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Professor who ‘led anti-LGBT hate campaign’ against TA sues university over suspension

Nick Duffy May 5, 2016
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A Catholic university professor who was suspended for waging an anti-LGBT hate campaign against a graduate teaching assistant is now suing his university.

The row began at Marquette University in 2014, when a student who is strongly opposed to LGBT rights secretly recorded an after-class conversation with graduate student and teaching assistant Cheryl Abbate.

The student had urged Abbate to set a lesson about whether gay people should be banned from marrying and adopting, and during the discussion made a number of derogatory comments.

Abbate refused to alter her lesson plans and warned: “In this class, homophobic comments, racist comments, will not be tolerated.” After the heated exchange, Abbate invited the student to drop the class if they were unhappy.

The student leaked the covertly-recorded audio to ultra-conservative politics professor John McAdams – who wrote a one-sided post on his so-called ‘Marquette Warrior’ blog naming Ms Abbate for supposedly “silencing the sort of argument that ought to happen in academia”.

Due to the blog, Ms Abbate was subjected to a horrific hate campaign and death threats, with a number of far-right online trolls threatening to “blow her brains out” as well as threatening to post her home address and personal details.

When asked to amend the blog or apologise by university management, Professor McAdams said he would do so “when hell freezes over.”

Earlier this year the university opted to suspend McAdams until January 2017 – after he publicly declined an offer to come back to work if he took down the posts and apologised.

But McAdams has now filed a lawsuit in Milwaukee County Circuit Court, accusing Marquette of breach of contract and demanding his tenure be reinstated.

The Professor claims the university acted “illegally” in a bid to oust him.

In an open letter, the university’s President Dr Michael R Lovell wrote previously: “As a direct result of his actions, our student — who has since left the university — was subject to a stream of hate and threatening messages.

“Professor McAdams characterizes the barrage as ‘some nasty e-mails and blog comments’ directed at the student. But his attempt to downplay what happened doesn’t come close to reality.

“She continues to receive hostile and threatening messages to this day.

“Constructive dialogue and vigorous debate cannot exist when our discourse is so degraded. I’m not under any illusions about deplorable behavior on the Internet. Yes, it exists.

“But what’s at issue here is a professor inflicting this type of personal attack on a student. That is simply unacceptable.”

He added: “As many of you know, over the past several months our university has been carefully reviewing Professor McAdams’ actions.

“This review followed the shared governance rules and processes set forth by the Academic Senate for the very rare occasion where a faculty member’s conduct may require the university to consider taking action.

He continues: “Today, I want you to know that after significant personal deliberation, I have decided to formally implement the Faculty Hearing Committee’s unanimous recommendation.

“While I cannot provide specific details of the recommendation because it relates to a personnel matter, I can assure you that my decision has been guided by Marquette University’s values and is solely based on Professor McAdams’ actions, and not political or ideological views expressed in his blog.

“In closing, I want to sincerely thank the seven faculty members who served on the Faculty Hearing Committee.

“They provided substantial service to the university through their extremely thorough, objective and diligent approach throughout this process.”

Related topics: Anti-gay, Catholic, Gay, graduate, homophobic, Marquette University, student, TA, University, US

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