Academia

Wisconsin Supreme Court Rules for Conservative Professor Who Wrote Controversial Blog Post

Marquette is ordered to reinstate John McAdams.

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The Wisconsin Supreme Court has sided with John McAdams, a conservative political scientist who had been fired by Marquette University over a blog post.

In November 2014, McAdams wrote a post calling out graduate student instructor Cheryl Abbate by name after she shut down a classroom discussion of gay rights. According to McAdams, the "Theory of Ethics" instructor did not give a conservative student room to voice his opinions. The student then approached the instructor after class to engage in a brief debate regarding gay marriage and gay adoption.

The conversation took a turn when Abbate informed the student that some opinions were "not appropriate." When the student argued that he had a right to an opinion, Abbate told him that the right did not extend to homophobic comments and invited him to drop the class. McAdams spent the remainder of the post discussing political correctness, liberals, and speech.

McAdams was suspended without pay in January 2015. In a letter obtained by The Atlantic, Dean Richard C. Holtz criticized McAdams for his delivery of the information:

You posted this story on the Internet (1) without speaking with Ms. Abbate or getting her permission to use her name; (2) without contacting the Chair of Ms. Abbate's Department (who had met twice with the undergraduate student) to get her perspective or express your concerns; (3) without contacting anyone in the College of Arts & Sciences to get their perspective or express your concerns; (4) without contacting anyone in the Office of the Provost to raise concerns that you believed had been ignored at the Department or College level; (5) without describing what had happened in the very next class following the one you wrote about—when Ms. Abbate discussed and addressed the student's objection (without identifying him); and (6) without even reporting fully or accurately what the student had disclosed to (and concealed from) others in the University about these events.

The university gave McAdams the option of writing a letter of apology to Abbate if he wanted to be reinstated. He refused. Instead he sued the private university.

McAdams' suit, filed in 2016, argued that his punishment violated his academic freedom. Ralph Weber, the university's lawyer, retorted that the school had suspended McAdams not because of his views but because he had engaged in cyberbullying. A press release from the university mirrored Weber's sentiment, saying McAdams would not have been penalized had he omitted Abbate's name and contact information. (Abbate reports that she received threats after McAdams posted her name and linked to her website.)

On Friday, the Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled that the dismissal was a breach of contract and ordered that McAdams be reinstated immediately. "Just because vile commentary followed the blog post does not mean the blog post instigated or invited the vileness," the decision stated. The dissenting judges disagreed, claiming that "McAdams indeed did 'instigate' or 'invite' the vileness that followed his blog post. He knew what would happen, and he actively ensured that it would happen."

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  1. I just heard the Patriots are up by two touchgoals.

    1. Actually, the Cavaliers’ tailback just sent it through the uprights for 9 points.

    2. Following the World Cup is actually great fun if you enjoy the misery of foreigners. The entire nation of Brazil is going to be suicidal if that score holds up.

    3. Is it an unfair generalization to state that the level of enthusiasm of an adult toward soccer, coupled with how snootily they insist on calling it “football”, is by-and-large proportional to their slavish devotion to proggism? Admittedly, I may have been tainted by living in Seattle.

      1. It is always fun to lecture them on how Soccer is actually the proper English name for the sport.

        American soccer fans are the worst fans of any sport anywhere in the world.

    4. Bobby, I didn’t think I’d ever need to tell you this but I would be a bad parent if I didn’t. Soccer was invented by European ladies to keep them busy while their husbands did the cooking.

      1. Is that why it resembles a frivolous afternoon activity more than a sport?

        1. Distinction without a difference.

          1. Touche Shirley. I love sports. But even I can’t tell you how any sport is not a frivolous afternoon activity.

            1. I meant to distinguish between activities for which you have to learn rules to play and those that are just kicking a ball back and forth frivolously.

              1. And that also is a fair point Tony.

              2. So, card games?
                Flag pinochle. Touch euchre. That sort of thing?

      2. Soccer originated as a pagan game where every year they would cut the head off of a virgin and the farmer who was able to capture the head and take it home to bury it in his field was thought to have the best chance of a great harvest. When Christianity came along, they got rid of the virgin and it became a giant leather ball that people fought over. Eventually, in the 17th Century, the crown stepped in and restricted all such games to fields with set numbers of players and rules. Thus was born association football or soccer. The older form is still played in one place; the town of Ashbourne in Derbyshire. There, they play Royal Shrovetide Football. Every year on Shrove Tuesday the Uppards and the Downards go at it across the town. It is insane.

