Sunday, July 08, 2018

Wisconsin university ordered to reinstate a professor in a freedom of speech case



The Wisconsin supreme court has ordered the Jesuit school Marquette University to reinstate a professor John McAdams after he wrote, on a personal blog outside of the university, a post critical of a student professor who had asked another student to drop her philosophy class when the student disagreed with her on allowing gay marriage.  This all happened four years ago.  The lead story of the recent opinion is here.

  
The opinion is here.  

The original blogpost is here. There is a long thread of posts about the court case, including issues like whether the other professor should have been named. 
  
This all seems fairly complicated and would take some time for me, at least, to unscramble.  But I wanted to note my own past history with “conflict of interest” over speech in the workplace, for example here and the complicated case that occurred when I worked as a substitute teacher, described July 27, 2007 on this blog, or here.  I also have a legacy essay on the problem dating back to 2000 here
  

Before the advent of modern social media (especially Facebook, once open to everyone) I had said that persons who have direct reports in the workplace or underwriting or discretionary authority over others in the workplace should not self-publish on their own without supervision or gatekeeping, because this could unintentionally lead to hostile workplace risks.  I’ve also described the “conflict of interest” in the 1990s when I was developing a book on gays in the military but working for an insurance company that focused on selling to military officers.  We resolved that with a corporate transfer and relocation in 1997, after merger.
   
 But an important part of McAdams's case seems to be the fact that academic freedom of speech outside of work was guaranteed by contract, which would not always be the case in the situations I take up in my essays. My own situations have never been litigated, but if they had been, they would have gotten complicated. 



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