Saturday, March 31, 2018

Not Shown in the Media: Russian Bots Aided the Environmental Movement

From a staff report of the United States House of RepresentativesCommittee on Science, Space, and Technology:
The Committee began investigating Russian attempts to influence U.S. energy markets in the summer of 2017 when Chairman Smith wrote the Secretary of Treasury regarding Russia’s intricate money-laundering scheme. Russian-sponsored agents funneled money to U.S. environmental organizations in an attempt to portray energy companies in a negative way and disrupt domestic energy markets. Upon discovering that Russia may have exploited American social media platforms to accomplish its disruptive objectives, the Committee broadened the scope of its investigation. On September 26, 2017, the Committee requested data from Facebook and Twitter as part of this expanded investigation.

Documents that the American social media companies produced for the Committee confirmed that Russian agents were exploiting American social media platforms in an effort to disrupt domestic energy markets, suppress research and development of fossil-fuels, and stymie efforts to expand the use of natural gas.

Subsequent to the Committee’s initial request, media revelations indicated that Russian operatives, “intent on exploiting existing divisions and social movements in the United States,” had in fact sought to influence U.S. energy markets by exploiting American social media platforms. According to the media report, Russian agents exploited Instagram by “shar[ing] images related to Native American social and political issues — including the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline.” Moreover, many of the Russian-linked accounts targeted “highly visible tension points” in America, including “protests against pipelines.”
And later:
Findings:
  • Between 2015 and 2017, there were an estimated 9,097 Russian posts or tweets regarding U.S. energy policy or a current energy event on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.
  • Between 2015 and 2017, there were an estimated 4,334 IRA [Internet Research Agency — the Russian bot farm] accounts across Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.
  • According to information provided by Twitter, more than four percent of all IRA tweets were related to energy or environmental issues, a significant portion of content when compared to the eight percent of IRA tweets that were related to the election in the U.S.
  • Russia exploited American social media as part of its concerted effort to disrupt U.S. energy markets and influence domestic energy policy.
  • The IRA targeted pipelines, fossil fuels, climate change, and other divisive issues to influence public policy in the U.S.
The Russian interest in energy is clear: Russia is itself a huge energy producer, and the U.S. is a rival producer. Throttling American production both serves Russia’s geopolitical interests, and keeps energy prices high by reducing supply.

The Media

At the moment a Google search for “Russian bots US energy policy” turns up only four relevant media articles. But a search for “Russian bots US election” turns up a massive number. Google states “about 2,520,000 results,” but users know that the ones at the bottom of this massive collection may be pretty much irrelevant. However we got down through 180 results, still finding relevant articles, and found Google saying they were omitting “very similar” entries. There must have been a ton of these.

If Russian attempts to influence the U.S. Presidential election are a huge scandal, why isn’t this? Why have not the Mainstream Media paid much attention?

The answer, of course, is simple and obvious. They dislike Donald Trump (hate him, actually), but they like the environmentalists. Thus portraying Trump as supported by the evil Russians fits their narrative. Admitting that Russia was supporting the environmentalists does not.

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Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Intercultural Center Event: Marquette Seal a “Microaggression”

From Marquette undergraduate Zachary Petrizzo on Campus Reform:
Marquette forum calls university seal a “microaggression”
  • During a recent forum at Marquette University, students and faculty members enthusiastically agreed that the university’s seal is a “microaggression” because it depicts a white explorer being guided by a Native American.
  • According to one professor at the forum, the seal shows how Marquette’s namesake, French explorer Fr. Jacques Marquette, “took advantage of an economic disparity to have a Native American as his guide.”
At a recent forum, Marquette University faculty members declared that the school’s seal is a “microaggression” because it depicts a white explorer being guided by a Native American.

The Marquette University Intercultural Center, which is funded through a combination of tuition and student activity fees, hosted the March 23 event, titled “Men to Men: Responding to Microaggressions and Why They Matter.”

Guided by MU counselor Nicholas Jenkins, the forum began with a discussion of how microaggressions happen, the various types of microaggressions, and how there are targeted microaggressions by whites towards minorities.

