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Marking the first time University President Michael Lovell commented on the matter in a week, he published a blog post today with his views on how suspended political science professor John McAdams rejected a university-issued punishment for his role in a 2014 controversy.
The post, titled “A call for decency” stresses the indirect harm McAdams caused to former teaching assistant Cheryl Abbate after he wrote a blog post criticizing her choices in a dispute between her and a student about gay marriage. The harm came in the form of online comments and threats about Abbate.
“Professor McAdams characterizes the barrage as ‘some nasty e-mails and blog comments’ directed at (Abbate),” Lovell said in the post. “But his attempt to downplay what happened doesn’t come close to reality. I feel it’s important to clarify exactly what Professor McAdams so quickly dismisses.”
The post then features screenshots of online comments sent to the university. The commenter’s and Abbate’s names are blurred out of each picture.
“Can anyone provide me with (name redacted)’s personal info?” a commenter said. “Phone number, home address? She needs to be exposed.”
“(Name redacted) is a POOR excuse of a human,” a commenter said. “Send her to Syria for a life lesson.”
“The sooner (College of Arts & Sciences) dean Richard Holz resigns, and as penance for his sins, blows his useless brains out (after blowing (name redacted) brains out for her), the better,” a commenter said.
The punishment is to suspend McAdams without pay but with benefits until the end of the fall 2016 semester. In addition, Lovell said McAdams needs to submit a letter by April 4 that apologizes for his previous conduct, admits it was wrong and promises that he won’t act similarly again.
“I’m not going to agree to any punishment for exercising my academic freedom,” McAdams said to the Wire. In Lovell’s blog post, he says McAdams responded to the punishment by saying he would apologize “when hell freezes over.”
“I’m not asking for Professor McAdams to be responsible for all the vitriol from the lowest of the Internet,” Lovell said in the post. “As the president of Marquette University, I am asking for common human decency toward members of our own community. Nothing more and nothing less.”
McAdams said he is Protestant and against gay marriage. However, he said the controversy resulted from him pushing for academic freedom, not anti-gay marriage views.
“I would have blogged about a professor trying to suppress pro-gay marriage views,” McAdams said. “It’s a university, you should be free to face something you disagree with.”