Professor John C. McAdams is associate professor of political science at Marquette University who maintains his own personal blog. He was suspended from his job and banned from the campus by the administration last year for writing about and supporting a student who stood up for the traditional view of marriage. The case is ongoing and McAdams is currently appealing the school’s decision to fire him [Milwaukee Wisconsin Journal Sentinal]. Professor McAdams joined The Dennis Prager Show to talk about the incident. Join Dennis Prager’s premium content website at Pragertopia.com. Read a transcript of the interview below:
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Dennis Prager: His name is John McAdams. He is a professor at Marquette University. I’ve had you on before, professor. Welcome back to the
Dennis Prager Show.
John C. McAdams: Oh, good to be here. One minor correction. I haven’t been fired yet, but it certainly appears that they’re going to do that.
Dennis: Okay, that’s good. I mean to the extent that it’s good, it’s good. Why don’t you reacquaint our listeners with what the cause celebre at your university is?
John: Okay. I blog. I have a blog called the Marquette Warrior Blog.
Dennis: By the way. Forgive me. You’re a professor of what?
John: Political science. I blog. I have a blog that has often been critical of things that happen at Marquette, and a student came to me about a discussion he’d had with a philosophy instructor. It was after class but the instructor in class had briefly mentioned gay marriage, and had implied that the philosopher being discussed, John Rawls, would of course approve of gay marriage, and then moved on very quickly and not allowing discussion. The student confronted the instructor after class and said he would like to discuss gay marriage, and he made it clear that he was opposed to gay marriage.
Now the instructor, her name was Cheryl Abbate, could have said, “Well I didn’t think it would be a good use of class time.” That would have been a fair enough response; professors have to decide what is a good use of class time and what isn’t. But she didn’t say that at all. What she said is, “You’re not allowed to make homophobic remarks in class.” Then she asked him, “Do you know anyone who’s gay in the class?” Well he didn’t, or she didn’t, but there might have been somebody and she said, “Well don’t you think that would be offensive if you argued against gay marriage?” So he was forbidden to argue against gay marriage because it would be homophobic, and would offend any gay students who might happen to be in class.
Well I blogged about this. It went viral. A lot of outlets picked it up, including the Fox News website. It got a lot of reaction. Some of the reaction consisted of fairly nasty emails directed at the instructor, at Cheryl Abbate. Marquette blamed me for those emails; notwithstanding that I hadn’t said anything. I hadn’t encourage them. I hadn’t hinted that anyone should email her. All I’d said about Abbate was that she was using a tactic typical of liberals these days, which is to try to shut up debate rather than to actually debate their position.
That’s all I said, that she’d used a tactic typical of liberals these days, but she got some nasty emails and Marquette blamed me for those emails, and in December of 2014 I was suspended. My classes were canceled. I was told I couldn’t come on campus. Just recently here, a couple of weeks ago, I was told that I would be suspended until the end of the year without pay, I’d been suspended with pay before that, then, and this was the kicker, that I had to apologize for my initial blog post and admit that I’d been wrong, and admit that I’d been reckless. I also had to swear kind of a loyalty oath saying I would abide by Marquette’s guiding values, which are of course vague statements about how, “Gosh, we care about students and we care about individuals.” Of course, my position is that I’ve always abided by Marquette’s guiding values actually better than the people running Marquette University.
Well of course, I’m not going to engage in any forced speech. I’m not going to confess that I was wrong when of course I don’t think I was wrong.
Dennis: How did you know what this woman, Abbate, said to the student? Was it recorded? Was it videoed?
John: It was recorded. The student recorded the conversation so there was no doubt whatsoever about [the statement].
Dennis: Right. Okay. Good. All right. I wanted my listeners to understand that. Now when you were attacked by the university, did any students come to support you?
John: Some did, yes. There is a conservative student organization called “Turning Point USA” that actually staged a demonstration in my favor, and an online petition was put up that got several hundred, I think high three figures, of people trying to-
Dennis: I’m still not quite understanding what you did wrong. You reported a conversation made by an instructor to a student. That’s it. Even from their perspective, what can they charge you with?
John: Well they charged me with acting recklessly by putting up that blog post with Cheryl Abbate’s name in it.
Dennis: So she’s allowed to engage in that behavior, say those things to a student, but you are not allowed to report that she said it.
John: That appears to be Marquette’s position.
Dennis: No, not appears. That is Marquette’s position.
John: Well, yes. They don’t say so explicitly but, yes, you’re quite right and the logic of what they’re doing. [crosstalk]
Dennis: Right. Now also, have you received any hate email?
John: Yes. I received some nasty email.
Dennis: So why then is Marquette not responsible for your hate email if you’re responsible for her hate email?