At one point, Jenkins suggested that the university seal is a microaggression because one section of it depicts Marquette’s namesake, French explorer Fr. Jacques Marquette, standing in a boat being paddled by a Native American guide.

“Do you know what the Marquette seal looks like? Is that a microaggression?” he asked the audience, which responded with enthusiastic cries of “Yes!”
And then:
“Where does this stem from? I look at the Church,” he [Simon Howard] continued, noting that the primary image he associates with the Church is “a white Jesus,” and that this is true even of many people who don’t actively participate in religion.
Read the whole thing.

Audio

Petrizzo recorded the entire event, which you can listen to here (warning, it includes a lot more politically correct whining):


The Grievance

Below is the painting by Wilhelm Lamprecht which is the basis of the Marquette seal.



And here is the Marquette seal:



Clearly, the Marquette seal crops the painting to emphasize Fr. Marquette. And just what is wrong with this?

The place is named “Marquette University,” not “Some Indians Who Happened to Be Around When Marquette Was Exploring the Midwest University.”

Marquette was the great explorer. The Indians were probably perfectly fine people, and helped guide Marquette around, but they didn’t get a university named after them.

So just what kind of whiny brats feel “microaggressed” seeing the seal? The sort that academia is turning out in considerable numbers these days. And the sort the Center for Intercultural Engagement panders to.

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Monday, March 26, 2018

Phony Paris Climate Accord


If the promises made in Paris were pretty tepid, the performance of nations in meeting them has been equally bad. From New York Magazine:
Remember Paris? It was not even two years ago that the celebrated climate accords were signed — defining two degrees of global warming as a must-meet target and rallying all the world’s nations to meet it — and the returns are already dispiritingly grim.

This week, the International Energy Agency announced that carbon emissions grew 1.7 percent in 2017, after an ambiguous couple of years optimists hoped represented a leveling off, or peak; instead, we’re climbing again. Even before the new spike, not a single major industrial nation was on track to fulfill the commitments it made in the Paris treaty. To keep the planet under two degrees of warming — a level that was, not all that long ago, defined as the threshold of climate catastrophe — all signatory nations have to match or better those commitments. There are 195 signatories, of which only the following are considered even “in range” of their Paris targets: Morocco, Gambia, Bhutan, Costa Rica, Ethiopia, India, and the Philippines. This puts Donald Trump’s commitment to withdraw from the treaty in a useful perspective; in fact, his spite may ultimately prove perversely productive, since the evacuation of American leadership on climate seems to have mobilized China, eager to claim the mantle and far more consequential to the future of the planet because of its size and relative poverty, to adopt a much more aggressive posture toward climate. Of course those renewed Chinese commitments are, at this point, just rhetorical, too.
Of course, if the Paris Accord are something between a “farce” and a “fraud,” that doesn’t mean that a strong accord that works would be a bad idea.

But it does mean that the media and politicians like Al Gore and Barack Obama have been, either through ignorance or mendacity or ideological bias, lying to the American people.

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Unfriendly Skies

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Marquette Misleads: Why Cheryl Abbate Left the University

Cheryl Abbate, readers of this blog will remember, was the Marquette graduate instructor who was approached after class one day by a student who noted she had briefly mentioned gay marriage, and seemed to endorse it. The student made it clear he would have liked an opportunity to oppose gay marriage. She told him:
  • “some opinions are not appropriate, such as racist opinions, sexist opinions”
  •  “do you know if anyone in your class is homosexual?” . . . “don’t you think it would be offensive to them”
  • “you don’t have a right in this class to make homophobic comments.” 
  • “In this class, homophobic comments, racist comments, will not be tolerated.”
We blogged about the issue, and an uproar ensued. Abbate got some rather nasty e-mail messages (and noticed some rather unkind comments about herself surfing Internet discussion boards). But she got no actual threats.

Claiming to feel “unsafe,” she left Marquette for the University of Colorado, and Marquette, blaming us for the e-mails, began the process of revoking our tenure and firing us.

