JFK authors defend John McAdams as Marquette seeks to fire him

John McAdams
John McAdams

John McAdams is a walking test of the First Amendment.

The Marquette political science professor is an obnoxious, persistent climate-change denier with a passion for attacking skeptics of the official theory of JFK’s assassination and smearing “liberals” for supposedly suppressing free speech. He is, in a word, an ass, an independent-minded donkey of a scholar with a thin skin and bad manners.

Once upon a time, he tried to accuse me (and this website) of supposedly suppressing his JFK opinions, an argument that he had to abandon when I welcomed his anti-conspiracist views on the site (within the capacious limits of the site’s comment policy).

I didn’t ban McAdams’s comments, as some readers demanded, because, for all his faults, he has a deep knowledge of the historical record of the JFK story, and because I thought (and think) that publishing his opinions serves the site’s goal of — and the public’s interest in — the fullest possible debate of the causes of JFK’s assassination.

Now Marquette is seeking to revoke McAdams’s tenure for a characteristically boorish attack on a colleague, and the community of citizens interested in the JFK assassination story is divided about whether to applaud his dismissal or defend him.

In a Jan. 30 letter to McAdams, Marquette dean Richard Holz makes the university’s case. In a blog post published last November, McAdams attacked a graduate teaching assistant who told an undergraduate that his views opposing gay marriage were not welcome in her classroom. Relying on a surreptitiously recorded conversation between the student and the teacher, McAdams accused her of “totalitarian” behavior. As a predictable result, the graduate student was bombarded with abusive, threatening comments. She felt so threatened she transferred to another university.

Holz wrote:

“Instead of being an example of academic excellence and competence as a tenured, senior faculty member, your inaccurate, misleading and superficial Internet story lacked any measure of the due diligence we expect from beginning students.”

“Instead of being a mentor to a graduate student instructor learning her craft — including how to deal with challenging students — you took the opportunity publicly to disparage her, in a manner that resulted in her personal safety being put at risk, and you did so without knowing key facts surrounding the events about which you wrote.”

JFK Scholars Weigh In

Joan Mellen
Joan Mellen

Joan Mellen, a Temple University literature professor and author of several JFK books who abhors McAdams’s views on the JFK story, wrote in an email:

“My feeling is that we have to defend and protect John McAdams, precisely because he is incorrect and wrong. The test of the first amendment is that it must protect repellent speech, views that are wrong, and even disgust us. That even includes racist views, as the ACLU argued in its defense of the Klan in Skokie.”

Peter Dale Scott, emeritus professor at University of California, wrote, “to take away his tenure seems to me like gross overkill, possibly for reasons having to do with a heavily bureaucratized Catholic hierarchy.”

Joining Mellen in defense of McAdams are David Talbot, founding editor of Salon.com and a JFK author, and Jerry Policoff, former executive director of the Assassination Archive and Research Center in Washington DC. (The AARC has not taken a position on McAdams.)

Lisa Pease, an independent JFK scholar, approves of McAdams’s dismissal, saying Marquette’s letter shows that he is “to put it very gently, wrong” to claim he is the victim of “political correctness.” Len Osanic, a producer of a YouTube video series on the JFK case, wrote, “They finally got Al Capone through income tax. They finally got McAdams because of his attack on a student teacher. It is a total joke to forgive him for all the shit and slander he has caused. His attacks of the JFK research community should not be overlooked.”

“Hand the obnoxious bastard over to ISIS,” wrote Walt Brown, another JFK researcher.

The Bottom Line

Marquette is within its rights to act as it has, given its stated tenure policies. Holz was careful to say that McAdams was being dismissed not for his opinions, but for his irresponsible and uncollegial behavior. But just because Marquette has the right to dismiss McAdams doesn’t mean it should.

I’m with Joan Mellen, Peter Dale Scott, and David Talbot that he should not be fired. His unprofessional defense of an unpopular opinion while attacking a colleague is cause for disciplinary action, not revocation of tenure. Repeated instances of such behavior might be cause for revocation of tenure but Marquette has not alleged that McAdams has engaged in such conduct before. At a minimum, he deserves a warning. His views on the JFK case are irrelevant to the principle at stake.

As Mellen wrote, defending wrong-headed opinions “is the only way we can keep the First Amendment healthy enough to defend all of  us, and whatever we have to say.”





98 thoughts on “JFK authors defend John McAdams as Marquette seeks to fire him”

  1. This entire episode is absurd and impertinent to the important work of JFK researchers. It’s one thing to issue a factual response to well-regarded and credible authors (e.g., Posner, Bugliosi), as James DiEugenio exemplifies with his book “Reclaiming Parkland,” but it’s another thing entirely to waste one’s energy on a disreputable attention-seeker acting in bad faith. Furthermore, as Lisa Pease effectively notes in this comments section and in the follow-up to this post, Mr. Morley and some of his fellow researchers seem to conflate McAdams’ unchallenged right to comment on the Kennedy assassination with his desire to publicly shame his students and coworkers. The two have nothing to do with each other, and Mr. Morley’s attempts to link the matters in broad first amendment terms prove flimsy at best and contrived at worst. I deeply respect Mr. Morley and the work he does. This site is an invaluable resource for researchers and casual readers alike, but it’s a shame he’s chosen such an unreliable and ill-intentioned person to promote as his foil. It hurts this site’s credibility to focus any attention on McAdams. He’s not, as Mr. Morley asserts, a critic whose arguments must be addressed. The arguments he’s made have been addressed and debunked ad infinitum. McAdams is a juvenile blogger who egregiously distorts the historical record, omits critical and documented facts, and resorts to name-calling as a substitute for informed discourse.

  2. and the script includes the phrase “no credible evidence” since the WC. They all use it-Belin, Willens, Bugliosi, Posner).

