An assistant professor at Marquette University has been suspended and banished from campus by the university administration after making a blog post criticizing a colleague who banned debating over gay marriage while in class.
In a November post on his conservative blog Marquette Warrior, McAdams criticized teaching assistant Cheryl Abbate for telling a student in her ethics class that he did not have the right to make comments critical of gay marriage because it could be offensive to any gay students in the class. He described her actions as a “typical” left-wing tactic to stifle free speech and political dissent.
“Opinions with which they disagree are not merely wrong, and are not to be argued against on their merits, but are deemed “offensive” and need to be shut up,” wrote McAdams.
The blog post sparked divided reactions. The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), a civil liberties group, sharply criticized Abbate for viewing controversial opinions as something to be suppressed, while others have defended Abbate’s decision as being more about allocating limited class time than about silencing dissent. Some academics have also criticized McAdams for going after Abbate without hearing her side of the story (his blog post was based on a student’s secret recording) and for sharply attacking a person who was technically still a student, albeit a graduate student.
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Now, the university has reacted by suspending McAdams, relieving him of all teaching duties, committee work, or anything else that would require him to interact with students or staff of the school. In fact, McAdams is barred from campus entirely, and will only be allowed back on with the explicit written permission of Dean Richard Holz. While the university has not stated precisely what McAdams did to warrant an investigation, its letter notifying McAdams of his suspension included a copy of the university’s harassment policy, suggesting that the professor is being accused of harassing his opponents.
That harassment policy, McAdams has argued, is ludicrously vague and includes all behavior that could result in mental, emotional or physical discomfort, embarrassment, ridicule or harm.
“That’s right, even mental discomfort (which should be a normal part of having one’s opinions challenged in a university) is considered harassing,” wrote McAdams.
McAdams, ever combative, has also accused the university of flagrantly violating its own rules by suspending him without declaring what specific offense he was being investigated for and who his accusers were.
McAdams has been in hot water with the university before. In 2012, he was accused of sexual harassment for arguing that statistics regarding campus date rape are grossly inflated.
Ironically, Marquette itself is a Catholic university, and the Catholic Church remains opposed to gay marriage.
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