Marquette Tribune Taken to Task for Intolerance of Academic Freedom
Of course, the editorial taking that position was a model of journalistic bias and illogic.
Three commenters quickly responded, taking the paper to task. First, Paul Quirk:
Punishing McAdams for what third parties wrote to Abbate is obviously not justified. For one thing, he has criticized a lot of people, and praised others, over many years, and there has been no other case of such abuse. Someone who reads your editorial may threaten McAdams. Will you expect to be punished?Quirk is a Marquette alum, and Phil Lind Chair in US Politics and Representation, Department of Political Science, University of British Columbia. Quirk is a liberal, and apparently one of the old-style liberals: the sort who liked to argue politics. The sort who, if a conservative student spoke up in class, would welcome the debate and discussion.
The language of the post was not “demeaning,” unless all sharp criticism is demeaning.
In any case, none of this matters. Freedom of speech and academic freedom do not have a limiting condition: “as long as the speaker is (in the authorities’ opinion) polite, no one is seriously inconvenienced, and no one who hears or reads the expression acts improperly.”
The reason that all the significant national commentary (FIRE, AAUP, the Atlantic, Slate, the Washington Post, not to mention conservative outlets) has rejected the University’s position is that the principles here are not in doubt. If the University fires McAdams, he will sue and he will win. (BTW, FIRE participates in such lawsuits, and thus far, has never lost.)
It would be better if the University faced up to its serious, damaging mistake and dropped the matter. The stalling tells you how strong its case is.
The kind that are becoming much rarer in academia.
The next comment was from Marquette’s own Dan Maguire:
The Editorial on McAdams misses the main point of this case. McAdams was severely punished without due process. The American Association of University Professors allows for the suspension of a professor but never without due process.Maguire has openly supported us in a previous statement. In that statement, he notes that we have excoriated him on this blog, which is absolutely true.
So why would he support our academic freedom? Maguire is apparently a happy warrior. He will dole out criticism on popes, archbishops, and presidents of Marquette University. But when he is criticized in return, he doesn’t whine about it.
A final commenter is Sterling Silver (not a pseudonym):
The snowflake response to free speech is embarrassing. I’d like to point out that the two actions you predominantly go after McAdams for were actually not done by him. His release of the blog post may have “offended” some individuals, but the nationwide criticism and death threats were from other people, not McAdams. Also, Abatte’s choice to leave after the criticism was also her choice, not something McAdams told her to do or pressured her into. Ultimately, she made the final decision.The Tribune’s support of the Black Lives Matter protest, and the protest in sympathy with students at the University of Missouri, is revealing.
The use of the Nov 12, 2015 story is also laughable. Although I am proud of the students for having a safe and responsible protest, protesting in support of the student actions at the University of Missouri goes against the idea of the First Amendment. You want freedom of speech and (later mentioned in the story) freedom of consequence but when the protest in Missouri blocked other journalists, the students denied both freedom of speech and freedom of consequence, even though the journalists were looking to ask questions. Those actions, the silent protest at Marquette, and the editorial seem to suggest that rather than enjoying the freedom of free speech, we should focus on suppression because it might offend someone or because it bothers people.
But, rather than looking for things to be offended by, students at Marquette should learn to grow up and get stronger in the face of adversity. Your not always going to be told that the actions you’ve made are great or may be criticized with offensive language in life, but how you respond is one of the ways you go from being a kid to an adult. Going after this list and its view on the First Amendment is child’s play.
(Also, the university has the right to hire and fire anybody, but to fire a tenured professor for a blog post is why the story has gone national).
Black Lives Matter is a movement that fosters hatred of law enforcement, and has routinely called, before all the facts are in, for the arrest and charging of police officers who shoot black suspects. In several cases the officer in question was justified in shooting a black who attacked him.
Leftist students at the University of Missouri bullied and forced out of office their president over supposed racial incidents, some of which were faked or nonexistent, and none of which the president could do anything about.
Of course, the Tribune could have reasonably endorsed the right of Marquette students to protest in these cases.
But given that they endorsed free speech for the student protesters, but not the right of an undergraduate to argue against gay marriage, and not our right to blog about the stifling of the undergraduate, only one inference is possible.
The Tribune only favors free speech for people with whom they agree.