Marquette on Abbate’s Departure

Marquette claims it is all our fault that she left a cushy, comfortable position in Marquette’s Philosophy Department for the wilds of Colorado. For example, a Marquette “FAQ” claims that:
The graduate student left the university . . .  after she  was subject to a stream of threats and hateful messages.
A letter to us from Dean Rick Holz, dated January 31, 2015 outlines some of the unkind e-mails Abbate got, and claims:
Accordingly, and understandably, the student feared for her personal safety, and we posted a Public Safety Officer outside her classroom. In addition, as a result of your conduct and its consequences, Ms. Cheryl Abbate now has withdrawn from our graduate program and moved to another University to continue her academic career.

The Reality

The first thing that might raise some suspicion about Marquette’s claim is the simple fact that Colorado’s Philosophy Ph.D. programs ranks much higher than Marquette’s. One site that lists several different ranking metrics puts Colorado consistently in the top 40 programs in the country, and Marquette barely in the top 100.

Other sites ranking the top programs list Colorado, but fail to list Marquette at all, apparently because it is not in the top 60, and in another case because it is not in the top 50.

The Inside Story

More direct evidence comes from documents produced during the “discovery” process in our suit against Marquette.  James South, Associate Dean of Arts and Sciences, and former Chair of the Philosophy Department explained in an e-mail to Dean Holz:
Friday, December 5, 2014 5:11 PM

Rick,

It’s complicated, but the short version is Cheryl is planning to leave Marquette and go to a different Ph.D. Program, which has offered her significant financial aid and is reputationally superior to MU. She’s working on a letter to Nancy [Snow] about this, which she is also going to send to Jeanne.

We can talk more on Monday. But several programs reached out to her and offered her aid and [she] finds MU to be very uncomfortable and toxic. She walks around afraid for her safety and feels unsupported by the senior faculty of the department.

James
Another e-mail on December 9, also from South to Holz, responds to Philosophy Chair Nancy Show’s version of events:
Hi Rick,

If you have a few minutes, could we talk about this tomorrow? Cheryl is not just leaving because of McAdams, but because she did not feel comfortable in the department — for several reasons, not least because of how Nancy [Snow] treated her, her research area, and her mentor, Susanne [Foster].

Anyway, I resent Nancy saying I felt threatened by McAdams and none of the senior faculty she mentioned have been harmed by McAdams in the way she suggests. Indeed, I’ve always felt much more annoyed by Nancy than by anything McAdams said and I’ve seen her intimidate and belittle her colleagues more than McAdams has ever done.

Sorry to unload on you, but I don’t want Nancy giving the wrong impression to people, and at some point she needs to be called to her own account.
Best,
James
We can’t speak to Abbate’s feeling of being “unsafe,” except to repeat that she received no actual threats, and to note that politically correct people on college campuses have weaponized fragility by claiming to feel “unsafe” in all sorts of circumstances.

It seems that on this, as on so many issues, Marquette has intentionally issued misleading and (in some cases) flatly false statements. All the while exuding pious rhetoric about its “Catholic mission.”

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Friday, March 23, 2018

Marquette Center Urges Anti-Gun Protest

From the Marquette University Center for Peacemaking:


March For Our Lives - Milwaukee
Saturday, March 24 | 10 am | Milwaukee County Courthouse (901 N. 9th St.)
Optional: Meet with other MU marchers at 9:30 am outside the Brew in the lower level of the AMU

This Saturday, March 24, the kids and families of March For Our Lives will take to the streets around the world to demand that their lives and safety become a priority and that we end gun violence and mass shootings in our schools today.

You are welcome to join the March For Our Lives in Milwaukee from the Milwaukee County Courthouse to City Hall. If you want to march as a group with other Marquette people, please meet at 9:30 am outside of the Brew in the lower level of the AMU.

On Thursday and Friday you are welcome to visit the Schroeder Complex, 146, the Hartman Literacy and Learning Center, or the Center for Peacemaking (1616 W. Wells St.) to make a poster to carry in the march. Poster board, markers, and space to make your sign are provided at both locations.

