political correctness

Banned for beliefs: Washington Post tries to tackle the fracas at Marquette University

Banned for beliefs: Washington Post tries to tackle the fracas at Marquette University

The long-smoldering struggle between Marquette University and a prickly professor made the Washington Post this week. But there's something funny about the headline:

A university moved to fire a professor after he defended a student’s right to debate gay marriage. Now he’s suing.

A little surprising, in itself, I guess. But what if I told you it's a Catholic university? A Jesuit one, at that? If criticizing gay marriage -- quoting, for example, the teachings of the Catholic church -- during a discussion in class is not allowed in a Catholic, Jesuit university …?

There is a good summary at the top of Post story, at least:

The conflict began in 2014: After a student complained after a philosophy class that he was disappointed that he and others who question gay marriage had not been allowed to express their views during the classroom discussion, the graduate-student instructor told him that opposition to gay marriage was homophobic and offensive and would not be tolerated in her theory of ethics class. John McAdams, an associate professor of political science at Marquette, blogged about it, writing that the instructor "was just 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."
The story went viral, touching as it did on the heated debates over issues such as campus culture, gay rights, academic freedom, whether students should be protected from comments they find offensive or hurtful, and where the lines should be drawn in discussions of charged topics such as race and sexuality to ensure that people don’t feel stigmatized or unsafe. The instructor was targeted on social media by people angered by McAdams’s account of the incident and ultimately left the university.
McAdams was suspended without pay the following month and banned from campus, and in March of this year he was told by university president Michael Lovell he could not return to teaching unless he wrote a letter acknowledging that his behavior had been reckless and incompatible with Marquette values and that he feels deep regret for the harm he did to the instructor.
On Monday, McAdams and the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty filed a lawsuit in Milwaukee County Circuit Court, claiming breach of contract.

Now, Marquette would never be mistaken for Catholic University of America, in which faculty members are, to some degree, required to stick with traditional church teachings.

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Christmas wars come to University of Tennessee: Hey! Check these crucial facts!

Christmas wars come to University of Tennessee: Hey! Check these crucial facts!

What we have here is a collision between several different kinds of stories that are all hot, right now, in the mainstream press. It's also important to know that this crash is taking place in one of the most intensely religious parts of the United States -- right here in my own stomping grounds of East Tennessee.

First of all, there is the whole "war on Christmas" element of this story, since it centers on a clash between acceptable "holiday parties" and unacceptable "Christmas parties."

Then you have another episode in the current national wave of "trigger warning" controversies on public-university campuses, with the assumption that some forms of speech and symbolism -- take Santa Claus, for example -- are automatically offensive and should be strictly controlled.

However, at the heart of the story is a serious church-state issue linked to the idea of religious believers having "equal access" to space in the tax-dollar-supported public square. Hold that thought.

Oh, right, this story also comes on the heels of a controversy about the University of Tennessee embracing gender-neutral pronouns. Just about the only thing missing from this drama is some hook linked to NASCAR or UT Volunteers football.

So here is where things started off, with a post on the website of the campus Office for Diversity and Inclusion called “Best Practices for Inclusive Holiday Celebrations in the Workplace." It didn't take long -- hello Fox News -- for this to grow into Republican calls for the resignation of UT Chancellor Jimmy Cheeks.

Pretty soon, folks on both sides are calling each other "extremist" and "ridiculous." Here's a sample from the memo that includes the key points:

* Holiday parties and celebrations should celebrate and build upon workplace relationships and team morale with no emphasis on religion or culture. Ensure your holiday party is not a Christmas party in disguise. ...

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After Hasan trial: Spot big religion ghost in this story

The military trial of Maj. Nidal Hasan was never — as a journalism story — really about whether or not he was guilty of massacring his unarmed colleagues at Ft. Hood, Texas. With Nasan representing himself and openly discussing his role as the gunman, the key issues in the trial were linked to his own explanation of his faith-driven motives and the degree to which his superiors knew of his convictions in the months before his rampage.

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That ghost in Dr. Ben Carson's, well, moral theology

The folks who edit and operate the newspaper that lands in my front yard are having a Devil of a time trying to figure out what to do with Dr. Ben Carson. Frankly, their struggles are beginning to remind me of their struggles to understand the role that the church plays in the lives of many African-Americans in the politically liberal state of Maryland.

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