Marquette Tribune: Coming Down Against Free Speech for Warrior Blogger
But that doesn’t apply to the fledgling journalists at the Marquette Tribune. They have endorsed Marquette’s attempt to fire us in an editorial that is breathtaking in its lack of logic and tortured reasoning.
The bias starts in the description of the incident that provoked our blog post of November 9, 2014:
Last year, Marquette was embroiled in controversy after McAdams was suspended from campus in November 2014 when he wrote a post on his blog, the Marquette Warrior. The post criticized the way former teaching assistant Cheryl Abbate handled a disagreement in class with a student concerning gay marriage in a Theory of Ethics philosophy class.How did she “handle a disagreement?”
When the student confronted her after class, and made it clear that he wanted the opportunity in class to argue against gay marriage, she told him “you don’t have a right in this class to make homophobic comments.” She further asked if there were any gay students in class, and said that any gay students would be offended if arguments against gay marriage were allowed. She went on to say: “In this class, homophobic comments, racist comments, will not be tolerated.”
The Tribune, in other words, entirely sanitized the intolerant comments of Abbate.
The Tribune goes on:
McAdams used his personal blog to demean a student. Abbate may have been a teaching assistant, but she was still a student equally deserving of the right to free speech, whether she chose to engage in the disagreement or not.Thus reporting on the intolerant conduct of an instructor becomes “demeaning” a student. Abbate was not merely a student, she was the Instructor of Record of the class, a person in authority over the student. When the incident occurred, she was 29 years old and a member of the U.S. military, and had been teaching the course for two years.
But somehow, for the Tribune, Abbate calling an undergraduate a “homophobe” for opposing gay marriage is not demeaning.
But what is out and out bizarre is the invocation of “free speech” to defend the intolerant behavior of Abbate. Abbate, who had authority over the student, told him he was not allowed to speak. We, who had no authority over Abbate, criticized her. Marquette has tried to fire us for criticizing her.
The Tribune doesn’t think the student had a right to free speech, and doesn’t think we have a right to free speech. The only free speech they are defending is the right to shut up speech.
Threats?The Tribune goes on:
McAdams has written skeptically about Marquette’s administration, other professors and various organizations on his blog. But when he publicly shamed Abbate, he stopped working to create an educational environment. After McAdams’ post, Abbate received threats against her life and eventually left Marquette because of the intense criticism.So the undergraduate, who wanted to discuss gay marriage in class, had an “educational environment,” but Abbate, who wanted to stifle the student, was the victim?
The claim that Abbate received “threats against her life” is simply untrue, as she admitted on her blog.
She did received some quite nasty comments. Of course, anybody whose misconduct is exposed by journalists might be the object of nasty communications. This had never happened with our blog until the November 9 post. But when fraternity brothers of Sigma Alpha Epsilon at the University of Oklahoma engaged in a racist chant and it was reported, some of them received death threats. Nobody seems to be blaming the media for that.
Promoting Only One Sort of SpeechThe Tribune then goes on to laud Marquette for its efforts to promote free speech:
For Marquette to make FIRE’s list solely for the McAdams controversy is an unfair representation of the university. In placing Marquette on this list, FIRE overlooked the university’s several efforts over the past year to foster freedom of speech.So for the Tribune, free speech is for leftist student organizations. It’s not for students who want to oppose gay marriage, or for professors who blog about the stifling of discussion on campus.
For example, Nov. 12, 2015, Marquette students held a silent protest standing in solidarity with University of Missouri students outside of Raynor Library. The protest happened shortly after Missouri’s president Tim Wolfe resigned when he mishandled racial controversy on campus. Faculty and administration here at Marquette, including University President Michael Lovell, stood in solidarity with the students.
Additionally, on Dec. 8, 2014, a Black Lives Matter ‘die-in’ took place on the second floor of the Alumni Memorial Union with no interference from the university.
That is to say, it’s only for people with whose politics the Tribune editors agree.