Florida professor could be fired for suggesting that the Sandy Hook shooting was a Hoax.

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A professor at Florida Atlantic University, James Tracy, suggested that the Sandy Hook shooting could be a hoax on his blog. The comment stemming from the viral video going around about the Sandy Hook shooting being a Hoax. The professor is currently under scruteny and the school is being pressured to fire him for his statement. The issue being that what the media reported he said and what he actually said is a bit contrived. The media is making it look as though the professor is saying he believes the Sandy Hook shooting didn't occur at all, but what he was really getting at is that the media dropped the ball on how the evidence and news was handled.

When he was asked if he believed that 20 children were killed at the sandy hook shooting, he said "most likely took place". His real greif was that the media wasn't holding itself to high standards as far as the investigation went. As a result of that he beleives that they didn't get to the bottom of most of the things (I'm guessing he means most of the things refferenced in the sandy hook hoax video).

The school is currently backing him saying "He has a right to express his views on his personal blog." So at this point it looks as though he will not be fired.

For discussion sake, do you think he should be fired for his statements?

If you actually look at the conspiracy theorists video, a lot of their "evidence" is actually supposition here-say, and flimsy observations that prove absolutely nothing. Also Fox news lol. As to whether he should be fired or not is a bit of a fiddly matter. I'm all for free speech, but what he's saying is fairly offensive. At the end of the day Id probably say because this happened on his personal blog and not through any official channels The guy shouldn't be fired. Just IMO.

You know, it kinda makes it a bit difficult to govern, or introduce any laws there, because whenever a law is brought in, in an effort to prevent a tragedy from happening again, all of a sudden . . .

image

Frankly, if a professor is evidently too dumb to breathe, then yes, he should be fired because in his position, stupidity IS contagious.

But sadly, we have to stay calm and realize that freedom of speech also includes fucking stupidity and it wouldn't be alright to fire him just because you disagree with his disrespectful, dumbass opinion. So no firing but the university should double-check his qualities as a teacher (if he's actually teaching something)

barbzilla:
For discussion sake, do you think he should be fired for his statements?

Nope. Key words here are "personal blog", in other words "none of my employer's fucking business". As long as he's not doing anything illegal or detrimental to his employer then it should be absolutely nothing to do with them.

I don't know if it's a good reason to fire him, but people should be looking at what he's doing in his job very closely.

OTOH, people seem to take teacher's personal lives very seriously. I remember some school teachers getting fired for putting suggestive pics of themselves on FB.

This is probably mean for me to say...but he's probably a loon and they'll be better off without him.

No he should NOT be fired for his opinion. It's good that some institutions have a serious commitment to freedom of speech.

I thought it was funny that in link the Fox News analyst said the professor could be fired for saying things that were untrue. Oh Rly Fox news?

TopazFusion:
You know, it kinda makes it a bit difficult to govern, or introduce any laws there, because whenever a law is brought in, in an effort to prevent a tragedy from happening again, all of a sudden . . .

Americans would have been a lot better off if they'd stop to question how the hijackers passport was found in the world trade rubble 2 days after 9/11, because the calls for war and the Patriot Act weren't far behind. The government does not have to fly planes into the world trade or gun down 1st graders, they just have to lie about it afterward and shape the narrative to their own purposes.

What is clear is the media coverage surrounding the shooting did not attempt to independently verify anything before rushing to put blatant crap out there. Reducing reporting to regurgitation has long been a problem and instead of jumping up everyone's ass- which I've also watched play out time and again; how about demanding a little accountability from people in the business of informing the public with so-called facts?

I know, that's crazy, guess I better get my tin foil.

MammothBlade:
No he should NOT be fired for his opinion. It's good that some institutions have a serious commitment to freedom of speech.

Freedom of speech only guarantees you the freedom to express your opinion. It doesn't give you the freedom to express it without consequence, nor does it require other people to employ you when you say stupid shit.

On one hand, academics represent their host institution and it's unreasonable to think you can say anything you want on a private blog and it not reflect on the school. On the other hand, academics can't be expected to discover new information that challenges the incorrect ideas of our status quo if they have to constantly self-censor for fear of losing their jobs if someone doesn't like what they said.

This professor is walking a very fine line, but I think because of how carefully what he said was worded, he should be allowed to keep his job. If he had said that the Sandy Hook shootings were faked, he should clearly be fired. Not because his idea was "wrong", but because he is spreading conspiracies that lack scientific merit, the exact opposite of what an academic should do. But as it is is all he did was say that the media dropped the ball. So his job should be safe.

That said, the chair of his department probably needs to have a word with him about expressing himself more artfully, sensitivity to grieving people, and not making their school look like a bunch of conspiracy-theorist loons.

Am I missing something?

From the OP, it didn't seem like the professor was actually saying it was a hoax. He was just saying that the reporting was shoddy and questionable. And now the media is reporting that as "Florida professor could be fired for saying Sandy Hook was a hoax." Talk about shoddy and questionable reporting...

Katatori-kun:

MammothBlade:
No he should NOT be fired for his opinion. It's good that some institutions have a serious commitment to freedom of speech.

Freedom of speech only guarantees you the freedom to express your opinion. It doesn't give you the freedom to express it without consequence, nor does it require other people to employ you when you say stupid shit.

