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McAdams punished by the PC Inquisition

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Waukesha Freeman September 29, 2016 Page A6 Opinion

McAdams punished by the PC Inquisition

Academic freedom has no place at Marquette

We’re at that time of year when many high school seniors are sifting through their college choices. What schools will provide the best education? What university will prepare young Johnny and Mary for a future career? Which college has the best parties?

Perhaps a more salient question should be, which universities actually live up to the purpose of a university in educating young minds, and which universities are so steeped in political correctness that Big Brother has killed academic inquiry and debate?

Marquette University professor John McAdams is being honored this Friday at the annual Right Wisconsin awards dinner with the Unintimidated Award. He’s in august company. Other award recipients Friday night include former Gov. Tommy Thompson, conservative philanthropist Mary Kohler, school choice advocate Susan Mitchell and Honor Flight founder Joe Dean.

As McAdams told me modestly in an interview I did for Watchdog, “I’m actually there with important people while I’m getting an award for offending Marquette administrators.”

What was McAdams’ defense? At a supposedly Catholic university, you might think that McAdams committed some heresy of Galilean proportions. The Inquisition might have overheard McAdams disagreeing with Catholic teaching on divorce or abortion, right?

No, McAdams’ offense was writing a blog post in November 2014 about an instructor in the Philosophy Department at Marquette who told a student that they would not discuss same-sex marriage in her classroom. She told the student in a recorded conversation, “You can have whatever opinions you want but I can tell you right now, in this class homophobic comments, racist comments, and sexist comments will not be tolerated. If you don’t like that you are more than free to drop this class.”

After hearing the recording and making an attempt to reach the instructor, McAdams wrote a blog post on his Web page, The Marquette Warrior. The blog post went “viral” and the instructor received hate email from around the country, none of it encouraged by McAdams.

The instructor was not informed by the administration that the official position of the Catholic Church, and therefore nominally Catholic institutions like Marquette University, is opposition to same-sex marriage. Nor was the instructor told that students, within the context of the class, should be allowed to freely defend Catholic doctrine in the classroom instead of being told that they are homophobic or racist.

Instead, McAdams was suspended from the university for writing the blog post. Because the instructor was also a student, the university claimed, McAdams should not have criticized her publicly. Of course, university faculty criticize each other all the time, and often faculty members will even criticize students publicly, especially when they don’t hew to the politically correct line.

For months McAdams was in limbo, awaiting word whether he would be fired while a university faculty committee investigated. He was barred from campus as if he was some sort of predator, not even allowed to continue his research while his fate was decided.

Finally, in April of this year, the faculty committee recommended McAdams be suspended without pay through the fall semester. In addition, Marquette University President Michael Lovell said that McAdams had to accept the judgment of the faculty committee, commit to Marquette’s values (such as they are) and apologize for the hateful rhetoric directed at the philosophy instructor.

McAdams has refused to apologize and is suing Marquette University for breach of contract. This is not about a financial settlement. Many instructors in McAdams’ position would probably just give up, see if they could get a cash settlement, and retire. This is about a prominent political science professor being allowed to speak freely on campus about the quality of instruction his students are receiving. The one “non-negotiable” in McAdams’ lawsuit is that he wants to return to the university and teach.

Unless Lovell has a Damascene revelation and ends his persecution of McAdams, the case is likely to drag well into the next year. McAdams is spending the time catching up on his reading, he tells me, waiting for his day in court. He says while the Unintimidated Award is nice, he wishes it was for getting his job back.

Meanwhile, the inquisition in the name of political correctness continues. McAdams isn’t the only one being punished. So are the students and other faculty of Marquette who are learning that academic freedom has no place at their university.

(James Wigderson is a blogger publishing at http://www.wigderson.com and a Waukesha resident. His column runs Thursdays in The Freeman.)

JAMES

WIGDERSON

Thursday, 09/29/2016 Pag.A06 Copyright © 2016 Conley Group. All rights reserved 9/29/2016

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