Where Do You Get Punished For Defending Free Speech? At A University, Of Course

February 16, 2015

By Bob Kellogg at OneNewsNow

A Wisconsin university is punishing a professor who criticized an instructor for telling her students to support same-sex marriage in her class.

Professor John McAdams, a conservative political science professor, posted comments about the philosphy class on his Marquette Warrior blog, naming the instructor and describing the students’ account of the pro-homosexual propoganda he opposed.

Marquette is now trying to take away McAdams’ tenure after suspending him last December pending a review.

Peter Bonilla of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education says McAdams’ suspension is a free-speech rights issue.

If a faculty member can have his tenure revoked because of blog comments, says Bonilla, “then if Marquette gets away with that, then I don’t think academic freedom is really going to mean much there anymore.”

After students were instructed by the instructor to support “gay rights,” McAdams wrote, the student and instructor, after class, debated the issue until the instructor accused the student of making “offensive” comments. Adams writes:

Then things deteriorated further as the student said that it was his right as an American citizen to make arguments against gay marriage. Abbate replied that “you don’t have a right in this class to make homophobic comments.” 

Marquette is a private Jesuit university in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. About 11,700 students attend the school.

FIRE says the school is holding McAdams personally responsible for the harassing and even threatening criticisms the instructor has received from those who read his blog.

If a college or university holds a speaker responsible for how others react to that opinion, then Bonilla predicts that the foundation of free speech “will collapse on itself.”

FIRE has written a letter to Marquette, calling for McAdams’ immediate reinstatement because his freedom of speech and academic freedom have been violated.

In the same blog post, McAdams says the student is dropping the class after other professors, including the dean of Arts and Sciences, refused to help.

Descibing another case of “political correctness” at Marquette, McAdams writes that the same dean once took offense when a colleague called an all-female faculty dinner a “girls night out.” The colleague was reprimanded for the “sexist” remark.

Bonilla wrote a lengthy story defending McAdams in a FIRE story here.

Schools: Marquette University Cases: Marquette University: Faculty Member Facing Loss of Tenure for Opinions on Blog