Tag Archives: academe

Oberlin College Must Post $36 Million Bond After Losing Defamation Lawsuit

Moves to Forestall Property Seizures As Freshman Class Arrives

Editor’s Note: Small Ohio-based Oberlin College is being hit with a substantial monetary judgement that its attorneys argue may put it out of business. The lawsuit was the response to a smear campaign Oberlin administrators waged against a locally-owned bakery over a shoplifting incident where three black Oberlin students attacked the store’s shopkeeper. The students  pled guilty to the assault and subsequently acknowledged that race played no role in the event.   

MHB readers may recall how in 2016 Oberlin College suspended and eventually terminated Assistant Professor Joy Karega after a US-Israeli organization initiated its own smear campaign targeting Karega for her social media commentary and memes critical of Israel’s foreign policy and  links to ISIS.  


Featured Image: Judge John Miraldi reads punitive damages verdict][Photo credit Bob Perkoski for Legal Insurrection Foundation

Oberlin College ordered to post $36 million bond to delay Gibson’s Bakery collection of Judgment

William A. Jacobson
Legal Insurrection
(July 24, 2019)

The compensatory and punitive damages of $25 million (after reduction for tort reform caps), plus the over $6.5 million in attorney’s fees and costs, put Oberlin College almost $32 million in debt to Gibson’s Bakery and its owners.

Absent some judicial action, the next step would have been for the Gibsons to execute on the judgment, meaning start collecting the money through post-judgment remedies, such as seizing bank accounts and physical property.

Oberlin College, which intends to appeal once post-trial motions are over, obviously doesn’t want its bank accounts, computer equipment, and er, Dean of Students’ office furniture, seized just as the freshman class was arriving. So Oberlin College filed a motion for a stay of execution of the judgment until such time as it can appeal and obtain an appeal bond.

We covered the parties’ arguments for and against in our prior post, Gibson’s Bakery: “there is serious concern about [Oberlin College’s] ability to pay this sizeable judgment three years from now”. Gibson’s Bakery devoted much of its opposition to arguing for a bond on the basis that Oberlin College was in poor financial shape:

More…

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Thank You For Helping to Defend the First Amendment

We Need Your Continued Support

In 2016 James Tracy and the Florida Civil Rights Coalition (FCRC) filed a federal lawsuit against Florida Atlantic University (FAU) for its unlawful termination of Tracy’s tenured professorship of 14 years.

Professor James Tracy Florida Atlantic University 2015 Faculty Profile. Source: WebArchive

The essence of the case revolves around the fact that FAU trustees and administrators disapproved of Tracy’s political views, expressed on his personal blog. They therefore utilized an unconstitutional prior restraint (“Outside Employment Policy”) barring Professor Tracy’s right to free speech as the basis for his dismissal. Moreover, to this day these very officials continue to use the same policy to limit university faculty and employee expression.

In 2017 a hostile court dismissed most of TracyvFAU’s First Amendment claims, ruling in favor of FAU and its administrators, and barring crucial evidence in advance of the case ever going to a jury.

Anticipating such a setback, the FCRC successfully engaged a prominent national law firm which, recognizing the case’s  significance, brought the lower court ruling before the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals.

In June 2019 the Eleventh Circuit’s panel of judges granted the case oral argument. Such a hearing is less-than-common at the federal appellate level. TracyvFAU is scheduled to be heard the morning of September 19, 2019 at the Elbert P. Tuttle US Court of Appeals Building in Atlanta Georgia. We are uncertain of the judicial outcome, but are grateful that the case is under review at this momentous level.

The James Tracy Legal Defense Fund wants to thank all of you for your moral and/or monetary support along the way. Because we have taken on a state agency with unlimited resources, there is no way we could have endured this fight for over three long years without you.

Yet our work is not finished.

Continue reading Thank You For Helping to Defend the First Amendment

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The FAU Press Advisor Who Came to Dinner

Some Reflections on the Long Lost Chum I Barely Know

By James F. Tracy

I recently noted that an unknown party was linking somewhat inflammatory and misleading articles focusing on this author to my Facebook profile. After doing some modest investigation I came to find that the individual behind the posts was none other than Michael Koretzky, the self-appointed press advisor to FAU’s student newspaper, University Press (UP).