    Of course, if one did not explore a certain issue (i.e., FBI and CIA did not use their Cuban experts to dig into the exile community) and those potential sources then go “cold” (i.e., killed-think of all of the killings during the mid-1970s) then is it is hard to find “credible” evidence.

    But even if a researcher manages to dig up previously unknown or unrecognized evidence, they immediately disparage or dismiss it.

    Unfortunately, the main stream media (except for Jeff) seem incapable of evaluating such new evidence on their own without being told by the apologists why the evidence is not credible.

    It doesnt seem to matter to the MSM that there is not one iota of PHYSICAL evidence to put LHO on the sixth floor at 12:30 firing that rifle. Some one else may have fired it, but there is no physical evidence putting his finger on the trigger at 12:30. The case is based on circumstantial evidence that was riddled with chain of custody problems, inadmissible testimony (Marina) that even if admissible would have had to be given little weight due to its unreliability.

  3. A bit more thought on this matter, and a review of some very current news matters, has convinced me of the following:

    Marquette’s attempt to fire John McAdams is no more or less a matter of suppressing free speech than is NBC’s decision to suspend Brian Williams for 6 months without pay.

    In my opinion, each institution is perfectly justified in doing what they have done. In fact, if this is all that happens to Williams, he’s getting off very easy.

  4. It’s obviously terrible what happened to McAdams colleague, as result of how McAdams treated her. I don’t look at this as a “Free Speech” issue(although I suppose it is), but more as that of a college educator publicly trashing a colleague of the same college. For that alone, it’s time to quit the “warnings” and send the man packing. I agree with Osaic and Brown, but I wouldn’t go so far as to use the wording they did.
    As for him being a contributor to the discussions here, the only real problem I have with him is when he trashes evidence of my comments. He wants me to prove I’m not making up what I say, so I do..and still he isn’t satisfied. What gives, John???

    1. Paul

      They have a list they utilize to ensure anyone reading your post will find your post questionable in its validity. First they attack the logic of your argument. If that does not work, they demand proof of your evidence. Next, your personal qualifications are called into question. If none of those are enough to shut you up, a course of personal derision is then followed, sometimes ending with you being labelled a drug addict or child molester. The mission is to keep a lid on this whole CT thing, regardless of what it takes.

      Makes you wonder what motivates these people, doesn’t it.

  5. Marquette has as much right to dismiss McAdams as the U.S. Senate had to censure Joe McCarthy. The man is a slander artist. It’s one thing to behave that way on a site like this where a lot of us post anonymously, but having singled out a much younger colleague by name and having used the Internet to spread what it would seem were highly inaccurate reports of what she said and did, thereby tacitly encouraging others to harass her — well, dismissal seems to me an entirely just outcome.

    Incidentally Jeff, I do not agree with your allowing McAdams to post here. I think a sensible idea would be to deny him the ability to comment on the site, while posting something that states why this is the case, and directing people to his own website. I would display such a notice as prominently as possible, and post regular notices encouraging others to go to his site for a more, shall we say, conventional view of who was responsible for JFK’s murder. Given that so many of his posts simply give links to his own site, you really wouldn’t be denying him much.

  6. Before my musings on the issues of “free speech” above are taken as frivolous arguments, consider these further points:

    First and foremost speech, whether written or spoken is an action. It is actually actions that are properly judged by law, not thoughts.

    So to look at the “crying fire” angle from another perspective; consider the situation where someone hits a Fire Alarm in the hallway of a hotel. If there is no real fire, and this action is done as a “prank” which causes panic and a response by firefighters and other emergency personnel; the action of causing all of this will be deemed an unlawful act. There will be no mention of “freedom of expression” or any other such argumentation. It is the action that is judged to be harmful.
    . . . .
    One more example here:
    Are threats to be judged under the auspices of speech or action?

    Certainly a threat can be made verbally or as a written message. But a threat can also be made by the direct action of physical posturing. This type of threat is called “assault”. As is well known, in jurisprudence, “assault & battery” are two separate crimes. ‘Assault” is a physical threat of reaching towards in an aggressive manner, of getting to close to another’s space. One can be charged with assault whether battery ensues or not.

    So to recap, assault is an action, a type of threat. Like the issues involving fire, it is not a matter of ‘speech’ but of action which is judged as dangerous or punitive.

    To sum up, crying “fire” is first and foremost an ACT. By framing this act as a matter of “speech” is to lend to the problems we are already discussing here; whether it is ‘speech’ itself that is dangerous, or action and intent.

  7. Is the restriction of yelling “fire” in a crowded theater really a matter of restricting free speech?
    If there really is a fire in the theater then yelling fire is not a crime. Therefore the crime is not in the act of yelling fire, but in the danger ensuing of a panicked crowd. A crowd is just as likely to panic in a real fire, whether someone yells out that there is a fire or not. Intent is the key to the matter as in all accusations of crime. A person may actually believe there is a fire when there is none.
    I don’t think it is a restriction of speech but a restriction on acting with bad intent in any aspect.

    I think framing the issue as one of restricting free speech is a dangerous one, that can lead to other excuses to restrict free speech.

    Do we not see hints of this very thing happening here on this forum?

  8. This is all very bizarre.

    Years ago I was in a graduate history program and working as a teaching assistant.

    It is hard to imagine a situation in which a professor would get a student to tape record an interaction with a teaching assistant and then use that to smear them on the internet.

    That doesn’t sound like a “free speech” issue to me, but one of professional ethics or lack of….

    1. So far as I know it hasn’t been established that anyone got a student to tape record anybody. There’s a tendency in these discussions to accept assumptions and allegations as proven fact.