Marquette University Center for Peacemaking
So what is wrong with this? Students have a right to protest, don’t they?

The problem, which is endemic among the activists, is that students are encouraged to march, but they are not encouraged to think.

Any idiot can make a poster demanding that “the violence stop.” Knowing what to do about it is a different matter. It involves learning. It involves hearing both sides (or sometimes several sides) of the debate. It involves knowing some of the complexities. It involves thinking.

But to the activist mentality, none of this is necessary. There are no complexities, like the bothersome Second Amendment, or the fact that when the U.S. had an assault weapons ban it did nothing to reduce gun violence.

It’s enough to believe that only the U.S. has mass shootings, and that only the machinations of the NRA and the cowardice of politicians allows shootings to continue.

Marquette’s Role

The Center for Peacemaking is a generally independent center established with money from a leftist alumni couple, so this isn’t something the central administration did. But the central Marquette administration did something about as bad: encouraging potential applicants for admission to violate school rules and walk out of class in an anti-gun protest.

Universities are not generally in the business of promoting virtue and discouraging vice. Mostly, that has to be done by family, society and the church. But one kind of virtue universities should promote is intellectual virtue.

Encouraging self-righteous but thoughtless political action flatly contradicts this.

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Friday, March 16, 2018

Go Away. Please, Go Away.

GLENN MCCOY © Belleville News-Democrat. Dist. By UNIVERSAL UCLICK. Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.

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Thursday, March 15, 2018

Fiasco: Marquette Discussion of When Life Begins Has No Abortion Opponent

At any university, a discussion on “When Does Human Life Begin” would be an excellent idea. And at any university, at least somebody on the panel should espouse the view that life begins at conception.  This should be utterly obvious at a Catholic university.

But what happens when a pro-abortion feminist office at a “Catholic” university organizes the discussion? You can guess.

The discussion was sponsored by Marquette for Life, Empowerment (a feminist student organization), the Campus Ministry, and the Marquette University Center for Gender and Sexualities Studies. That latter one is just what it sounds like.

The discussants were Theology professor Conor Kelly and Monique Liston, who is an adjunct instructor of Gender and Sexualities Studies. One might expect a Marquette Theology professor to defend the Catholic position. But he did not. According to the Marquette Wire:
Because the Catholic Church is unable to pinpoint the exact moment personhood begins, Kelly said the church has developed an assumption that human life begins at the moment of conception. He said this is to protect all potential human life.

“In theology, there’s an ongoing conversation about how to identify exactly when personhood begins as a better way of describing not just life in the biological sense, but life in the moral sense,” Kelly said. “The Catholic Church says it doesn’t know when life begins in the sense of personhood.”
Liston, of course, played the race card, and talked about women making “choices.”
Liston said individuals should consider when a soul into enters the body and when a soul leaves the body at the time of death.

She said individuals should recognize the community contexts that contribute to individuals’ views on this topic. Members of the Marquette community are privileged to be given the opportunity to attend a panel like this, she said.

“We’re not on 30th and Wisconsin having this conversation,” Liston said. “We’re on 13th and Wisconsin having this conversation.”

Kelly added that historical implications of race and class continue to impact today’s populations.

“When we kind of see that reality, it very much complicates this picture and puts a lot of the onus, I would say, on our society to rethink what we’re doing and how we can be supportive, even if we want to affirm the autonomy of people to make choices,” Kelly said.
How the “historical implications of race and class” affect when life begins is something she did not explain. Does life begin at some different point for blacks and the poor? Or is blathering about race and class simply a way that the politically correct avoid discussing issues they don’t want to discuss?

As we shall see, Marquette for Life had to distance themselves from the whole affair.

Conor Kelly’s Views

We wondered if Kelly was actually as favorable toward abortion as he seemed, so we wrote him and asked him the following:
It appears you were supposed to “represent” Marquette for Life, and they weren’t happy with your “representation.” I understand that faculty aren’t lobbyists and neither you nor I would agree to “represent” a view other than one we actually hold.