This was not the first time Mr. Koretzky’s blog posts came to our attention. In 2015 a colleague remarked that Koretzky was  attacking me on his various social media sites, sometimes camouflaging the diatribes under various nom de plumes. After being the focus of so many broadsides by major media outlets, however, I dismissed the commentaries out-of-hand as likely ill-informed, amateurish, perhaps even dishonest. Only time would prove me correct.

The Press Advisor Who Came to Dinner

A fitting narrative to describe Koretzky’s two-decade long affair with FAU is Moss Hart and George S. Kaufman’s 1939 Broadway play, The Man Who Came to Dinner. The story centers on an obnoxious showbiz personality invited to sup with a prominent midwestern family as a publicity stunt.

Upon his arrival he injures himself on the family’s icy front steps and insists on taking up residence in both their both home and lives to recuperate. As the story goes, the radio host never leaves, soon threatening the family with litigation for his fall, or should they dare seek an outright eviction. 

Promotional poster, 1942 film adaptation of The Man Who Came to Dinner

For two decades Koretzky has been the self-appointed press advisor to FAU’s UP,  run out of Florida Atlantic’s student union and funded by student government fees. A self-proclaimed proponent of the First Amendment and press freedom, Koretzky worked as a freelancer, founded a handful of publications, and presently operates a personal finance website, Debt.com. In 2004 Koretzky was accused by FAU’s student government of ethical violations stemming from his involvement with the UP, and fined several thousand dollars. 

Undeterred, he returned to the student paper shortly thereafter. An active member of the Society of Professional Journalists, Koretzky, 53, has become an undeniable presence in the national student press community, further honing his persona as news industry businessman masquerading in Che Guevara chic among student journalists.

From this perch he descends upon various college press conventions to fire off self-deprecating one liners while levying savage critiques of fledgling journalists and their newspapers, a practice comparable to shooting half-dead fish in a barrel. 

 

Continue reading The FAU Press Advisor Who Came to Dinner

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Trump to Sign Executive Order Promoting Free Speech at Universities

(BDS & Lawmakers’ Criticism of Israel Excepted)

President Donald Trump has announced at this week’s CPAC conference that he will soon issue a Presidential Executive Order requiring universities across the US to uphold free speech on their campuses or be prepared to lose federal funding.

“Today I am proud to announce that I will be very soon signing an executive order requiring colleges and universities to support free speech if they want federal research dollars,” Trump said.

Yet in early February the Republican-controlled US Senate passed legislation allowing state governments to refuse to do business with companies that boycott Israel. The bill passed, 77-23, with 22 Democrats and Republican Rand Paul dissenting; Paul rightly argued that the legislation threatens free-speech rights.

As MintPress News observes,

The most controversial part of the bill by far is the “Combating BDS Act of 2019,” which would authorize state and local governments to retaliate commercially against entities that support BDS, such as by halting business with or refusing to contract or hire companies or individual citizens who either actively participate in or support the movement. A previous version of the bill included possible jail time as punishment for supporting a boycott of Israel or Israeli settlements, their violation of international law notwithstanding.

The legislation, which attests to the power of Israeli’s lobbying prowess, has yet to be voted on by the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives.

Along these lines, in 2011 former Georgia Representative Cynthia McKinney explained that US lawmakers must swear allegiance to Israel or face inevitable expulsion from public office.

Minnesota Democratic Congresswoman Ilhan Omar incurred the wrath of the American Israeli Political Affairs Committee in February when she similarly suggested how the US Congress is beholden to the Israeli lobby. AIPAC used the incident to embark on a mini-fundraising venture.

Since 2004 the US Department of State includes a “Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism.” If taken literally, the State Department’s definition of anti-semitism effectively bars any public criticism of Israeli foreign policy toward the Muslim world and occupied territories. This definition is applicable to the speech and activities of the BDS movement on US college campuses.

Boycotts of certain businesses and even countries is part of a long tradition of nonviolent political protest in the United States, contributing to, for example, the demise of South African apartheid in the 1980s.

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JFK, Mass Media, and the Origins of ‘Conspiracy Theory’

Prefatory Note on Censorship in Academe

This study was written in 2013-14 as part of my academic research as Associate Professor of Media Studies at Florida Atlantic University. I have had numerous papers addressing news coverage of historical events published in academic journals over the past two decades. However, this was the first attempt to offer a scholarly treatment of a research object related to a conspiracy–how the news media “framed” New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison’s JFK assassination inquiry.