  9. The First Amendment is the most important Constitutional right we have as American citizens, which is why its the FIRST amendment. However, no right is unqualified and each right is subject to reasonable restrictions (even the 2nd Amendment but that is for another post!).

    Thus, not every utterance is protected. Not only can one not yell fire in a theater (as Lisa Pease as pointed out) but speech made with malicious disregard of the truth or accuracy of its content is not protected. For example, S&P tried to shield its fraudulent ratings that helped bring about the Mortgage Crisis tried to hide within the safe harbor of the First Amendment.

    It seems that this is not a free speech issue but more a question of violations involving workplace environment. I never have understood why teachers and professors think they are so special to need unique rules for their expressions of their personal beliefs. Seems that these rules make bullies like McAdams feel free to give into their worst instincts.

  10. As I have previously posted a significant part of the Marquette action against Professor McAdams is based on AAUP standards that the organization has already stated do not apply in this case.As such , while that may have no bearing in a academic hearing it would certainly be a significant factor in a legal proceeding.
    If he is dismissed the University will never allow a lawsuit to go to trial and risk losing contributions from alumni, poor publicity and the very real chance that they would lose the suit. Dr. McAdams can secure excellent legal representation for next to nothing, while Marquette may have to spend millions to defend the suit. If he needs support for legal representation there are literally thousands of people who would contribute to a legal fund.
    Including me.

    1. photon, you need not worry about being tapped.

      The attorney representing John McAdams is Rick Esenberg, an adjunct professor of law at Marquette and founder of WILL, Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty. Prior to his post at Marquette Prof. Esenberg for ten years was Vice President and General Counsel of Rite Hite Holding Corp. With all due respect to Prof. Esenberg, some here might be concerned with the history of Rite Hite as the subject of close scrutiny during the 2012 elections in Wisconsin. According to this story in the Milwaukee Journal/Sentinel:

      “The firm [Rite Hite] employs an estimated 1,400 people worldwide.
      In his email, [Mark] White [founder and president] said neither he nor the company wanted to “prejudice any employee for their political views and totally respect your right to vote as you choose. I am simply trying to present the facts as I know them and to protect the business you have helped build! Please think carefully about your vote on Nov. 6.”

      “White did not return several calls and an email requesting comment. He is . . . a member of the board of directors for the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty, an organization that “advances the public interest in the rule of law, individual liberty, constitutional government, and a robust civil society.” The article continues,

      “State law may prohibit email such as the one White [Esenberg’s boss] sent to employees. The law states: “No employer or agent of an employer may distribute to any employee printed matter containing any threat, notice or information that if a particular ticket of a political party or organization or candidate is elected or any referendum question is adopted or rejected, work in the employer’s place or establishment will cease, in whole or in part, or the place or establishment will be closed, or the salaries or wages of the employees will be reduced, or other threats intended to influence the political opinions or actions of the employees.”

      According to a report at AlterNet, a similar letter was sent to employees of KOCH INDUSTRIES:

      “AlterNet has obtained the online textbook for the Menards [building supply company] civics course. The third part of the textbook, subtitled “American Job Security,” imparts a message similar to the letter sent by Koch Industries CEO Dave Robertson to retirees and employees of the company’s Georgia Pacific subsidiary, as well as the e-mail sent to employees of Rite-Hite, a Milwaukee equipment manufacturer, by company owner Mark White, ”

      All of this occurred on the heels of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s strategy to paralyze efforts to stabilize and promote labor rights in his state. (anyone interested in the history of the John Birch Society might refer to the extended history of the National Association of Manufacturers and their notorious union busting activities.)

      According to records, Koch Industries is a significant donor to Marquette University where Prof. Adams has been an associate professor for decades, [dismissal pending.]

  11. I really think McAdams gives no more to the JFK debate than, say, Goebbels gave to the the argument about World War 2 – I really feel that strongly because McAdams is sociopathically dishonest. He is adept at the propogandist technique of dropping falsehoods in such a way as to make them seem credible – by making blatantly false statements that are difficult, in the moment, to verify and which sound, on the surface, quite reasonable. So I’m with Lisa and Pat on all of this.

    1. Exactly how has he been sociopathically dishonest? Exactly what falsehoods has he posted on this site?
      It is one thing to disagree with someone; it is an entirely different matter to make unsubstantiated claims simply because you cannot impeach his statements with clear,unambiguous evidence. For heaven’s sake, a large percentage of his critics claim that Dr.McAdams is a CIA operative – principally because many CT believers can’t accept that an intelligent and educated man could come to believe the LN version of events.

          1. Jean, why are we spending time on John McAdams’ professional history at Marquette? Because it relates to his extensive influence over the Kennedy assassination debate, exposes his pattern of at the very least obfuscation of facts, and brings to bear the bullying tactics he has engaged in here.

            Are you disquieted by the facts as they surface ever so slowly on Jeff Morley’s website? I certainly would be if for instance Jeff Morley’s professional integrity were being legitimately challenged and my faith in his research was being eroded.

            These issues are interrelated, and this your comment is a perfect example of your persistent compartmentalization of facts at the expense of an overall factual assessment of what happened on 11.22.63.

            Might this house of cards be crumbling.

  12. Dean Holz’s letter to McAdams sounds much like you’d expect. As he writes: “Similarly, by leaving out any reference to Ms. Abbate’s follow-up class discussion in which she acknowledged and addressed the student’s objection to gay marriage, you (McAdams) created a false impression of her conduct and an inaccurate account of what occurred. You either were recklessly unaware of what happened in the follow-up class, or you elected not to include these facts in your Internet story.” Sounds just like the JFK disinformationist John McAdams, doesn’t it? What’s new?

