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Today’s Attack on Academic Freedom

[ 344 ] February 6, 2015 |

Marquette has clearly far overstepped its bounds here:

A controversial professor on Wednesday revealed that Marquette University is trying to revoke his tenure and fire him for statements he made about a graduate instructor, with her name, on his blog.

The university says his behavior was unprofessional and that he misled the public about what happened in a dispute between the graduate instructor and an undergraduate student. The professor, John McAdams, says he is being punished for his free speech. He also maintains that Marquette shouldn’t be attacking him, given that he is defending an undergraduate’s views against gay marriage that are consistent with Roman Catholic teachings. (Marquette is a Jesuit university.)

The dispute over McAdams attracted national attention even before Marquette moved to fire him, with some academics backing the graduate student and others McAdams.

I, myself, would not use this forum to question the teaching of a colleague. And if he did so without getting his facts straight, as the university alleges, then his behavior was inappropriate. If you want to say that it merits, I dunno, a meeting with a dean or something, I won’t argue with you.

But revocation of tenure and firing? Not even close. The threats that Abbate received were appalling, but McAdams cannot be held responsible for the actions of third parties. John Wilson’s argument here is unanswerable. The clause that Marquette is using to justify the firing — “should at all times be accurate, should exercise appropriate restraint, should show respect for the opinions of others” — would render academic freedom a nullity. It’s essentially a “civility” firing, and given the language it’s even worse than that. Any professor who ever made a mistake — even an honest mistake — in a public forum would be subject to revocation of tenure. Any remotely controversial statement could be a violation of the requirement to “exercise appropriate restraint.” Revoking McAdams’s tenure on this basis is unjustifiable in itself and would set an extremely dangerous precedent.

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  • bratschewurst

    “He also maintains that Marquette shouldn’t be attacking him, given that he is defending an undergraduate’s views against gay marriage that are consistent with Roman Catholic teachings.”

    Regardless of the merits of the case (and on its face, Marquette seems to be over-reacting), McAdams’ argument on this issue is weak. Marquette is indeed a Jesuit school, but my perception (as a local) is that they work very hard not to limit faculty to “views consistent with Roman Catholic teachings.” Which of course is the correct course for a Catholic university to take, if they want to be a university.

    • Andrew

      True, but it does seem a trifle bizarre that they seem to have a policy of punishing those who espouse views consistent with those teachings. Even if you don’t see this as one of those actions, FIRE had some info on Marquette’s sensitivity training that is pretty repugnant:

      http://www.thefire.org/marquette-harassment-training-forbids-certain-viewpoints/

      • Aimai

        Mcadams seems to have been the chief dource for the FIRE article. The examples seem to be about explaining/reminding people about what can make for a hostile work envirinment. Im not sure this is proof of much.

      • Cn. Naevius

        Having worked a little bit with people organizing a union at a Catholic university, this doesn’t seem at all surprising to me. I would be amazed if the administrators cared even the tiniest little bit about Catholic doctrine, beyond making occasional “oh yes, we are very much devoted to our Catholic identity, whatever you say” gestures at the appropriate donors.

  • DrDick

    While McAdams is clearly an asshole, his action do not rise to the level of revoking tenure or firing. He certainly deserves a strong reprimand, possibly other penalties, and should publicly apologize to the instructor.

    • Warren Terra

      This is my view, more or less (I don’t know what “other penalties” means, or should mean).

      Though Jonathan Kaplan below raises an important point – if he’s demonstrated an inability to stop publicly attacking students or colleagues, depending on degree he could be way over the line. That still might not be a firing offense, but it might mean some sort of serious warning that further behavior of that sort will not be tolerated.

    • rea

      He certainly deserves a strong reprimand, possibly other penalties, and should publicly apologize to the instructor.

      Except that he was a repeat offender, violating a past agreement not to denounce students by name on his blog.

      • Manju

        He claims there was no agreement:

        Publishing Student Names

        Holz continues:

        You have been asked, advised, and warned on multiple prior occasions not to publicize students’ names in connection with your blog posts.

        This is simply untrue. Only once did any university official (Provost John Pauly) tell us not to make any blog posts about students. (Actually, he said it was fine to commend students, but we should not criticize student activities – essentially demanding biased journalism.)

        We blogged about this, and made it clear to Pauly that he had no right to tell us what to blog about. This was in 2011, and we continued to blog about student activities. Pauly let us alone, which we interpreted as meaning that he knew he had no authority to censor our blog.

        http://mu-warrior.blogspot.com/

        • Aimai

          This is not a question of “authority to censor” or no authority to censor. The guy was politely reminded not to make targets out of students and to try to remember that the point of teaching people is to educate them, not to treat them like pawns in a larger war for power. This guy is truly a loose cannon and a danger to the students and other faculty at the school. He reminds me of Savonarola–A dominican, not a jesuit. And he didn’t end up all that well either.

          • Salem

            The guy was politely reminded not to make targets out of students and to try to remember that the point of teaching people is to educate them, not to treat them like pawns in a larger war for power.

            The grad student in question was a student at the university, but not McAdams’ student. So he wasn’t actually trying to teach her. I think that changes things a bit. A teacher shouldn’t treat her own students like pawns, but I do think she should be allowed to comment on general things going on at the university, even when done by other people’s students.

            • Aimai

              This is a point that McAdam makes in his own defense but I think its absurd. The University clearly takes the perspective that all the faculty are obligated to consider all the students “their” student and their charge to keep. As it should.

              • Yes, I don’t see how this helps or why he had to name her (or even the department) in order to comment on her behaviour as part of the things going on. He didn’t name the undergraduate (good thing!) so I fail to see why he should treat a grad student differently. He also didn’t give her much time to respond (i.e., hours elapsed between his attempt at contact and his publishing her name).

                Frankly, I generally don’t draw the boundaries at my university. If a student at a conference from another university asked me a question, I’ve a professional obligation to treat them appropriately. Obviously, their claims on me are not as strong or formal as students at my university or my students, but it’s not like they are irrelevant.

                (What the appropriate sanction is is a different subject. But it’s very strange for him to defend himself by saying, “Not my student, in the narrowest sense, so I’ve no responsibilities!”

                • But it’s very strange for him to defend himself by saying, “Not my student, in the narrowest sense, so I’ve no responsibilities!”

                  Not that strange. It’s the American Way ™, after all — no responsibilities toward anyone unless you voluntarily and specifically agree to take them on.

                • Er..I thought I did this by becoming an academic!

                • ChrisTS

                  Whew. Thanks to Bijan and Aimai. I don’t know if the guy should be fired, but the fact that she was not ‘his’ student is irrelevant. Students are students. I would never call out a student in Theater on the grounds that s/he was not in Philosophy.

            • pseudonymous in nc

              I’ll defend tenure fiercely as a shield to challenge power, but when it’s drawn upon to kiss up and kick down, it’s an abuse. Shitting on junior faculty and graduate students? Conspiring with an arsehole Young Republican O’Keeffe wannabe? Really?

              Fuck McAdams, and fuck those who think this sets a bad precedent.

          • DrDick

            He is also skating pretty damned close to a FERPA violation.

        • rea

          Oh, hell. “You only told me not to do this once” is a great defense, although admittedly I haven’t heard it much since my grandkids reached age 7.

          • Manju

            They can tell him not to write something as many times as they want. But if he has a contractual free speech right to do so, they can’t fire him if he disobeys. Now if he agreed to not do so that might change the calculation, depending on which aspect of his contract trumps the other. But I don’t see any evidence of such an agreement.

            • ChrisTS

              I’m pretty sure all academics have a contractual duty to not call out students at our institutions by name. Personally, I would not attack a student of any other institution by name.

        • rea

          You’ll note, by the way, that calling your blog the “Marquette Warrior” is, in context, a deliberate insult to Native Americans. The university changed the team’s name in ’94 from “Warriors” to “Golden Eagles” because the warrior logos used by the team were offensive . . .

          • Bufflars

            Yeah, I noticed that too. Seems to have been a rather deliberate choice to be “anti-P.C.” or whatever the fuck. What an asshole.

        • postmodulator

          He claims there was no agreement:

          Sure, but he’s a documented liar.

    • Incontinentia Buttocks

      My view, too. This was harrassment — and afaict defamation — of a vulnerable colleague. Totally appropriate for McAdams to be sanctioned (indeed, I’d be troubled if he weren’t). But this is in no way grounds for revocation of tenure.

      • postmodulator

        This is the third time he’s done this. Which offense is grounds for revocation of tenure? The fifth? The tenth? Or does someone have to blow a grad student’s head off? (Online death threats are almost always meaningless cock-waving by anklebiters. But it only takes one actual crazy person.)

        I’m not trying to be combative, I think academic freedom is a value worth preserving, but I’m tired of it being stretched to cover idiot bullies who aren’t valuable academics anyway.

        • DrDick

          I have to say that this repetition, in the face of previous censure, certainly raises the offense to a higher level and quite possibly warrants the punishment.

        • This is indeed a key question.

          I don’t know that mere serial repetition of an offence is sufficient for tenure revocation. Sometimes, obviously, you give a second chance. But I think the mere fact that they can’t otherwise curb undesirable behaviour means that they get to go to tenure revocation.

          And this does mean covering idiot bullies who aren’t valuable academics, alas. Mainly because we *really* can trust that administrators will only target such.

          This doesn’t mean that Marquette doesn’t have a case in this instance, but I don’t think it’s a slam dunk. Plus, there are a number of problems with how they are handling matters. E.g., the suspension was in violation of AAUP standards and could only have been punitive (i.e., it didn’t offer the student any protection…they didn’t suspend the blog after all and couldn’t). By fucking up the handling, they make him a cause celebre, which is bad. While I sorta understand where they were coming from, appealing to civility (and badly) is really bad. The fact that he is also critiquing the university (and colleagues!) however stupidly is exactly where there’s a big conflict of interest that they need to be super careful off.

          So, I think I would have started with saying:

          1) Look, I disagree with you and think you’re a jackass. You think I’m terrible. Let’s put this aside.
          2) We have student security and environment problems stemming from your naming students in some of your critical blog posts. We need to mitigate these problems and we expect you to appropriately contribute to those mitigations.
          3) These problems are exacerbated by sloppiness in factual reporting.

          Then I would try to evolve a plan to mitigate the issues. Not naming students seems reasonable. Similarly, only naming students when given journalistic standards of verification are met would be fine. Minimally, he should add a disclaimer asking readers not to contact the student and perhaps give warning so the university can prepare support for the critiqued student.

          If he agreed to none of these…hmm. They seem very reasonable.

          I guess then I would talk with the AAUP to see what sort of sanctions would be appropriate for someone who deliberately refused to take such mitigating actions. What level of harm would be sufficient to trigger further action? I would try to put it *outside* my control, given the conflict of interest.

      • cpinva

        ” But this is in no way grounds for revocation of tenure.”

        this is not only grounds for revocation of tenure, it’s grounds for a lawsuit by the graduate student, who had her privacy rights violated by this narcissistic asshole, masquerading as an “academic”. there’s no evidence she gave him permission to use her name on his blog, and she isn’t a “public person”, so that shoots that legal defense all to hell. he violated federal & state privacy laws, as well as probably knowingly putting her at both emotional & physical risk. being an academic doesn’t relieve you of the responsibility for obeying the law, and your free speech rights don’t give you the right to violate other people’s rights, which is exactly what this asshole did.

        he should be fired and sued, and possibly face criminal charges, for criminal negligence. he’d have been fine, as long as he didn’t name names. he knew that, and did it anyway, because he’s an arrogant dick, which pretty much describes his tribe.

        • ThrottleJockey

          In this country you don’t have the right to censor the use of your name, you just don’t. The other stuff you accuse him of is just preposterous.

          The rgument that might be winning is that this guy was “uncivil” to a student, and I tend to agree that we should protect, shelter and nurture students, even graduate students. But most professors don’t, in fact, protect, shelter and nurture grad students. (Grad students regularly get treated poorly).

          And, typically when I see people cite claims of incivility its because they don’t like what you’re saying, not that what you’re saying isn’t true. The other day I said some workplace actions at our office were discriminatory, and a co-worker immediately accused me of being “uncivil”.

          • Aimai

            He was uncivil to her but that is not why the University is moving to terminate him–he knowingly put her life at risk by drawing attention to her, with false information, to his readership which he ought to have known was full of nutcases and potentially violent people. Furthermore he rejoiced that he forced her to leave the school showing that his intentions had been to harm her career all along.

            • ThrottleJockey

              Yes, its well known that bloggers are omniscient and can tell that nutcases will do nutty things if bloggers write mean things. This is why we hold Christopher Nolan liable for James Holmes’ shooting up that Aurora, Colorado theater. I mean the Focus on the Family and its reputable psychologist Dr. James Dobson has warned for years that all that violence and smut would rot someone’s mind! It was totally foreseeable!

              Its content discrimination of the kind supported by some here that gives FIRE oxygen. Twenty years ago I’d have written them off as troglodytes.

              • Aimai

                Its really not as complicated as you are making out. But do go right ahead and froth at the mouth.

          • Hogan

            In this country you don’t have the right to censor the use of your name, you just don’t.