When I presented the paper at the Association For Education in Journalism and Mass Communication Montreal Conference in 2014 the panel respondent congratulated me on what he deemed to be a very well-researched and written manuscript. He further remarked that it was at most a draft or two away from submission for editorial review at a scholarly journal. I was also confident the study would eventually achieve publication. 

The paper was subsequently rejected by five journals out-of-hand. The editors refused to even send the paper out for review, which never occurred to me before. Notably, each editor provided a different reason for not wanting to give it further consideration. What is more, three of the venues had published my work in previous years. The paper nevertheless offers a timely contribution to understanding the historical origins of the term “conspiracy theory” and its development from perhaps the most momentous event in 20th century American politics.

This helped me to further realize how despite celebrated notions of unbridled inquiry and academic freedom, certain subjects so historically central to the nation’s history in fact remain taboo among academics–those entrusted by society to research such matters–vis-á-vis their counterparts in professional journalism, with both camps still proceeding in tacit agreement to police the boundaries of permissible discourse and thought. -JFT


Introduction

“It appears that certain elements of the mass media have an active interest in preventing this case from ever coming to trial at all and find it necessary to employ against me every smear device in the book.” –Jim Garrison (Playboy 1967)

The news media’s failure to interrogate and question the “the lone assassin” theory by the 1964 Presidents Commission on the Assassination of President John F. Kennedy, otherwise known as the Warren Commission, should be recognized as one of the greatest episodes of journalistic misconduct in US history. The mass media have played a pivotal role in the coverup of the Kennedy (JFK) assassination that they unabashedly practice to this day. New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison’s investigation of the November 22, 1963 event was the first substantial challenge to the official narrative. The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) countered Garrison’s efforts by calling upon its media assets to directly attack, defame, even sabotage the inquiry.

(AP Photo/David Goldman)

From this episode the CIA developed one of its most potent psychological weapons against political dissent: the “conspiracy theory” label. Over its 50-year lifespan the label has time and again demonstrated its effectiveness in policing the public sphere by calling into question the credibility and even the sanity of journalists, academics, or any other public figure that dares question authorized myths for the masses.

Continue reading JFK, Mass Media, and the Origins of ‘Conspiracy Theory’

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James Tracy Files Reply Brief in Free Speech Appeal

Florida Civil Rights Coalition
(November 17, 2018)

Miami, Florida – Attorneys for James Tracy, a tenured journalism professor fired by state university officials in retaliation for his constitutionally protected personal blogging, have filed a reply brief in the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit.

Professor Tracy’s initial appeal brief is available here.

To view Appellee Florida Atlantic University’s response brief click here.

Tracy was a distinguished tenured faculty member in FAU’s School of Communications who taught journalism history, communication theory, and courses on the media’s coverage of conspiracy theories. Tracy received awards for his work, regularly earned excellent reviews, and was a former president of the FAU faculty union.

Despite Tracy’s outstanding academic record, FAU fired Tracy in retaliation for controversial posts he made on his personal blog questioning the legitimacy of the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre. In January 2016, FAU terminated Tracy’s tenured professorship, falsely claiming he had been “insubordinate” for failing to disclose his blogging activity under its conflict of interest outside activity Policy.


Additional PDF documents on TracyvFAU available at TracyLegalDefense.org 

See also:

Legalizing Pretext: How an American Public University Conspired to Beat the First Amendment

TracyvFAU: A Very Dangerous Precedent

Palm Beach Post Spins TracyvFAU Appeal

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Trump Derangement Syndrome: The View From My Facebook Account

Anti-White Male Professors Gone Wild

Fake News Media Push ‘Radical Scholars” Buttons

Warning: Extreme Profanity

The bizarre and unfounded allegations of Palo Alto University Professor Christine Blasey Ford concerning Supreme Court nominee Brent Kavanaugh is causing an acute outbreak of Trump Derangement Syndrome (TDS), a particular type of behavioral disorder caused by the nationalistic, politically incorrect, and often irreverent US presidential incumbent.

This specific manifestation of TDS is evidenced as outrage over Kavanaugh’s alleged 36-year-old high school exploits, in contrast to his outstanding academic qualifications and professional achievements. Despite the profuse number of holes in Blasey Ford’s testimony and her deep state pedigree, even the very highly-educated Left embrace her without reservation.

Continue reading Trump Derangement Syndrome: The View From My Facebook Account

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