“Our own FAU handbook says an employee may be terminated for questionable conduct, professional or personal,” trustee Robert Rubin said. “And what Professor Tracy said wasn’t?”
But making comments that are embarrassing to a university is not grounds to fire a tenured professor, said Robert Shibley, senior vice president of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, which advocates on free speech issues.
“Professors are citizens, too. They have the right to espouse various ideas, even if they’re controversial, as long as it doesn’t impact their teaching and their students.” -Scott Travis, “It’s That Professor Again: FAU Egghead Who Doubted Newtown Massacre Questions Boston Bombing,” South Florida Sun-Sentinel, April 24, 2013, A1.
“The Subtle Mechanics of Unfree Speech” first appeared at MHB on November 10, 2013, exactly two years before Florida Atlantic University administrators began threatening Professor James Tracy with disciplinary action for constitutionally-protected speech on his personal blog. The observations below have a special resonance in light of not just the scrapping of Dr. Tracy’s tenure and livelihood, but also more recent developments, including calls by Israel government officials to censor and suppress the free exchange of ideas on social media.