Marquette Warrior: December 2014

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Blaming the Messenger for Outing Bigoted Speech

From FrontPage Mag:
After cop-hating lynch mobs got what they were chanting for – the execution of two New York police officers – there was widespread disgust and anger among decent, sane Americans. Among others, there was indifference, amusement, and even celebration.

Brandeis University student Khadijah Lynch, for example, an undergraduate representative for the Department of African and Afro-American Studies, took to Twitter to express that she found the murders of NYPD officers Rafael Ramos, a Latino father of two, and Wenjian Liu, an Asian-American newlywed, to be hilarious: “lmao, all i just really dont have sympathy for the cops who were shot. i hate this racist f**king country,” read the junior’s illiterate tweet.

Fellow Brandeis student Daniel Mael, a Horowitz Freedom Center student leader and TruthRevolt reporter, took to to publicize Lynch’s tweet and others of hers like it, such as these:
“i have no sympathy for the nypd officers who were murdered today”
“what the f**k even IS ‘non-violence’”
“ya’ll out here waiting for a white messiah, im waiting for Malcolm X to return.”
“the fact that black people have not burned this country down is beyond me”
“I am in riot mode. F**k this f**king country”
“I need to get my gun license. asap.”
. . .

Suddenly regarding themselves as First Amendment champions, some Brandeis students leapt to Lynch’s defense. As reported by the Daily Caller, senior Michael Piccione, a member of the student conduct board, was upset that a conservative website had called her out for the tweets. He sent an email to the Brandeis President, administrators, faculty, and students entitled “VERY IMPORTANT: Holding Daniel Mael accountable, and other threats to student safety!” In it he declared that Mael had “potentially violated multiple parts” of a Brandeis code of student conduct including “stalking,” and complained that Mael had “exposed Khadijah” to what Piccione falsely characterized as TruthRevolt’s “largely white supremacist following.” So he condemns supremacism unless it’s black, and libel unless it’s against conservatives.

. . .

The Brandeis Asian American Student Association proclaimed “sympathy” and a “readiness to stand by” Lynch as well, even though one of the slain NYPD officers was Asian-American. On Facebook, the student group claimed that Lynch “has been wrongfully targeted and harassed.” “We recognize your right to speak freely” they declared, although no one was denying her that.

A petition adorned with black power fists and black liberation colors was created to “stand with Khadijah.” It charges, with inexplicable capitalization, that Mael’s article was “Libel,” “Defamation of Character,” and “Cyber bullying.” It has 1,220 signatures as of this writing, a week after posting.
Sound like anything at Marquette?

A leftist says something intolerant and poisonous, and it is accurately reported, and the person who reported it (and not the person who made the questionable statements) is under attack?

Welcome to academia, where inflammatory and intolerant speech is not to be called out, or reported.

Of course, Brandeis did nothing to punish Mael.  Nor did it punish Lynch, whose comments were bigoted and inflammatory, but within her rights to express.   Free expression, in this case, wins at Brandeis.

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Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Marquette’s Feckless, Disingenuous Attack on the Warrior Blog / Lawyer Responds

The latest, from our lawyer Rick Esenberg of the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty.

University violated its own faculty procedures, failed to respect academic freedom

December 23, 2014, Milwaukee, WI – Yesterday afternoon, the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (“WILL”) asked Marquette University to abide by its own rules and to honor its commitment to academic freedom. On behalf of its client, John McAdams, WILL sent a letter to Marquette University raising serious legal issues with how it has treated Dr. McAdams.

Dr. McAdams recently received a letter from the Dean of the College of Letters and Science relieving him from his duties as a tenured member of Marquette’s faculty, banning him from campus and from any activity that would cause him to come into contact with any member of the Marquette community. The letter, taking a page from Franz Kafka’s The Trial, offered no explanation of what Dr. McAdams is alleged to have done or how it might violate any of the university’s rules and regulations. When Dr. McAdams asked for an explanation, he received no reply.