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CZTF_9jk6DU

        1. “The older form is still played in one place; the town of Ashbourne in Derbyshire.”

          Where do they get the virgins?

          1. They don’t let them have a virgin. Have to use a ball. The Queen frowns on using a virgin.

            1. Your reference to the “older form” confused me.

            2. Have you met the English? They’re all barbarians.

  2. In case you were unaware, leftists are concerned about men. Believing there to be a “masculinity crisis,” leftists recently convened at the Aspen Ideas Festival to brainstorm ways to “fix” men. Specifically, in the words of The Atlantic, “heterosexual white ones.”

    Counted among the “heterosexual white ones,” I am touched. And by “touched,” I mean that I feel violated. You see, according to Michael Kimmel, the founder of the Center for the Study of Men and Masculinities at SUNY Stony Brook, I feel like my “power is slipping.”

    http://pjmedia.com/trending/ma…..hite-ones/

    What the hell is wrong with people?

    1. It’s stunning how, for as much as the Left talks up their logic and intelligence, they say shit like this proud and out loud, almost like a preschool teacher talking over noisy children. I know their ideology eccentialy wants a society where the government is the parent, but those being talked down to – aka evil white guys – generally don’t cotton to that. They act on that ire, say though electing certain presidents and such. Perhaps they’re used to their proggy beta-male followers who fold like a newspaper when told to; these little dictators should maybe get outside their Left Coast enclaves on occasion.

      1. It stuns me how the left attracts followers anymore. Leftists of the past were evil but you could see how someone like Lenin or Castro had charisma and could take in the foolish. But who wants to be like one of these losers? What is attractive or charismatic about that?

        1. Yeah, i really don’t get it. They progressives i know are all just relentlessly negative, joyless, and zero fun to be around.

          1. Hey pal, if you had a world to save and fix, you’d be stressed and joyless, too!

            1. Yeah, I have to admit, this describes the state of a lot of libertarians, too.

      2. “express an interest in buying an SUV,”

        That one gave me a picture of this guy with his hipster beard, man bun, stepping out of his Prius with sipping his fair trade chai soy latte out of his reusable I’m with her mug.

    2. I know a number of men who need to be fixed ? in the veterinary sense of the term.

      1. Your morbid misandry is noted.

        1. Eunuchs are people too!

  3. This “you can’t talk about it” strategy of winning political arguments is certainly an interesting new approach.

  4. My favorite Founding McFather!

    1. The McAdamses were the Adams’ ne’er-do-well Scottish cousins. Always showing up stealing the silverware.

      1. But they put down such fine roads.

        1. As a traffic engineer, I appreciate this joke.

      2. +1 for the Blackadder reference.

  5. “… saying McAdams would not have been penalized had he omitted Abbate’s name and contact information.”

    Give credit where credit is due. Are sources and attribution no longer important at the university level. McAdams was just publishing so she would not perish. Isss all good.

  6. I have no sympathy for this guy whatever his politics. The university makes a pretty good case that he was acting like an asshole. The court found that the university breached the contract, and they may be correct. But I don’t think he’s a victim of liberal bias. If he worked for me I’d fire his ass. And I ain’t no lefty.

    1. The problem with your claim is that plenty of other professors on the left have acted the same or worse and not been fired. So, yes, he was a victim of liberal bias. Moreover. he wasn’t being an ass. The person who should have been fired was the bitch who shut down the class because someone dared question the party line.

      1. “You posted this story on the Internet (1) without speaking with Ms. Abbate or getting her permission to use her name; (2) without contacting the Chair of Ms. Abbate’s Department (who had met twice with the undergraduate student) to get her perspective or express your concerns; (3) without contacting anyone in the College of Arts & Sciences to get their perspective or express your concerns; (4) without contacting anyone in the Office of the Provost to raise concerns that you believed had been ignored at the Department or College level; (5) without describing what had happened in the very next class following the one you wrote about?when Ms. Abbate discussed and addressed the student’s objection (without identifying him); and (6) without even reporting fully or accurately what the student had disclosed to (and concealed from) others in the University about these events.”
        If this is an accurate description of events, the guy is an asshole. If I had an employee talking shit about another employee online without knowing all of the facts I’d fire him even if he was a card carrying libertarian. Granted, this is the university’s spin so I could be completely wrong about this guy. But this is the only side the article provides.