            Abbate is not an elected official. And no matter what McAdams claims, he’s not a journalist. He’s a disgruntled employee with a megaphone and a nasty, aggressive fanbase.

            • ChrisTS

              Yup.

            • ThrottleJockey

              Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech if and only if you’re a journalist, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

              Thanks for pointing out that the 1st Amendment only applies to badge carrying journalists. I missed that in my civics class. Appreciate the head’s up. I see now that the “or of the press” part is completely redundant. :-) I guess Loomis can be fired for anything he writes or Tweets.

              • The Temporary Name

                It’s like you make an effort to not know what you’re talking about.

                • ThrottleJockey

                  I do know this: The 1st Amendment does not apply to just elected officials and journalists as Hogan’s post insinuates. Nor does being a private person give you any protection respecting the publication of your name. The only protections a private person has are libel, defamation, and certain commercial uses of your name. Newspapers print people’s names everyday without their permission. A local newspaper once printed my father’s name and salary–without his permission!

                • jim, some guy in iowa

                  wasn’t your dad a cop? ’round here, that’s public record, all the way down to school bus drivers etc

                  if not, apologies

                • The Temporary Name

                  I do know this:

                  No you don’t: you’re simply missing the point and it’s not worth it.

                • ThrottleJockey

                  Its true that pop was a public sector employee his whole life. That merely made the information easily accessible, it had nothing to do with the legalities of printing his name and salary in the paper. The newspaper can print your name for any reason or no reason whatsoever. They simply can’t libel or defame you, or use your name for a commercial purpose (eg, “Buy Jamba Juice Smoothies because TJ loves them!”)

                • Hogan

                  The only protections a private person has are libel, defamation, and certain commercial uses of your name.

                  So you haven’t been reading the thread. Good to know.

              • Hogan

                There is no First Amendment issue here. The First Amendment doesn’t guarantee you a job at a private university. And your insistence on pointing at apples and saying “My orange refutes your argument!” is just really sad and tiresome.

                Actually it’s not even apples and oranges. It’s apples and machine tools. It’s apples and moon rocks. It’s apples and quadratic equations.

                • ThrottleJockey

                  Your post implies that there’s a 1st Amendment issue at stake here…what else to make of the references to politicians and journalists?

                • Hogan

                  In this country you don’t have the right to censor the use of your name, you just don’t. [with link]

                  Yeah, where could I have gotten the idea that we were talking about politicians and journalists? IT’S A MYSTERY. I MUST BE CRAZY.

                • I MUST BE CRAZY.

                  Well, yeah, but that’s not germane to this conversation.

                • Aimai

                  Sure it is: its why he’s engaging in this conversation in the first place.

                • Hogan

                  Gin makes a man mean.

                • MAJeff

                  Gin makes a man mean.

                  It can also make one very friendly…thus me and my boyfriend actually meeting (at the hotel bar at an academic conference).

  • Jonathan Kaplan

    It’s worth reading the entire (15 page) letter outlining Marquette’s reasons for their decision. For example, they claim that McAdams’ misrepresentations in this case rose to the level of libel. And they note explicitly that he’d been warned multiple times previously that his attacking students by name was massively inappropriate, that he had failed to live up to his previous agreements to treat issues involving students with greater caution, and far from being willing to apologize (see above comment), took pride in having harmed the student’s career. So, there is that.

    None of this is to say that I agree w the decision to (start procedures to) fire him. But it is important I think to at least acknowledge the reasons given for their pursuing that course of action. This wasn’t a one-off thing, but, at least as the letter outlines, part of larger problematic pattern.

    • Aimai

      My withers are wholly unwrung for this guy. He sounds like an outright danger to vulnerable students and grad students. He isnt being censored for his beliefs at all. He is being censored for his actions which are harming people–specific, named people, in the community.

      • ThrottleJockey

        I’m not sure what to make of this guy but calling him an “outright danger” (as you’ve done twice so far) seems over wrought. People here write harsh, mean, snarky, antagonistic, and angry things every day. Yet I don’t think any of us would hold LGM bloggers responsible if some crazy person did something crazy after reading this blog.

        This is like right wingers calling David Guth a “menace to society” because of his Twitter comments: “The blood is on the hands of the #NRA. Next time, let it be YOUR sons and daughters. Shame on you. May God damn you.”

        • tonycpsu

          If any of the bloggers here were using their position of authority and the reach of this blog to out and publicly shame students, I would absolutely hold them partly responsible for any negative consequences to the outed individual that result from that outing.

          • ThrottleJockey

            By your reasoning, David Guth, then, is indeed a danger to society, but because he’s not a danger to students it doesn’t matter to you.

            Your moral calculus is based on the target of the speech, not the speech itself. Such a moral calculus is immoral.

            And honestly, if it was a right wing student he had attacked, I doubt that you would care.

            • Aimai

              That is absolutely wrong. If a liberal professor had drawn attention in this way to a right wing student, knowing that liberal readers were likely to be armed and violent in defense of their beliefs, and if that student had received death and rape threats which were so credible that the school had to post protection for her I would absolutely think the professor should be terminated. This has nothing to do with liberal/conservative. If anything it has to do with sexism/violent partisan feelings being brought into the academic experience of both the student and the graduate student.

              • ThrottleJockey

                knowing that liberal readers were likely to be armed and violent in defense of their beliefs,

                How can one know that? It seems a tad too pat to say that conservatives are more “likely to be armed and dangerous in defense of their beliefs” than liberals. The guy who attacked Gabby Gifford seemed more a loon than a right wing terrorist.

            • tonycpsu

              You don’t know my fucking moral calculus, pal, so get that armchair psychoanalytic shit out of here.

              Your false equivalence to the Guth tweets, in which the professor did not use his position as a superior over anyone, and didn’t disclose the name and personal details of everyone, is not compelling. Had Guth done so, attacking a right wing student in the way McAdams did on multiple occasions, I would absolutely support his removal as well.

              • ChrisTS

                It is also worth pointing out that who the victim is IS morally significant. If you pick on a grad student, you are picking on someone with significantly less power, and you are violating all norms of professionalism.

                • ThrottleJockey

                  As a general point we should nurture and protect grad students, but in my experience and observation that’s not a norm; its not even close to a norm.

                  Since we’re talking life/death/injury harm here (as opposed to reputational harm) I’m not inclined to support your view that there are allowable victims and unallowable victims. If possibly inciting violence against this grad student is objectionable, then possibly inciting violence against Wayne LaPierre is equally objectionable. Everyone is entitled to life and safety.

              • ThrottleJockey

                Your “fucking moral calculus” is on full display, pal-ie. There’s no false equivalence. Guth cited the NRA, of which Wayne LaPierre is its well known, outspoken leader. Like some nutcase couldn’t be incited by that tweet to kill Wayne LaPierre? There’s not enough of a difference in the cases to even call it hair splitting.

                • tonycpsu

                  Is Wayne LaPierre a student at KU? Do you not get that employees in all professions and industries are routinely held to different standards in how they behave with respect to customers and coworkers versus how they behave in other settings with unaffiliated individuals? Or are you just too attached to your lazy premise to bother thinking about these differences?

                • ThrottleJockey

                  I don’t see why anyone would value the life and limb differently for co-workers than for non co-workers. All life is equal.

                • tonycpsu

                  We’re not talking about which is more or less morally suspect, we’re talking about which is more or less actionable in an employment contract.

                • ThrottleJockey

                  I’m not arguing legalities here, I’m arguing moralities. I’d imagine that Marquette, having qualified lawyers on staff, was able to right its employee contracts in such a way to give it an out. If the University of Illinois, a public university, could find a necessary technicality in the case of Salaita, I’m sure that Marquette could find a necessary technicality with regards to this guy. So, for me, the more interesting discussion is on the moral issues involved.

                • Aimai

                  But you are having that one all alone, because we are talking about the morality and legality of specific relationships. Absent the relationship between professor and graduate student, and professor and university, we would not be discussing the termination of this fellow for cause because–there would be no termination and there would be no cause. It is precisely because as a Professor at this University he is held to the standards the University has w/r/t co-workers and their safety that he is having a problem. No relationship, no problem.

        • Hogan

          Because the NRA is EXACTLY LIKE a female philosophy grad student at Marquette in every respect except ideology.

        • ijkcomputer

          Maybe I’ve been reading too much about the recent wikipedia / gamergate flap, but I’m not sure this is the case.

          In that instance – I do not know if it is what is happening here – there’s a strong pattern of offstage, entirely predictable and indeed deliberately induced real-world harassment, coupled with all the loud “I’m just being critical within the rules!” stuff happening on-stage.

          It sounds like the grad student has gotten a lot of real harassment as a result. I do not know if the professor knew, expected, should have known, or hoped this would be the consequence of his blog. But if he did, then coupled with alleged major factual misrepresentations in the blog, I’m not sure we can sweep this into “but faculty have a protected right to voice opinions!” and call it a day.

          That’s not an invitation to deem all speech or all vehement speech to be incitement to anything that may result. It’s just an acknowledgement that incitement is, you know, a thing sometimes. I’m not nearly deep enough in to know if it was here.

    • xq

      I read the entire letter; they do not use the word “libel.”

      The letter accuses him of “gloating” at having harmed Abbate’s career, on this evidence:

      Does our blog post harm Abbate, for example making it harder for her to get anacademic job?
      If there are some colleges out there who don’t want instructors who tell students that opposition to gay marriage is homophobic, Abbate might not get hired there.
      That is appropriate. We feel no obligation to suppress information to help her get a job.

      This is not “gloating.” In any case, it is entirely within the realm of academic freedom.

      • Aimai

        The letter describes this as the professors best case rationale for why he is doing what he is doing. It is not an accusation of libel–it is adduced because it is an attitude towards the graduate student that demonstrates a complete histility towards her development as a student and a teacher. The school states over and over again that having a loving and ethical stance towards all the students and faculty and thoughtfully reproving (if

        necessary) them so they can be for each other in the world as fully rounded ethical human beings. Gloating over the termination of her career was evidence of a violation of this christian principle while the professor offered it as his rationale.

        • Aimai

          Sorry, my phone wont let me edit the dangling sentence in the middle there but you get my gist.

        • xq

          The school states over and over again that having a loving and ethical stance towards all the students and faculty and thoughtfully reproving (if necessary) them so they can be for each other in the world as fully rounded ethical human beings.

          That is always the administration’s argument for why civility should trump academic freedom.

          • Aimai

            It should, actually. Without aloving and supportive environment for students and other faculty no free inquiry can occur.

            • postmodulator

              Yeah, “civility” has a meaning beyond just “liberals can’t point out that George W. Bush is stupid.” Despite them using it as a bludgeon pretty effectively, civility is a real thing with actual utility.

              • xq

                I agree. Civility has real value. Indeed, I said as much when Loomis posted the “depressing” study of provosts concerned about declining civility (as did you, I see): http://lawyersgunsmon.wpengine.com/2015/01/civility-new-arbitrary-academic-standard#comments

                Nevertheless, I tend to side with academic freedom when they come in conflict.

                • postmodulator

                  I tend to side with academic freedom, too, but there’s a limit, and there’s a pretty strong argument that this guy’s crossed it.

      • rea

        they do not use the word “libel.”

        They accuse him of maliciously or recklessly making false statements (in writing) that damage individuals’ reputations, which is pretty much what “libel” is.

        • xq

          They accuse him of this many times, but they only give one example.

          You wrote as follows in your November 9 blog post:
          She went on: “In this class, homophobic comments, racist comments, will not be tolerated.” She then invited the student to drop the class. Which the student is doing.

          That is false. As you knew or should have known [redacted], the student told the University three days after withdrawing that he had done so because he was getting an “F” at mid-term. He further specifically agreed that his grade fairly reflected his performance and had nothing to do with his political or personal beliefs.

          But what McAdam wrote isn’t actually false. Abbate did say that homophobic comments and racist comments would not be tolerated (see the transcript). She did invite the student to drop the class (also in the transcript). And he did drop the class. So it’s just not correct to say that the blog post is “false” on this point.

          Now, you could say that McAdam failed to include relevant information: that the student had another reason to drop the class, that he received an F on a midterm. But not only did McAdam likely not have access to that information, he shouldn’t have been privy to it. A professor should not have access to the grades of a student outside his classes, and definitely should not be given access to these grades for purpose of making a public blog post. Nor is it all that relevant to the point he made in the blog post, in any case.

          So I think the case for “libel” is pretty weak.

          • First, she did not invite him to drop the class, she said that if he want to make racists, sexist, or homophobic comments, they would not be tolerated and if he didn’t like that he could drop the class.

            (I mean, if we’re hair splitting :))

            Second, the implication is clear: Mcadams is implying that the student dropped the class because of Abbate’s invitation and “intolerance”. It’s pretty clear at the end of the post:

            Conclusion
            Thus [because of stifling by the instructor and lack of redress by the dept and univeristy] the student is dropping the class, and will have to take another Philosophy class in the future.

            How else do we read the “thus”?

            Nor is it all that relevant to the point he made in the blog post, in any case.

            It’s not relevant to the idea that the student was hounded out of the class for his beliefs that he was doing poorly in the class otherwise and ended up dropping it for that reason? That the whole event seems like a straight up attempt at entrapment in revenge for a poor grade? Seems pretty relevant to me!

