Thursday, April 14, 2016

Letter to the Editor: Freedom of Discussion at Schools that are Really Religious

Professor McAdams,

I am a student at Brigham Young University. I just read a news article talking about your battle with Marquette University. I don’t have any witty analogy to Reformation era religious persecutions/politics to accompany this but I just want you to know I support you in your efforts against the close minded administrator/Inquisitors.

In the past, BYU has been labelled an institution where academic liberty is shunted toward a conservative viewpoint but from experience, I feel a student here who politely advocated gay marriage in classroom discussion wouldn’t be targeted by other students, faculty, or administrators. If freedom of speech protected to such an extent at a conservative, Mormon school then Marquette is clearly out of line.

If there is some way concerned students/citizens can support your cause, let me know.


Jordan Smith
This tracks well with what we know about schools that are really religious, rather than (like Marquette) only nominally so.

Interestingly, Brigham Young does not have the official guarantees of free expression that secular schools have. For example, one adjunct faculty member was dismissed for writing in favor of gay marriage. The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education does not attack institutions like Brigham Young for this sort of thing, since the institution makes it clear that it limits speech in certain ways. Thus everybody who applies there (whether for admission or a teaching job) knows and accepts the policies.

But official rules don’t necessarily correspond with cultural norms, and in schools were free expression exists in principle rigid intolerance can exist in practice. Of course, the converse can be true, and often is. Faithful Mormon faculty who oppose gay marriage are likely more tolerant of classroom disagreement with their views than politically correct secular leftists at places like Marquette.

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Blogger Kendo85 said...

Prof. McAdams,

The opening comment on your blog suggests you created the blog specifically to take a "skeptical" view of events at MU. You then close the comment by opining that MU officials will certainly want your blog shut down. Why such vitriol toward a university that employs you and at which you have been tenured? You have obviously chosen to continue your employment at MU for quite a number of years. If you were so dissatisfied with MU to the point it drove you to create this attack blog, why didn't you voluntarily leave for greener pastures years ago? This is my first visit to your blog and, upon reading the opening comment, I immediately concluded that you have some vendetta against MU and/or are seeking personal notoriety through negative speech.

Let me conclude by saying that I too take issue with the way this incident with the MU grad student/TA was handled and will be writing to the university to express my views. But your blog's opening comments are really disappointing.

Kevin Kennedy

10:15 PM  
Blogger John McAdams said...

@Kevin Kennedy:

What is this: Marquette, love it or leave it? Are you saying that institutions are better off without any whistle blowers, and without any critics and gadflies in the organization?

Conform? Don't make waves?

Is that your position?

Why not apply it to the entire nation? Don't criticize America, if you are unhappy, leave.

10:42 PM  
Blogger Kendo85 said...

John: quit obfuscating. There is a difference between a whistleblower and a cancer. Your blog intro announces to anyone unfortunate enough to read it that it is solely an attack blog.

11:38 PM  
Blogger John McAdams said...

John: quit obfuscating. There is a difference between a whistleblower and a cancer.

Is the Journal-Sentinel a "cancer" when they attack Scott Walker?

If I outed misconduct by conservatives at Marquette (not that there is any significant amount, since they keep their heads down) would you be bitching about that?

It's clear you simply don't want certain sorts of misconduct exposed.

7:22 AM  
Blogger Kendo85 said...

This is where you get off track. The JS writes positive and negative articles on multiple subjects. The JS was not established for the sole purpose of attacking one person or one entity. Your blog clearly was.

This is not a political issue John. Misconduct is misconduct whether it comes from liberals or conservatives. And yes, I want to know about misconduct at my alma mater. The problem is, you appear to be hell bent on looking for "misconduct" at MU around every corner and then being the sole judge, jury and executioner. Sounds like you are doing the bitching.


9:04 AM  
Blogger John McAdams said...

I write positive and negative stories too, but misconduct is typically more newsworthy. How often does the Journal-Sentinel write a story that says "The mayor went into the office today and did a bunch of bland things?"

being the sole judge, jury and executioner

It's my blog, so of course it get to decide what is misconduct. The Journal-Sentinel gets to decide what is misconduct in Milwaukee.

If you don't like my judgment of what is misconduct, get your own blog.

I think you are bitching because you don't like the politically correct intolerance at Marquette exposed.

10:44 AM  
Blogger GoldRush Apple said...

@ Kendo: Tenured track positions aren't exactly popping up like wild flowers where one can simply quit and seek "greener pastures." If you are aware of the political climate in higher education, even if one were to leave, would be left with

(A) no job;
(B) a job that isn't equal in pay to previous job held;
(C) end up in same political climate as previous job held

Unless you're already a liberal professor then being let go from your job isn't so bad; it's the opposite for a conservative professor being fired and being labeled a bigot, xenophobic, LGBTphobic or sexist. That stigma is forever with you and you bet your lucky stars the world of academia will know - and they will let the layman know as well.

I do not want to put words in Professor McAdams' mouth, but if I were in his position, holding similar political viewpoints, I wouldn't exactly plan my departure simply due to an overtly liberal campus. Like D1 athletic scholarships, tenured track positions are seen as gold a ticket. Would Jonathan Haidt give up his job at NYU simply because his perspective is the minority in his department? I hope not. How about Mark Regnerus at Texas? He has tenure, but his reputation as a sociologist is forever tainted; there's even a site called "The Regnerus Fallout," basically a hit-site dedicated to over throw every statement within his infamous same-sex family study.

You simply don't give it up unless you're forced to or you decide to leave academia. (And both McAdams and Regnerus have been called to depart by their dissenters.)

5:55 PM  

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