Saturday, May 07, 2016

Marquette Attempt to Fire Warrior Blogger: More From the Wall Street Journal

From the Wall Street Journal:
May 5, 2016 7:21 p.m. ET

We told you recently about Marquette University professor John McAdams, who writes an independent blog called the Marquette Warrior. In 2014 a Marquette student told Mr. McAdams about an exchange in which his philosophy instructor, a graduate student named Cheryl Abbate, told him that his views about gay marriage were homophobic and not open for discussion in her classroom.

Mr. McAdams blogged about the exchange and Ms. Abbate got nasty letters, a result that prompted the school to suspend Mr. McAdams, bar him from setting foot on campus and threaten him with termination unless he admitted by April 14 that his actions were “reckless.” In a letter to Marquette President Michael Lovell, Mr. McAdams declined to do so. (

The University did not rescind its position and Mr. McAdams Monday filed suit in Milwaukee County Circuit Court on grounds that the school has abrogated academic freedoms it guarantees. As a private university, Marquette is not subject to the First Amendment, but the school guarantees academic freedom by contract.

According to the school’s faculty statutes, “dismissal shall not be used to restrain faculty members in their exercise of academic freedom or other rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution.” The school says it is acting because Mr. McAdams should have known that his blog would generate criticism of Ms. Abbate, but by that standard freedom of speech is limited by what we can predict others in the online free-for-all will say about what we write.

Universities are meant to be bastions of vigorous debate. When a tenured professor can lose his job because of what strangers on the Internet said, what speech is safe?

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