            • xq

              It’s not relevant to the main point of the post, which is about the instructor and the response of the university, not the student. What you quote from the conclusion, unlike the quote in the letter, is indeed factually false, but we only know that from information probably not available to McAdams at the time.

              I don’t really want to get deep into the definition of words here, but I think “you are more than free to drop this class” is sufficiently close to an invitation to drop the class as to not constitute a lie.

              • It’s not relevant to the main point of the post, which is about the instructor and the response of the university, not the student.

                ???

                I mean, this is prima facie argle bargle. The “badness” he seeks to highlight is being so intolerant that an outspoken student was driven from a class for his views. How is the fact that the student was not driven from the class for his views not relate?

                What you quote from the conclusion, unlike the quote in the letter, is indeed factually false, but we only know that from information probably not available to McAdams at the time.

                If he had engaged in due diligence it would have been. After all, he *had the student right there*.

                I don’t really want to get deep into the definition of words here, but I think “you are more than free to drop this class” is sufficiently close to an invitation to drop the class as to not constitute a lie.

                Sure, if you ignore the *conditional* structure, then sure. I don’t see why I should do that.

                There have been plenty of times when I’ve said, “Well, if you don’t like logic, you should probably drop the class”. Or “If your programming experience is low and you don’t want to work extra hard, you really don’t want to take this.” I fail to see that any of these constitute a recommendation that they actually drop the class.

                I sometimes *do* recommend people drop classes. “I don’t think this is the right class for you.”

                C’mon.

                • xq

                  I mean, this is prima facie argle bargle. The “badness” he seeks to highlight is being so intolerant that an outspoken student was driven from a class for his views.

                  No, I don’t think that’s right. The “badness” is the suppression of views McAdams thinks should be discussed. “Driven” is a stronger word than any he uses in reference to Abbate’s actions towards the student; he doesn’t imply any kind of retaliation.

                  After all, he *had the student right there*.

                  A student who had no reason to be honest about his motivations.

                • No, I don’t think that’s right. The “badness” is the suppression of views McAdams thinks should be discussed.

                  Yes. It’s so bad that an outspoken student left rather than be suppressed because they had no redress:

                  Thus the student is dropping the class, and will have to take another Philosophy class in the future.

                  But this student is rather outspoken and assertive about his beliefs. That puts him among a small minority of Marquette students. How many students, especially in politically correct departments like Philosophy, simply stifle their disagreement, or worse yet get indoctrinated into the views of the instructor, since those are the only ideas allowed, and no alternative views are aired?

                  I don’t say it’s the whole of the problem, but it’s surely relevant!

                  “Driven” is a stronger word than any he uses in reference to Abbate’s actions towards the student; he doesn’t imply any kind of retaliation.

                  Whatever, dude. First, “Driven” doesn’t imply retaliation. I can be driven out of a room because it is too hot and no one fixes it. Second, clearly he presents the student as being put into an intolerable situation (for them).

                  And of course the student had no reason to be honest, but there’s also no evidence that he asked, or quoted, or investigated further. “What grade did you have up to this point?” is a perfectly reasonable question to ask.

                • xq

                  Yes. It’s so bad that an outspoken student left rather than be suppressed because they had no redress:

                  Yes, I agree with this interpretation of his blog post.

                  I don’t say it’s the whole of the problem, but it’s surely relevant!

                  Right, and all I said was that it’s not “all that relevant to the point he made in the blog post.” Which is consistent with it being somewhat relevant. It’s one example, of many, of the supposed harms of liberal suppression.

                  And of course the student had no reason to be honest, but there’s also no evidence that he asked, or quoted, or investigated further.

                  There’s no evidence either way as to what he asked the student.

                • You wrote:

                  Right, and all I said was that it’s not “all that relevant to the point he made in the blog post.” Which is consistent with it being somewhat relevant.

                  Well at least at one point your wrote:

                  It’s not relevant to the main point of the post, which is about the instructor and the response of the university, not the student.

                  So, meh. I read your original “not all that relevant” as being roughly equivalent to your later “Not relevant” and I think it’s just wrong. He’s building a case and the case hinges on the poor student being so stifled that he left. It’s not “one harm among many”. C’mon.

                  There’s no evidence either way as to what he asked the student.

                  Yes, that’s the point. He had a due diligence duty. He failed it. A quick reading of the transcript reveals that something is up with the student. He failed to investigate or at least to report that he investigated.

                • xq

                  He’s building a case and the case hinges on the poor student being so stifled that he left.

                  The test of this is: if he had received the recording anonymously, with no information about the student, would he still have written a blog post making roughly the same points and coming to the same conclusion? I’m confident he would have. Do you disagree?

                • The test of this is: if he had received the recording anonymously, with no information about the student, would he still have written a blog post making roughly the same points and coming to the same conclusion? I’m confident he would have. Do you disagree?

                  How is that the test? That he would have build the case differently in other circumstances is irrelevant.

                  I guess if you want to claim that it is “irrelevant to his point” in the sense that he can make the point without that specific bit of info, ok, but that’s a very strange notion of “relevance”. If I cite 4 pieces of evidence and you say that one is not *relevant* you don’t mean that if I ignore that evidence then I don’t have a case. You mean that it doesn’t support the point. (Contrast with some of my evidence being false but relevant. It would support the case if true.)

                  This was relevant to his point (which is why he emphasised it) and false. What’s hard about this?

                • xq

                  I guess if you want to claim that it is “irrelevant to his point” in the sense that he can make the point without that specific bit of info

                  Yes, that is my claim. The conclusion he wants to make doesn’t “hinge” on that piece of evidence.

                • ChrisTS

                  Seriously. If I say “You are more than welcome to drop the class,” I’m not threatening the student. I’m pointing out the facts and the options.

                  Had McAdams contacted anyone in the PHL department, he could have gotten the facts. Indeed, had he contacted the grad student – or kept up with the undergrad – he could have found out that she discussed the matter further in the next meeting.

                • xq

                  I don’t think there’s any implication in McAdams’ blog post that Abbate threatened the student. In the general class of RW attacks on “liberal” academia, it’s actually pretty mild. Which I don’t mean as a defense against the poor research or the outing of Abbate’s name.

          • matt w

            xq, you have left out an important part of the letter. In the immediately preceding paragraphs the MU administration said that McAdams had implied that the student had dropped the class as a result of his dispute with the instructor over the gay marriage issue. That implication, which is beyond a shadow of a doubt present in McAdams’s post, is indeed false. So “Everything McAdams wrote is technically true” isn’t a convincing rebuttal at all.

            This may not be technically libel (not a lawyer etc.), but it’s not clear to me that MU needs it to be libel.

            • xq

              OK, you’re saying the “is false” was meant to apply to “By way of example, you implied that as a result of the exchange you had recounted the student had dropped the class” rather than the factual content of the quote? OK, I didn’t read it like that, but it does make more sense.

              I still don’t think it is a lie, because McAdams didn’t have access to the key information that would weaken this point in the student’s story.

              • ChrisTS

                But he could have had that information. He didn’t even (it seems) ask the undergrad any follow up questions. It was just “Aha! A liberal: let’s get her.”

      • cpinva

        “In any case, it is entirely within the realm of academic freedom.”

        naming her in the original blog post is not only not within the bounds of academic freedom, it is a violation of her right to privacy, an actionable offense. again, he could have gotten the same point across, without using names. he intentionally chose to violate her right to privacy. his reasons, and 50 cents, will get him a small coffee at McD’s.

        I hope she sues his ass off, leaving him penniless and unemployable, because he’s proven he’s a danger to any institution that hires him, and anyone who irritates him in a non-public setting.

        • ThrottleJockey

          Where is this magical “right to privacy”, and where can I get me some of it???

          This is America, not Europe!

          • The Dark Avenger

            You have the right not to have a target painted in your back, which he did, and which drove her out of the school, which was no doubt his intention.

            Your assumed naïveté isn’t very convincing. 2/10.

    • dmsilev

      To quote from the letter in question:

      Your Prior Similar Reckless and Irresponsible Acts, Together With Your Taking Pride from the Impacts of Your Current Conduct, Preclude the Lesser Sanctions of Reprimand or Suspension
      You have been asked, advised, and warned on multiple prior occasions not to publicize students’ names in connection with your blog posts. In March 2008, you published the name of a student who worked in advertising for the Marquette Tribune after she had declined to run an advertisement highlighting alleged risks from the “morning after” pill. Only after that student contacted you to advise of the impacts upon her and to request you to cease and desist did you delete her name. In March 2011, you published blog posts regarding a student who was helping to organize a campus performance of The Vagina Monologues. Again, the harmful consequences of your unilateral naming of students were pointed out. You acknowledged at that time that publishing student names on the Internet was a matter of concern, but given your naming of Ms. Abbate that acknowledgment from 2011 appears to be without meaning or effect.
      With this latest example of unprofessional and irresponsible conduct we have no confidence that you will live up to any additional assurances on your part that you will take seriously your duties to respect and protect our students, including our graduate student instructors. Indeed, after your blog posts were made and the hateful emails ensued, you gloated that your conduct would negatively impact Ms. Abbate’s opportunities in the future:

      Does our blog post harm Abbate, for example making it harder for her to get an academic job?
      If there are some colleges out there who don’t want instructors who tell students that opposition to gay marriage is homophobic, Abbate might not get hired there. That is appropriate. We feel no obligation to suppress information to help her get a job.

      If one could imagine a justification for your irresponsible conduct in some circumstances, none is apparent here where (1} your post was materially false and misleading and (2} there is no
      justification for your unilateral and superficial comments on the conduct of a graduate student instructor so as to impact her professional opportunities and engender threats to her personal safety.

      Pattern of behavior, full knowledge that he’s calling down the Internet Flying Monkey squad on this poor graduate student, etc. Yeah, I’m having a hard time blaming the university administration for this one.

      • MPAVictoria

        100% Right and 0% wrong. This guy had to go.

        • Origami Isopod

          +1

      • dmsilev

        And, just as a side note, let me point out that the victims, both in this case and in all of the priors, were all ‘she’. Isn’t really relevant to the question of the propriety of the university’s reaction, but does say something nasty about the guy’s character.

      • cpinva

        “Pattern of behavior, full knowledge that he’s calling down the Internet Flying Monkey squad on this poor graduate student, etc. Yeah, I’m having a hard time blaming the university administration for this one.”

        I hope she sues him, and files a criminal charge against him. he did this in full knowledge it was both wrong, and potentially dangerous to the grad student, he needs to be held to account for both those acts.

        • Manju

          I hope she sues him, and files a criminal charge against him.

          She won’t win. This is protected speech under the first amendment.

          • liberalrob

            It’s not protected if he knowingly made false claims in order to damage her reputation. Proving that is difficult, though.

            • ChrisTS

              Yeah. Proving it is tricky, but libel is not protected.

    • Shakezula

      Yes, it looks like Marquette has a case of buyer’s remorse and not without reason. But I thought the traditional remedy was to stick the professor in a nice office and keep him away from students.

      INAA but it seems that part of academic freedom does (or should) include the freedom to learn in an environment devoid of excessive and reckless dickery from the teaching staff.

      • Aimai

        I also think its odd for this professor and other commenters to act like the christian ethics of marquette begin and end with abortion, same sex marriage, or the faux libertarian/anti government stance of the guy in the story about the dave barry quote. Love thy neighbor? Shall not bear false witness? Render unto Caesar? Don’t be an asshole to the slaves and servants? There is lots of christian ethics that this professor is violating.

        • Kurzleg

          Doesn’t the Catholic Church consider some “sins” worse than others? My impression is that for the church, abortion and SSM at least are considered greater sins than lying or not loving they neighbor. So this guy fixating on abortion and SSM doesn’t surprise me.

          • Aimai

            This guy fixating on them doesnt surprise me in the least but the catholic church is large and, well, catholic in its tastes. This is a jesuit school and jesuits dont suffer fools gladly, they take the long view, and they are usually not as intllectually captured by the soecifically US strain of christianity/catholicism that sought a rappeichement with rught wing evangelicals.

            • cpinva

              the Jesuits have been an intellectual/theological thorn in the side of the church since they were first formed. they had this annoying habit of challenging the status quo to an intellectual duel, and winning. true Jesuits would have drop-kicked this guy a long time ago.

          • James

            Not the way you mean. If all you pay attention to is the increasingly conservative, unhinged and since Pope Francis slowly but surely marginalized US Conference of Catholic Bishops, you could get that impression.

            But those things (except maybe abortion) aren’t really at the center of Catholic dogma. The Catholic church is a huge and ancient organization, with considerable internal politics and much more room for dissent than people realize. I think people get confused because priests are periodically sanctioned for using the pulpit to preach against doctrine. But that a) only applies to the religious b) still only is problematic (as understood by the catechism; there can be political consequences, of course) when the religious in question is or could seem to be presenting their descent as official church teaching.

            And it is worth noting that abortion et. al. are big issues for the Church in the US and Europe; in other parts of the world the Church can be much more focused on issues of social justice.

            I could go on, and hopefully someone else will pick this up –it is worth understanding — but it would take me longer than I have to organize my thoughts well enough.

