Journal-Sentinel’s Bizarre “Bullying” Attack on Warrior Blogger
Written by education reporter Karen Herzog, it claims to be based on the Report of the Faculty Hearing Committee, which heard our case last September. Unfortunately, there are two massive problems with the story.
In the first place, Herzog has taken the claims of the Faculty Hearing Committee absolutely at face value, and never asked us or our lawyers for our side of the story.
In the second place, she mischaracterizes the Report. It nowhere in the 123 pages ever claims we were responsible for bullying anybody. So where did Herzog get that? Our guess is that it came either from leftist faculty at Marquette, or from Marquette administrators who have been flailing around in a sea of bad publicity, and are desperately trying to discredit us.
Let’s take the claims one at a time (with the Herzog claim in sans serif type):
Documents released by Marquette University in response to a lawsuit by tenured associate professor John McAdams suggest a pattern of bullying leading up to the targeting of a graduate student that resulted in his suspension.Note the biased use of the word “targeted.” We reported on a graduate instructor, Cheryl Abbate, who told a student in an after-class confrontation that he could not express opposition to gay marriage, since such opposition would be “homophobic” and would “offend” any gay students in the class.
If this is “targeting,” then any negative reporting on anybody could be called “targeting.” Did the Journal-Sentinel “target” Scott Walker in the John Doe investigation? Their biased reporting was far closer to “targeting” than our accurate reporting on Abbate.
The report cites nine prior incidents of conflicts with administrators, other faculty members and students at the private Jesuit university since 1995.Of course, if one reports misconduct in an institution, and especially if one is a whistle blower within the institution, there will be “conflicts.” Apparently, the assumption is that no faculty member should ever cause a “conflict” by criticizing anybody within the institution.
Notably, McAdams was never reprimanded or given a written warning. In addition, the report says, there are few indications in course evaluations that he attempted to intimidate students with opposing views in his classes.These things are true, and the reason is that Marquette never had any basis to reprimand or warn us. Lots of people didn’t like our blog posts, but we violated no rules, and we were entirely within our rights, given Marquette’s guarantee of academic freedom.
The Faculty Hearing Committee explicitly said our teaching was quite satisfactory, and so was our scholarship. Marquette’s whole beef with us is our blog.
In March 2008, he posted a blog asking why the student newspaper had rejected an advertisement discouraging use of the “morning-after pill.” McAdams originally identified the student advertising director by name, but later deleted the name after discovering the student had played no role in rejecting the ad.And what, supposedly, is wrong with this? Marquette seems to believe that we should not name people engaged in misconduct, even if they are functioning in an official capacity at Marquette, or are engaged in high-profile political activity.
The student in question was functioning as the Advertising Manager of the Tribune, and she did in fact reject the ad from Pro-Life Wisconsin. The Tribune ignored an e-mail of ours, and a voice mail of ours seeking more information before we posted the article. After the article was posted, a faculty advisor of the Tribune called us and told us that the Advertising Manager was in fact not responsible for the rejection of the ad. So we modified the article to reflect that.
In February 2011, he emailed a student listed on a Facebook page as the contact for a production of “The Vagina Monologues” at Marquette, then called her at her permanent residence, disturbing her parents. He wrote a blog post mentioning her by name, and continued to blog about her by name when she complained about his behavior. . . . The student filed a harassment complaint against McAdams and requested an “MU Stay Away Order” from the Marquette Public Safety Department.The student (Anahi Sanchez) had listed herself as the Marquette “contact” for “The Vagina Monologues” on the national Vagina Monologues website (not Facebook). We had heard there would be a Marquette performance, and wanted to confirm that. We e-mailed her listed e-mail address, and got no response. We then called her listed phone number. She was not home, so we left a message asking her to call us.
She freaked, and went to the campus cops and Student Affairs to complain. The campus cops apparently blew it off (since we never got any Stay Away Order). We were contacted by university bureaucrats, including the Provost. We blogged about this, since at this point we were being harassed. And indeed, harassed by Sanchez and also by Provost Pauly.
prompting a reader to send a message to the student “to simply demonstrate that actions have consequences.”And you can read the message (by James Diamond) here, and it’s perfectly civil.
The provost responded by asking McAdams to meet with him, the acting dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, and the chair of the political science department for a conversation about the blurring of McAdams’ roles and his possible misuse of the student information system.Of course, we were being bullied here. In what kind of bizarre world do campus bureaucrats try to intimidate a faculty blogger, and then accuse him of being the bully?
In November 2011, he blogged about a complaint that a student filed alleging that McAdams, in casting doubt on commonly cited rape statistics, had made comments belittling rape victims. McAdams referred in his blog to the complainant as a “prissy little feminist.”What happened is this: in our American politics class, we discussed media bias, and the bogus statistics often bandied around. We explicitly mentioned the claim that 25% or 20% of college women are victims of date rape as such statistics.
A female student in the class took offense, and filed a sexual harassment complaint against us.
That’s right. A student claimed to have been sexually harassed simply because a professor said something she didn’t like hearing.
