Wacky Prof Proves State Colleges Need Change

BY BUDDY NEVINS

 

An Internet wacko who believes that the Obama Administration covered up the real story of the Connecticut school shootings has turned out to be a Florida Atlantic University professor.

A tenured FAU professor who teaches classes that sound only slightly less silly.

Although his nutty Internet posts about the shooting are getting all the publicity, it is Professor James Tracy’s course load which should upset Florida taxpayers.

After all, we pay Tracy’s salary.

The professor apparently specializes in conspiracies. One of his courses: “Culture of Conspiracy.”

So who’s surprised when Tracy says Obama may be part of a conspiracy  to lie about the school shootings with the aim of promoting gun control?

The Sun-Sentinel detailed Tracy’s bizarre ideas online today.

But Browardbeat.com went further and what I found was annoying to me as someone who helps pay for state schools like FAU.

I looked at how FAU describes Tracy’s job.  The school says Tracy “teaches courses examining the relationship between commercial and alternative news media and socio-political issues and events.”

Did they write that job description with a straight face? That’s course material that a student needs?

Tracy also is editor of an online publication entitled Democratic Communiqué, presumably when he is not uncovering some grand conspiracy.  According to that publication’s website:

“Potential topics may include, but are not limited to, alternative, community, or public media, the internationalization of capital and information flows, media and imperialism, telecommunication and media industry ownership and consolidation, information technology and surveillance, feminist political economy, the communicative dimensions of race, social class, labor and social movements, and cultural artifacts or practices.”

Huh? People actually spend time reading this stuff?

I can only imagine what nonsense Tracy is feeding kids stupid enough to stumble into his course.

But my problem is not his views.

We have freedom of speech however insane that speech sounds.

My problem is that he was hired in the first place with my tax money to teach courses nobody could possibly use in the real world.  By the real world, I mean anywhere outside the Fantasyland of a college campus.

Maybe Gov. Rick Scott is on to something when he says the state system should concentrate on useful subjects that produce jobs rather than waste tax money on frivolous subjects.

Frivolous subjects like what James Tracy peddles to students.



16 Responses to “Wacky Prof Proves State Colleges Need Change”

  1. Floridan says:

    This is what is wrong with America today.

    No, not James Tracy and his conspiracy theories. He’s a one day story.

    Rather, the real problem is people who see an outlier incident and want to use that as an excuse to call for unnecessary but drastic changes without considering the consequences.

    This is the same sort of thinking that leads to drug-testing welfare recipients and zero-tolerance rules leading to the arrest of a six-year-old with a water gun.

    Now, I’m guessing that you know no more about Tracy than what was in the Sun-Sentinel article; that you have not taken any of his classes, spoken to some of his students or read one of his published works. Yet you feel comfortable suggesting that Tracy is symptomatic of a failure of the university system.

    I’m not going to defend Tracy’s assertions (to the extent that they are accurately reported), but I will assert that higher education should not be (and was never intended to be) a vocational school and its purpose is not merely to reinforce accepted truths.

    Particularly in an age when technology and knowledge is changing so quickly, university students are best served by creating an atmosphere of curiosity, inquiry and love of learning.

    Sometimes that leads to crackpot ideas, but if the school is teaching them to think, students will be able to handle them — and probably learn from them (a useful skill as there are no shortage of crackpot ideas in society at large, as can often be witnessed on this blog).

    So, is Professor Tracy a goofball? Perhaps. Is he a danger to society? Almost assuredly not.

    In the general scheme of things, I would be much more concerned about Governor Scott’s and the Republican Legislators’ on-going efforts to cut funding to state unversities, to increase tuition and to meddle in what courses should be taught than I am by the statements of one heretofore unknown faculty member.

  2. BlametheMessage says:

    Tracy’s views are disturbing, but are needed to encourage a new level of transparency.

    His teachings are nothing new, conspiracy theories are consistently being discussed, the difference today is that instant media (ie blogs, web etc) creates a storm outside of the classroom.

  3. ChangetheMessage says:

    Buddy,
    While I do not support Tracy’s thoughts on the Connecticut school shootings, I do appreciate that FAU has courses that encourage students to think. You do not have to agree with a professor’s views to appreciate that he/she is trying to stimulate a student’s thought process.

    College is about opening your mind to different ways of thinking and encouraging students to be creative, not just training people. We have vocational schools for that. “Culture of Conspiracy.” May seem to be a frivolous subject, but it just three credits in an educational journey.

    The Governor would love to repackage our universities as job training centers, but what we need is more critical thinkers, willing to see beyond the text. Question how things work, and create new solutions.
    To change our entire university system to STEM format would complete dilute our future architects, writers, doctors, scientists, economist and entrepreneurs.

    The travesty is to allow Governor and State Legislature destroy our University system through drastic budget cuts and force-feeding a new curriculum.

  4. disinterested says:

    ah my dear floridian, so we allow the goofballs to roam freely, ok, but why should i or we pay for them, another example of the great division of ideas in our society.

  5. Chaz Stevens, Genius says:

    @3 To change our entire university system to STEM format would complete dilute our future scientists

    What does the “S” in STEM mean?