  13. I hope a hive mentality does not gain momentum here. Is there a suggestion that because some, having studied the events in detail, agree with Marquette’s decision that is indication he or she is not a strong advocate of the First Amendment? If we are researchers, some of us amateur, then shouldn’t we research the trajectory of events before weighing in? I see no conversation on this site about what actually occurred with the exception of the comment from Lisa Pease. Why lower the standards that most adhere to when the debate is the assassination? I think there may be an appeal to authority in play, that of esteemed and respected authors – who incidentally I’ve long admired to a person – but that does not excuse failure to shine light on what specifically happened at Marquette.

    1. Leslie, I think Pat Speer’s comment was important in this respect. Jmac was warned specifically at least twice before for doing the same thing. This is not a sport but 3 strikes and your out in the rest of the world beyond academia. Even they seem to support the young lady overwhelmingly. From what I’ve read she was a GA/TA he never met. The subject of gay marriage was brought up as an aside which never became an issue in class.
      But an after class discussion was taped and presented to Jmac.
      Which he commented on publicly and identified her, and has brought her undue harassment.
      I’ve also read the Dean’s and Department Head’s support her as a result of previous dealings with him.

  14. Are they firing McAdams because of what he said or because of the deplorable way the masses at the University reacted to his comment?
    It’s true he should have exercised restraint and professionalism. His age and position should have prepared him how to deal with the situation responsibly and in a measured way. He seems like a jerk and this may not have been his best moment; but he shouldn’t be fired.

    Maybe instead of losing his tenure, he should be forced to sit through some sensitivity trainings, read books on etiquette and basic civility?

    1. I agree, this does not seem like a firing offence to me. Aren’t academics supposed to disagree? This seems like an extreme reaction.

      1. Vanessa, WHAT precisely does not seem like a firing offense? Do you know the facts of what transpired or are you agreeing with Mac Brantley in general – who does not even provide details of the circumstances involved in the McAdams saga? Is yours a knee jerk reaction, an indication of that hive mentality we all seem to deplore yet we’re watching it unfold right in front of our own eyes in real time? Masterful, Prof. McAdams, I must say.

        1. Hi Leslie

          As a one off event I would argue that it seems disproportionate to fire him. However, as part of a pattern of behaviour that he has been repeatedly, officially warned about that is a different matter. It does seem to tip it more into the bullying category than the free speech category.

          1. Vanessa, As I read it this was not a simple case of bullying; speaking from experience on this site, the professor’s bullying never prompted Jeff to dismiss him (nor did it scare me off for what it’s worth), and I doubt seriously Marquette would take the legal risk of filing dismissal proceedings simply because John McAdams is just a big ol’ bully, now or in the past.

            This investigation centered on the falsehoods the professor incorporated into said bullying, so my question to you is “What about the falsehood category?” When you have the time and inclination, Dean Holz of Marquette outlines specifically their issues with the professor that ultimately led to his dismissal. Setting aside the experience of the student in the class, the dismissal had nothing to do with First Amendment rights – let alone those of the professor.

            I argue that if the professor had and continues to have the capacity and the audacity to promote falsehoods to advance his cause whatever that may be – opposition to gay marriage or Lee Harvey Oswald as the lone assassin – then he may have directly and adversely impacted the ‘public’ investigation into the truth behind the assassination of Kennedy for decades . . . as dramatic as that sounds.

          2. Leslie,

            The fact that you disagree with his conclusion that Oswald was a lone assassin doesn’t make it a falsehood.

          3. Jean, I understand that this is disconcerting. A researcher / author recognized by some as an expert in the study of the assassination of John Kennedy has been publicly exposed as a prevaricator.

          4. Thanks Leslie

            You’re right, perhaps ‘bullying’ wasn’t the right word to use as it doesn’t encompass the misrepresentation.

            Was the Prof a bully on here though? I’ve only been on here a short time but I didn’t see a lot of that from him. Obnoxious bad manners, high-handed arrogance, yes, but not bullying. I can think of others that were worse. But it’s possible I missed that, so I defer to your greater experience on this site. To be honest, a lot of his tactics are so transparently obvious it’s hard to take them seriously.

            I do take your point about misrepresentation as a tactic though which is why I wish Mr Di Eugenio (or Greg Parker or some other similar JFK assassination polymath) would come back on here. They have a grasp of the minutiae that a lot don’t (and I certainly include myself in that group) that is needed to combat those methods.

            Is the Prof really that influential? I would have thought that it is more deep state actors that have worked to keep a genuine investigation from happening. I don’t know what it’s like in the USA but outside the research community I would argue that no-one has ever heard of the Prof. By that I mean, that his decades long commentary does not seem to have had any effect whatsoever on public opinion polls concerning the assassination.

          5. Leslie,

            You still haven’t cited a single falsehood McAdams has told about the JFK assassination.

            You haven’t heard his side of the Marquette story here and you aren’t likely to, since his lawyer may well have advised him not to make any public comments, as lawyers often do.

          6. “Is the Prof really that influential?”

            Ask Jeff.

            “On the other hand. JFK Assassination Home Page: The best anti-conspiracy Web site, run by Marquette University professor John McAdams, defends the official story of a lone gunman while presenting a variety of evidence. If you disagree with his conclusions, these are the arguments you have to refute. (HANDLE WITH CARE)”

  15. While “free speech” is certainly a principle that every American ought to cherish, I don’t think the First Amendment applies here. McAdams is not under any threat of government censorship, and Marquette is a private institution that is under no obligation to continue to employ him. If McAdams had written about a fellow employee on a public blog post in similar terms in virtually any other profession, he would almost certainly have been fired.

    1. JD,

      You speak of the “government” here as though “1st Amendment” rights are a product of a grant, and not merely a guarantor of the rights enumerated therein. Such rights are not by grant of government, but are rights of Liberty that predate any pretense to grants thereof.

