Fired Marquette U. Professor Will Fight Court Ruling, ‘Political Correctness’
In a new interview with The Cardinal Newman Society, Dr. John McAdams vowed to fight a court’s ruling that upholds Marquette University’s right to fire him for defending a student’s freedom to speak moral truths. McAdams also accused Marquette of embracing “political correctness” before its Catholic mission.
In a ruling early this month, Milwaukee County Circuit Court Judge David Hansher dismissed McAdams’ claims against the university. The tenured political science professor was fired after he publicly criticized a philosophy instructor for preventing one of her students from voicing disagreement with same-sex marriage in an ethics class. The university claims McAdams crossed a line, because the instructor was a graduate student and off limits from public criticism.
In his interview with the Newman Society, McAdams explained to the Newman Society that he has “a long history of criticizing the University and sometimes other faculty members” for events he finds contrary to Marquette’s Catholic identity. He has been writing actively on his blog, Marquette Warrior, since 2005 and has drawn attention to numerous abuses of Catholic identity.
Although the university has claimed its Catholic identity is “flourishing,” a number of faculty and staff members have expressed concern about Marquette’s dwindling Catholic identity and instances of Catholic teaching being discouraged and even silenced.
“If you look at the institution itself, anytime secular political correctness conflicts with Catholic teaching, they go with secular political correctness,” McAdams said.
Others agree with him. The Louis Joliet Society, a group of alumni that supports renewed Catholic identity at Marquette, released a statement on its Facebook page and posed the question: “Why is it that ‘academic freedom,’ the shield that has been used to protect heretical faculty (particularly tenured faculty) at Catholic colleges and universities for nearly 50 years, is now suddenly the sword used to slay a professor who has consistently and publically stood up for truth, academic integrity and authentic Catholic identity?”
McAdams, who is being represented by the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty, told the Newman Society that he will appeal the ruling.
Excerpts from McAdams’ interview with the Newman Society is below.
The Newman Society: What’s the next step for your case?
McAdams: We’ll appeal.
It wasn’t a matter of a poor, green graduate student in her first class not knowing how to handle a discussion. It was an instructor who was simply intolerant of a certain viewpoint, who made it clear she would suppress it…
The Newman Society: Considering the precedent, how are you feeling about the appeal?
McAdams: I fully expect to be vindicated by a higher court.
The Newman Society: What would you say is the state of Marquette’s Catholic identity?
McAdams: It’s little more than a marketing ploy.
You can find online the religious views of freshmen coming in. I think it’s still the case that a majority are Catholic, although not all of them.
There’s nothing wrong with a non-Catholic attending a Catholic university, but that’s relevant because the average freshman coming in is going to have more Catholics as cohorts than they would at a state-run university today. On the other hand, not all Catholics are particularly serious Catholics, just as not all Protestants are particularly serious Protestants.
But if you look at the institution itself, anytime secular political correctness conflicts with Catholic teaching, they go with secular political correctness.
…The bureaucracy is shot through with political correctness. There are tons of bureaucrats that have “multicultural” or “diversity” or “inclusion” in their titles, and they’re all committed to bringing politically correct speakers to campus, punishing people for politically incorrect speech.
The Newman Society: From your perspective as somebody who’s taught in a Catholic university, what kind of discussions should be happening in classrooms at Catholic universities?
McAdams: For a real Catholic university, the center of gravity should be in the direction of Catholic teaching. That is to say, there should be a majority of faculty that accept Catholic teaching about marriage. There should be a majority of faculty that accept Catholic teaching about abortion or transgenderism.
The center of gravity has to be in a Catholic direction. But, if the center of gravity is in a secular direction such that people are scared to say that they think homosexual acts are sinful, that is dangerous.
The Newman Society: What can professors do to ensure that students can feel comfortable voicing Church teachings in the classroom?
McAdams: We can send the message that yes, you can have different opinions in my class. When I get reinstated — which I certainly expect to be — I will tell my students that. Academia generally sends the message that you can get in trouble if you say anything politically incorrect.
The Newman Society: What would be the main reason a professor at a Catholic university would not permit discussion in the classroom about things that are in line with the faith, i.e., opposition to same-sex marriage?
McAdams: Political correctness. [They] increasingly believe that opinions they don’t like should be shut up.
The Newman Society: Would you teach at a Catholic university again?
McAdams: Sure. I love the students!