Friday, April 1, 2016

Marquette: Jesuit But not Catholic


In the fall of 2014, a graduate student instructor of a philosophy course, Cheryl Abbate told a student at Marquette University, which claims to continue “the tradition of Catholic, Jesuit education” who secretly recorded the exchange, that his defense of man-woman marriage was an unacceptable topic in her ethics class and compared his views to racism. Abate said, "You can have whatever opinions you want but I can tell you right now, in this class homophobic comments, racist comments, and sexist comments will not be tolerated." And then she told the student he should drop the class. Now, for Marquette to be truly Catholic, a defense of a Cathodic understanding of marriage must not only be tolerated, but promulgated.

Marquette Professor McAdams blogged on the incident and charged the teaching assistant with "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." A firestorm ensued that pitted the academic freedom of McAdams against the PC of the officially "Catholic" institution.

McAdams was brought up on charges. A "diverse" faculty committee recommended to the university president that McAdams be suspended without pay from April 1 through the fall of 2016 and that he lose his job unless he admits "guilt" and apologized "within the next two weeks." Specifically, the demand is "Your acknowledgement that your November 9, 2014, blog post was reckless and incompatible with the mission and values of Marquette University and you express deep regret for the harm suffered by our former graduate student and instructor, Ms. Abbate." Marquette had previously suspended McAdams without due process, treated him as though he presented a violent threat, and cancelled his current semester’s classes.
The ever quotable and crusty McAdams compared the demand to the "Inquisition, in which victims who 'confessed' they had been consorting with Satan and spreading heresy would be spared execution." He called the demand a violation of "black letter guarantees of academic freedom embodied in University statutes."  Marquette informed McAdams on January 30 that it intended to revoke his tenure and fire him. Marquette claimed that McAdams’s actions amounted to “serious instances of … dishonorable, irresponsible, or incompetent conduct” justifying his termination.
Now, I can appreciate those concerned with academic freedom, but for me this misses the major point: why would Marquette employ a graduate assistant who felt comfortable labeling Catholic teaching homophobic, racist, and sexist? Marquette University seems to be sending a message to students and faculty who support Catholic doctrine regarding marriage: if you oppose gay marriage keep your mouth shut.