Suspending a faculty member without specification of what he or she has done wrong and the process for contesting the suspension violates Marquette’s Faculty Statutes. As WILL put it, the letter to Dr. McAdams says only that “he is being investigated for some unnamed event that might violate some unidentified requirement of the university to be found somewhere in one of several documents enclosed with the letter.” While Marquette now claims that Dr. McAdams has not been suspended because “suspension” means “without pay,” its Faculty Statutes say otherwise. All suspensions are with pay. “When someone does not want to follow the rules or explain what he is doing, it’s generally a sign of a deeper problem,” said WILL President and General Counsel, Rick Esenberg. In this case, the problem seems to be the failure of the university to abide by its own guarantees of academic freedom.

Subsequent statements from the university have made clear that the basis for the suspension is a blog post in which Dr. McAdams publicly criticized a graduate instructor in the Philosophy Department for telling a student that opposition to same sex marriage would not be tolerated in her class because it would be considered offensive and homophobic. Dr. McAdams expressed the view that such statements were consistent with a regrettable trend on the left to dismiss disfavored views out of hand as “offensive” rather than debate them on the merits.

Suspension of Dr. McAdams for engaging in academic discourse would violate Section 306.03 of Marquette’s Faculty Statutes, which prohibits suspension or termination for reasons that would impair the full and free enjoyment of legitimate personal or academic freedoms of thought, doctrine, discourse, association, advocacy, or action. “The point is not whether you agree or disagree about what should and should not be said in class or how you feel about same sex marriage,” said Esenberg. “It’s not even about whether Dr. McAdams could have or should have phrased his view differently,” he continued. He explained that the University has committed itself to the robust exchange of ideas and it has promised its faculty that they will not be disciplined for participation in that exchange WILL’s letter asks that Dr. McAdams’ suspension (or whatever other thing it might be) be rescinded and that he be restored to his duties. “I’m not in this for anything but academic freedom,” Dr. McAdams said. “I just want to remind Marquette of its own principles and promises and ask that they be followed.”

****** The Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty is a non-profit, public interest law firm promoting the public interest in constitutional and open government, individual liberty, and a robust civil society. Further inquiries may be directed to Mr. Esenberg at rick@will-law.
For a more detailed outline of the case, including details of how Marquette violated its own statutes, and then fibbed about what the statutes mean, check the letter that WILL wrote to President Lovell.

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Monday, December 22, 2014

Abusive E-mail from “Tolerant” Liberal

In the wake of the brouhaha over our blog post on a Marquette instructor who told a student that any opposition to gay marriage would be “homophobic” and should not be allowed in class since it might offend gay students, we were suspended by Marquette.

The result has been a huge number of supportive e-mails to us, but every so often we get a nasty one. Here is an example that just came in: []
Sent: Monday, December 22, 2014 8:58 PM
To: McAdams, John

I am so pleased to read in the Milwaukee paper on Saturday that you are relieved of all your duties. Gramps, it’s time for retirement not teaching your intolerance and old time “values” to young people. A good fit for you would be a Fox News Commentator or maybe you and Michele Bachmann from Minnesota could team up for some more intolerance.


James Hansen
It is a common irony of modern day political correctness: people who want to shut up speech, and say hateful things about people on the other side of contemporary debates claim to wear the mantle of “tolerance.”

It’s almost a rule of modern politics. The people most likely to talk of “tolerance” are the least tolerant.

In fact, our original post said nothing about the merits of gay marriage. It simply supported the right of people to oppose it without being called homophobes, and the idea that it should not be banned in college classes because some gay student might be offended.

But in the minds of a lot of the politically correct, if you really support gay marriage, you will want to shut up opposition, and to vilify people who don't agree with you.

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Saturday, December 20, 2014

Student Support for Marquette Warrior

We are rather gratified that, in our dispute with Marquette and politically correct leftists on campus (and across the nation) we have gotten support for a fair number of Marquette students.

First, there is a petition supporting us.

Second, Turning Point USA is sponsoring a demonstration supporting us, scheduled for Monday at 11:00 a.m. at Zilber Hall on the Marquette campus.

We expect to be there. It’s not a great day for a demonstration (cold, and with students gone for Christmas break), so we will greatly appreciate the folks who show up.

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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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