            • cpinva

              oddly enough, the church’s focus on abortion is a relatively recent phenomenon. up until it had to start competing with the fundyrightwingnutjoblunatics of the evangelical right, it was hardly the focal point of much discussion, either in catholic literature or sermonizing. I went to catholic schools from the late 50’s to the late 60’s, attended church twice a week (Friday morning during school, and then Sunday morning with my dad and two brothers), and have zero recollection of this subject ever being brought up, at least publicly. nor do I recall contraception being a big subject for religious discussion. perhaps these subjects were discussed only among the adults, but even then somebody would have slipped, and mentioned it with children present.

              so, absent the noisy competition, I doubt the church would make a big deal about either of these issue.

              • James

                Into the 60s, there was no Catholic position on contraception. During Vatican II, when a committee was assigned to research and make recommendations on issues relating to reproduction, they came back with 1) yeah, abortion is taking life, so no on that and 2) there is no reason to be against contraception. To the surprise of many observers, John the VI didn’t go with that recommendation. The most likely reason for that was that he was trying to appease the conservative wing of the Church. My personal suspicion is that if the pill had come along even ten years earlier, he would likely have jumped the other way. Even then, the Church didn’t really harden on the issue until JPII.

                My other personal suspicion is that we will see the Church walking back its opposition to contraception over the next couple,three decades –which may seem like a long time, but the Church is ancient and huge. It can be hard to move quickly, and does so mostly via the deaths of hardliners. I don’t know about women in the priesthood; my guess would be either married clergy or female priests but not both in one go. They are already moving to split the difference on SSM, albeit quietly. What I really hope and worry about is the more general acceptance of homosexuality in the Church. Although that super hard line seems to me an idiotic attempt to deflect and deny the sexual abuse scandals. Certainly in the 90s, when the Oregon Citizens Alliance was at the height of its anti-gay movement power, the Church stood in opposition. You wouldn’t have seen that a decade later. Again, a lot of that is down to arch conservative asshole JPII.

                • rea

                  John the VI

                  Paul the VI, surely. (John the VI was Pope 701-705).

          • MAJeff

            My first time at a non-state school was pursuing my PhD at a Catholic Institution. Pretty miserable place to be gay. I’m hoping to never set foot on a Catholic campus again as long as I’m alive.

            • James

              Fair enough.

              Although “Catholic Institutions” can vary extremely widely. Seattle University when I was there in the mid-90s was very welcoming to gay students. It had even then a gay-straight alliance, IIRC.

            • Aimai

              Should have gone to seminary if you really wanted to be gay. Can’t say about if you really wanted to be Catholic.

              • MAJeff

                The seminary was across Comm Ave, along with the Cardinal’s residence.

                There may have been some nookie, but you can be quite sure those self-loathing fuckwitted seminarians are people I wanted no part of, not even the sexual parts.

      • pseudonymous in nc

        I thought the traditional remedy was to stick the professor in a nice office and keep him away from students.

        Sticking him a nice office doesn’t stop him from plotting with shithead flunking O’Keefe wannabe undergraduates, posting bullshit to his blog, and sending out the flying monkeys against female students.

  • drj

    I really have to disagree on this one. I think McAdams was far, far out of line.

    A Graduate Instructor is still also a student. So even if (and that’s an if) she screwed up, faculty should not go about naming and shaming her.

    It is one thing if McAdams would have personally attacked her Department Head (or somebody of that sort), because he disagrees with the manner the department handled the matter, but it is entirely another thing to attack a student and potentially damage that person’s career.

    And if McAdams made a habit out of this, (see Jonathan Kaplan’s comment above), he most definitely should be fired.

    The more so, since it appears he has been misrepresenting what has happened.

    In short, academic freedom should not protect faculty who publicly take their grievances out on students.

    • rea

      It is one thing if McAdams would have personally attacked her Department Head

      McAdams did indeed post (false) statements about the department head’s handling of the incident, but notably those are not used as justification for the University’s action.

  • rea

    I am not an academic, but I have a strong dislike for these David Horowitz-like tactics–secretly record part of an instructor’s class, try to hijack a classroom discussion, and complain that the instructor is trying to enforce lefty “political correctness” (righty political correctness being quite alright)by trying to keep the discussion on track. Not to mention literally accusing a graduate student at a Catholic institution of heresy . . .

    His account was based on a recording secretly made by a disgruntled student who wished that the instructor, Cheryl Abbate, had spent more time in class one day on the topic of gay marriage, which the student opposed. McAdams said Abbate, in not allowing a prolonged conversation about gay marriage, was “using a tactic typical among liberals,” in which opinions they disagree with “are not merely wrong, and are not to be argued against on their merits, but are deemed ‘offensive’ and need to be shut up.”

    Abbate said McAdams had distorted her actions — and that she wasn’t trying to shut down an argument she disagreed with, but simply had wanted to keep a focus on an in-class conversation about the philosopher John Rawls’s equal liberty principle.

    • Aimai

      Yes. This. F student who tapes a graduate instructor while harrassing her in class uses this professirs blog to harrass her out of her career.

      • dmsilev

        Not to mention lying about the existence of said recording when the grad student’s department started looking into the matter. ‘Disgruntled’ is far too kind a word to describe the undergrad; ‘malicious’ would seem to be more accurate.

        • MAJeff

          A future O’Keefe. This is a career path for ratfuckers.

          1. Privately record a classroom discussion.
          2. Contact right wing shills like FIRE or David Horowitz to get you on Fox
          3. Sign up with wingnut welfare organization.

          • cpinva

            “This is a career path for ratfuckers.”

            dammit, you beat me to it! that’s the adjective I was desperately trying to think of, when I first posted on this thread, a term to accurately describe both the “aggrieved” parties to this action. a classroom is not a “public” space, both the (I’m guessing) cell-phone camera wielding student, and the blogging prof. are guilty of privacy violations against the grad student.

          • rea

            The whole incident makes you wonder if it was a setup from the beginning, if the student was taking the course in order to have exactly such a confrontation.

            • I’m skeptical. It feels more like a reactive attempt to deal with doing poorly in the class. The going on about their opinion feels like many a first philosophy class undergrad I’ve encountered. Plus, I think it would have looked better to be doing *well* in the class if it was a big plan. I mean, “This was an A student who couldn’t take it” is a much better storyline.

        • He also lied to her! “Are you taping me?” “No!” “Let me see your phone” “Oh yes, I am and will give it to your superiors”.

      • Fwiw, she transferred to Bolder where they seem to have cleaned up her act and she will do just fine in getting her PhD. I also suspect her career will be ok.

        (Not that this excuses the attempt, but I thought you might like to know that it seems that Abbate will make a graceful recovery.)

    • MAJeff

      I am not an academic, but I have a strong dislike for these David Horowitz-like tactics–secretly record part of an instructor’s class, try to hijack a classroom discussion, and complain that the instructor is trying to enforce lefty “political correctness” (righty political correctness being quite alright)by trying to keep the discussion on track.

      And you’ll note the link to FIRE above…FIRE is exactly the type of organization you’re describing.

    • ChrisTS

      I wold like people to pay more attention to this. Why was the little rat derailing the topic in the first place? I don’t recall Rawls’ position on homosexuality.

    • ThrottleJockey

      So, now you’re suggesting that students can’t tape their classes??? That seems authoritarian in the extreme.

      • Aimai

        Why no, not its not.

      • gmack

        It’s normal practice to require students ask permission to tape classes (only those with certain disabilities have an absolute right to do so). I will almost always permit it, but I do think it’s important to ask first (partly because my classes are discussion-based, so I’m not the only one who is being recorded).

        • Hogan

          And in any case the student didn’t record the class; he recorded an after-class conversation.

          • I could only dislike the little ratfucker more if he were a glasshole.

        • MAJeff

          It’s not just normal practice, it’s generally institutional policy, is it not? Where I work, the assumption is that recordings are not allowed unless agreed to by both faculty and student. Is this not standard practice?

          • gmack

            I think that’s right. Getting the consent of both teacher and student is the formal rule at my school, in any case. And as the Dark Avenger and Hogan point out, that doesn’t fully apply here, since the student was taping a private conversation. Again, I think the law varies, but I know there are some states where the law requires mutual consent for that too.

            In any case, leaving aside McAdams, it’s hard to overstate how inappropriate the student’s actions were. If I had been subject to similar treatment by a student (surreptitiously taping a conversation with me for the sole purpose of harming my career and then lying about it), I really don’t what I’d do. I’d be tempted to press charges (if the practice is illegal in my state), though I doubt I would. I certainly don’t know how I could continue teaching him/her; trust is a major element of a teacher/student relationship, and that trust would be dissolved. At minimum, I would not be able to have any further meetings and would require witnesses to be present.

      • MAJeff

        So, your position on this thread is to be a contrarian asshole.

        Glad we’ve established that.

        • KmCO

          As if TJ ever plays any other hand.

      • The Dark Avenger

        Don’t know what the law is In Indiana, but in many jurisdictions, the consent of both parties is needed to tape a conversation or any other discussion . The student in question may have violated that law.

        If you can’t tell the difference between a student openly taping a lecture for future study and one who is trying to get their instructor in trouble by covertly taping a conversation, then I suggest you think about these things now.

        • Schadenboner

          Wisconsin is one-party consent for recording.

  • rea

    The threats that Abbate received were appalling, but McAdams cannot be held responsible for the actions of third parties.

    What this misses is that there were two prior incidents in which McAdams had denounced students by name for political-related matters, and death threats ensued. As a result of these incidents, he’d had a discussion with the administration and had agreed not to name students on his blog in this fashion. In this incident, after being told that naming the graduate student was leading to death threats, he put up another post denouncing her by name.

    Source–tenure revocation letter here:

    https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B4jS38HQ3f8dSDhNX1FQRnlpcTQ/edit?pli=1

    • xq

      “As a result of these incidents, he’d had a discussion with the administration and had agreed not to name students on his blog in this fashion.”

      Did he? All the letter says is that he “acknowledged at that time that publishing student names on the Internet was a matter of concern.” That’s not equivalent to agreeing never to use student’s names again.

      • rea

        He “acknowledged” that he shouldn’t do this–that’s close enough to an “agreement” for government work . . .

        • xq

          “Acknowledged” and “matter of concern” leave a lot of room. I think the letter would have included a stronger statement if there was some sort of agreement.

      • Aimai

        That kind of hairsplitting is itself antithetical to the described mission statement of the school which, oddly enough, is not ” fuck you, world.”

        • MPAVictoria

          I like you Aimai.

          • who doesn’t? (like aimai?)

            • MPAVictoria

              Bastards and boneheads?

              • ChrisTS

                Ratfuckkers?

        • cpinva

          “That kind of hairsplitting is itself antithetical to the described mission statement of the school which, oddly enough, is not ” fuck you, world.”

          that kind of “hairsplitting” is what his attorney will use to defend him: that he really didn’t agree to stop doing stuff that potentially put his student’s/GA’s safety in jeopardy.

        • brugroffil

          I think Scott Walker’s proposing this as UW’s new mission statement, though.

    • Cheryl Abbate’s own comments on McAdams’ attacks is worth noting here: https://ceabbate.wordpress.com/2015/01/20/gender-based-violence-responsibility-and-john-mcadams/

      She makes a solid case that he deliberately highlighted her feminist positions to draw gamergate/MRA type attention.

      In that regard, I find the claim that he’s not responsible for their harrassment … tenuous.

      • Aimai

        Great essay. Very on point.

  • postmodulator

    The threats that Abbate received were appalling, but McAdams cannot be held responsible for the actions of third parties.

    Meh. It is possible that he did not know that naming a vile, hated Academic Liberal like this would result in death threats, but if he didn’t, he is too stupid to teach anyone anything and should lose his tenure for that reason. (Especially given that it had happened twice before.)

    I really want to come down on the side of academic freedom here, but it feels like if we keep indulging this guy, we’re going to end up with a dead kid. (This could also affect matriculation rates. “Come to Marquette and live in fear” is not a catchy slogan.)

    • rea

      The situation was sufficiently out-of-hand that the University felt constrained to post security guards in the graduate assistant’s classroom . . .

    • John Protevi

      I’m very gratified to see the pushback here. The key here is the following:

      The threats that Abbate received were appalling, but McAdams cannot be held responsible for the actions of third parties.

      It just can’t be total lack of responsibility for McAdams here. I think we have to start coming up with a term for his actions here (of course you can perform actions with words, so he wasn’t *just* expressing opinion), something like “incitement to 3rd party harassment.” And that has to let us say McAdams is *partially* responsible for those 3rd party actions.

      So, for instance, if I doxx a close friend of yours to Stormfront let’s say and that person has some of the characteristics that reasonably predict Stormfront hate responses are you all really going to let me off the hook because I didn’t personally write the hate mail?

      And if this wasn’t the first time? Wouldn’t there be some responsibility you feel I bear? Especially when I was placed in an implicit mentoring role to your friend. Etc.

      Okay, so I bear some responsibility. Is that enough to punish? I hope so. Should that punishment be moving to fire me?

      Shifting back to the McAdams case, personally, I’d say no, I would suspend and get an ironclad agreement from McAdams never to do this again, but the admin might consider the 2011 “acknowledgment” to be close enough, as rea puts it.

