US professor suspended for defending free speech

A political science professor in the United States has been suspended for supporting a student’s right to free speech.

Professor John McAdams wrote a blog criticising a teaching assistant who forbade a student from discussing his opinion on same-sex marriage in her class.

The news comes as assurances from the UK Government have been made that new anti-terror legislation will not curb the free speech of university Christian Unions.

Typical’ liberal tactic

Prof McAdams, of Marquette University in Wisconsin, objected after reports that a teaching assistant had told one of her students that opposition to gay marriage is ‘offensive speech’.

The assistant suggested the student drop out of the course, stating that “homophobic comments” would not be tolerated.

In a blog post, the professor, who has been at the university for 37 years, said she was “using a tactic typical among liberals now”.

Marginalised

He said: “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 professor quoted political commentator Charles Krauthammer’s statement that: “The newest closing of the leftist mind is on gay marriage”.

Krauthammer also said that to oppose gay marriage is “nothing but bigotry, akin to racism. Opponents are to be similarly marginalized and shunned, destroyed personally and professionally”.

Indoctrination

Prof McAdams concluded: “How many students, especially in politically correct departments like Philosophy, simply stifle their disagreement, or worse yet get indoctrinated into the views of the instructor, since those are the only ideas allowed, and no alternative views are aired?”

Colleagues expressed concern about the decision and one wrote to the university president saying that: “The incident has a chilling effect on all members and staff”.

In the UK, Home Secretary Theresa May has stated that Christian Unions and other “genuine” and “well-intentioned” university groups will not be caught by changes to ‘anti-terror’ plans.

Centrality of free debate

Critics had opposed the changes, which would have demanded that speakers have their material vetted before talking to university groups.

The Christian Institute welcomed the Home Secretary’s comments but said the issue was not yet over.

Deputy Director for Public Affairs Simon Calvert said: “We will continue to watch developments and analyse the final guidance to see that the Government follows through and that our concerns are properly addressed.”

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