard (mother of supposed gay martyr Matthew Shepard).

But they did not show up.

The Westboro Baptist Church is Exhibit One for the fact that some people who deserve to be obscure would prefer to be reviled.  They have perfected quite a good strategy for achieving that.

And they have given the gay lobby and its allies some fine opportunities to engage in self-righteous moral preening.

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Thursday, November 27, 2014

Marquette Warrior on Vicki McKenna Show

From this past Tuesday, discussing the kerfuffle over the Marquette Philosophy instructor who told a student that arguments opposing gay marriage would be homophobic, and that any gay students in the class should not be exposed to such arguments, since they would be offended.

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Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Message From the Liberals: Shut Up

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Letters to the Editor

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

Greetings Dr. McAdams:


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.

Steve Graves, O.P.

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.

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.]

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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 [] 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.


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.

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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.

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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.

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