Florida Atlantic University associate professor of communications James Tracy infuriated the public with his conspiracy theories about the Sandy Hook massacre and is doing the same with the Boston Marathon bombing.
In each instance, he claimed that the events as we know them may not have happened and were perhaps staged using crisis actors. Despite the suffering that he has caused to victims’ families, the poor example he has set for his students and the damage that he has done to the university’s reputation, Mr. Tracy continues to blog unabated.
He and his supporters quickly reference his First Amendment right to express his ideas. Ideas, they proclaim, lie at the heart of the academic pursuit. What James Tracy does not understand is that ideas represent the end product of the intellectual process. Before they can be publicly espoused, ideas must be subjected to rigorous and intensive examination. Academics test ideas to prove their worth; commentators simply state them. Academics expose their theories to other academics; conspiracy theorists blog them to each other. Academics build on a rich intellectual tradition, people like James Tracy spin tall tales out of nothing.
James Tracy should not resign from FAU because he has upset people or brought shame to the university. He should resign because he is not an academic.
JEFFREY S. MORTON
Editor’s note: Jeffrey S. Morton is a professor of political science at Florida Atlantic University. Patricia Kollander is chairwoman and professor of history at Florida Atlantic University. Thomas Wilson is a professor of sociology at Florida Atlantic University.
Florida Atlantic University associate professor James Tracy has taken academic freedom and freedom of expression to the lowest level. What bothers me is the amount of attention this teacher is getting from the press.
While I understand that the press likes “man bites dog” stories, isn’t it better to ignore such lunacy? This teacher and, for that matter, many academics believe that their rights should never be challenged. As a faculty member at FAU, I find it difficult to accept that nobody can question our attitude, particularly with reference to teaching.
Unfortunately, society at large is quick to associate this sort of teacher with FAU, even though Mr. Tracy’s blog has nothing to do with FAU. They pass judgment that the FAU faculty is all nutty. It is not true; there are lot of us who care about society and the message we send to students and the community.
If academics continue to insist on freedom that supersedes basic common sense and care for the world we live in, there won’t be any tenured professors. Do not tar the name of FAU because of some idiot exercising his freedom. The press should refrain from paying attention to this sort of news. Do us a favor and marginalize this idiot.
Editor’s note: Ramaswamy Narayanan is a professor of biology at Florida Atlantic University.
Take a breath,
give FAU a break
I finally took a breath after gasping at Florida Atlantic University’s repeated hits by the media (“West spars with FAU students.”) It drove me to search for that illusive “infallible universities” list. No success.
I was honored to be captain of the first Miami Dolphins cheerleaders, the Dolphinettes, the year the Dolphins went undefeated and won the Super Bowl. The Dolphinettes were FAU students, resulting from the mutual adoption of FAU by the Dolphins and FAU’s adoption of the Dolphins. FAU was instrumental, as a then-little-known university affiliating with a then-little-known football team, in allowing the Dolphins to train at FAU.
The community needs to continue to make its voice heard, and FAU decision-makers need to continue to listen. After all, FAU is more than a student body; it incorporates our community. So while FAU’s medical school continues to build its own legacy, and until someone produces that “infallible universities” list, let’s not give FAU a permanent black eye. Instead, let’s all take a breath.
BARBARA A. UR
West Palm Beach
Best years in U.S.
are long gone
In the letter headlined “Gay marriage letter outdated, offensive,” the writer asked if we were aware that this is 2013 and not the 1950s. Is she referring to the 1950s when you could still pray in school, when the Ten Commandments were displayed, when Christmas was Christmas and Easter was Easter, when there was no profanity or nudity on TV, when corporal punishment was not child abuse, when abortion was not an acceptable form of contraception, when work was preferred to welfare and when we, as a country, could afford our debt?
The period from 1946 to 1966 was one of the best 20 years in the history of our country. Today, just about everything that people want to change is a “civil right.” Pretty soon, we will have unisex public bathrooms, because we want everybody and everything to have “equal protection under the law.” We have been on the decline for years.
West Palm Beach
Article about MS
painted dire picture
Regarding “The Mouseketeer with MS,” I found this article about Annette Funicello to be negative in the extreme and a great disservice to those who are suffering from MS.
Although there is no cure for this debilitating disease, many people with MS are nevertheless managing the disease very well and leading normal lives. This article left people who suffer from MS with the impression that there is no hope, no solution and nothing to live for which could, and has led to suicide.
MS is made worse by inflammation, which is exacerbated by poor dietary choices. I wonder if the letter-writer has explored the dietary link to inflammation? If she were to go to the website www.cleancuisineandmore.com, she will discover practical information that could alter the course of her MS in a positive way. A follow-up article by The Post emphasizing hope and helpful information would do a service to MS sufferers and their loved ones.
Palm Beach Gardens
Cerabino omits key
points in phone plan
Regarding Frank Cerabin’s column “Rubio feels ObamaPhone pain,” I am always amused by Mr. Cerabino’s hatchet jobs on Republican politicians and other conservatives. In this column, he makes one of his major points with a misrepresentation of facts.
Mr. Cerabino says: “The government doesn’t offer free phones. It continued to offer what it had in the past, a $10-per-month discount on service.” Under the “Lifeline Assistance Program” for cellphones, a qualified participant receives a free cellphone and 250 free monthly minutes, which is partly funded by a charge on your cellphone bill identified as “Federal Universal Service Charge.” My charges for March totaled $3.13. If one multiplies $3.13 by the number of cellphone users paying the Federal Universal Service Charge, the result is a rather significant cost of this program.
A recent government survey of those participating in this free phone and service program indicated that 41 percent of those surveyed either did not qualify or did not respond to the survey. To my knowledge, the results were not covered by The Palm Beach Post, but were included in an article in The Wall Street Journal.
Does Frank Cerabino ever apologize for any of his misrepresentations used to chop up Republicans and/or conservatives?
Port St. Lucie
Clever writing captures pols switch
Frank Cerabino’s column comparing cicadas to Sens. Marco Rubio’s and Bill Nelson’s change of heart regarding immigration and homosexuality was a beautiful piece of imagery. The comparison is really clever. Do we have to wait another 17 years for another brainstorm from them? Kudos to Mr. Cerabino.