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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Blogger Walter-marie Miller said...

I would call false victimization the core of socially Darwinian predation in our day. This harassment policy, the Abbate thing, are both best explained by those terms.

If you Google it, the archetypal example of false victimization is a seduced woman who, once caught in her infidelity, falsely accuses her seducer, thereby avoiding scandal.

I'll often think of that - the archetype - as I peruse the Warrior blog as it tackles the victim class American left.

The big difference, I think, is that the academic left is always caught in flagrante delicto. It's always totalitarianism, and they've always got a smoking gun in hand.

McAdams is said to be "hard right" and I've heard right-leaning rhetoric from him. But a lot of his stuff isn't hard right. It's not far-right to be for free speech. And you don't have to be right-leaning to see that the left has a problem with free speech. Notably because the flagrancy of the left's silencing tactics might blind you to other assaults. The left's assaults on free speech have become so much so "the bread-and-butter totalitarianism" that you might not catch assaults on speech when clothed differently.

For example, a very scary remark during oral arguments recently from Justice Scalia: “And this is valuable First Amendment language that you think has to be protected, right?”

That's a direct quote from him. The very scary word there is "valuable." It makes me uneasy that Supreme Court justices are talking about "valuating" speech at a time when the left is having, seemingly, great success with their totalitarian silencings. Certainly we know how the campus left "valuates" McAdams's speech.

On a different note, but pulling again from the law: The Void-for-Vagueness Doctrine has to be mentioned in regard to Dorrington. One of the fundamental Due Process doctrines in America is designed to prevent exactly what he, the administration, are helping themselves to: despotic rule.

The Void-for-Vagueness Doctrine.—Criminal statutes which lack sufficient definiteness or specificity are commonly held "void for vagueness."983 Such legislation "may run afoul of the Due Process Clause because it fails to give adequate guidance to those who would be law-abiding, to advise defendants of the nature of the offense with which they are charged, or to guide courts in trying those who are accused."984 'Men of common intelligence cannot be required to guess at the meaning of [an] enactment.'985

"Everything's rather vague, and we'll, of course, be the final arbiters."

Also useful, Francis Bacon's definition of dissimulation:

"Dissimulation, in the negative; when a man lets fall signs and arguments, that he is not, that he is."

What a pleasure it is to decline to swoon at the neverending cheapjack masquerade of bland correctitudes, the unriveting sophistry, that - taking from Bacon - "lets fall signs and arguments that Marquette is not totalitarian."

5:39 PM  

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