Sunday, December 20, 2015

In An Honest Academic Community, Under An Honest Legal System, In A Decent Society There Would Be No Question That James Tracy Should Be Teaching At A University

It used to be a quaint idea that the reason for an educational institution to exist was to tell the truth. Now, the truth is, in some instances and in some contexts ambiguous or open to question.  In many instances it is not possible to discern the truth or even determine if there is or isn't "a truth", the last one is especially true in the social sciences when the alleged questions being answered concern a quite artificial thing, I've written about several of those when the research pretended to be about religion.

But there are many things, many events, many conditions of being, many absolute and hard facts about which there is absolutely no sane question as to what is true about them.  People who deny the truth of those things are rightly considered insane and, if their eccentric ideas impinge on their work they can be fired for them.  If it gets bad enough, they can be compelled to have treatment to control their symptoms and keep them from being a danger to other people.

This is about the case of an attention seeking associate prof of that most inaptly named academic field, "communications" who has tried to make a name for himself by promoting himself as a Sandy Hook denialist.  

Florida Atlantic University on Wednesday moved to fire a professor who outraged many by calling the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School an elaborate hoax.

James Tracy, an associate professor at the university,  has written that although the news media reported that 26 people died in a mass shooting at the school in Newtown, Conn., the incident was staged.

He not only wrote about it, he has used his blog and registered mail to directly go after parents whose children were murdered, hectoring and ridiculing them for refusing to talk to him or to provide proof that their murdered child had ever existed, using the pose of academic research as cover for his pathological harassment.  The parents of Noah Pozner wrote an op ed in the Sun Sentinel talking about some of the harassment they'd endured.

“Tracy even sent us a certified letter demanding proof that Noah once lived, that we were his parents, and that we were the rightful owner of his photographic image. We found this so outrageous and unsettling that we filed a police report for harassment. Once Tracy realized we would not respond, he subjected us to ridicule and contempt on his blog, boasting to his readers that the “unfulfilled request” was “noteworthy” because we had used copyright claims to “thwart continued research of the Sandy Hook massacre event.”

That, in 2015 there is any possibility that such a person might an acceptable member of the faculty of any university is evidence that our country has lost its mind.  That such a person is the member of a faculty in "communication" which is presumably in the business of training journalists only puts the jimmies on the loony cream bun and jam regime that has taken over. The free speech absolutists, and there are some defending what he has done and his employment at the university, are striking the absurd and dishonest pose that people must be free to discover the "truth" no matter what.  How that differs from the insane inverted intellectual regime of 1984 is something the intellectuals among them might consider.

The party told you to reject the evidence of your eyes and ears. It was their final, most essential command. His heart sank as he thought of the enormous power arrayed against him, the ease with which any Party intellectual would overthrow him in debate, the subtle arguments which he would not be able to understand, much less answer. And yet he was in the right! They were wrong and he was right.

They are what Orwell wrote about.

This is a result of the regime of protecting lies that I wrote about the other day, the pose of bending over backward to allow any theoretical point of view a respectful hearing and due consideration because, heavens, if you start restricting what can be said the next step is people being hauled up before HUAC and books being banned in Boston and Ulysses being confiscated by customs.

The Sandy Hook denialists are a product of two things, gun industry propaganda encouraging the insane paranoia of gun nuts - aided and abetted by the Republican party - and the encouragement of the most insane of our nutcases that their delusions are as valid as the hardest and coldest and cruelest of fact.   The deaths of children in our streets and in our schools are a sacrifice we allow to some of the most dishonest legal, academic and intellectual poses in the history of human culture.  In the United States, they are a product of a decadent intellectual movement which used the most absurd application of freshman logic putting the curiosity that you can't establish anything as absolutely true under some rather artificial logical games.  It's an insane and absurd intellectual ploy largely developed  constructed for the profit and convenience of publishing and other entertainment media and other such frivolous purposes.   It has, though, taken over to the extent that it endangers the possibility of a decent society.

No decent society would maintain someone like James Tracy is a suitable academic, certainly not as one training future journalists.  No decent society would tolerate the harassment of people whose children had been murdered by academic ambush artists who lie about the absolute fact that their children had been murdered while attending the early grades of their elementary school.  Anyone who maintains he had the right to harass them should be relieved of being taken seriously on any topic.

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