But just a couple of simple questions: do you believe that “elective abortion” (leaving aside rape, incest, etc.) should be legal or illegal?

Do you in fact believe that life begins at conception, or at some other point?

I ask two simple questions because I don’t want to impose by expecting a long explanation of your views. If you’ve written on this, feel free to point me to what you have written.

On the record, unless you tell me otherwise.
Kelly did not respond to our e-mail, nor to a follow up phone call. The reader can infer what this means.

Some light on how Kelly actually feels is found in an article he wrote titled “The Role of the Moral Theologian in the Church: A Proposal in Light of Amoris Laetitia.” From the abstract:
Pope Francis’s apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia recast pastoral decisions in terms of conscience and discernment and asked moral theology to do the same. Such a request invites reforms for moral theology, requiring a shift from the traditional role of the moral theologian as an external judge to a more personalist role as a counselor for conscience. This change entails prioritizing the process of discernment ahead of the definition of rules, specifying the place of the ideal in Catholic morality, and attending to the ethics of ordinary life.
The word “discernment” has a synonym. That synonym is “rationalization.”

Once you decide to junk the rules and “discern” what should be done, it’s almost trivially easy to “discern” that you can have an abortion, or a sex change operation, or a homosexual relationship. “Discernment” is for those people who want to cast off all those nettlesome Catholic rules, and do what they want.

Kelly, of course, can believe what he wants. Dan Maguire has been around Marquette for decades supporting abortion, gay marriage, and all the rest. But nobody would pick Maguire to present a pro-life view on abortion.

Try to imagine, for a moment, how an environmentalist group would feel if they cosponsored a debate on global warming and all the participants hemmed and hawed and expressed all kinds of doubt, with nobody presenting a robust case that the earth faces a possible “climate change” catastrophe.

Marquette For Life Responds

Marquette for Life responded by, in effect, distancing the group from the entire affair. In a statement they noted that the event “seemed to cause more confusion than it did clarity.” They made it clear that “the faculty assigned to represent us” in fact did not. They insisted that “human life begins at conception.”

What Was Marquette for Life Thinking?

Good for Marquette for Life. But we have to ask, what were they thinking allowing people who flatly reject Catholic moral views to organize an event they co-sponsored?

Let’s begin with Empowerment. These are the students who vandalized an anti-abortion protest in the fall of 2016. Not only did they vandalize it, they were proud of the act, and demanded that Marquette refuse to allow such a display in the future. Marquette gave them a minor slap on the wrist for their vandalism.

They issued a bitter, intolerant screed, objecting to conservative Ben Shapiro speaking on campus.

The “Gender” Center

The Center for Gender and Sexualities Studies is another hotbed of political correctness. The first clue is obvious on their list of staff: each one lists her “preferred pronouns.”

The Director, one Angelique Harris, was a member of a study group of leftist feminists who supported cop-killer Assata Shakir, and planned to meet to discuss the deep thoughts of communist Angela Davis, and an essay on “The Whiteness of Police.”

Another staffer, one Chrissy Nelson, tried to undermine the talk of Ben Shapiro by advising people who disliked Shapiro to get a ticket, and not show up, depriving people who wanted to see him of an opportunity. This at the suggestion of an (unidentified) “director of diversity.”

How did Angelique Harris punish her when her plan was revealed? She was “repremanded” and remained on the staff.

And just who led the vandalizing of the anti-abortion display in the fall of 2016? Yet another Center staffer, Brianna Hawkins.

The Center is, quite simply, a center of politically correct intolerance.

A Lesson

Hopefully, Marquette for Life has learned a lesson. Don’t team up with people who despise all that you stand for, and probably hate you.

But at a genuinely Catholic university, an anti-abortion student group should not have to learn that lesson. Yes, there might be people who would disagree with them, and there might be debate and discussion. But in a genuinely Catholic university, they would have allies among the campus bureaucrats who would help see that their view was, at least, heard.

