Tag Archives: FAU

FAU Faculty Support Academic Freedom (Restrictions Apply)

By James F. Tracy

Are faculty at FAU and universities across America pristine embodiments of integrity and truth? Do they support a flourishing of scholarly perspectives, or are they political ideologues who carefully police their own ranks?

Flashback to Spring 2013: A liberal instructor and Democratic Party activist is under fire by conservative groups for a classroom exercise that at least one student claimed was offensive to his religious faith. He put in a kick and local media leapt on the event. After an outcry in the blogosphere FAU administrators responded apologetically to the student and public, stating instructors would never repeat such an experiment with students. Even Florida Republican Governor Rick Scott, ever the opportunist, responded by chiding FAU administrators.

This was the famous, “Stomp on Jesus” incident, where FAU instructor Deandre Poole, an African American, was carrying out an exercise published in a widely-circulated communication studies textbook that asked students to write the name “Jesus” on a piece of paper, then see if they could draw themselves to drop the paper to the ground and place their foot over it.

After the incident was called out by conservative groups and Poole received death threats there was an outpouring by progressive left faculty members, students and community members, who placed pressure on the administration to defend Poole by publicly demonstrating in defense of  “academic freedom.”

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James Tracy Returns to FAU

Plants Flag on Boca Raton Campus

The two articles linked below discuss former FAU Professor James Tracy’s lecture in FAU Political Science Professor Marshall DeRosa’s April 5, 2018 Issues in American Politics class. Tracy presented a roughly 75-minute presentation on “The CIA and the Media.” The discussion was based on information from 1970s Congressional hearings and subsequent historical treatments of the phenomenon, which Tracy argued continues to this day. The presentation was followed by about 50 minutes of addressing questions from students.

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Through Jaundiced Eyes: Palm Beach Post, Sun-Sentinel’s Hardcore Bias in TracyvFAU Coverage

What Would Fair and Balanced Journalism Have Looked Like?

By James F. Tracy

The Palm Beach Post and South Florida Sun-Sentinel’s overall coverage of the December 2017 TracyvFAU trial looks as if it could have been written by the Defendant University’s “Department of Media Relations.” Post and Sun-Sentinel managements recognize how FAU’s multitude of advertising dollars is a key  support in their erroneous and uncritical reportage of complex public events and broader operations. With the trial each outlet skewed its reportage and editorial commentary to heavily favor the school, thereby securing for their client a positive verdict in South Florida’s court of public opinion.

One need look no further than the Post and Sun-Sentinel‘s article titles to gather an overview of the TracyvFAU’s editorial thrust:

-“Trial To Begin for Fired FAU Professor, Conspiracy Theorist James Tracy,” Sun Sentinel, November 27, 2017

-“Ex FAU Professor, Conspiracy Theorist James Tracy, Testifies about Firing in Free Speech Case,” Sun Sentinel, November 30, 2017

-“FAU Professor James Tracy Claims School Fired Him for Sandy Hook Rants,” Palm Beach Post, November 30, 2017

-“Ex-FAU Prof on Trial Tries To Downplay Attack on Sandy Hook Parents,” Palm Beach Post, December 1, 2017

-“FAU Prof Wasn’t Fired Because of Sandy Hook Blog, FAU Official Testifies,” Sun Sentinel,December 4, 2017

-“Christie: Tracy-vs-FAU More about Arrogance Than Free Speech, Insubordination,” PalmBeachPost.com, December 5, 2017

-“FAU Prof James Tracy’s Firing ‘Wasn’t a Surprise’ to Him, University Officials Say,” Sun Sentinel, December 5, 2017

-“What It Was Like in the Class of FAU’s Conspiracy-Spinning Professor,” Palm Beach Post, December 8, 2017

-“Claims against FAU by Sandy Hook Denier Headed To Federal Jury Monday,” Palm Beach Post, December 8, 2017

-“Jury Rules against Fired FAU Prof James Tracy in Free Speech Case,” Sun Sentinel, December 11, 2017

An editorial by Palm Beach Post opinions editor Rick Christie, arguing that the content of Tracy’s speech and disbelief in government-endorsed conspiracy theories make him “arrogant.”

In fact, the papers pulled their reporters from the courtroom entirely when crucial testimony was given by Professor Tracy’s colleagues and fellow union officers giving the lie to the central argument of FAU’s million-dollar defense—that Tracy consciously violated a school policy rigorously adhered to by all other faculty and employees.

