Marquette Warrior: Do Journalists Name People Guilty of Misconduct?

Sunday, July 08, 2018

Do Journalists Name People Guilty of Misconduct?

Marquette has loudly claimed that we should not have published the name of Cheryl Abbate, whom we reported told an undergraduate who wanted to oppose gay marriage in her class:
  • “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.”
Marquette also upped the ante, claiming that we “linked to Abbate’s contact information.” That was flatly untrue.

But the claim that we should not have named Abbate is a bit odd, since journalists normally name the person on whose misconduct they are reporting.

Example: this last June 19, a Congressional intern shouted an obscenity at President Trump while he was walking through the Capitol Rotunda.

Interns are typically college students (as opposed to Abbate, who was 27 years old), and they don’t have any authority over anybody (unlike Abbate, who was Instructor of Record in her class).

But the profane intern has been identified in every story we can immediately find on the incident.

A Google News search for “Caitlin Marriott” tells the story.

Of course, somebody reading this post weeks or months in the future might not get the same Google result, so here is the Google search, as it exists right now, archived.

Marquette is attacking us for doing what journalists normally do.

The Dirty Little Secret

The dirty little secret here is that most of the people attacking us for naming Abbate simply don’t think she did anything wrong. They fully believe that opposition to gay marriage is “hate speech” and should be suppressed. They, quite simply, don’t think we should have exposed Abbate’s misconduct, because they don’t think it was misconduct.

That’s the reality of academia today.

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Blogger Dawn R. Jackson said...

You have a grammatical error in the second to last line.

2:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Question: had this conversation occurred in front of you, would you have the same reaction or would you reach out to the grad student and inform her that in academia there will be some things you hear you won’t agree with?

8:07 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you Dawn I appreciate the correction! Sadly I cannot do in and correct my mistake.

Thanks again!

8:32 AM  
Blogger John McAdams said...

@ Cheryl David: There would have been no point in arguing with Abbate about her intolerance. I could give her a little lecture about how different opinions should be tolerated, but she probably would have considered that harassment.

Would you argue with a Klansman who said something racist?

8:33 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for replying John and no I wouldn’t argue with a Klansman. I would rather ask questions as to why the Klansman believes what he believes,

My professors always gave a disclaimer at the beginning of class that we were going to talk about things that may be uncomfortable for some, and a different opinion doesn’t mean it’s a wrong opinion. I would hope a grad student would understand that based on their instruction?

8:41 AM  
Blogger John McAdams said...

@Cheryl David - Actually, the typo was in *my* post, not your comment. Of course, I've fixed it by now. :-)

12:05 PM  
Blogger Charlie said...

If local press coverage is correct, I'm disappointed that your legal team only argued that the terms of your contract with Marquette protected you from the action Marquette took, rather than, that a university may in broad terms not retaliate against a student, professor, hourly employee, on the basis of their speech. For that matter, I would like to see any employer that takes an adverse action against an employee based on what that employee said, outside of work hours, in speaking on a matter of public controversy, prosecuted for intimidating a person in the exercise of a protected constitutional right. You must know that this has been a difficult case for conservatives, because conservatives generally favor "employment at will."

6:33 PM  
Blogger John McAdams said...

@ Charlie: Of course conservatives favor "employment at will." But Marquette has *chosen* to give faculty a contractual guarantee of free speech. It didn't have to.

Free speech rights aren't that important in most jobs. Somebody working for Joe at Joe's Sheet Metal doesn't particularly need to criticize Joe. But universities are *about* speech.

9:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


It actually happens all the time, but not in an academic situation. For example, the pool monitor situation where the man berated the black lady for not showing her ID when no one else did, the implication is that he targeted her because of her race. Social Media blasted the company the man worked for, and they fired him because it matters how their representatives behave in and outside of work. But, his state is a work-at-will state so his termination was legal and above board. There's free speech, but there are consequences for that free speech. There are more examples out there.

However, Marquette being private, they aren't bound to the rules and regulations that govern public universities and tend to do things...different. As well, academics are full of the free spread of ideas and thought, it's how we learn, and it's also the reason why I go to a Catholic university: I know I am not going to get the same song-and-dance as I would at my local state school.

Bottom line, what the professor here said isn't out of line but that's my own experience with academia. I have also witnessed first hand when students have a problem with a thought they do not agree in. A classmate of mine told our professor, a PhD, that he had no business talking about racism to the class because he was white. Then again, the same student said we can't look at artistic representations of Jesus and look at only the artistic merits because Jesus.

We need to emphasize critical thinking.

1:35 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Your typo? Thank you for letting me know, i was scouring my post wondering where I went wrong...

1:36 AM  

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