      • Aimai

        Hi John, good to see you posting. Great points. I agree with everything except the last clause. For me I think that suspension is absurd at this point. He has shown over and over again a complete unwillingness to treat those he has determined are “the enemy” as part of the community. How many students have to have their lives/careers destroyed by this guy before he is removed from his position of authority w/r/t them? I think the university is to be commended for taking this seriously enough to move against him. Usually the gerontocracy protects its own and plenty of good graduate students–especially in a field like philosophy–have been driven out by unprofessional and hostile behavior from older male professors.

      • xq

        Can you expand on the principle you are advocating here a little? I think one area it would often come into play is crime stories, where journalists and opinionators of all sorts offer information and perspectives on witnesses, suspects, victims, etc. with many negative consequences (including harassment) on individuals who never chose to enter the public sphere.

        I think it would have a massive stifling effect on e.g. Ferguson reporting.

        • John Protevi

          Hi xq, well, perversely enough, as a moral particularist, my principle is that there are no universally valid principles strong enough to reliably deduce the correct judgment in all cases. But there are rules of thumb that help us when we sit down to judge hard cases. In this case, I think a rule of thumb would be that in some case partial responsibility for 3rd party harassment is a legitimate position. (My objection to Scott is that his formulation precludes that position.)

          Now there are lots of aspects to all situations, and in the crime reporting one, there is a value to the public to accurate and reasonably detailed crime reports that has to be taken into consideration. Whereas with the McAdams case, it does seem that whatever public value there might be in discussions of what McAdams thinks is the proper role of instructors’ handling of student opinion in the classroom could have been accomplished w/o naming Abbate.

          • Thank you for introducing me to the term “moral particularism” which I have sought for a very long time to describe my own position.

      • postmodulator

        So, for instance, if I doxx a close friend of yours to Stormfront let’s say and that person has some of the characteristics that reasonably predict Stormfront hate responses are you all really going to let me off the hook because I didn’t personally write the hate mail?

        Less theoretically than that and fresh in memory, do we think the doxxing Gamergate pricks bear zero responsibility for the river of death threats Anita Sarkeesian has received? (I know that this is Adam Baldwin’s position…)

        • James

          We’ve certainly routinely (and rightly) argued otherwise here.

      • Origami Isopod

        I think we have to start coming up with a term for his actions here (of course you can perform actions with words, so he wasn’t *just* expressing opinion), something like “incitement to 3rd party harassment.”

        Stochastic terrorism.

        And, no, I don’t think it’s too strong, considering some of the online comments about her and the fact that McAdams has teamed up with FIRE.

        • Manju

          What has FIRE done to earn this “Radio Rwanda” treatment? Give me their worst offense.

          • Try google; I hear it’s a great new search engine!

  • Aimai

    I guess I’m just not an academic free speech absolutist. People are sometimes fired because their actual academic speech makes power uncomfortable and that’s bad–bad for all of us. But occasionally people need to get fired because their hobby–their non academic research and writing–is being used abusively to create a hostile work environment. Does this guy’s blog have anything to do with his work? Does any of the speech the school is objecting to have anything to do with his work? The only reason he is being censored/fired is that his blog constitutes a clear and present danger to students and faculty at the school. He has refused accomodations from the University (asking him merely to refrain from specifically naming the students he is targeting). How much more destructive and vicious behavior does the University and its female students (because he seems to have a thing for targeting female students, and black students, and gay students) have to take? Given that the vast majority of tenured professors at this point are older white males I’m not sure why a vulnerable younger population which will never be granted tenure should defer to them or go to bat to protect their right to be dangerous assholes.

    • jim, some guy in iowa

      i’ve learned that i’m not a free speech absolutist at all, if that (and quite often it seems to) means i can say whatever/whenever i want- and get in return only the level of pushback i can handle

    • RPorrofatto

      I’m not an academic, but out here in the civilian world I know for sure that if I publicly attacked a colleague to the dishonest and malicious extent that McAdams did about this grad student (not to mention having a history of such attacks), I’d be fired in a heartbeat. While I think tenure makes much sense from some perspectives, people in the non-academic world sometimes find it difficult to understand just what is a fireable offense in academia.

      Of course, if it were up to me, this prick would be canned just for quoting Charles Krauthammer as an authority on anything.

      • postmodulator

        While I think tenure makes much sense from some perspectives, people in the non-academic world sometimes find it difficult to understand just what is a fireable offense in academia.

        A hell of a lot of “tenure protection” comes in the indirect form of having a lazy boss. You can take tenure away from people for all sorts of stuff, but you have to document it and establish the pattern of behavior. If your department head is lazy or your HR department ineffective (the latter condition obtaining strikingly often, and not just in academia) then your job can be quite safe as you run amok committing various evils.

        • MAJeff

          If your department head is lazy or your HR department ineffective (the latter condition obtaining strikingly often, and not just in academia) then your job can be quite safe as you run amok committing various evils.

          Amen to this. It’s amazing how often academic supervisors take the “If we ignore it, it will go away, right?” approach to workplace bullies and other problematic employees.

          • postmodulator

            I bet it happens in the private sector, too, I’m just more familiar with academia.

            • Origami Isopod

              It happens in all types of workplaces. It’s the basic dynamic of someone with more power and, often but not always, more privilege abusing same by bullying someone with less. HR exists to protect the company, not workers. If they believe the bully contributes more to the bottom line than the victim does, reporting won’t go well for the victim.

        • James

          Conveniently, the man documented it himself, so there is no question about the prior incidents.

          I guess I’m an anti-harassment absolutest. I’m biased; as a result of the assault I’ve alluded to here occasionally, I was subjected to not wholly dissimilar public shaming, and it destroyed my life, and continues to. (Yes. I consider going on seven years of unemployment despite skills that far exceed that required by every one of two hundred or so I’ve applied for destroyed). I don’t think that tenure should have protected this guy once, but less three times. Tenure isn’t, and can’t be, an all purpose shield for any behavior. There is zero evidence, and precious little reason to suggest, that this guy is being fired for reasons other than the ones given.

          Our need for robust scholarship (while considerable) is not so life-or-death that we must simply tolerate any abuse in the name of protecting tenure. If for no other reason than because choosing to fight for people who are transparently in the wrong makes a mockery of the notion that tenure is about protecting academic freedom. Tenure is important to the university setting, but it cannot simply be a sinecure and if it becomes so to any substantial degree, it will become impossible to mount a defense against those who would attack it for political purpose.

          • Origami Isopod

            I agree with all of this.

            • MPAVictoria

              Yeah pretty much.

              /Also Jesus James, that sounds awful. Best of luck going forward man.

              • Aimai

                Yes, James. I’m sorry that sounds just hellish. I hope things turn around for you in the near future.

          • I agree with you that harassment is very serious and deserves serious care. This is why, in spite of the various mishandlings by Marquette, I’m still open to a tenure revocation case against McAdams.

            However, there is a problem in making good rules that will catch only the harassing types. Consider a case where a (tenured) history prof is a holocaust denier and decides to lecture on that in their class on WWII. What responses are permitted? Can I publish a blog post condemning this? Can I call for protests? Can I support a call for protests?

            Not naming students seems pretty straightforwardly right and appropriate. But that’s because of our heightened responsibility toward students.

            • Aimai

              If you have reason to believe that your readership is primarily composed of Jewish terrorists then you certainly have a reason to think hard about how and in what way you publicize this as a problem. Similarly if you are going to criticize an African American professor in a blog where your readership comes from Storm Front you should be careful.

              But no one is arguing that McAdams shouldn’t have been entitled to investigate and complain about the specific treatment of a student by a class in another department. The problem is that he 1) got the facts wrong, in order to 2) make a pre-existing case against 3) an unimportant player whose actions were not, in fact, wrong and then he published this person’s name along with some key phrases which he knew would be picked up by his readership (feminist, vegan, anti rape activist) none of which had the slightest thing to do with the issue at hand (suppression of voices in the class.)

              The right analogy would be something else: graduate student teaching a math class asks students not to discuss climate change because its 1) not relevant to the class and 2) he doesn’t believe in it. You publish his personal name and data and falsley claim that he is linked to a right wing eco-terrorist group which is out to destroy civilization through global warming and you send that information broadly to greenpeace and to left wing eco terrorist groups.

    • Katya

      Not to mention, if his actions do constitute libel, there’s no free speech issue. Libel and slander are not protected speech. This isn’t being fired for his academic or political views, it’s being fired because he refuses to stop taking actions that smear and endanger students. I have no problem with this.

  • libarbarian

    Scott Lemieux takes a break from opposing preening moralism in sports in order to indulge in a little preening moralism in School Administration.

    So the school is cheating? So what? Everyone does it. Stop your pearl clutching. A-Rod shoot roids, Belichick deflates balls, and Marquette fires tenured professors who act like dicks. Who gives a shit? Principles are for losers.

    • postmodulator

      Do me a favor and get off my side.

      • rea

        Yes, please.

      • libarbarian

        Don’t Tone Police me.

        • postmodulator

          But the content’s as imbecilic as the tone.

          • libarbarian

            You follow up your tone policing with ableist slurs? Nice.

            • postmodulator

              How many years of people not laughing at you did it take for you to decide you were really witty?

              • libarbarian

                Strike 3.

                Give up on the amateur analysis and take care of your own problems. I suggest you focus on the fact that you are a racist, sexist, transphobic, ableist, tone policing, douche canoe.

                • postmodulator

                  You forgot Poland “shitlord.”

                • libarbarian

                  Actually, I wrote that first and then decided to go with “douche canoe” instead.

                  Would “Shitlord” have sold it better? .

    • Scott Lemieux

      I know you’re upset that people won’t take trivial rule infractions and drug war moralism with the seriousity you feel they merit, but these asinine non-sequiturs aren’t helping your case.

      • libarbarian

        Actually, I’m not upset. I’m busting your chops. I kind of thought that asininity might be a hint. Regularly reading a blog for years fools you into thinking you can occasionally do that to a writer who generally seems to have a sense of humor.

        I’m just kind of baffled by your consistent habit of defending cheaters in pro-sports. In a whole lot of other areas – and particularly in the area of academia and protection of tenured professors – you seem to care very much about following even byzantine rules. But when it comes to punishing athletes/coaches who break simple and straightforward rules …. not so much.

        • liberalrob

          So you’re just here to troll Lemieux. OK, thanks for explaining that.

          • ChrisTS

            God knows, I was puzzled.

      • Joe_JP

        This isn’t the place to bring those things up but I find those posts generally weak. You basically take the bait & defend their substance. The person is likely smiling.

  • MCofA

    I’m very skeptical of administration attempts to revoke tenure because I know that’s what administrators everywhere want. Even total jerks deserve to have their (extensive) rights of tenure defended.

    But this defense seems to whitewash a bunch of the seriousness of the case. As noted multiply above, the administration is taking action against McAdams not for one offense but for a pattern and a refusal to change.

    Further, I find this line in the OP troubling, even though I assume it’s a simple error:

    I, myself, would not use this forum to question the teaching of a colleague.

    Graduate students are not colleagues of tenured professors. The power difference is staggering. For a tenured professor to get in trouble takes a massive organizational undertaking. For a graduate student to lose her funding or her status in a massively clogged job market takes almost no effort and can ruin a career before it’s started. Seeking to destroy a student’s career is an extremely serious offense that should not be papered over as a petty dispute among colleagues.

    • jim, some guy in iowa

      i was wondering about their status relative to each other… didn’t think ‘colleague’ was quite right…

      • Gator90

        They are “colleagues” in roughly the same sense that a large law firm’s equity partners and summer clerks are colleagues. Scott’s use of the word is quite perplexing.

    • NonyNony

      Graduate students are not colleagues of tenured professors.

      YES – FUCKING A THIS!

      We’re talking about a power imbalance so severe it might as well be a King and a peasant. Grad students are not colleagues of tenured professors unless the tenured professor is the type that treats grad students as colleagues. The power is all in the professor’s hands – it’s not a two-way street by any means.

      • ChrisTS

        Even if the prof ‘treats’ the grad students as equals, they are not.

  • MPAVictoria

    Scott it seems to me that this guy has made a habit of attacking students on his blog. This means he had to go. The university has a duty of care to attending students and that duty includes removing staff who may pose a danger.

    Seems simple and straightforward to me.

    • Salem

      Certainly the university has a duty of care, but what “danger” does McAdams pose? He has not literally “attacked” anyone, he has subjected them to (arguably unfair) criticism, which is a metaphorical attack but not one that causes any danger. You seem to be making a wholly specious line of reasoning.

      • MPAVictoria

        “but what “danger” does McAdams pose?”

        Really? By posting the contact info of a student on his blog know exactly what would happen afterwards.

        You don’t think that is a problem?

        • Salem

          From the OP:

          The threats that Abbate received were appalling, but McAdams cannot be held responsible for the actions of third parties.

          • Aimai

            But he can. Because it has happened before. His blog is aimed at, and reaches, an easily excitable group of grievance mongers that he has to know (because it already happened to another student he targeted) are armed and dangerous. He’s not rabble rousing among the fluffy bunny set. He is aiming his blog at people who are already at the thin edge emotionally and intellectually (Fox news watchers, aggrieved anti abortionists and anti gay marriage activists.) He knows precisely what he is doing when he effectively doxxs a vulnerable student to an anonymous horde. Or why use her name? His goal was to make sure that a particular, specific, student was held up for attack.

