Ryan Cortes, a student at Florida Atlantic University and editor with its campus magazine, wrote a column Wednesday that came to the defense of professor James Tracy, who made headlines this week after claiming the Newtown, Conn., school massacre either didn’t take place or was part of some sort of government conspiracy.
In a column titled “reaction to FAU professor’s Newtown conspiracy is misguided and misinformed,” Cortes writes in the University Press student magazine that: “I’ve taken three of Tracy’s classes in my time at FAU, including one called Culture of Conspiracy. Hell, I’ve seen more 9/11 documentaries than Tarantino flicks, and damn do I love those. But I also love people who think differently and cause you to see perspectives you wouldn’t ponder.”
Cortes goes on to state:
… This is someone who has changed my opinion many times before. His theories usually center around a failed national media that didn’t dig deep and ask more questions. It led him to believe Osama bin Laden’s alleged killing was a conspiracy, that the Oklahoma City Bombings were another, and that 9/11 had so many unanswered questions that if you weren’t asking on your own, well, you never were going to ask about anything anyway.
So I come into this discussion having spent a good deal of time with the man. I know how he thinks and I know when he starts asking questions, this many questions, he’s informed on the subject and he’ll cause me to at least think twice. I didn’t agree with everything he wrote, but I knew what was coming Tracy’s way. Vitriol. Hate. Anger.
All of it.
But none of these people knew the real Tracy. It was a blog post turned into a headline turned into a tweet turned into thousands of angry readers, but it didn’t tell the whole story. I remembered classmates of mine while taking Tracy’s classes who would stand outside during breaks, mesmerized, over what the professor’s opinions forced you think long and hard about before believing.
The column also quotes the school’s faculty union president:
“The reaction is weird,” said (Chris Robé, FAU’s faculty union president). “I mean, part of it I get. This isn’t being sensitive to the victims, and I get that, it’s OK. But there was one person commenting that said they believe in free speech but they don’t want their tax payer dollars to go to this. Well then, you don’t really believe in free speech, right?”
“The point is, the guy has the right to say what he’s saying. When people start saying he’s crazy or demand that he gets fired because they’re offended by something he says, well, shit, all of us could be fired for something offensive we’ve said.”
Cortes ends his column by saying of Tracy: “At least he was thinking something.”
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