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CIA and the Corporate Media: The Case of Kurt Eichenwald

Known For Partisan Attacks,
“Deeply wired into the intelligence community”

By James F. Tracy

Yet another harbinger of corporate news media’s continued demise is evident when a familiar mainstream journalist with admitted ties to US intelligence agencies plays covert roles in the issues and events he claims to report objectively on. The case of Kurt Eichenwald suggests how the CIA’s famous Operation Mockingbird is alive and well in the twenty-first century.

On December 16, 2015 FAU administrators terminated this author on pretextual grounds. Less than 24 hours beforehand the same school officials received an inflammatory email from Newsweek‘s Kurt Eichenwald, among the internet’s most avid gun control advocates and anti-Trump crusaders who boasts of being “deeply wired into the intelligence community.”

In the query, one of thousands of emails produced by FAU during discovery, the fiercely partisan Eichenberg more than subtly pressures the FAU administration on Tracy’s public speech concerning the Sandy Hook massacre event, further suggesting that Tracy is mentally ill, guilty of criminal harassment, and may pose a legal liability to the university.

Newsweek Reporter Kurt Eichenwald. Image Credit: YouTube

Eichenwald’s email was received by the university’s chief public affairs officer and immediately forwarded to FAU President John Kelly, General Counsel David Kian, and Provost Gary Perry. Perry forwarded the email to Associate General Counsel Lawrence Glick and Vice Provost Diane Alperin. Less than 24 hours thereafter Alperin informed this author he would be fired.

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The Death of Academic Freedom

Prof James Tracy Denied First Amendment Rights by Federal Court

By Vivian Lee*

Global Research
American Herald Tribune
JamesFetzer.Blogspot &
OffGuardian

On December 11, 2017, in a serious miscarriage of justice, a jury in West Palm Beach, Florida, ruled unanimously in favor of Florida Atlantic University and against former Media Studies Professor James Tracy, who was suing for reinstatement after his firing in 2016. The jury found that Tracy’s “controversial” articles on Memory Hole Blog were not a “motivating factor” in his firing, the only question they were required to consider. Of course, Tracy’s posts at “his conspiracy theory blog” were indeed the reason he was fired, but the jury was convinced otherwise by FAU’s legal team with assistance from the judge. The case centered around Tracy’s writings on the anomalies found in the reporting on the Sandy Hook “massacre” of December 14, 2012. His skepticism about the event was not to the liking of the university.

Palm Beach PostJames Tracy with his attorney Louis Leo IV arriving at federal court. Image: Palm Beach Post.

FAU maintained that Tracy was not fired from his tenured position because of his blog posts, but because he did not follow the “rules” set out by “his bosses” at the government-run institution. FAU attorney G. Joseph Curley insisted that Tracy was not denied his First Amendment rights, but that he simply did not follow university procedure. “Professor Tracy doesn’t follow the rules,” Curley told the jury. “They’re rules that everyone else follows. He doesn’t play by the rules.” FAU cast the case as one of a “belligerent,” rebellious,” and “nonconformist” employee being let go for “insubordination,” instead of that of a tenured professor exercising his right to free speech.[1]

Atty G Joseph Curley Palm Beach PostFAU attorney G. Joseph Curley: “I could not be happier for FAU.” Image: Palm Beach Post.

FAU’s current “rules” require that faculty submit forms listing “outside activities” to be vetted for administrative approval, whether the activities are compensated or not. Tracy and other professors at FAU had argued that the policy is vague and confusing, constituting a form of prior restraint forbidden by the First Amendment, and leading to a climate of “fear and uncertainty” among the faculty. Aside from the fact that “outside activities” can reach into all aspects of a professor’s life and therefore be difficult if not impossible to list, such activities must not be subject to bureaucratic approval. And certainly, no tenured professor can be fired for not filling out a form, even at Florida Atlantic University.[2]

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Florida Professor Stands for Free Speech

James Tracy files lawsuit against university that fired him, union that failed to defend him

Dave Gahary
American Free Press

Dr. James F. Tracy, one of this nation’s top media analysts, gained national notoriety for daring to publicly question the mainstream media and government view of the Sandy Hook Elementary School event. He recently filed a wrongful termination lawsuit against 19_20-Floride_Professor-300x231Florida Atlantic University’s (FAU) board of trustees, several board members and university administrators, and the Florida Education Association and United Faculty of Florida, two unions. Tracy alleges that FAU violated his rights to due process, free speech, and academic freedom when they fired him earlier this year.