            • tonycpsu

              “Your honor, my client cannot be held responsible for the fact that automobiles ran over the decedent after my client pushed her into traffic.”

            • Salem

              I don’t know McAdams’ intentions, but it seems just as plausible that his goal was to hold up the actions of a particular, specific teacher to scrutiny. McAdams posted contact details, but as far as I am aware he didn’t encourage or suggest that Abbate should be harrassed or threatened in any way, and the letter from Marquette doesn’t make any such allegation. If he did make such a suggestion, then I entirely agree that he should be dismissed, but that does not appear to be the case here.

              The fact that you do not sympathise with the readers of McAdams’ blog doesn’t make him liable for their actions. For example, in the Salaita affair, Corey Robin posted contact details for various people at the University of Illinois. It is very likely that some people abused these contact details to send hate mail to Wise et al. Indeed, it was reasonably foreseeable to Robin that some people would do that (hence why he includes a specific admonition to be nice). But Robin is still not morally (or legally) responsible if some of his readers do such bad things, because he didn’t encourage them to do so. McAdams has the same moral and legal rights as Robin, even though his readership may have views less congenial to you.

              • MPAVictoria

                Salem the difference is McAdams did it do a student of his university. Someone to which he owed a duty of care. Do you really not see the difference?

              • postmodulator

                I don’t know McAdams’ intentions, but it seems just as plausible that his goal was to hold up the actions of a particular, specific teacher to scrutiny.

                This is disingenuous bullshit, and you should feel bad about having posted it.

                • Aimai

                  Yeah, I’m getting the sense that Salem doesn’t roll that way.

                • Salem

                  Sadly my mind-reading wand was being mended when I posted that so I couldn’t divine McAdams’ intentions. But now that it’s fixed, I see you were right all along! Why, of course everyone you dislike secretly has the worst of motivations, and everyone you like is pure of heart. Truly, I feel bad for such “disingenuous bullshit” as suggesting that you don’t have a secret window into McAdams’ soul.

                  I will now engage in a session of self-criticism and repentance.

                • Lee Rudolph

                  Sadly my mind-reading wand was being mended when I posted that so I couldn’t divine McAdams’ intentions.

                  You realize, of course, that “mind-reading” (and drawing conclusions about interlocutors’ “intentions”) is a major, and indispensible, part of essentially all language activity, written as much as spoken.

                  …Oh, you don’t? Sorry to have tried to divine in your direction!

                • Aimai

                  What mind reading is required? McAdam keeps a blog on which he pours out a rather intemperate and unpleasant personality. While half of what he prints about other people are transparent falsehoods, and a quarter of what he says about himself and his interactions with other people are meretricious, the parts which are true are jaw droppingly awful. That is: what he thinks he’s doing and what he is willing to say he is doing is pretty damning in and of itself. I didn’t leap to any conclusions. I just looked and conclusions were sitting right there.

              • pseudonymous in nc

                as far as I am aware he didn’t encourage or suggest that Abbate should be harrassed or threatened in any way

                The disingenuousness, it burns. Are you Glenn Reynolds in disguise?

            • ThrottleJockey

              Replace McAdams with “Al Sharpton” and you have the case that conservatives routinely make against my favorite black man with a perm. “Stirring up trouble” as the conservatives like to say about Rev. Al is, in fact, not wrong. As you concede there’s nothing wrong with his speech, its his audience you dislike: Fox news watchers, aggrieved anti abortionists and anti gay marriage activists.

              But Fox News is the #1 cable news station in the country–by a country mile. By your calculus a third of the country can’t be trusted to hear conservative “rabble rousers”.

          • jim, some guy in iowa

            are you saying that if i had your personal contact information and put it out for the world to see because i thought you needed to be taught a lesson i would bear no responsibility for anything that might happen to you- whether it would be nasty e mails, someone keying your car, or worse?

      • James

        Seriously? He doxxed a student. The fact that it doesn’t rise to the level of the most extreme gamers gate examples[1] doesn’t change the fact that he reveled the identity of a non-public person in, in regards to what is fundamentally a private matter of university administration (that, based on what we’ve seen the administration was handling appropriately). His acknowledged purpose was to harm her career. Why is his career more sacrosanct that hers? It is transparently obvious that not being fired will only encourage him to think he is protected from any and all meaningful disciplinary action.

        And that he enabled far more serious attacks in the future, something we know women who come under attack are routinely subjected to; she has already received threats of violence, as well as other abuse, from outside her university community (not that it coming from inside makes it okay). The notion that he somehow isn’t responsible for those consequences is absurd, even if the same thing hadn’t happened previously (which of course, it did, unless I’m mis-reading something). Are we accepting the gamers-gate doxxer’s excuses now? Or are they just different because they aren’t the right tribe?

        If for some reason you think this guy should keep his job, well and good. I am certain you are wrong, but fine. But the notion that he didn’t do harm or causes danger flies in the face of observed reality.

        • Aimai

          Thank you for this. I should have read all the way down before posting since my comment was redundant after yours.

          • jim, some guy in iowa

            there seems to be a lot of that going on just now. i think too slowly, is my excuse

        • xq

          His acknowledged purpose was to harm her career.

          This is false. What he wrote:

          Does our blog post harm Abbate, for example making it harder for her to get an academic job?

          If there are some colleges out there who don’t want instructors who tell students that opposition to gay marriage is homophobic, Abbate might not get hired there. That is appropriate. We feel no obligation to suppress information to help her get a job. But of course, in an increasingly politically correct philosophy profession, hiring in a lot of departments is dominated by people who think pretty much as Abbate does.

          This is not an acknowledgement that his purpose was to harm her career.

          • MPAVictoria

            Yes. Yes it is.

            • xq

              No.No it’s not.

              • Aimai

                It is definitionally harming someone’s career to drive them out of their own university for fear of violence. I can’t believe that a woman’s career is taken so lightly by some people on this blog that this fact isn’t front and center. This man brought a shit storm of crazy down on a young woman at a very vulnerable time in her career. That is not ok. Its just not. And its not because his post constituted some kind of “fair warning” about her actual beliefs. Its because he created a frightening and hostile work place right where she already was working.

                • xq

                  It is definitionally harming someone’s career to drive them out of their own university for fear of violence.

                  Agreed. This doesn’t imply that McAdams has acknowledged that his purpose was to harm Abbate’s career. He has not acknowledged that.

                • Aimai

                  Its weird to me that you rely on this strange concept of what McAdams says, vs what he does. If McAdams didn’t want to bring harm to this woman he never would have named her. After he named her as soon as he found out she was being bombarded with obscene threats if that wasn’t what he wanted he would have taken down her information and requested his readership to stop harrassing her. After the university was forced to hire police protection for her he would have redoubled his efforts to force the genie back in the bottle. After she was driven out of the University he would have made some gesture–written to her, apologized to her, for the harm he had caused her. Instead he wrote proudly of having harmed her future in her field (the gloating quote).

                  Its good to keep an open mind. But as my grandfather said “Not so open anyone can walk through it.” We have more to go on that specific admissions by McAdam. We have his actions as well.

                • xq

                  Its weird to me that you rely on this strange concept of what McAdams says, vs what he does.

                  The question at issue in this subthread, specifically, is whether McAdams acknowledged that the purpose of his actions was to harm Abbate’s career. In the straightforward sense of the term, acknowledgement is something you do with words. That is the natural reading of James’s usage.

                  Giving an argument that McAdams did in fact intend to harm Abbate’s career does not address the question. It is possible, and in fact, a quite reasonable interpretation (though one I don’t necessarily agree with) that McAdams did intend to harm Abbate’s career but did not acknowledge doing so. If this is the case, then James’s statement was incorrect.

          • James

            Yes, it is. He was pleased when she got hurt, and believed that she deserved it. It is not some radical inference to deduce motive and intent from statements after the fact.

            • xq

              He did not acknowledge that his purpose was to harm her career. That is simply not a straightforward English reading of his words. You can believe that this is his purpose from your interpretation of his actions and statements, but that is your reasoning, not his acknowledgement.

              • jim, some guy in iowa

                could you really expect the guy to *say* that?

                • xq

                  No, of course not. But that doesn’t justify claiming that he did say that.

              • pseudonymous in nc

                Next, xq will explain how “nice place you got there, shame if anything might happen to it” is not meant as a threat.

          • MPAVictoria

            Why is it that in every thread like this some people show up to defend the powerful against the weak?

            /Always reminds me of Pete Seeger singing Which Side Are You On?

            • xq

              I don’t consider correcting false statement to constitute defending the powerful against the weak. If the case against McAdams is strong, it should be possible to make without falsity.

              • MPAVictoria

                Seem James above xq

              • Aimai

                We are making the case without false arguments. But your interpretations are bending so far over backwards to excuse McAdams that they are going to get spinal dislocation.

                • xq

                  I’m a decently-educated native English speaker. I genuinely don’t see how you can read “His acknowledged purpose was to harm her career” into what I quoted from McAdams.

                • Aimai

                  Maybe you should read more McAdams. There’s more out there than you are quoting.

            • Salem

              The problem with this line of argument is that no-one ever agrees who are the weak and the strong in any relevant sense. Like here, is Abbate the weak being victimised by the strong McAdams? Or is McAdams the weak viewing victimised by the strong Marquette? Plus it’s perfectly possible to be weak and in the wrong.

              Which side am I on? I don’t want to be on any side other than justice.

            • Origami Isopod

              Because to some types, other people’s problems that they’ll never experience are nothing more than diverting parlor games.

              • Aimai

                +1.

                Of the various participants McAdams is the one who chose the field of battle, the weapons, and the results. The rest of the people involved–specifically Abbate, were literal victims of his choices. So: no. There’s no question about who is the victim and who is the aggressor and who was powerless and who had power in the original interaction.

          • Ok, whether or not he acknowledged this per se, what other purpose could he have by naming her? (I mean, there could be additional purposes of the post, but I fail to see what the purpose of naming *her* could be.)

            Consider what he wrote:

            we know was in a philosophy class (“Theory of Ethics”), and the instructor (one Cheryl Abbate)

            Abbate made some plausible arguments ….So far, this is the sort of argument that ought to happen in academia.
But then things deteriorated.

            Abbate, of course, was just using a tactic typical among liberals now. 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.
As Charles Krauthammer explained:
            The proper word for that attitude is totalitarian. [Abbate has a totalitarian attitude?]

            So how is a student to get vindication from University officials who hold the same intolerant views as Abbate? [So, Abbate is intolerant to the loin tot educational malpractice?}

            Like the rest of academia, Marquette is less and less a real university. [Because of people like Abbate?]

            So, what is the point of naming her here? What none-harm-to-Abbate purpose could there be in naming her instead of just always using “Instructor X”?

            At the very least, he’s recklessly indifferent. But that seems pretty implausible (that he’s merely indifferent).

            • Lee Rudolph

              [So, Abbate is intolerant to the loin tot educational malpractice?}

              “Loin tot”??? My spell-unchecker is coming up blank.

              • “to the point of”

                No idea where “loin tot” came from.

                • liberalrob

                  GD autocorrect?

              • “Loin tot”???

                The bastard child of pork loin and tater tots.

                • Aimai

                  Sounds like an idea whose time has come.

                • Hogan

                  I’d buy that for a dollar!

            • xq

              It was irresponsible and ethically wrong to name her in the post. One possible purpose was to link to her blog, and thus associate her with ideas McAdams opposes.

              • Uhm. perhaps it’s me, but this also seems rather argle bargle. How is linking to her blog and associating her with ideas McAdams opposes not contributing to harming her?

                I mean, he associated her with ideas he opposes by saying she advocated things he opposed. He didn’t actually link to her blog. So he named her in order for people to google her blogs? What?

                • xq

                  He did link to her blog, unless he added that in later.

                • Oh, ok! I’m only looking at the letter quotation of the blog which has no formatting. My bad.

                  Nevertheless, linking to the blog is not a separate thing from outing her, it’s a form of outing her. He could associate her ideas with that by paraphrasing the blog.

                • xq

                  Right. I never denied that it was outing her, or that there were no alternative means of accomplishing those goals without outing her.

                • Right. I never denied that it was outing her, or that there were no alternative means of accomplishing those goals without outing her.

                  I didn’t say you did.

                  When you wrote “One possible purpose was to link to her blog, and thus associate her with ideas McAdams opposes.” did you mean that to show that he was trying to harm her even though you think he didn’t explicitly acknowledge it?

                • xq

                  No. I think his motivations are political and Abbate just happened to be there. He thinks he has a “gotcha” and is trying to exploit it for all it’s worth.

                • Ah, so you think he’s merely recklessly indifferent to her welfare? That’s possible. Given his doxing history and his warning, it seems unlikely to me. But it’s possible.

                • On her blog post about it, Abbate makes clear that McAdams targeted her blog as a separate thing and in follow up posts.

