In the case of professor John McAdams, FIRE is calling out Marquette.

Peter Bonilla of the FIRE blog reports.

Marquette’s Dangerous Subversion of Free Speech

Last week, I wrote about the systemic due process failures at Marquette University, which plans to fire tenured political science professor John McAdams for criticism of a graduate student and philosophy instructor published on his blog. As I wrote, “No one concerned for fundamental fairness in campus proceedings should be okay with the extent to which Marquette has flouted its obligations in McAdams’s case.”

In this second of my three-part series of Torch entries examining the myriad faults with Marquette’s case against McAdams, I focus on Marquette’s dangerous subversion of basic free speech principles to suit its purposes.

Marquette is a private university, and thus is not bound directly by the First Amendment. Despite this, Marquette makes various promises of free speech and academic freedom to students and faculty that hold it to standards similar, if not equal, to those of a public university. And Marquette has been consistently backwards on free speech throughout McAdams’s case. While refusing to defend his free speech rights in the context of his private blog, for instance, Marquette has argued that graduate students, by the very virtue of being graduate students, have a right to be free from public criticism, an argument that does not withstand basic scrutiny.

And there have been ridiculous claims like the one made by Dean Richard C. Holz in his letter notifying McAdams of Marquette’s intent to strip him of tenure, in which Holz blames McAdams for the fact that some faculty allegedly censor themselves to avoid his criticism:

[F]aculty members have voiced concerns about how they could become targets in your blog based upon items they might choose to include in a class syllabus. Your conduct thus impairs the very freedoms of teaching and expression that you vehemently purport to promote.

This is a preposterous argument, yet again asserting a nonexistent right to be free of criticism, under which one can claim a rights violation simply because another person spoke his or her mind. Ironically, this argument ignores the very real chilling effect Marquette has created at the university by attempting to fire McAdams because of his blog.