(From filmmaker Adnan Zuberi* who suggests the following deserves a place on this blog)
Two notable professional academic publications examine disciplinary measures taken against James Tracy for media attention given to articles appearing on memoryholeblog that questioned the official Newtown narrative.
Updated April 6, 2013
The First Amendment / Congress Shall Make No Law sculpture takes up a northwest corner of the Culture & Society Building on Florida Atlantic University’s Boca Raton campus overlooking the Free Speech Mall. The artwork reminds the FAU community of the relatedness of free speech and association to a free society. The Culture & Society Building is home to the Departments of English, Languages and Linguistics, and Sociology, the School of Communication and Multimedia Studies, and the Living Room Theater complex.
After the nine day media frenzy over my public observations that the Sandy Hook School massacre likely didn’t transpire as the news media reported, I was left to ponder whether anything productive came out of the “news” production where I reluctantly played the starring role. Unfortunately, after many news cycles the public remains as much in the dark on the specifics of the shooting as it was on December 14th. This should be expected as major media proceed with coverage that sensationalizes events and defames individuals while leaving readerships and audiences largely uninformed.
Another example of this phenomenon that has hit close to home involves Deandre Poole, a colleague in my department at FAU. Like me, Poole has been placed up on the media scaffold and vilified, his livelihood and personal welfare threatened mainly as the result of a news media that is far more concerned with provocation than enlightenment.
In the wake of the Sandy Hook School shooting public incredulity with the official version of events led to numerous speculations on what really happened. In short order corporate media marshaled pundits to disparage such alternative interpretations as “conspiracy theories” and the work of deranged and even malevolent Sandy Hook “truthers.”
The now-prevalent phenomenon where only the narratives authorized by law enforcement and government authorities are worthy of serious consideration suggests the unmistakable extent to which public discourse has declined. In such an ideational system journalists and academics are expected to either fall silent or perform the rearguard action of deflecting criticism from the state.
(Originally received January 22, 2013)
Dear Dr. Heather Coltman and Dr. Diane Alperin,
I have examined Professor James Tracy’s writings regarding the Newtown, Conn., massacre and I am briefly presenting a case-study to you on how a university can deal with this situation. I was awarded by the University of Toronto for my documentary entitled 9/11 in the Academic Community which examines how academia treats critical perspectives of media or governmental narratives.
Updated February 24, 2013
Because James Tracy and I have been attacked as faculty members–I am now retired, while he is not–for speaking out about Sandy Hook, I would observe that this is a very messy case and that serious questions are being raised about it from a wide range of perspectives. It is clearly complex and controversial but also falls squarely within Dr. Tracy’s areas of professional competence, which include conspiracy theories and culture, malfeasance by the media and related issues. Tenure was created to protect faculty from the political consequences that might otherwise attend addressing complex and controversial matters of this very kind.
January 21, 2013
Dear Florida Atlantic University administrators:
I am writing to express support for Dr. Tracy’s right to express his views and pose his questions. Indeed, as an associate professor, he has a professional responsibility to do so. Sadly, voicing unpopular views is a responsibility that is largely neglected in the academy. And even if Dr. Tracy has made some misjudgments regarding the present case (about which I reserve judgment), at least he has demonstrated an uncommon degree of courage in voicing opinions that risk engendering personal troubles. We would be better off with more professors willing to do that, even if it occasionally causes discomfort. For sometimes troubling views are both true and important.