                  While it is true that I wrote a blog post arguing that men in western society, as a social group, are responsible for rape culture (which, by the way, is very different from claiming that all men are rapists), what needs to be addressed is why McAdams drew attention to this one specific blog post of mine in the first place (to be clear: the majority of my blogging is devoted to animal ethics). Specifically, we need to look at the context in which he referenced this particular blog post.

                  Either John McAdams believes that the fact that I once blogged about a feminist response to rape culture is somehow relevant to how I handled a discussion with a student about John Rawls’s theory of justice or else he intentionally referenced this blog post to fuel the fire of those followers who foster misogynist sentiments. Yet, I can see no reason why McAdams, an educated academic, would honestly believe that this particular blog post provides any indication of how I might handle an after-class discussion with a student about John Rawls’s theory of justice. There is no necessary connection between one’s blogging (which is often used by academics to informally express some of their underdeveloped thoughts and ideas) and how an instructor might conduct herself in her classroom. After all, John McAdams refers to one of his former students as a “prissy little feminist” in his blog posts, yet, I suspect that he would not refer to this student as a “prissy little feminist” in his classroom.

                  So, what? He’s not targeting Abbate? He’s not trying to expose her to ridicule and scorn at the very least? (Heaping ridicule and scorn upon her seems a funny way to do that.)

                  Obviously, Abbate just happened to be there (he doesn’t have a personal connection). But that doesn’t mean he didn’t try to harm her. He seems clearly to have tried to that. She is part of the evil and she is a target.

                • Lee Rudolph

                  yet, I suspect that he would not refer to this student as a “prissy little feminist” in his classroom

                  Well, Ms. Abbate does know the man and I don’t, but based on what I’ve read by and about him today (not very much), I suspect she’s overly suffused with Christian charity here.

                  I mean, unless “this student” is, besides being a prissy little feminist, much bigger than he is. Or even just the same size, but with girl cooties of the aggressive sort.

    • I’m with you on this.

      I’m late to this thread because of a busy day, but that’s good because had I read this story on an empty stomach I’d be even more nauseated than I currently am.

  • xq

    Here is the blog post that seems to be one of the two other incidents referenced in the letter: http://mu-warrior.blogspot.com/2008/03/ad-marquette-tribune-rejected.html#links

    The student’s name has been deleted, but it seems that McAdams contacted the student in her position in the advertising department of the student paper and then reported her explanation for why the Marquette Tribune rejected the ad. This does not constitute an “attack” on the student. It’s possible the blog post was much worse before it was edited, but I don’t see any evidence for this, nor does the letter imply it.

  • Gregor Sansa

    He did this kind of thing at least 3 times. Ideally what should have happened is that the first time he gets a discreet talking to, the second time he gets a writen warning that he’ll be fired the next time, and the third time the threat is carried out. The bigger mistake was time 2, when the repeated the discreet scolding without naming consequences.

    So now, if he’s a dues-ppaying union member, the union should be able to save his tenure temporarily, until he does it again or unless they can make a libel charge stick in court. And if not… I don’t know, I can’t feel too bad for him, but I guess I see where Marquette is in the wrong. So Charge him with libel instead of firing.

    My new tablet has an insanelautocorrect.ly overzealous and > can’t turn it of.M

    • djw

      Are the Marquette faculty unionized? I would be fairly surprised if they were–Catholic colleges and universities have very low unionization rates.

  • matt w

    Going back and looking at McAdams’s original post, it makes me wonder; how would the point he was trying to make have been harmed by leaving out the instructor’s name? (And the link to her website?) If McAdams wanted to make a point about political correctness blah blah, it seems to me that he didn’t need to name the instructor. I’m not sure to what extent the identity of the particular grad student who did something he didn’t agree with is important to his point, if his point wasn’t to bring an internet mob down on her head.

    This isn’t to say that I think it’s definitive that he should be fired–doing something pointless in a blog post isn’t fireable. And I have an interest in its being very very hard to fire tenured professors. (And the “civility” standard, oy.) But it seems to me that repeated solicitations of internet harassment of female students at your university might go over the line of what it takes to fire a tenured professor, and that the gratuitousness of naming and linking the instructor (combined with McAdams’s past record) makes it more likely that McAdams’s interest was in part in getting that student harassed and not just in criticizing the teaching that was taking place at the University.

    (The Vagina Monologues case also makes it seem like McAdams knew exactly what he was doing. He found the student sponsor of the Vagina Monologues, looked up her home number, and called her there. She then sent him an e-mail saying “I didn’t put my home number on the contact info”–it’s not hard to imagine that her parents weren’t awfully pleased with her about it–“please e-mail me or contact me on my cell.” McAdams then blogged about this, posting her e-mail publicly and also including specific information about what website he had used to find her home phone number. It’s hard to imagine that this guy doesn’t know what he’s doing. Hat tip to John Protevi for highlighting this at the Daily Nous.)

    • MPAVictoria

      “(The Vagina Monologues case also makes it seem like McAdams knew exactly what he was doing. He found the student sponsor of the Vagina Monologues, looked up her home number, and called her there. She then sent him an e-mail saying “I didn’t put my home number on the contact info”–it’s not hard to imagine that her parents weren’t awfully pleased with her about it–“please e-mail me or contact me on my cell.” McAdams then blogged about this, posting her e-mail publicly and also including specific information about what website he had used to find her home phone number. It’s hard to imagine that this guy doesn’t know what he’s doing. Hat tip to John Protevi for highlighting this at the Daily Nous.)”

      Okay, that is truly awful.

      • John Protevi

        The icing on the cake is his “let’s not forget that I’m the real victim here” take on things: http://mu-warrior.blogspot.com/2011/03/marquette-warrior-blogger-harassed-by.html

        • MPAVictoria

          Oh for Christ sake.

        • tonycpsu

          Yeah, fuck this guy, seriously.

        • matt w

          In fairness, I should point out that at the time the dean got in touch with him he had not yet posted the information about how he found the student’s phone number. He posted it in that post where he was claiming victimhood.

          …seriously, though, I’ve been pondering this: Under what circumstances would it be OK for me to call an undergraduate at my university at her home number when she had not given me that phone number? I came up with “I found a notebook of hers that had her number written in it and that was the only way I had of letting her know I’d found it” and then I drew a complete blank. “I wanted to talk to her about some activity she was involved in and she didn’t respond to the e-mail I sent her at her official contact address” is, um, not it. This seems pretty problematic even before we get to the part where he publishes anything about it.

          • And wouldn’t you give it to e.g., the department secretary? Why would you call them yourself?

      • mikeSchilling

        posting her e-mail publicly and also including specific information about what website he had used to find her home phone number

        That warrants at least a suspension right there. Academic freedom does not, even by the most generous estimate, protect violating a student’s privacy that way,

    • BigHank53

      This seems to be where the administration dropped the ball. When an employee has fucked up (but not to the level of instant firing) there is always a meeting where the fuckup is discussed, future behavior dictated, consequences for future fuckups laid out, and the whole thing is put in writing. Everyone gets a copy which they can hide in the bottom of their desk.

      If they’d done that, the next time he decided that some student was the proper target for some wrath, they could have just greeted him at the front door on Monday: “Good morning, Dr. McAdams! As you can see, we’ve packed up your office for you. Please give your keys to Jeff, the large security guard, after which he’ll escort you off campus and remove the parking pass from your vehicle. You have twenty-four hours to return any of our computers or library materials you might have at home. Have a nice day!”

    • John F

      how would the point he was trying to make have been harmed by leaving out the instructor’s name?

      Pretty clearly his intent was to professionally harm someone he disagreed with, so yes leaving out her name would have removed his need to blog about this at all.

    • Going back and looking at McAdams’s original post, it makes me wonder; how would the point he was trying to make have been harmed by leaving out the instructor’s name?

      Oops! I just made this point as well. It’s really an important one.

  • Gator90

    The last time I defended a university’s personnel decision in this forum I stepped in a big pile, but why let that stop me now. A university professor who publicly defames and humiliates a student of the university should be fired. As a parent of (I hope) future college students, I would certainly think it the college’s responsibility to keep people like McAdams away from them.

    • liberalrob

      If this had been the first time McAdams had done something objectionable, it’d be one thing. But it’s apparently a pattern with this guy.

  • John F

    I’m not fond of any of the three involved, but McAdams certainly looks the worst of the group… Abbate did say somethings to the student that I would argue do not really comport with academic freedom…

    but it is also clear that she’s interacted him before and he’s dense as all hell (anyone catch the stuff about tail docking?)- ever try to discuss global warming with a denier? Vaccines with an anti-vaxxer? Evolution with a devout evangelical? Those are not exactly enlightening conversations- my guess is that it is possible she wanted to shut the discussion down not because the subject was taboo- but discussing it with the specific undergrad in question was completely pointless…

    OTOH saying/implying that you can’t talk about gay marriage in class because a hypothetical gay student may be offended… well that doesn’t comport with free speech/academic freedom either. She should have simply said, “we were getting off topic and had to move along”

    • John Protevi

      John F, I do not think students have “free speech / academic freedom” in the classroom. The instructor does.

      • John F

        I do not think students have “free speech / academic freedom” in the classroom.

        Well I think they should.

        The instructor does.

        Really? a non-tenured teacher, a TA? Not really…

        but they should in an ideal world

        • jim, some guy in iowa

          i’m kind of curious what students having free speech in the classroom means as a practical matter- is it a *right* to debate the teacher instead of listening to him/her lecture?

          • John F

            I’m for people being allowed to express their opinion without being told, “no you’re opinion is beyond the pale, change it or shut up or I’m going you an F”

            I’m not in favor of classroom disruption

            If a teacher is afraid of straying off topic, or dwelling too long on one point, well then have set time limits.

            If a teacher is lecturing and not opening up the floor for questions/debate/conversation, then no, students shouldn’t interrupt. If a teacher asks for student input, but immediately shuts down if a student says something the teacher doesn’t like- well that’s problematic to me.

            In the specific Abbate/McAdams, the TA could have had all sorts of reasons for shutting down a gay marriage debate- it’s too far afield, we don’t have enough time, it’s not the topic for today, “I merely asked for examples of things that could fit the principle, not an extended discussion of whether a specific offered example fits, you may want to discuss gay marriage, someone else may want to discuss Colonial era indentured servitude, someone else mandated child support, etc etc.”

            But it ended up focusing on whether or not discussing gay marriage could be deemed offensive to a hypothetical gay student and therefore we shouldn’t discuss it in class.

            • Aimai

              If you read the actual transcript the entire discussion happened *after class* and simply showed that she was unable to explain to this moron why his particular objection to SSM was literally irrelevant to the classroom discussion. Like: had nothing to do with it and could have nothing to do with it because it was based not on a relevant philosophical construct (marriage, consenting adults, harm to the majority) but on the student’s vague and ill informed opinions about adoption of children. Its hard to grasp just how hard it is to have an open and inclusive hallway discussion–let alone a classroom discussion–with a person with the brain capacity of a dining room table. But it is, in fact, nearly impossible to even begin to explain to someone so stupid why their arguments are not arguments. But that is what she was trying to do.

              Then she made the mistake of trying to appeal to him on grounds of empathy and humanity, which he lacks the mental capacity to grasp too.

              • John F

                and simply showed that she was unable to explain to this moron why his particular objection to SSM was literally irrelevant to the classroom discussion. Like: had nothing to do with it and could have nothing to do with it because it was based not on a relevant philosophical construct

                well, yeah, that’s what I ind of meant to say when I said he’s dense as all hell and interacting with him must be like discussing vaccines/autism with an anti-vaxxer…

        • John Protevi

          Well I think they should.

          You’re not an instructor, are you? You’re advocating chaos, cats and dogs living together, real Biblical wrath of God stuff.

          • John F

            cats and dogs living together

            not that there’s anything wrong with that

            • MPAVictoria

              Indeed my cats and dog seem to like it just fine
              :-)

          • rea

            Yeah, the main point made by the TA (there is a transcript of the conversation in the university’s letter) was that she wanted to keep the class discussion focused on Rawls, rather than go off on a tangent about whether research (in another field) really supported a conclusion that same-sex couples shouldn’t be allowed to raise children. If teachers can’t make that kind of decision, what are teachers for?

            • Lee Rudolph

              what are teachers for?

              Somebody’s got to keep the library paste jar under control!

            • John F

              I read the transcript, that wasn’t her main point, it’s the one she started with – and should have stayed with.

        • djw

          Well I think they should.

          If you’re not trolling, think about this for five minutes from a classroom management perspective and you’ll see why you’re wrong. When I say “can you give me some examples of X” to my classroom, I impose all sorts of artificial limits on what count as X because I’m eliciting examples in order to demonstrate a particular point, not to give students an opportunity to air their personal views in front of a paying, captive audience.* If I’m just letting them talk about their own views and feelings, we’re not going to accomplish much, and I’m taking tuition money in exchange for bull sessions. That’s what was going on in the case in question–Abbate was trying teach a particular point about Rawls’s theory and the marriage issue was unsuitable to make that point. What she did is something everyone who teaches moral/political theory interactively does all the time.

          *Usually. Occasionally I do! But only if it serves a pedagogical purpose.

          • John F

            If you’re not trolling,

            If you’re not trolling try reading my entire posts, because you just called me a troll, and then basically wrote the same things I wrote a minute earlier.