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Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Democrats: Party of Elites (and Elitists)

From the Wall Street Journal:
Hillary Clinton is the only presidential candidate in recent history to lose popularity after a defeat, and she seems determined to keep it that way. Speaking in India over the weekend, she blamed Donald Trump’s election on voters who “didn’t like black people getting rights . . . don’t like women, you know, getting jobs . . . don’t wanna, you know, see that Indian-American succeeding more than you are.” She also claimed that “married white women” supported Mr. Trump in response to “pressure to vote the way that your husband, your boss, your son—whoever—believes you should.”

More interesting than this “basket of deplorables” redux, though, was Mrs. Clinton’s commentary on the role of economic concerns in the 2016 contest. “There’s all that red in the middle, where Trump won,” she said. “But what the map doesn’t show you is that I won the places that represent two-thirds of America’s gross domestic product.” To scattered applause, she continued: “So I won the places that are optimistic, diverse, dynamic, moving forward.”

This is an unexpected twist in the debate over Mr. Trump’s rise. Analysts on the center and right have tended to emphasize the economic factors that made Mr. Trump’s victory possible, noting that voters in regions with stagnating incomes and diminishing job opportunities are likelier to be drawn to populism. Many on the left, meanwhile, have argued that economic concerns are simply an excuse for bigotry. “Economic anxiety” is even a running joke on progressive Twitter — a sarcastic response to reports of racism among Republicans.

But now Mrs. Clinton herself has endorsed the “economic anxiety” thesis, albeit in a backhanded way. She sees her electoral disappointment in economically downscale regions not as a political failure but a source of validation—and, apparently, an indication of those voters’ failings. Similarly, last September she told Vox that the Electoral College is “an anachronism” in part because “I won in counties that produce two-thirds of the economic output in the United States.” Should those voters have more of a say?

Since Andrew Jackson, the Democratic Party has usually been identified as the party of the “common man,” and its adversaries as defenders of wealth and economic privilege. Jackson earned that reputation for his party by reducing property qualifications for the franchise for white men. But the Democrats’ most recent standard-bearer sounds an awful lot like the 19th-century conservatives who thought political representation should be tied to wealth. This is a significant moment in America’s partisan realignment.
Not merely “significant” but stunning. But not new either. In the 60s, when leftist students and activists were marching against the Vietnam War — indeed, rooting for a communist victory — construction workers were marching in support of the war, and were demeaned as “hardhats” by the left.

And the conflict over social issues like abortion has long been one that pitted affluent liberals against working class conservatives such as the famous “Reagan Democrats.” Thomas Frank’s 2005 book What’s the Matter with Kansas? lamented how working class voters didn’t vote “their own interests,” but voted Republican because of social issues.

Hillary’s snobbish elitism is not new. But it’s not been so blatantly expressed by a presidential candidate until Hillary’s “basket of deplorables” speech. And now she has doubled down.

Political Correctness

Whatever their actual beliefs (and Obama probably pretty much thought the same way) no candidate has so blatantly and overtly embraced political correctness. The essence of political correctness is the view that there is no legitimate disagreement with the standard leftist agenda. Oppose Black Lives Matter and you are a racist. Oppose gay marriage and you are a homophobe. Oppose abortion and you are a sexist. No debate or discussion allowed.

The Reality of Social Class and Politics

The reality, of course, is that Trump voters were not at all the poor white trash that the elitist Democrats make them out to be, as the 2016 Exit Polls show. While Trump did particularly well with whites with no college degree, he carried a plurality of whites with a college degree.

Clinton did carry those with postgraduate degrees (by a 58% to 37% margin), but there is no reason to believe that people with postgraduate degrees are any more “enlightened” than other groups. All graduate education is vocational, and simply socializes students into a particular occupation   typically one whose interests are served by liberal policies.



As for income, if the richest people are the most productive (a notion that the left traditionally abhorred), then the most productive people split evenly between Trump and Clinton.



Hillary is using something called the “ecological fallacy” — confusing the aggregate characteristics of a unit with the characteristics of the individuals in it. So while affluent areas are indeed the quite liberal, it doesn’t follow that affluent people are. The same goes for education. Put another way, plenty of rich and well-educated conservatives live in those affluent areas, where they are unfortunately outnumbered by the liberals.