The Committee apparently thinks our calling the student (whose name we did not know) a “prissy little feminist” was terrible. But what would be the correct term for some student who claims to have been harassed when she merely hears something she disagrees with? Would “snowflake” have been better? Unfortunately, that was not in common use when the incident happened.
We did not belittle rape victims. However, in the minds of feminists, any dissent from the orthodoxy of a rape epidemic apparently translates into “belittling rape victims.” But in reality, feminist researchers who classify women as “rape victims” when the women themselves insist that what happened was not rape are doing the belittling.
In September 2014, he was called to a meeting with his college dean over a confrontation with a student group called “Students for Justice in Palestine.” McAdams warned the dean to be careful what he put in the letter that would follow because “you don’t want to be in my blog.” McAdams later admitted that his statement was intended to affect the dean’s actions during their meeting.Translation: we made it clear to the Dean that any reprimand or any punishment for our blogging would be immediately reported on our blog. And this is somehow bullying? Do we have the power to bully the Dean? Apparently, we had an obligation to submit to being censured or reprimanded. Or else, we should have said nothing, and then blindsided Dean Holz by denouncing him on our blog.
The president of Students for Justice in Palestine had complained that he felt “intimidated” when we tried to interview him about “Israeli Apartheid Week” which that organization was sponsoring. He secretly recorded the conversation, and the recording shows us merely politely asking him for information.
(One piece of hypocrisy here: the Faculty Hearing Committee objected to our use of a recording of the student confrontation with Cheryl Abbate, but Marquette had no problem with the student recording the exchange with us.)
SnowflakesAre we noticing a pattern here? Social Justice Warriors, if ever challenged or merely asked for information, run and start whining about how they have been bullied or harassed or intimidated. They specialize in playing the victim, even as they are victimizing others.
The Abbate AffairHerzog then recounts the details of the student’s confrontation with Abbate, and adds:
McAdams targeted the graduate student instructor by name in a November 2014 post that prompted dozens of harassing emails to Abbate. She ultimately transferred to another university to finish her doctoral work, because she said she feared for her safety and was unable to focus on preparing her dissertation topic defense at Marquette, according to the documents released this week. Transferring required her to repeat three semesters of coursework.Abbate was “ABD.” That is, she had finished all her coursework, and lacked only her dissertation. One can write a dissertation anywhere. She could have flown off to India, finished it, and e-mailed it back. She might have had to fly back to defend it, but in this era of Skype, even that would be unlikely.
So why would she transfer to another Ph.D program? Simple. She transferred from a Marquette program that barely ranks in the top 100 nationally, to one at Colorado that ranks in the top 40.
McAdams has repeatedly argued he was obliged to identify Abbate on his blog “because the norms of journalism require such identification," the faculty hearing committee report said.
“This would be a far stronger argument if Dr. Adams were employed by Marquette as a journalist," the report says. “But he is not; Dr. McAdams is a professor, and therefore his first loyalty must be to the obligations of the academic profession.”This is beyond bizarre. Apparently, telling the truth, or at least telling the truth about one’s own institution, is not one of the “obligations of the academic profession.” Apparently, the most important obligation, for the Faculty Hearing Committee, is to not make trouble for anybody, or at least not for the forces of political correctness at Marquette.
Ironically, many of the same faculty who want us fired signed a statement condemning Marquette for its failure to hire aggressively outspoken lesbian dean candidate Jodi O’Brien.
The report argues that McAdams could have avoided naming Abbate or linking to her contact informationWe did not link to her contact information. We linked to a post on her blog about how “All Men Contribute to the Prevalence of Rape.” It may well be that Abbate’s contact information was on that blog. The point of the link was to show the anti-male sexism of Abbate.
could have confirmed what Abbate’s views were on the conflictWe in fact e-mailed her on Sunday morning to ask her perception of what happened. By the time we went live with the post Sunday evening, she had contacted Nancy Snow and James South, who advised her not to respond to our query. Since we had a recording of the confrontation, there was no doubt as to what she had said to the student.
and could have helped the student — his academic advisee — internally pursue his complaint against Abbate instead of publicly shaming her and exposing her to harassment.The student had lodged his complain, and was greeted with hostility.
Bureaucrats in any organization would prefer to keep misconduct quiet, handled internally, with people outside the organization none the wiser. That’s the way the Catholic Church dealt with the priestly sex abuse scandal.
But letting the bureaucrats keep the abuse quiet removes the incentive to fix systemic problems. And if the institution is claiming to be one thing (a Catholic university) while actually being something else, to conceal systemic abuses is to be a party to fraud.
Journalists function by exposing wrongdoing, not by covering it up.
A PretextThis recital of grievances various people at Marquette have against this blogger make clear one thing the University will not admit: the Abbate affair is simply a pretext to get rid of a professor who has created trouble for administrators and politically correct faculty and activists.
ConclusionThus, the Faculty Hearing Committee produced a shoddy document, and Herzog merely accepted it as face value, and even added a spin (“bullying”) that the Report did not contain.
But in fact, the incidents the Faculty Hearing Committee recounted are a story of years of bullying and harassment — the bullying and harassment of this blogger, by people who piously pretend to be victimized.
And the biggest example of bullying is Marquette’s attempt to fire us.