            • djw

              then basically wrote the same things I wrote a minute earlier.

              Obviously I hadn’t seen that.

              You seem less unreasonable on classroom management issues than I’d inferred from your previous comments, and I retract the troll insinuation. However, I confess I really don’t understand how you get from “didn’t transition away from a student-induced tangent on a politically fraught topic in a maximally graceful manner” to “violated student’s academic freedom”.

              • John F

                I will back away from my troll assertions as well.

                And I said I had issues with her argument about making other students offended being a reason to not discuss a topic- I don’t think she violated that undergrad’s academic freedom, or if she did it was extremely de minimis, especially compared to what McAdams did to her.

                • Aimai

                  You know: she didn’t say not to discuss a topic at all. Obviously there are classes where the topic is the topic–in a con law class, for example. Or in a history class you are going to end up discussing slavery. But not all discussions are ok in every class and discussions which produce a belief among some students that they are not legitimately part of the university (why should women get an education at all? Isn’t it true that blacks are less intelligent than whites? Gays are all pedophiles! Muslims are all terrorists!) aren’t actually harmless discussions that are always appropriate in every class.

                  And you know who we’d hear about on this score first? In fact the whining would be so loud it would go all the way to the fucking moon? White guys who were forced to listen to women and blacks debate the merits of not allowing white men to get married, or be educated, or run for office.

    • djw

      Abbate did say somethings to the student that I would argue do not really comport with academic freedom

      Complete and utter nonsense.

      • John F

        duly noted that I have no need to respect your opinion.

        • djw

          See above for substantive response. You’re fundamentally confused about the purpose of class discussion in a philosophy class.

          • John F

            I see, you are a troll, poorly played though:

            I say A, B & C

            You object to A and say that I should have said B & C

            I point out that I did say B & C

            You double down…

            Or if I’m being charitable, I could chalk it up to our posts criss-crossing.

            • rea

              Kinda bold, John F, to come to a blog where you are not a regular and accuse a front pager of trolling.

              • John F

                I’ve been posting here for years- infrequently true- but I am a regular lurker….

                Plus he started it :-)

    • Origami Isopod
  • Yeah, I can’t follow you on this, Scott. I come down on this from the graduate student’s side – their academic freedom to decide how to run their own classroom is being threatened by someone in a position of power over them, and from the letter it seems like this professor has a track record of using his blog to target students whose free speech and scholarship he has an ideological problem with.

    If we’re going to take a hard line against administrators for punishing faculty for their views, I think we have to do the same thing for faculty trying to punish graduate students for theirs, because faculty are management in relation to graduate students.

    • tonycpsu

      +1. While “this isn’t the hill we should die on” can often be used to defend doing the easier thing instead of the right thing, it turns out that the two are the same in this case. There’s no academic freedom being defended here absent fallacious slippery slope arguments.

      • John F

        There’s no academic freedom being defended here absent fallacious slippery slope arguments.

        I tend to agree, McAdams is being a thug- AND- this incident and his own track record make clear that he does not believe in Academic freedom- he’s all for trying to shut down speech he doesn’t like.

        • Woodrowfan

          he’s trying the old “how dare you be intolerant of my intolerance!” bit.

          As an Assistant Prof (pre-tenure) I am sensitive about academic free speech, but this guy has a history of using his position to harass those with less power, and to facilitate others to do the same. fire his ass.

    • NonyNony

      +1 million for pointing out that it’s the grad student’s academic freedom that this clown is shutting down that should be the salient question, and not his ability to use his tenure to be a bully.

      If tenure protects shit like this then the tenure system deserves to die.

  • Ronan

    I’d agree that this seems a reasonable reason for somebody to lose their job (or at least be put on a disciplinary route with that as a potential outcome) Bullying, abuse of power, unprofesional behaviour etc, these strike me as perfectly legit reasons to discipline/fire someone.

  • James

    Is anyone else being routinely forwarded from this site to a obnoxious McDonald’s ad on YouTube? (I’m all but certain I’ve successfully narrowed it too this site, although it is just barely possible I’ve been hit with very, very strange malware. Doubt it though; I have no other signs)

    Anyway, it is really annoying to have this damn auto-play McDonald’s ad pop up all the time.

    • sibusisodan

      So you’re not lovin’ it?

  • burnspbesq

    You can’t have it both ways.

    You write that McAdams’ actions were inappropriate, but you effectively condone them when you suggest that “a meeting with the Dean” is an appropriate sanction.

    Which is it?

    • Aimai

      “Effectively condone them” Is that the new “objectively pro terrorist?”

    • MAJeff

      If you’re going to be trolling over here more regularly, could you at least try to be interesting?

  • Joe_JP

    Interesting discussion.

    Given your past discussion of Canadian legal judgments, a ruling on euthanasia might be useful for discussion:

    http://scc-csc.lexum.com/scc-csc/scc-csc/en/item/14637/index.do

    • MPAVictoria

      I was really happy to read that ruling this morning
      :-)

      • I have mixed feelings about this. Fundamentally, with profit-oriented (or even bottom-line incentivized) insurance companies in the mix, it becomes a vast field of potential abuse, especially for the disabled and stigmatized.

        See Lydia Brown: http://georgetownvoice.com/2015/02/05/death-without-dignity-the-dangers-of-assisted-suicide/

        • MPAVictoria

          Legitimate points. However I think on this issue, like abortion, we need to let people make their own choices.

          • We need to be clear about the incentives in and around the system.

            • MPAVictoria

              Sure. Doesn’t change the fact that the status quo in Canada was unacceptable. This is a chance for improvement. Who are you to decide how I die? (Not you specifically! :-))

              • Agreed. The problem is that legalizing it means that more people feel like they have a say in how we die…

                • MPAVictoria

                  Is that how you see it? Interesting.

                • That how it seems to have played out in Oregon.

        • Joe_JP

          There is going to be problems in all cases here involving insurance companies etc. anyway. It is unclear that “double effect” (to me a wink wink backhanded approach) or refusing treatment (a drawn out and perhaps more burdensome to person approach) won’t have problems in various cases.

          There IS an incentive to just drug people to make them easier to deal with & this provides a long term concern that may exist for years. It is quite paternalistic to tell someone disabled or fatally ill that they can’t decide for themselves. And, other studies have shown having the ability was not taken advantage of, it’s a helpful safety valve for the person.

          I’m unsure how this will suddenly change everything especially given various safeguards put in place. And, the alternative seems to be de facto under the radar activities that aren’t really better.

  • MPAVictoria

    Scott the more I think, and learn, about this the more I disagree with your position. The guy is supposed to be a teacher. Doesn’t that come with some sort of responsibility to the well-being of students at his school?

    Not only that but this is the 3rd time he has been involved in this sort of incident and every one of the incidents involved female students. Is tenure really meant to protect people who victimize their students?

    • gmack

      I’m going to have to read the documents more carefully to form a final opinion on this, but I’ll just say this for now: I do not know whether I agree with the effort to get McAdams fired, but I do think Scott’s OP soft pedals what McAdams actually did. I think it is inaccurate to characterize McAdams’s actions as a “questioning” of a colleague’s teaching. Granted, I’m not fond of the university’s invocation of civility clauses here, but at the same time McAdams’ actions at least prima facia seem a lot more problematic than the OP suggests.

      • MPAVictoria

        That seems fair to me.

        /Not that you asked of course. :-)

      • liberalrob

        I’m sure there will be a followup from Lemieux on this. I don’t think he knew about the pattern of McAdams’ behavior before putting up the OP. And given his recent involvement with the UIUC case, a tendency to knee-jerk in defense of academic freedom is understandable.

        This statement troubled me:

        The threats that Abbate received were appalling, but McAdams cannot be held responsible for the actions of third parties.

        So Michelle Malkin should not be held responsible for the death threats third parties made after she posted the contact information of UC Santa Cruz military recruiting protesters, and then reposted it after being asked to take it down? After all, she didn’t make the threats and the information was publicly available. She was just passing it along in case someone was interested in knowing how to reach these people she just happened to disagree with.

        Henry II should not be held responsible for Thomas Beckett’s death, right? All he said was “will no one rid me of this turbulent priest,” not “will someone please kill this guy ASAP.”

  • mhgjd

    Did no one in this comment thread notice that, according to the linked article, the graduate student left the university as a result of the professor’s actions? Or that one of the death threats she received was not just an internet raving but was hand delivered?

    • MPAVictoria

      I did not and am now even more horrified.

    • I did. And he’s spinning the fact that she got accepted by another university as her getting a job.

      • WHAT THE HELL!

        She *transferred* to a better environment. She was not hired.

        I’m glad she did this and Bolder is a better department probably, but crap!

  • John F

    Plus the actual facts matter:

    Salaita lost his job because he espoused a politically unpopular opinion- something tenure/academic freedom is supposed to protect (hell even many of the Anti-Salaita’s admit that if he had tenure he could not have been fired for his tweets)

    Here is is clear that McAdams is not being fired for being anti-gay marriage (and he’s pretty clearly lying when he says that’s the reason)- here he’s being fired for deliberately harassing someone lower on the food chain than himself- and not for the first time.

  • Jonathan Kaplan

    From the standpoint of the administration, I can’t help but think McAdams has shown himself to be beyond the pale on any number of occasions, including some that they don’t mention in their letter at all.

    My “favorite” stunt of his was publicly refusing, on his blog, to meet with the Provost, after having been asked to do so to discuss his handling of the student he named on his blog, called at home, and whose phone number he told his supporters how to find (see above), on the grounds that since he’d viciously insulted the Provost on his blog before (while using homophobic slurs to attack a job candidate for an administrative position), the Provost couldn’t possibly be objective! (see: http://www.donotlink.com/dkef for details — note that this is *his* side of the story, and it still makes him look like an ass, at best…)

    As a strategy for avoiding meeting with the upper administration, I must say this is a bold one! Insult them publicly, and then claim that you can’t meet with them about their complaints about your behavior in other areas, because having insulted them publicly about other issues, they can’t possibly be objective in their dealings with you about this new issue. (“I wonder why more people haven’t thought of that?” … “Oh, yeah, ’cause that’s a really really bad strategy!”)

    • John F

      It worked on LA Law once,

      “Your honor, I think you are biased against my client you should recuse yourself”

      “Denied, I am not biased”

      “You honor, obviously you should recuse yourself now, I just publicly accused you of being biased, you staying on this case will now create the appearance of partiality…”

      • rea

        Does not work in real life though–I’ve seen it tried.

        • John F

          I saw it work once, it helped that the judge really didn’t want to deal with the case or the a-holes on both sides…

          I also once saw an attorney move to have the judge recuse himself because the judge had been briefly an associate with his adversary’s firm 20 year’s earlier…

          The judge denied the motion and then asked the attorney why he thought the judge would be biased in favor of his old firm, then said that actually, if one partner was still with that firm (he wasn’t) the judge might have seriously considered recusal for the opposite reason (appearance of being biased AGAINST his old firm)- and then told the attorney, but you didn’t know that, “because you didn’t look into this at all, you did no research at all, you drafted and filed this motion and presumably you intend to bill your client for making it, there’s been no findings made by me yet, no motions denied or granted yet, except this one, and as part of this denial I am going to tell you that you are not going to bill your client for making this motion”

          • drkrick

            Perhaps it’s a layperson’s mistake, but that seems kind of beautiful to me.

    • endaround

      Yeah, this isn’t a one time thing. He’s been having run ins for at least 15 years that I know off. He got a letter placed in his file because he threatened bodily harm against a guy he was arguing with on usenet I think.

      • mikeSchilling

        Usenet! Good God, he should be mandatorily retired for being a fossil. (I spent years hanging out at rec.arts.sf.written.)

    • The Temporary Name

      My “favorite” stunt of his was publicly refusing, on his blog, to meet with the Provost

      That’s an invitation to be fired on a platter. Why didn’t they take it?

  • Joe_JP

    I guess the challenge made was “answerable” and this post deserves an addendum. Looking at the letter sent by Marquette:

    “your decision to publish information that was false and materially misleading” (spelling out details) arising from acts of someone who did not “exercise[] due care and standards of professional responsibility in keeping with University faculty”

    His disreputable behavior regarding colleagues and students was spelled out, but this to me is a key concern. It is not mere “academic freedom,” putting aside some useful comments made in comments here about the balance there with treatment of colleagues and students.

    The letter, as noted by others, also cited past problems. This is not merely a matter of third parties that he is not responsible for. He is responsible for his own acts, including reckless comments as spelled out.

    Citing this as “today’s attack on academic freedom” is a curious use of your own here, so to speak.

  • Better title: today in gullible centrists.

    Somewhat disheartening to find Lemieux approving of doxxing and siccing the rightwing hate machine on grad students.

  • The threats that Abbate received were appalling, but McAdams cannot be held responsible for the actions of third parties.

    A line this blog doesn’t believe in when it comes to Nader voters, I note.

  • Radical update: The published letter was ALTERED! Key information: McAdams was the undergrad student’s ADVISOR!

    Which means he should have known the reason for dropping, he harmed the undergrad student, his action involved fully mural activities (substituting extramural activities for mural activities is not a defence!), and he concealed critical information. Sheesh!