      To this I would merely remark that the society itself must adhere to such principles regardless of official government declarations.

      1. I’m not exactly sure what you mean by that. My point was simply that the First Amendment forbids the government from restricting the right of free speech; it does not mean that employees of private businesses can say whatever they want without fear of reprisal. (Strictly speaking, the text of the First Amendment only forbids Congress from restricting the right of speech, but the Fourteenth Amendment established that the Bill of Rights applies to governments at the state and local level.)

        Despite that, I would absolutely support McAdams if he were facing penalties simply for expressing his opinions, no matter what they were. I think that there are numerous reasons, both philosophical and practical, why we should support free speech that have nothing to do with the First Amendment or any other law. But I don’t think they necessarily apply to the case of McAdams, who is being penalized for publicly attacking a colleague, not for expressing his opinion. (I don’t think McAdams would have faced similar consequences had he written a similar attack on someone who didn’t work at Marquette.)

  16. You missed it, Jeff. McAdams’ termination has very little to do with his political views, and little to do with freedom of speech. This is the third time he named a student on his blog in which the student was subsequently harassed. The university admonished him for this and he agreed to stop doing this. And then he turned around and not only named a student teacher on his blog, but, in the eyes of the university, LIED about her actions in order to present her in the worst possible light. Teachers are not supposed to harass or cause the harassment of students. Teachers are not supposed to misrepresent the actions of their colleagues, and cause embarrassment to their school, to score political points with extremists. McAdams has the right to say what he believes. He does not have the right to say what he believes, knowing full well that it will lead to the harassment of students presumably under the protection of his employer, and not be disciplined by his employer. That’s just common sense. IF Marquette were to not fire McAdams, AND he were to repeat this behavior a fourth time, the school would almost certainly be exposed to one heckuva nasty lawsuit, and lose. Universities are supposed to protect their students from harassment, even, and especially, if this harassment is coming from or orchestrated by University employees, It’s really very simple.

    1. I think this is the definitive analysis. He was fired because of what he did, not because of what he said. Unless I misunderstand the reasons for tenure, the issue of tenure should not be affected on that basis.

  17. Does this actually rise to the level of First Amendment rights? Or is it a question of the professor’s right to get the facts of a situation wrong, to publish those facts as being accurate conscious of the possibility the outcome would be a verbal mob attack on Ms. Abbate (no wonder she left Marquette … read some of the emails she received) all in the confines of his university employment where rules of conduct are clearly delineated and procedures for complaints against a colleague are firmly in place And what about that surreptitious recording … where is the outcry? and how did it end up with the professor?

    Before determining the First Amendment is under threat, I’ve been reviewing the teaching assistant’s version of events and comparing them to news reports as well as statements by the professor’s legal team on his blog. Obviously the professor has been provided a skilled lawyer in Rick Eisenberg. Review of his professional history suggests he is well connected.

    Ms Abbate appears not to have representation, not that she requires it unless she has chosen to sue the professor or the university. I do think she deserves a voice, so here is a link to her version of events for any who have missed it and are interested in both sides of the story:

    excerpts: “While a one-sided, misleading, and biased account is circulating throughout certain websites (such as Fox News, College Fix, FIRE- all of which simply parrot the original blog post of Associate Professor John McAdams which itself is filled with misinformation), I provided a complete account of what happened to the editor of Daily Nous which can be found here. A further informed discussion about the many ways Associate Professor McAdams misrepresented the recent events and attributed claims to me that I did not make can be found here.

    Q1: Did I tell a student to drop my class if he disagreed with gay marriage?
    A: No. This is a lie that can be traced back to a Fox News opinion piece that has subsequently been parroted by websites with similar agendas. Note that this quote has never been reported as being on the student’s tape recording. I did, however, remind a student of his right to drop my class if he felt he could not abide by my safe-space policy (which is in accordance with Marquette University’s Harassment Policy).
    Q2: Did I tell a student that any objection to gay marriage was homophobic?
    A: No. An accurate report of what I said to the student (and why I said what I said) after class can be found here and here.

    For the record, it’s ironic that I recently commented on three occasions about the press coverage of the Professor’s status at Marquette but my comments have yet to be posted; as I recall, they were benign by standards.

  18. I recognize the importance of tenure. By the same token I can’t understand how Marquette has allowed him to represent them in the fashion he does for 20 years. If they had censured or warned him previously maybe this wouldn’t have happened or his potential firing would be unquestionably justified.
    I never enjoyed being belittled by him on this site and have responded in kind. I also felt as some others obviously do that his comments often needed to be countered in pursuit of the truth.
    I respect tenure, I respect the earned title of Professor, I know several who are upstanding people. When he chooses to publicly disparage others he is representing the University with his own views.

    And there is a history. Read the current stuff but also scroll down to the 1996 article “Online insults put conduct at issue”.


  19. I have known John McAdams for a long time, I consider him a friend. I’ve watched him tolerate Anthony Marsh on his news group for over a decade I believe. If he puts up with Marsh I have to believe John believes in freedom of speech, especially unpopular speech.

    I’m somewhat shocked that a University is taking such drastic steps. Especially a university for gods sake. It seems to me the political correct police storm troopers are are on the attack. And they have done more to harm free speech in America than any modern group.

    1. H.P. Albarelli Jr.

      I’m with Bill Clark, Jeff, Joan, and David Talbot– none of this would be at all interesting or productive without researchers like McAdams. And, of course, I staunchly defend the right of free speech and shun the lock-step community.I want and welcome those people who provoke, anger and force one to really think and begrudgingly admire their positions no matter how wrong I *feel* they may be.

    2. Bill

      Of course McAdams puts up with Anthony Marsh. Marsh would screw up the Lord’s Prayer, if he knew the words. The nonsense coming out of Marsh does far more damage to the CT cause than McAdams could ever dream of inflicting.