John: Well that’s a very good point. Theoretically they should be. As everyone knows, when journalists find someone guilty of misconduct they typically name them. Virtually always. The typical case your listeners are probably aware of is a high school teacher who has sex with a student. When you see those articles, the teacher is essentially always named.
Dennis: Now the question arises, professor, as indeed I’ll just summarize here, a caller from Indiana. Is there a problem with the student recording a conversation without the permission of the other person?
John: First of all it’s perfectly legal in Wisconsin. Wisconsin is what’s called a “one party consent” state. Now organizations like the American Association of University Professors really think it’s really bad if students record their professors. Of course, I didn’t tell the student to record the professor; he simply came to me with an account of what happened. Of course, as a journalist I would have been foolish not to consult an ironclad source that confirms his account.
The idea that students shouldn’t record their professors is a kind of parochial, self-interested notion of the academic profession. It arose when conservative students started recording crazy left wing comments from crazy left wing professors. I believe in academic freedom so I believe that crazy left wing professors have a right to say crazy left wing thing without being fired. I don’t think they have a right to say crazy left wing things without having those crazy left wing things known to whomever might be interested. So not only was it not against the law for the student to record that conversation, I didn’t have it recorded.
Also I have to note that if a female student were being sexually harassed by a male professor and she had recorded that harassment in order to have ironclad evidence, none of these people would mind that.
Dennis: Yes, and if he then got hate mail the person who revealed the recording would not be fired.
John: That’s true, yep.
Dennis: Yeah. In the larger scheme I asked you about student support and you mentioned a conservative group … I’ll stick with students and then I want to go to faculty. Are there students who are demonstrating against you?
John: There were a few. The same day that Turning Point USA, a conservative student organization, demonstrated in my favor, a few other students demonstrated against me. Gallup recently did a poll of students and found that the majority, I think a little over 70 percent, favored free speech on campus. There are politically correct activist students, we’ve seen them at Yale, we’ve seen them at the University of Missouri, we’ve seen them at a lot of institutions, who simply don’t believe in free speech on campus and would try to shut up any speech they happen to disagree with. The intolerant students are a minority.
Dennis: Yeah, but they’re winning, as I pointed out earlier. Has anyone suggested that there be a vote on campus, with regard to your future?
John: No one has suggested that, no.
Dennis: I would push for it. I have a very dark view of the next generation having been indoctrinated against liberty since kindergarten. Nevertheless, I still believe that if there were a secret ballot of students, I don’t know about faculty, of students at your university, “Should Professor McAdams be fired for revealing what a teacher said to student, yes or no?” I think that the “no” vote would win.
John: You very well could be right. Marquette University is not particularly leftist or left wing but like most universities, even moderate universities, there’s a contention of what were called “social justice warriors,” who go out and, for example, demonstrate in sympathy with University of Missouri students. Some Marquette students did that and the president of Marquette, Michael Lovell, and the provost were out there in sympathy with them which is a little unfortunate.
Dennis: Right. Of course, the answer to all of this is for people not to send their children to Marquette. It’s for people who are Catholic to understand that there is … To the best of my knowledge, it is a coincidental relationship between Marquette and Catholicism. Has that risen as a subject? For example, even to the subject, to the best of my knowledge the Catholic Church does not allow priests to perform same-sex marriages.
John: It also objects to same-sex marriage as public policy. In other words, they don’t believe-
Dennis: Right. Even outside of the Catholic Church, right. Okay. So it’s even more remarkable that you’re being fired.
John: Yes it is. There is a tendency of a lot of religious institutions to become secular over time. That has certainly affected Marquette. I get a lot of emails and a lot of reports about a lot of other institutions to which the same thing has happened. The top administrators seem to want the approbation of, for example, the mainstream media.
Dennis: Of course they do. Exactly. There’s more fear of the New York Times than fear of God in almost all religions today in America. As I have said to my listeners for many years, the most dynamic religion in the world of the last hundred years is leftism. Not Christianity, not Islam, even, but leftism, and this is a perfect example. Marquette is now, it’s religion is leftism not Catholicism, and you are the sacrificial lamb here. They should play Handel’s “Messiah” when you leave because you truly are the sacrificial lamb of this university. Have any professors come out on your behalf?
John: A few. Only-
Dennis: I don’t mean in written emails to you. I mean publicly.
John: That’s what I meant, publicly. One professor in the English Department … One professor, interestingly, who’s come out in my favor is a guy named Dan McGuire who has been for decades a strong supporter of legalized abortion, a strong supporter of gay marriage, who’s come out in my favor.
Dennis: Well I said this is the liberal principle. It’s a liberal principle to have freedom.
John: Yeah. Give McGuire credit. He’s …
Dennis: Well we’re with you, professor, obviously. Please folks, sign the petition. It’s @PragerUniversity or at DennisPrager.com. Thank you, John McAdams.
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