Here is a follow-up to this story. John McAdams is a political science professor at Marquette University. He wrote a blog post criticizing a graduate student in the philosophy department at Marquette, Cheryl Abbate, who, in her role as an instructor, bullied an undergraduate student for expressing opposition to homosexual "marriage" and homosexual parenting. In a conversation after class, she likened the student's comments to racism, told him that it was against her policy to allow such comments in her class, and invited the student to drop the class. McAdams blogged about the undergraduate student's experience and about the fact that the philosophy department and the dean brushed off the student's complaints about being "encouraged" to drop the (required) course, which he must now take with someone else. (I haven't been able to find out if the undergraduate got a full tuition refund.)
Now, get this: Guess who is being investigated for harassment? Not Cheryl Abbate, who drove a student out of class for expressing conservative opinions. Not even the student who, Cheryl Abbate and others have implied, may have inadvertently violated Marquette's Orwellian harassment policy by expressing un-PC views, but John McAdams.
I don't even know McAdams's opinions on the ground-level political and moral issues in this case. I haven't bothered to investigate them. His criticisms of Abbate and of the philosophy department and dean's office were professional and procedural--that they mistreated a student and did not properly handle the student's legitimate complaint about teacher bullying. He could have made those criticisms even if he were a raving liberal on the substantive issues. But Marquette is, though still paying him, suspending him from teaching pending investigation. He even had to request special permission to go onto the university campus, as if he were personally dangerous!
Since one story calls McAdams an associate professor and since he's had his job for thirty-five years, I'm guessing that he's tenured. The very existence of the investigation and temporary suspension, however, gives the impression that something Very Bad could happen to him even if he is tenured. McAdams has told Fox News that he has a lawyer on standby.
McAdams points out that Marquette's harassment policy is so broadly worded, including in "harassment" any conduct that "could or does result in mental [or] emotional discomfort" that his blogging about Abbate's bullying behavior might indeed constitute "harassment" (scare quotes intentional). That is just because, on that construal, almost anything constitutes harassment.
In fact, we get a darkly amusing chain based on Marquette's incredibly vague definition of "harassment." The undergraduate student "harassed" hypothetical homosexual fellow students who might have overheard him questioning the legitimacy of homosexual "marriage" and bringing up Mark Regnerus's study on the children of homosexuals. Cheryl Abbate harassed (I deliberately leave off the scare quotes) the student by telling him that his remarks were inappropriate and would not be allowed and by inviting him to leave the class. John McAdams "harassed" Cheryl Abbate by blogging about her behavior. And, finally, Richard Holz, a dean at Marquette, has harassed John McAdams by treating him like a potential terrorist and suspending him from teaching.
After all, all of these things "could or do result in mental or emotional discomfort" for someone or other. Fair-minded people will have to decide for themselves to what extent that emotional discomfort is rational and justified at each link in the chain and who the real harassers are in this entire scenario when "harassment" is defined in a more meaningful fashion.
John McAdams did not fall off the turnip truck yesterday. He points out in his second post on his suspension that Marquette broke its own published rules for suspending a professor by failing to state the date of the alleged misconduct, the location, the university statute violated, etc. He also names the counsel he has retained. (My one complaint so far about McAdams is that he has a blogging affectation of using the royal "we" to refer to himself, but let that pass.)
I'm glad to see that McAdams seems, like the horse in Job, to say "Ha ha!" when he hears the sound of the battle trumpet. He may be more emotionally distressed than he lets on, but for now, I'm saying, "Pass the popcorn" and hoping that Marquette gets taken to the cleaners.