You Can Blog It (Maybe)

The Daily Tar Heel wrote a story about a Marquette University Professor John McAdams losing his tenure over a blog post. In his post he talks about a situation at Marquette where philosophy instructor Cheryl Abbate (which he nicely tagged and linked to her own blog) avoided a class discussion about gay rights because she worried someone in class might be gay and it would offend them. One student, who disagreed with gay rights, wanted the issue to be discussed and she said “you do not have a right in this class to make homophobic comments.” She later said “in this class homophobic comments, racist comments, will not be tolerated” and that the student could drop her class – which he or she did. In his blog, McAdam’s challenges the idea that gay marriage can’t be talked about at a Catholic University where certain opinions and ideas do not get expressed and that the professor suppressed the student’s opinions.

As a result of his blog post, McAdam’s lost his tenure. This raises the question of is a personal blog protected by first amendment rights? Should he lose his tenure based on what he said?

On McAdam’s blog he posted the letter the university sent him with their reasoning. They said a professor with tenure should respect other’s opinions and exercise appropriate restraint. They also reasoned because he posted the name of the graduate student, she was sent many hate e-mails.

While McAdam’s probably shouldn’t have posted the name of the graduate student on his blog, I do believe it was his first amendment right to say what he did. Any person with a blog is a journalist of some sort and he was reporting what happened. The class discussion was legally recorded and in his blog post was simply calling for a more open debate on controversial topics such as gay marriage. Yet, because Marquette is a private university, they do have the power to censor his speech more as opposed to a UNC professor.

There’s a fine line between professional and personal freedoms, one I think will continue to be blurred as my generation joins the workforce. For most of our school aged lives we’ve been on the internet creating content and expressing our ideas. I’ve always been taught (especially in this class) to express myself and my opinions. Never once have I feared being kicked out of the university for something I posted online. So should a job have the right to censor what someone can and cannot say off the clock? People tend not to think of the consequences of their actions, but I believe people also deserve the right to express their opinions without fear.

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