    We’re gonna dilute our future scientists by teaching them science?

    Bong hits for Jesus!

  6. Floridan says:

    @distinterested: I find this idea that a member of society should only have to pay for those things he or she agrees with rather odd, obviously impractical and just a bit narcissistic.

  7. Kevin says:

    Actually, Buddy, with the way state funding of higher education works today, and has for the past few years, you as a taxpayer pay very, very little of this goofball’s salary (or mine).

    Tenure in universities is meant to do several things, one of which is to protect the free dissemination of ideas, inventions, etc. Now of course there is a price to pay for that, which is idiots like this.

    It’s a tradeoff, sure, and I am obviously biased being in favor of it.

  8. Freedom says:

    His theory is way off kilter but when you start putting the brakes to academic freedom you are traveling a very, very slippery slope. Freedom to voice one’s opinion without fear of government intervention is what sets us apart from so many other countries and is at the heart of academic freedom. If the higher educational system is doing it’s job, this professor will be challenged on an academic level by both his peers and students. I do take exception with your attitude toward higher education. College is not a place to be exposed to a strict dogma, it is a place to be exposed to ideas that force you to question and think. Without those skills we wind up buying whatever is told to us. The more we get the chance to question and discuss the better our skills become at recognized the false and misleading information that is especially sent to us during the election season and maybe we can make informed choices and not choices based half truths and sometimes outright lies. So let the offbeat and the different teach and let our students learn to think for themselves and question everything.

    FROM BUDDY:

    There is nothing “academic” about his ranting. Does that mean a professor can use outright racism — which this professor is not — in the name of academic freedom? I guarantee a student who was racist would be disciplined under the politically correct conduct codes schools have instituted.

    I don’t believe kooks should be employed by the state just because they have an advanced degree.

    I’m not worried about him indoctrinating students. They are smart enough to know a loon when they hear one. I am concerned about him wasting our tax money with his pointless courses.

  9. Duke says:

    Aren’t college professors suppose to be smart? This man is highly offensive and obviously suffers from some sort of mental illness. Lets not be all the way at the end of the tunnel to see the light on this one. FAU should remove him.

  10. Kurly says:

    I thought I was reading bizpac for a sec

  11. ExCompassionate Conservative says:

    Buddy, I disagree with your view that a class, well, a scholarly class about conspiracy and culture is not worth teaching. US history is full of various rises in extremism and irrational beliefs which have originated from the dark and have sometimes taken over politics and the decisions by otherwise “normal” people. Why wouldn’t I want future generations to be able to learn about the lunacy of the hatred of Obama by a GOP which has been taken over by Bircher types and cranks? Why wouldn’t I want them to also learn about Bush Derangment Syndrome where every evil on the planet was becuase of Bush and Cheney? How about anti semitic conspiracies and their origins?

    To me, this would be part of a critical thinking series where you examine how certain notions have entered the mainstream, altered public thinking or changed laws etc.

    This does depend on having someone sane to teach it though.

  12. Freedom says:

    Buddy: As a tax payer I am sure there are many, and I am not in anyway defending this man’s theory, professors who I would disagree with in the public system. What concern me is who will become the thought police. If we look back in history there were many scholarly works that were considered hogwash. We can take this discussion to our very recent past. If it were up to some people we would stop teaching evolution. Again I ask who will be the thought police.

  13. Freedom says:

    Just one more thought. The University system is just like the private sector in one way. If very few people sign up for the course the course, if not a requirement, is dropped.

  14. Duke says:

    He wants his students to look at events in more critical ways. So he tells them that the president employed “crisis actors” for Sandy Hook in order to promote an anti-gun agenda. This is what college students are being subjected to under the guise of education? The man is a clown. Get rid of him.

  15. SAM FIELDS says:

    Dear Buddy,
    You don’t think that “outright racism” should be taught in college classrooms?

    First of all that term is in the eye of the beholder. Charles Murray and Richard Herrenstein’s book “THE BELL CURVE” is considered “outright racism” by some and cutting edge academics by others. Herrnstein was tenured at Harvard.

    Tenured Northwestern Univ. prof Arthur Butz is a leading proponent of Holocaust denial. The only thing Northwestern did was suggest that it was not relevant material for his Electrical Engineering classes.

    It was not that long ago those professors that taught “racial equality” were considered the extremist nut jobs. In the 1950’s the Florida legislature, under the leadership of Charlie Johns, ran them out of town.

    Whether it’s JFK, RFK, 9/11 I have never seen credible evidence that any of these were conspiracies. The lone exception was the murder of MLK. While it seems clear James Earle Ray shot the man I have grave doubts that this dumb goober had the wherewithal to get those multiple fake passports that helped him escape to Europe. I believe other helped. As a corollary, while I believe Hoover would have ignored tips about assassination plans of King, it’s hard to imagine that he would have participated the killing as some suggest.

    We need to challenge stupid ideas and not silence them.

  16. Duke says:

    Some ideas are so stupid that they don’t warrant a challenge.

Leave a Reply

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>