        1. He wasn’t talking shit. He was telling the truth. All you are telling me is that you are angry that someone aired your dirty laundry to the public. Well too bad. The solution to that is not have dirty laundry not shoot the messenger. The TA was wrong and an embarrassment to the university. This guy was right to point that out.

  7. I took Prof McAdams’ course on Polling and Political Opinion back in the 1980s. He is a conservative, not a libertarian, and actual libertarians were not, as far as I could tell, actually part of the MU PoliSci faculty. He was one of the finest teachers I ever had. Did he confound a few of the lockstep statist liberals who were generally the type who went in for degrees in politics then, and, for all I know, now? Oh, yes, but he backed up his claims with survey data. You could disagree with him, if you had evidence to back up your points.

    Marquette has had a history of firing profs who stepped outside the lines laid down by the Catholic Church: for example,priest/instructors hired under the “Jesuit Contract” who, having left the priesthood, wanted to continue as employees. The American Association of University Professors had the school under censure for a while. Now, the administration makes the usual obeisances to the “progressive” left in hiring by identity group. They’ve even allowed pro-birth control theologians to remain on the faculty. [Daniel Maguire, the subject of a J McA blog post: https://tinyurl.com/McA-on-Maguire ]

    J McA was always decent to me, and while I do think that private institutions can and should be able to run their own show, the progs do not: see all the Title IX complaints, and the promise of academic freedom in the faculty members’ contracts lets me hang my libertarian hat on the decision’s outcome. Good for Dr John!

    1. Yeah, looking at their policies it looks like their academic-freedom policy is scarcely distinguishable from that of a secular university, they just have some “we’re doing this because we’re Catholic and Jesuit” language.

      And they couldn’t even hold to their secular contract, not even in defense of certain truths which the Church is responsible for defending – truths available to all persons of good will, in and out of the Church.

      Instead, they engaged in behavior of the sort which Kirkland attributes to the goober colleges.

      Aping a secular university should have secular consequences – namely, that their faculty contracts should be construed like they were a secular school.

      Get back to me when Catholic professors are required to follow Catholic teaching, and non-Catholic professors are required to respect the Church.

  8. Here’s how to get Marquette University to respect your academic freedom:

    Write some pamphlets saying that the Catholic Church isn’t really against abortion or same-sex “marriage” – then Marquette will sustain your academic freedom. That’s what happened with theology professor Daniel Maguire.

    In that case, the US Conference of Catholic Bishops warned against Maguire’s errors. Marquette said it agreed that Maguire was wrong, but: “As a citizen, Dr. Maguire has a right to express his views on the issues of the day. As a tenured professor, he also has rights related to his academic discipline.”

  9. Seems fine to me good ruling. Contracts must be respected and enforced even under libertarians ideals. They are good for businesses and hence for creating wealth.

    1. And they had the option of drafting another type of contract – submitting faculty misconduct cases to arbitration rather than allowing for judicial review. They simply didn’t write that type of contract – then went for a contract which acknowledged judicial review and incorporated the academic-freedom standards of the American Association of University Professors.

  10. “McAdams was suspended without pay in January 2015. In a letter obtained by The Atlantic, Dean Richard C. Holtz criticized McAdams for his delivery of the information:

    “‘You posted this story on the Internet (1) without speaking with Ms. Abbate or getting her permission to use her name; (2) without contacting the Chair of Ms. Abbate’s Department (who had met twice with the undergraduate student) to get her perspective or express your concerns; (3) without contacting anyone in the College of Arts & Sciences to get their perspective or express your concerns; (4) without contacting anyone in the Office of the Provost to raise concerns that you believed had been ignored at the Department or College level; (5) without describing what had happened in the very next class following the one you wrote about?when Ms. Abbate discussed and addressed the student’s objection (without identifying him); and (6) without even reporting fully or accurately what the student had disclosed to (and concealed from) others in the University about these events.'”

    Dean Holtz unwittingly engaged in self-parody. He merely sat down and fabulated every specious violation of McAdams’ freedom to teach that occurred to him, over a few minutes’ time. McAdams was under no obligation to follow any of Holtz’ six ad hoc rules.

    Holtz is just a bully with lots of words.

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