Tuesday, January 12, 2016 by Norman Smith
In an apparent violation of academic freedom, Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton has fired a tenured professor who is also known to be a Sandy Hook truther. The professor, James Tracy, claimed on his blog that the Sandy Hook massacre was staged, and also that the Boston Marathon bombing and San Bernardino shooting were fake, as well.
Officially, he was not fired for stating his beliefs, but rather, for failing to submit the required paperwork pertaining to outside employment or professional activity, which is what his blog was apparently considered to be by his university. He also publicly accused parents of Sandy Hook victims of faking their children’s death certificates, sending one couple a certified letter demanding proof of their parentage. Although Florida Atlantic did not cite that as a factor in Professor Tracy’s termination, being a douchebag like that was arguably detrimental to his case.
Another academic who has gotten into hot water for his Sandy Hook beliefs is Jim Fetzer, a professor emeritus at the University of Minnesota at Duluth (UMD). Fetzer is a well-known advocate of conspiracy theories, ranging from the JFK assassination to the Beatles “Paul is Dead” thesis to 9-11 being an inside job. As with Professor Tracy, Fetzer’s personal blog is linked to his university web page, which has resulted in some controversy.
“Faculty, including faculty emeriti, are protected by the Regents Policy on Academic Freedom and Responsibility, according to Andrea Schokker, executive vice chancellor of academic affairs at UMD. The policy protects the freedom of creative expression and to speak or write on matters of public interest without institutional discipline or restraint. That comes with the responsibility to make it clear that one isn’t speaking for the institution, she said.” However, Fetzer has been criticized for not making that clear enough.
Fetzer also ran into trouble with Amazon’s print-on-demand publishing arm CreateSpace, which deleted Fetzer’s book on Sandy Hook from its catalog, leading to charges of censorship. Although this practice is apparently allowed by CreateSpace’s author contract and has been exercised on other occasions[4,5,6], the question of whether or not such incidents are ideologically motivated remains unsettled.
As does the question of Professor Tracy’s dismissal.