      1. Bob Prudhomme February 10, 2015 at 4:10 pm

        I had to chuckle at that one Bob but it is true. I just didn’t think of it that way.

    3. Since Marquette University had publicly outlined their case, and that has nothing to do with free speech, academic freedom or political correctness, I fail to see the relevance of your post.

      1. mitch February 10, 2015 at 4:28 pm

        I think I see why you missed it, Mitch.

        He is being attacked because of what he said. But you think that has nothing to do with freedom of speech or academic freedom. I hear there really isn’t much academic freedom anymore. I think this shows it.

        The whole mess is based on the political correct police. But you think not. Okay.

        Do you think we would have ever heard of this had McAdams been a former Black Panther tenured professor from the Sociology Department? I think not. It wouldn’t have been politically correct. Last I heard Angela Davis was still on the payroll.

        1. Did you read the document from Marquette? I believe Pat Speer has already outlined it here. Their case against McAdams is unrelated to free speech or academic freedom. You’re just wrong. I think Mr. Morley happened to be wrong on this as well – even though he seems to be a real gem of a human being.

          1. mitch
            February 11, 2015 at 5:41 am

            I’m a real gem of a person too Mitch. It is just a lot of people don’t know me.~~

            I wasn’t aware that John had been warned about such things previously. That puts a new light on things and not a good light.

            Tenure or not, you just can’t tell the boss, “screw you”.

    4. “It seems to me the political correct police storm troopers are are on the attack.”

      That’s a despicable analogy. You should apologize. You’re better than that, something you’ll probably realize after a bit of reflection.

      And of course McAdams tolerates Anthony Marsh. The latter provides him with a zeppelin-sized target he can’t possibly miss.

      1. Fearfaxer February 11, 2015 at 9:46 am

        Your right. On reflection I should have used other words and I apologize to anyone I have offended.

        But I have to say, it seems to me that the PC crowd can often be over zealous.

        1. “But I have to say, it seems to me that the PC crowd can often be over zealous.”

          Yes. I certainly agree about that.

        2. Bill, you know that saying “one man can make a difference?” You alone have moved the bar for civil discourse for me, and you’re an Aggie to boot. Twice the merits!

  20. Thanks, very much, Jeff,
    The same principle applies to tenure: universities are itching to fire tenured faculty so that they can hire part-timers & adjuncts, who are paid a pittance and often deprived of benefits. Yet tenure is our only promise of academic freedom, an environment to express any and all ideas in the classroom without running the risk of being fired by administrators, in search of pretexts.The convention of tenure is precious, too precious for it to be undermined by our endorsing Marquette’s stripping McAdams of his. McAdams an insignificant figure in the larger scheme of things, and should of course have been censured, or warned.

    1. That’s an interesting point about revoking tenure to hire part-timers. I had not thought of that or heard it discussed before, Ms. Mellen.

  21. And as for my “anger” at McAdams, I declined to go on Len’s show to talk about McAdams because I don’t enjoy reveling in the misfortunes of others, no matter how deserving.

  22. Willy Whitten – you missed my point. I wasn’t saying McAdams was crying fire in a crowded theater – I used that show that freedom of speech is not – and should never be – an absolute freedom. Every freedom carries responsibilities when one person’s freedom impinged on another.

    P.S. Are you any relation to John Whitten (aka “Scelso”)?

    1. Of course Lisa, I am certainly aware of allegory and the use of metaphor..

      Crying “fire” in a crowded theater is not an abuse of free speech if there is a fire in the theater.

      I am not at liberty to speak to your question as to who my relatives may or may not be.

  23. I can not make a judgement on this issue involving John McAdams on the sketch given above.

    I think free speech is essential to a free society. I think that with the limited knowledge I have of this case that Lisa Pease using the allegory of
    “yelling fire in a crowded theater” is biased hyperbole, by her own personal admission of anger at McAdams.

    Having said all of this, I must also admit that I have found McAdams to be disingenuous, scurrilous, and abrasive, and biased in favor of authoritarian attitudes. I am not so sure I would “defend to the the death” his right to free speech. That sort of delusion has been played out for a few centuries now, and hasn’t seemed to have had much effect on the matter.

    1. Willy Whitten February 10, 2015 at 11:27 am

      “I must also admit that I have found McAdams to be disingenuous, scurrilous, and abrasive, and biased”

      Well Willy, one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter. In my brief dealing with Mr. DiEugino I have found him to also be disingenuous, scurrilous, and abrasive and biased. But I don’t recall any conspiracy theorist here remarking about these shortcomings. So why pick out John McAdams?

      1. “So why pick out John McAdams?”~Bill Clarke

        Well Bill, I would not pick out John McAdams exclusively if I were at liberty to do a more general “picking out”. I find several commentators here to be disingenuous, albeit not blatantly abusive. Subtlety is, as you may well know, much more effective in the long run for an agent of disinformation.

      2. I wish we could cease with the extremism of both sides (Lone Nutters and Buffs as they both derisively call one another) and stick to free exchange of information, with the goal of as much transparency as possible. I don’t think scorched earth policies serve to get to the truth of what really happened, whether you are McAdams or DiEugino, or anyone else for that matter.

        I get a little annoyed at the knee jerk flag wavers and at the knee jerk anarchists, willing to let their purist ideology direct their assumptions. Can we be a bit more professional folks?

        1. “..the knee jerk anarchists..”~Sam

          Well how about deeply considered and well studied anarchists, who are more aptly termed knowledgeable researchers into “forbidden history”?

