To hear Conor Friedersdorf tell it, Marquette University’s decision to fire Asso. Prof. John McAdams for putting the name of a graduate student with whose class-management actions he disagreed with is setting a dangerous precedent:
“One student offered the example of gay marriage as something that Rawls’ Equal Liberty Principle would allow because it would not restrict the liberty of others and therefore should not be illegal,” according to [Dean Richard] Holtz’s version of events. “Ms. [Cheryl] Abbate noted that this was a correct way to apply Rawls’ Principle and is said to have asked ‘does anyone not agree with this?’ Ms. Abbate later added that if anyone did not agree that gay marriage was an example of something that fits the Rawls’ Equal Liberty Principle, they should see her after class.”
Sure enough, a student approached her after class, and in what was arguably an ethical breach, surreptitiously recorded their exchange.
In the recorded conversation, Ms. Abbate essentially says that arguments against gay marriage shouldn’t be allowed in class because they are hurtful. I don’t agree with that, but even so her error did not justify what McAdams did when he heard of the incident. He posted her name in a post on his blog regarding the matter, and as a result Ms. Abbate was set upon by ‘Gamergate’-type haters. From Dean Holtz’s letter to McAdams explaining the decision to fire him:
As a result of your unilateral, dishonorable and irresponsible decision to publicize the name of our graduate student, and your decision to publish information that was false and materially misleading about her and your University colleagues, that student received a series of hate-filled and despicable emails, including one suggesting that she had committed “treason and sedition” and as a result faced penalties such as “drawing, hanging, beheading, and quartering.” Another note, delivered to her campus mailbox, told the student, “You must undo the terrible wrong committed when you were born. Your mother failed to make the right choice. You must abort yourself for the glory of inclusiveness and tolerance.” Accordingly, and understandably, the student feared for her personal safety, and we posted a Public Safety Officer outside her classroom. In addition, as a result of your conduct and its consequences, Ms. Cheryl Abbate now has withdrawn from our graduate program and moved to another University to continue her academic career.
Dean Holtz goes on to note that this is the third time McAdams has pulled this sort of stunt. Of note is that both of the prior incidents were McAdams posting the names of females students who held a left-of-center position:
Your Prior Similar Reckless and Irresponsible Acts, Together With Your Taking Pride from the Impacts of Your Current Conduct, Preclude the Lesser Sanctions of Reprimand or Suspension
You have been asked, advised, and warned on multiple prior occasions not to publicize students’ names in connection with your blog posts. In March 2008, you published the name of a student who worked in advertising for the Marquette Tribune after she had declined to run an advertisement highlighting alleged risks from the “morning after” pill. Only after that student contacted you to advise of the impacts upon her and to request you to cease and desist did you delete her name. In March 2011, you published blog posts regarding a student who was helping to organize a campus performance of The Vagina Monologues. Again, the harmful consequences of
your unilateral naming of students were pointed out. You acknowledged at that time that publishing student names on the Internet was a matter of concern, but given your naming of Ms. Abbate that acknowledgment from 2011 appears to be without meaning or effect. With this latest example of unprofessional and irresponsible conduct we have no confidence that you will live up to any additional assurances on your part that you will take seriously your duties to respect and protect our students, including our graduate student instructors. Indeed, after your blog posts were made and the hateful emails ensued, you gloated that your conduct would negatively impact Ms. Abbate’s opportunities in the future:
Does our blog post harm Abbate, for example making it harder for her to get an
If there are some colleges out there who don’t want instructors who tell students
that opposition to gay marriage is homophobic, Abbate might not get hired there.
That is appropriate. We feel no obligation to suppress information to help her get a
(Bolding in Original)
To his credit, Friedersdorf does link to a blog post by Ms. Abbate where she details the ugliness she was forced to endure. Breitbart.com has also picked up the story but tellingly omits the harassment suffered by Ms. Abbate and the fact that McAdams had improperly published the names of female students twice before. I wonder how long it will be before Charles C. Johnson latches onto the story, for John McAdams’ misogyny mirrors his own.
As for me, I agree with Dean Holtz’s decision to fire McAdams. If this was the first time McAdams had done this, I’d likely give him the benefit of the doubt, but its his third time acting in this way so he gets no such benefit from me. John McAdams is a man who reacts to women disagreeing with him by doxxing them. His actions are inconsistent with the values of Catholic education that I learned and his termination is richly warranted.