But more fundamentally: do you really want to assume that the rich and well-educated are the most enlightened? Or does wealth and education (which is often indoctrination) corrupt?

On that issue, the Democrats have come down on the side of the elitists.

Update

What Hillary actually said is even worse than the journalistic descriptions of it. Watch the entire response to the question below:

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Sunday, March 11, 2018

Speech and the Progressive Utopia

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Two Way Traffic

Friday, March 09, 2018

The Arab World: The Politically Incorrect Truth

Amicus in Our Case: Foundation for Individual Rights in Education

Among several organizations what have filed amicus briefs in our case against Marquette University is the nation’s top organization protecting free expression on campus: the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education.

Their brief is here.

The whole thing is worth reading, but here are some highlights:
The lower court’s ruling threatens professors’ free speech and academic freedom rights. While this case may, at first blush, seem to present a relatively narrow contract dispute between a private religious university and a tenured member of its faculty, the core dispute between Professor John McAdams and Marquette University must be viewed in the broader context in which it arose. Around the country, the free speech and academic freedom rights of faculty are being eroded by students, administrators, and members of the general public demanding censorship and by administrations caving to those demands. This capitulation is to the serious detriment of American higher education and ultimately the health of our democracy.

If a faculty member is not free to criticize, even publicly, the pedagogy of a fellow instructor, or to respond in kind to his or her critics, important institutional dialogues about teaching, scholarship, politics, and more will be deeply chilled. Faculty already report being reluctant to speak out and even to teach about sensitive issues for fear of professional repercussions. If the lower court’s ruling stands, the increasing chill on faculty expression will only intrude further as administrators around the country seize on the decision to justify disciplining faculty for public dissent on topics both internal and external to the university.

. . .

Echoing this national commitment to academic freedom, Marquette vows to protect the “the full and free enjoyment of legitimate personal or academic freedoms of thought, doctrine, discourse, association, advocacy, or action” — a promise bolstered by the assurance that “dismissal will not be used to restrain faculty members in their exercise of academic freedom or other rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution.” Handbook for Full-Time Faculty, Marquette Univ. (Aug. 27, 2013), available at http://www.marquette.edu/provost/307.php. This Court should grant review to hold Marquette true to its word. [link in document updated]

The lower court’s ruling threatens free speech and academic freedom by sanctioning the termination of a tenured professor simply for publicly criticizing what he believed to be dangerous pedagogical practices. The lower court correctly recognizes that “[a]cademic freedom allows both faculty members and students to engage in intellectual debate without fear of censorship or retaliation and it establishes a faculty member’s right to remain true to his or her pedagogical philosophy and intellectual commitments.” McAdams v. Marquette Univ., No. 16-cv-003396, at 24 (Wis. Cir. Ct. May 4, 2017). But despite seeming to grasp academic freedom’s crucial importance, the court dramatically undermines its utility by finding that criticizing a graduate student instructor by name in extramural writing is “professional misconduct” — indeed, a violation of the “protection against harassment and criticism” from faculty members to which graduate students are “entitled.” Id. at 25.

This broad limitation upon what faculty may say, both professionally and as citizens, is flatly incompatible with the lower court’s own understanding of academic freedom. How may a faculty member “engage in intellectual debate without fear of censorship or retaliation” if, by naming the proponent of an opposing view, he or she risks sanction? How might a faculty member “remain true to his or her pedagogical philosophy and intellectual commitments” if he or she is prohibited from rebutting critics by name? If termination is an acceptable consequence of the heated debate and sharpelbowed public criticism that pedagogical dispute may spark, then academic freedom is a dead letter.