          1. Willy, Perhaps the reason you are so anti-government is because you haven’t gotten out more and seen other developed countries besides the USA. In Scandinavia, government doesn’t suck. People have a relatively high degree of faith in their public institutions, even if they aren’t perfect and sometimes they still complain. Here in the USA, we don’t even give new moms any real maternity leave. Somalia we ain’t, but we don’t have to be Third World either!

          2. Well said Sam. And if you don’t mind, I would add to your list Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Switzerland, Singapore, Czech Republic and possibly France, Germany and maybe even the Brits (if I have to) :).

            Willy, can you give us one example of your preferred system in action? And if you can’t doesn’t that say something? Either it can’t be done or people don’t want it (or both).

        2. Sam February 10, 2015 at 2:47 pm

          I agree Sam. It isn’t just the assassination groups but as a nation we have become so polarized that it is scary.

          The Left has gone to the extreme and is intolerant. Th right has gone to the extreme and never was tolerant. So we have one big intolerant mess.

          I remember thinking back in the 60s that everything would be fine when we ran the country. Was I ever wrong.

          1. Ronnie Wayne
            February 11, 2015 at 10:53 pm

            “So the left has become intolerant possibly because the right is intolerant in the first place?”

            Oh I don’t think so, Ronnie. I think the left did it mostly on its own. For generations the Left did battle with the Right without becoming as intolerant as the
            Right so why now? When I was young the Left was the party of tolerance and understanding; Civil Rights, the social programs of the 60s, freedom of speech and so many other good things. They were my party. They were the party of Texas since not many Republicans could be elected in Texas since Reconstruction.

            So what happened to the left? I blame it mostly on the political correct movement the Left took to their breast somewhere around the Clinton administration. That and a steady decline in America of common good sense it seems. I have no doubt the movement started out with noble intentions but like so many movements it lost its way. It started as a movement to improve tolerance in America; the movement itself today is intolerant as all get out. They have become the very thing they formed to do battle with.

            Kennedy, Johnson, Clinton did good things for America. I can’t think of one good thing Obama has done for America.

            I think the Tea Party is a grave danger to America. They kept the Dufus Rick Perry in office much too long and gave us the dangerous Cruz in the Senate. I’d hate to see the Left become such a danger.

          2. Hi Bill 🙂

            I know we are not supposed to talk off-topic but do you really mean that about Obama?

            How about his completely innocuous healthcare bill that is taking some steps towards the safety net for the disadvantaged that every other wealthy western country has had for decades?

  24. Didn’t Professor McAdams also try to tar an ideological opponent online (not on this site but on another) of being a child molester? This site seems to say he did: http://www.prouty.org/mcadams/faq.html
    If true, that’s pretty damning behavior, much worse than what he allegedly did to the student as mentioned above.

    McAdams’ behavior is more like that of a classic bully, but bullies exist on both sides of this debate over the JFK assassination. The scale is not the same: the major difference is that the McAdamses and Photons seem to have the mainstream media on their side, as well as most of the US government when they defend the tattered old Warren Commission version of what happened. It still feels like the major media cannot accept any serious questioning of the WC Report even today. It reminds me of the lead up to the Iraq War in 2002/03 when our government and mainstream media argued that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. Those questioning that assertion were outsiders and a few brave insiders like Joe Wilson.

    1. ” Why, of course, the people don’t want war. Why would some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best that he can get out of it is to come back to his farm in one piece? Naturally, the common people don’t want war; neither in Russia nor in England nor in America, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy or a fascist dictatorship or a Parliament or a Communist dictatorship.
      Gilbert: There is one difference. In a democracy, the people have some say in the matter through their elected representatives, and in the United States only Congress can declare wars.
      Göring: Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country.”

      Reichsmarshall Hermann Goering, Nuremberg, April, 1946

  25. Striking the balance in this particular instance I agree is a conundrum. I would not claim to have the right answer, perhaps there is not one. Do we support a possibly overly draconian punishment because it harm’s one who has so gleefully harmed others known to us despite the spirit of free speech? I do not support a warning as prior suggested, I support a full investigation of his entire record and then a reasonable and feasibly heavy judgment should be made. If he is not fired so be it. I just do not wish to see people in their desire for historical vengeance to seek the easy target at the cost of all our rights of speech. Hated speech must be protected or all that shall be left to suppress is cherished speech in my view.

  26. Jeff,

    While I’m glad to see that you and others defend John McAdams’ first amendment rights, I don’t see how many of the comments in your post could have possibly passed the “civil” requirement of your comment policy. No doubt further insulting, personal attacks on McAdams will be submitted here shortly. Is that really what you want?

    1. Its my site, Jean. I’ll say what I want.

      Nothing I wrote about John is inaccurate and, as everybody here knows, I’ve been more than fair to him. And you know it too. That’s why you spend more time commenting on my site than on his.

      1. I wholeheartedly agree with you, Jeff, and I imagine the bosses at Marquette are saying, “It’s our university and we don’t need the whole continent telling us how to deal with our professors.”
        Tenure my butt, every job I’ve ever had, I had to work hard and learn how to get along with people. No room for spoiled brats throwing tantrums where I worked.

  27. I would hate to see McAdams get rich on law suit and I miss his roll as devil’s advocate that expands the debate. There is nothing more fun then proving John and Posner wrong.

  28. Bullshit, Jeff.

    The first amendment does not give you the right to yell fire in a crowded theater. It does not give you the right to slander or libel. It is not an absolute right.

    It does not give you the right to break the rules of a university that demand from their professors a level of decorum that is looser than what you’d find in the business world. McAdams would have been fired in a hot second in private industry years ago for his boorish behavior.

    He tries to intimidate anyone who disagrees with him and has resorted to calling people drug users or pedophiles to scare them out of arguments.

    This is NOT a free speech issue. And this has NOTHING AT ALL to do with the JFK case. This is about whether free speech should be stretched to protect those who lie about others.