The 49-page lawsuit reveals in great detail how Tracy was harassed, harangued, hated, and even hunted for having unconventional opinions on several alleged mass shootings. In other words, Tracy espoused views different from those offered by the mainstream-media/government complex, whose insistence on condemning all differing views has rapidly spread to the world of academia, which is supposed to be a place where students are encouraged to open their minds to all possibilities. The lawsuit asks that Tracy be reinstated to his tenured employment at FAU, with full restoration of all benefits and lost wages, compensatory and punitive damages, and costs and disbursements for the lawsuit including attorneys’ fees.

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“The Truth About Tenure in Higher Education”

National Education Association
American Federation of Teachers

[Editor’s note: The National Education Association and American Federation of Teachers are the highly politicized parent organizations (e.g. here and  here) of the United Faculty of Florida (UFF). The UFF is the same faculty union FAU Professor James Tracy belonged to at the time of his termination by FAU administrators on January 6, 2016. Tracy was of UFF-FAU chapter president in 2009-2011 when the FAU administration summarily fired five professors in the university’s College of Engineering (here and here). Perhaps coincidentally, the following essay was directly referenced in Lenny and Veronique Pozner’s inflammatory December 10 article published by the South Florida Sun-Sentinel that appears to have prompted Tracy’s firing. Today few US faculty actually challenge the status quo, and thus one could make the argument (which NEA/AFT counter below) that tenure may have merely become the guarantee of a handsome sinecure that guarantees the institutional continuity of politically innocuous schools of thought and overall ideological conformity .-JFT]

aft-hillary
NEA and AFT have enthusiastically endorsed Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign. Image Credit: American Federation of Teachers

You may well have heard about attacks on tenure and college faculty. After all, people write books and get quoted in the press grinding this ax. The argument is not hard to believe, either; we’ve all seen people in authority, private and public, who care more about protecting themselves than serving their customers. You may have memories of a teacher who didn’t seem to keep up with his or her subject or care very much about his or her students.

But there’s a big problem with the negative polemics about tenure: They are not true. This NEA-AFT Online brochure deals with some of the myths about tenure and responds with the facts. It tells the truth about tenure — a human institution with flaws — but a practice we can be proud of and need to maintain.

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Prof. James Tracy’s Termination in Light of Orwell’s 1984: If all records told the same tale

David Mathisen
The Mathisen Corollary

George_Orwell_press_photo
Image: Wikimedia Commons

But to trace out the history of the whole period, to say who was fighting whom at any given moment, would have been utterly impossible, since no written record, and no spoken word, ever made mention of any other alignment than the existing one. At this moment, for example, in 1984 (if it was 1984), Oceania was at war with Eurasia and in alliance with Eastasia. In no public or private utterance was it ever admitted that the three powers had at any time been grouped along different lines. Actually, as Winston well knew, it was only four years since Oceania had been at war with Eastasia and in alliance with Eurasia. But that was merely a piece of furtive knowledge which he happened to possess because his memory was not satisfactorily under control. Officially the change of partners had never happened. Oceania was at war with Eurasia: therefore Oceania had always been at war with Eurasia. The enemy of the moment always represented absolute evil, and it followed that any past or future agreement with him was impossible.

The frightening thing, he reflected for the ten thousandth time as he forced his shoulders painfully backward (with hands on hips, they were gyrating their bodies from the waist, an exercise that was supposed to be good for the back muscles) — the frightening thing was that it might all be true. If the Party could thrust its hand into the past and say of this or that event, it never happened — that, surely, was more terrifying than mere torture and death.

The Party said that Oceania had never been in alliance with Eurasia. He, Winston Smith, knew that Oceania had been in alliance with Eurasia as short a time as four years ago. But where did that knowledge exist? Only in his own consciousness, which in any case must soon be annihilated. And if all others accepted the lie which the Party imposed — if all records told the same tale — then the lie passed into history and became truth. “Who controls the past,” ran the Party slogan, “controls the future: who controls the present controls the past.”

— George Orwell, 1984 (pages 31-32 in the Signet reprint of the 1949 hardcover).

If all records are made to tell the same (lying) tale, then the memory of the past can be altered for the purposes of exercising control over others. Drawing a veil over the memory of the past, and imposing a false picture of the past in its place, is a tremendously powerful weapon — as George Orwell dramatizes in 1984.

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James Tracy on The Real Deal w/ Allan William Powell

The Real Deal
Media Broadcasting Center

Screen Shot 2016-02-22 at 8.58.07 PMFormer Florida Atlantic University tenured professor James Tracy presents additional information and observations on his 2016 termination during the first hour of this February 19, 2016 webcast of The Real Deal with special guest host Allan William Powell.

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The Subtle Mechanics of Unfree Speech Revisted

“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.

too-much-to-think“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. 

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