The lower court attempts to justify McAdams’ punishment by arguing that his blog post violated the graduate student’s rights. “In short,” the court argues, “academic freedom gives a professor, such as Dr. McAdams, the right to express his views in speeches, writings and on the internet, so long as he does not infringe on the rights of others.” McAdams, supra, at 25. But the court fails to explain exactly how publicly criticizing a graduate student’s performance as an instructor “infringe[s]” upon his or her rights. As FIRE explained to Marquette University President Michael R. Lovell:
If criticism of the ideas proposed, and pedagogical choices made, by fellow instructors in this context are not protected by Marquette’s seemingly robust promises of academic freedom, then it is not clear what is. While in its public statements Marquette professes that “all of our graduate student teaching assistants are students first,” the fact is that teaching and its associated public responsibilities are a pillar of doctoral studies and that they inevitably introduce the possibility of having one’s teaching methods critiqued, perhaps publicly. Of course, graduate instructors in such positions enjoy the same rights of free speech and academic freedom to defend their ideas and pedagogical choices against such criticisms as their faculty peers.
Like Marquette during its disciplinary proceedings, the lower court fails to satisfactorily explain why McAdams may be punished, and his academic freedom abridged, because of the actions of others over whom he had no control. McAdams’ criticism was not incitement; it was neither “directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless action” nor “likely to incite or produce such action.” Brandenburg v. Ohio, 395 U.S. 444, 447 (1969). He cannot fairly be held responsible for whatever those who read his blog entry may have communicated to the graduate student. If others unlawfully threatened or harassed the graduate student McAdams criticized, any proper remedy lies against them. Holding otherwise leaves faculty in the impossible position of being professionally liable for the unlawful actions of independent and unknown third parties.
The brief then gives accounts of professors who have been fired because of controversial statements they made. Interestingly, most of the cases involve leftist professors. This smacks of an argument being made to leftists saying, in effect “if you don’t stand up for the rights of a conservative professor, some of your buddies could be next to be fired.”

Whether this has any resonance, or whether leftists are so confident in their power on a typical campus that they are unmoved, is an interesting question.

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Monday, March 05, 2018

Jimmy Kimmel: Advocate for Women


Yes, this is a satire site. But this particular article is spot on about the facts (except, perhaps, for “crazed, drunken, slobbering”). Those are only slight exaggerations.

One can get a good idea about the show here, and here.

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Thursday, March 01, 2018

Marquette: Encouraging Students to Skip School For Anti-Gun Protests

From Marquette University News:
Marquette issues statement on National School Walk Out Day

Marquette University reassured prospective students applying to Marquette they will not be held back from admission if they receive disciplinary action for taking part in National School Walk Out Day. “If a student receives disciplinary actions for peaceful protests, it will not affect your admission to Marquette,” the university said in a statement.

Story aired on WTMJ-TV (NBC 4), Feb. 27, 2018
This can only be read as encouraging students to participate in an anti-gun protest, which several school districts have said violates their rules.

Even if Marquette does not particularly wish to hold this bit of truancy against candidates for admission, explicitly saying that has to be viewed as a way of egging on participation in a controversial demonstration by violating school rules.

We wonder how Marquette would feel if a lot of employers announced that university disciplinary judgments against graduates would be ignored in hiring.

Broader Pattern

This fits a broader pattern of compulsive political correctness on the part of Marquette.

When a bunch of racial bullies at the University of Missouri concocted a variety of bogus racial grievances and essentially shut down that university, Marquette President Michael Lovell and Provost Dan Myers were right out on the street, with leftist Marquette students, demonstrating in support of the Missouri bullies.

And when a bunch of presidents of “Catholic” universities signed a statement demanding that the U.S. support the “climate change” agenda, Lovell’s signature was right there — among a dishonor roll of presidents of other universities that are Catholic in name only.

What is Lovell’s agenda? Does he wish to position Marquette as a leftist, politically correct institution where conservatives are marginalized? That’s not a good place for a “Catholic” (or Catholic) university to be. The competition is tough in that very crowded sector of the market.

Is he trying to pander to leftist faculty and student activists? If so, why is he doing things that are so gratuitous? Things were there is no perceptible pressure on him.

Is he an inept administrator, allowing leftist subordinates to set the agenda?

Or is he, himself, a leftist who can’t resist signing onto any leftist cause?

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