An OU law professor and associate dean wrote in a 2014 book that women should not wear pants and gay marriage is “insanity,” among other controversial views. Though his faculty member status is protected under academic freedom, an expert said his administrative position may not be.
Brian McCall, an OU law professor, associate dean for academic affairs and associate director of the OU Law Center, is editor of Catholic Family News and has also contributed to The Remnant newspaper and the International Fatima Rosary Crusade. The Southern Poverty Law Center has classified these organizations as anti-Semitic hate groups.
The Daily published a Sept. 9 story about McCall’s involvement with Catholic Family News. The publication is classified as a hate group largely due to its former editor, who made anti-Semitic remarks at conferences and in writing, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center’s website.
McCall’s 2014 book “To Build the City of God: Living as Catholics in a Secular Age,” was published about a month after McCall was appointed to associate dean for academic affairs. The book contains McCall’s views regarding parts of his traditionalist Catholic beliefs about gender roles, same-sex marriage, education, politics and economics.
In a chapter of the book called “Modest Contact With the World: Women In Pants and Similar Frauds,” McCall stated that women are obligated to hide their natural curvature by wearing skirts.
“Women must veil their form to obscure its contours out of charity towards men,” McCall wrote in the chapter. “To know that women in pants have this effect on men and to wear them is thus a sin against charity as well as modesty.”
McCall wrote that no woman or girl in his family is allowed, nor desires, to wear pants. Research provides evidence that pants on women draw a man’s eye to her “creative sanctuary,” he stated, and skirts better encapsulate the “modest restraint” that all women should have.
“... if there is something really impossible to do in a skirt, does this not indicate this is an activity inappropriate for a woman to perform?” McCall wrote. “A simple test of modest and feminine behavior can be summarized: if you can’t do it modestly and gracefully in a skirt, you shouldn’t do it at all.”
On men’s fashion, McCall wrote that men should dress in a way that mirrors their “station of authority” and should never look sloppy.
McCall wrote in the chapter “Authority In the Household: With All My Worldly Goods I Thee Endow” that women’s entering the workforce has lowered the price for labor and has hurt families financially. He calls a woman’s leaving the home to work “another false promise of the devil come to pass.”
The chapter also states that it is a man’s duty to vote, not a woman’s, though the man may take her beliefs into consideration when casting his vote.
In the chapter “Marriage — It’s Natural: Natural Law Arguments in Defense Of Marriage,” McCall wrote that marriage’s first goal is procreation and that same-sex marriage is “insanity.”
“A society that cannot distinguish between a marriage and a perversion of nature has lost all grip on reality,” McCall wrote in a later chapter.
McCall also wrote about his views on education, including his disdain for a “think for yourself” education instead of a classical education based on theology and philosophy. McCall wrote that forms of African-American and women’s and gender studies are “nonsense subjects” that liberals use to distract from tradition.
“Why is Dante’s Divine Comedy a classic and not an obscure black woman’s scribbling of a ditty in sub-Saharan Africa?” McCall wrote. “Why is Latin a ‘classic’ language and not Ebonics of South Los Angeles? With such questions as these they long ago ripped Latin out of our ... schools.”
In a chapter about politics, McCall wrote that separation of the Catholic Church from the state was “reaping its bitter fruits” and that the only solution to the ills of modern government was Catholicism.
He also stated that the United States Constitution is a product of the errors of Enlightenment liberalism. The divine and natural law will always outweigh human law, McCall wrote, and public opinion and majority should not be used to determine what is legal.
“The most deadly viruses are the following: That sovereignty comes from the people and is delegated to the government by them ...” McCall wrote. “The only sovereign in any political system is Christ the King.”
The OU Board of Regents’ academic freedom policy states that faculty members have full freedom to research and publish what they like, as long as the work does not interfere with university duties.
The policy also states that faculty should avoid speaking for the university when acting as private individuals — McCall previously told The Daily that his work with Catholic Family News is not affiliated with his university position.
However, academic freedom does not protect McCall’s status as an administrator, said Cary Nelson, a University of Illinois professor emeritus and former president of the American Association of University Professors.
The American Association of University Professors helped to craft the 1940 Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure, from which OU’s academic freedom policy is derived. Nelson frequently writes articles about academic freedom.
“As a faculty member, (McCall is) covered,” Nelson said. “Academic freedom protects him from any reprisals. The problem is that he’s an administrator, and those statements are still protected, but there is one form of sanction that he’s not protected against, and that is removal from his administrative position.”
This is because administrative positions are codified as “at-will employment” and hold different responsibilities than regular faculty, Nelson said.
“When a faculty member gives an opinion, a faculty member is speaking for himself or herself, not for the university,” Nelson said. “An administrator is always a representative of the university in addition to being a faculty member.”
Academic freedom gives faculty the right to teach their classes any way they desire, unless the in-class information directly contradicts the faculty member’s area of study. The example Nelson gave The Daily was that a history professor couldn’t be a Holocaust denier.
However, Nelson said McCall’s views about the Constitution and separation of church and state are opinion and completely protected under academic freedom. But Nelson said these views are likely problematic for McCall’s administrative position, especially since OU is a state institution.
The Daily reached out three times to McCall, once by phone and twice by email, and received no comment.
After The Daily asked OU Public Affairs for a comment on the views expressed in McCall’s book, interim Vice President for Public Affairs Erin Yarbrough said university employees had certain rights under anti-discrimination laws.
“The university must uphold First Amendment rights for everyone. Personnel matters in this area require the expertise and independence of our (Equal Employment Opportunity) office and general counsel,” Yarbrough said. “They often involve a detailed and complex legal review to ensure a result that guarantees the protection of an employee’s rights under the anti-discrimination laws and the protections of the Constitution.”
The “acknowledgements” section of McCall’s book states that many of its parts first appeared in Catholic Family News and The Remnant.
Nelson said he thinks McCall’s association with Catholic Family News alone could be grounds to remove McCall from his administrative position.
“I can tell you at my own school, the University of Illinois, (McCall) would be out,” Nelson said. “He’d be gone in a day.”