Bernard Goldberg: What Happened to Free Speech at Marquette?
The closest things we have to re-education camps in this country are college campuses. In the old Soviet Union, to use but one example of authoritarianism gone wild, if you said the “wrong” thing you might lose your job, your freedom or your life. Here in America, expressing the “wrong” opinion can cost you dearly, too. Just ask Professor John McAdams, who used to teach at Marquette University in Milwaukee.Goldberg then recounts the discussion between a student and Philosophy instructor Cheryl Abbate, and says of the student:
[H]e also told Professor McAdams about it. The professor, who earned his PhD at Harvard, teaches political science and writes a blog. So he wrote about what happened, saying the instructor was “using a tactic typical among liberals now. Opinions with which they disagree are not merely wrong, and are not to be argued against on their merits, but are deemed ‘offensive’ and need to be shut up.”Of course, the Gang of 88 at Duke were leftist professors, who were criticizing white males, so they get a pass on any negative consequences the white males endured.
The blog went viral and the instructor got nasty, ugly emails.
That’s when the re-educators stepped in – they have titles at Marquette like dean and university president – and suspended Professor McAdams without pay and said he would not be allowed to teach at Marquette unless he admitted his conduct was “reckless” and he apologized.
If you haven’t guessed, McAdams said in effect, don’t hold your breath. He compared the demand to the “Inquisition, in which victims who ‘confessed’ they had been consorting with Satan and spreading heresy would be spared execution.”
Technically, the university is punishing Professor McAdams because he published the instructor’s name, resulting in those hate-filled emails sent to her. But if we follow this reasoning, a professor is not only responsible for what he writes but also for the reaction it produces.
What if university professors signed a petition against student athletes who supposedly raped an exotic dancer – which resulted in the athletes being maligned and put in the crosshairs of the angry mob? It happened at Duke with those lacrosse players who didn’t rape anybody. Should the professors — who already found them guilty absent a shred of evidence — be fired for causing innocent students distress?
And more recently, Oklahoma fraternity members were seen chanting a racist slogan in a video widely reported in the media. They got death threats. But then, they were affluent white males with very bad political opinions, so that’s OK too.
Unless something dramatic happens soon, Professor McAdams will lose his tenure and his job for expressing opinions the authoritarians – at a Catholic University no less – found objectionable.Our older — and even middle-aged — readers will remember having mostly liberal professors, although they probably had a few conservative ones too. And while some of the liberal professors were pretty intolerant, a lot of others weren’t, and even welcomed the expression of diverse opinions. And even the intolerant ones claimed to believe in free speech.
There should be an outpouring of support for Professor McAdams – and it should come from professors at universities all across America. But such an uprising is not likely. Too many of these academic liberals have long forgotten what it means to be liberal. They claim to honor diversity but for them that doesn’t include diversity of opinion – the kind of opinion, as Professor McAdams has said, they would rather “shut up” than even listen to.
But in the last few decades, academics have produced elaborate rationales for shutting up speech. They will now explicitly insist that certain opinions are out of bounds, and need to be suppressed.