    I don’t want THAT kind of freedom of speech.

    This is about whether a university has the right to set rules for behavior that are enforceable. I believe they should. I believe students need protecting from exactly the kind of person McAdams is: one who would scare the weak from debate, whose followers would make death threats against someone who disagrees. This is like protecting a Nazi in Germany.

    I do not agree with this. I know McAdams intimately after my five years of all-night arguments with him online. His behavior should never have been welcome in any workplace, much less an institute of higher learning.

    1. Right on, Lisa! You ever run for President, you have my vote. Oops, wait a minute, I’m Canadian and can’t vote there. Ever thought of running for Prime Minister? 🙂

    2. Count me in for defending John McAdams on the basis of free speech. Just because folks don’t like what McAdams has to say is no reason to fire the man especially because he has tenure. Although I will say the concept of tenure is pretty stupid to begin with. But if you are going to have tenure, truly the offense must be incredible to justify firing someone. McAdams justifiably embarrassed another professor(or was it assistant professor).

      “I know McAdams intimately after my five years of all-night arguments with him online” – that is your problem, engaging with McAdams for 5 years on the internet.

      This is a classic academic witchhunt case of a liberal establishment trying to shut up an obnoxious conservative. If we can protect Nazis marching in Skokie, then how about McAdams at Marquette??

      And furthermore, how many JFK researchers have they tried to throw in the trash can over the decades?

      1. Anonymous Contributor

        If anyone really believes that this is a question of freedom of speech, please read the letter from Marquette’s dean: https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B4jS38HQ3f8dSDhNX1FQRnlpcTQ/edit?pli=1 . He lists McAdams’s previous violations of university policy, and points out that “you have been asked, advised and warned on multiple prior occasions not to publicize students’ names in connection with your blog posts.” On two previous occasions “the harmful consequences of your unilateral naming of students were pointed out.” In the latest case, not only was McAdams’s blog post “materially false and misleading,” but “after your blog posts were made and the hateful emails ensued, you gloated that your conduct would negatively impact Ms Abbate’s opportunities in the future.”

        It is not McAdams’s freedom to express his laughably authoritarian opinions that is at issue, but his history of bullying and intimidation: “your conduct creates fear in your colleagues and students that their actions and words will, at your unilateral ‘discretion,’ be put on the internet in a distorted fashion … faculty members have voiced concerns about how they could become targets … based upon items they might choose to include in a class syllabus.”

        If anyone’s actions are having the effect of closing down discussion and limiting freedom of expression, it is those of McAdams himself.

        1. I read that Dean’s letter. After reading it, although I too felt initially that Professor McAdams’ first amendment rights were being threatened, I began to re-evaluate my position. I now think his “expression” looks a bit more like another old Wisconsinite, Senator Joseph McCarthy, whose red-baiting character assassination hurt and destroyed many people’s careers. At what point should we allow someone to defame or defraud another person professionally? Congress finally censured Senator McCarthy for his abusive speech. It sounds like McAdams may have gone too far by making personal slander a part of his attack, not just a friendly philosophical argument where a fellow gentleman disagreed. It’s beginning to look sleazy, the more facts that begin to emerge.

        2. You make a good case, Anonymous Contributor. As a one off event I don’t think it justifies sacking but as part of a pattern of repeated behaviour that has been formally raised with him as unacceptable, it’s a different matter.

        3. “you have been asked and advised and warned on multiple prior occasions not to publicize students names”. That’s the crux of the matter to me.
          I’ve nothing to hide but would not want my privacy invaded as the young lady’s was.

    3. S.r. Dusty Rohde

      I will agree with Lisa in this instance. Freedom of Speech does not mean “Speech without consequence”. We are responsible for every statement, or every question we ask, be it truth, lie or hypocrisy. In each instance, there will be consequence (or perhaps Karma) for our actions. John McAdams has no exception to this rule, no matter his cry, “foul”, foul and fool should not be equated.

  29. Would John McAdams support Joan Mellen if she were to find herself in similar straits? I doubt it. That’s reason enough to take the high road. I applaud her integrity and steadfast commitment to the first amendment. Would that we all find it in ourselves to live up to her example.

    “We do not do these things because they are easy, but because they are hard.” No one on this site needs a reminder of the identity of the paraphrased.

    1. What integrity is there in denial of free speech. I don’t like the guy much, either, but he defended the right of her student to speak out. I’ve never understood totalitarianism, but it looks like this “university” has a lock on it.

      1. Susan, please read it again. I applauded Joan’s integrity for defending McAdams, despite her personal feelings towards the man.

      2. Susan Klopfer, I don’t know how closely you have studied the facts of this story. The professor is not under threat of dismissal because he defended the student.
        see: https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B4jS38HQ3f8dSDhNX1FQRnlpcTQ/edit?pli=1

        According to this, the investigation exposed the following tactics used by the professor that contradicted the ethical and professional standards established by his employer.:

        “critical information was stated falsely and/or omitted . .”
“Similarly, by leaving out any reference . . ”
“you created a false impression . . “
 you elected not to include these facts . . ”
“ . . again you elected not to include . . ”
“ you ignored, the fact . . ”

        Initially these JFK authors as well as Jeff Morley argued that the professor’s First Amendment rights were being violated, yet facts were readily available to seriously (and I think persuasively) challenge that assertion. How did the lines become so blurred on jfkfacts. Who was fact checking this story. Certainly John McAdams’ free speech rights were never threatened at jfkfacts, so why isn’t he using this forum to step up on behalf of all who allege Marquette to be a totalitarian institution?

        John Kirsch, formerly a frequent participant here has done an excellent job placing this in context in a recent post on his new site dedicated to researching the researchers.

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