A more important point (and this is in response to both of you) is that freedom of speech as a legal principle only limits the actions of governments and public entities, because only governments have the power to actually restrict a person's speech through legal coercion. The idea that it would apply to private entities is a common misconception.

The university has no obligation to retain the professor because they're presumably not a public entity and the principle of free speech wouldn't apply to them. This is because the university doesn't actually have any power to censor a person's speech. They can't pass laws and make some forms of speech illegal. Even if they were granted the power to do that through statute, it would actually be the government limiting the free speech by enacting the statute. What the university can do, because it's a private entity, is fire him. Subject to any contractual obligations such as tenure, the decision whether or not the employ the professor is entirely at the university's discretion.

This is why a private employer can't prevent their employees from saying shit (because who gave them the power to do that?) but they can fire them for it, or even sue them if the employee has entered into a contractual limitation on his free speech such as an NDA, or if the speech is defamatory.

Personally, I don't think the guy should be fired, if only because he doesn't seem to actually be saying what the news reports are saying he's saying. And it would suck for a guy's entire career to be ruined because he made a misstep while under public scrutiny.

He should be allowed to keep his job. I mean aslong as he keeps these theories to himself, doesn't try to inflict them onto any other people and it has no effect on his work and the people he works for then I don't really see much of a problem aside from (possibly) public image.

Besides, we all know that the real cause of the Sandy Hook shootings (and every shooting ever) was Mass Effect!

Revolutionary:
If you actually look at the conspiracy theorists video, a lot of their "evidence" is actually supposition here-say, and flimsy observations that prove absolutely nothing. Also Fox news lol. As to whether he should be fired or not is a bit of a fiddly matter. I'm all for free speech, but what he's saying is fairly offensive. At the end of the day Id probably say because this happened on his personal blog and not through any official channels The guy shouldn't be fired. Just IMO.

I have looked at a few of them, isnt their main point that a lot of things seem to have been posted the day before the shootings then removed such as memorial sites and the shooters death certificate?

No, he should not be fired.

First amendment that you Americans are so proud of. I understand people get upset, but this is all on his personal blog. Unless this interferes with his job he shouldn't lose his job.

If it's his own name on the blog then these posts could bring the institution into disrepute by having him on staff. I'm hazy on the specifics of UK law, but I think that's grounds for dismissal over here.

-Nick

MammothBlade:
No he should NOT be fired for his opinion. It's good that some institutions have a serious commitment to freedom of speech.

Hank Williams Jr. was fired from Monday Night Football for comparing Obama to Hitler.

Rashard Mendenhall was fired from his corporate sponsorships for suggesting 9-11 was an inside job

The Dixie Chicks lost their record deal for saying they were ashamed George W. Bush came from their state.

Freedom of Speech means the government can't punish you. Freedom of Speech /=/ Freedom from Consequence.

I think denying the fact that children were massacred and disrespecting their memories for political gain is something which anyone deserves to be fired.

So long as what he put in his personal blog is his own personal opinion and he does not reflect his position in the university, then there's no legal standing for firing him.

That said Florida is an at-will state and the university is not a public institution so he can be fired regardless.

A guy who calls out the media's shoddy reporting becomes a target of the media's shoddy reporting. Mmm...the irony!

SonicWaffle:

barbzilla:
For discussion sake, do you think he should be fired for his statements?

Nope. Key words here are "personal blog", in other words "none of my employer's fucking business". As long as he's not doing anything illegal or detrimental to his employer then it should be absolutely nothing to do with them.

Unfortunately the line between 'personal' and public is disappearing rapidly. I personally believe that if you say something off the clock, on your own time and it is unrelated to your job, that it shouldn't be your employer's business. However, I could totally understand if there was a business that was getting tons of bad press for what an employee said in his/her off-time and wanted to just cut ties with said problem completely. I think issues like this are a problem of a massively interconnected society that we're going to have to deal with and adjust to as we go. With the internet, almost everything is interconnected, and permanent, whether we like it or not... and just because you *can* say something on your personal blog, doesn't mean that you *should*. It's a really complex issue, and both sides do have fair points, I think.

However, in this case, the professor doesn't seem to be saying that Sandy Hook was necessarily a hoax, just that he thinks it could be, and that the media is taking everything at face value and not even giving the suggestions of a hoax any credence. While I don't believe this argument is very valid in this particular incident (considering how ludicrous this particular conspiracy theory is), there *are* certainly times in the past where the media has taken things at face value, run with the official story fed to them, and the American people have come out worse for it (the buildup to the Iraq War, the way Climate Change has been reported, the lack of reporting on the contents of the NDAA, and the way the government has handled Wikileaks, Bradley Manning and Aaron Swartz for example).

Katatori-kun:

Freedom of speech only guarantees you the freedom to express your opinion. It doesn't give you the freedom to express it without consequence, nor does it require other people to employ you when you say stupid shit.

I don't know how the law works in America but in the UK, if he was fired over something said on his personal blog, it falls under unfair dismissal.

That would end up with said professor taking former employer to a tribunal and getting lots of money from them. In some cases it has resulted in former employers not only having to pay compensation but having to re-hire the person they fired in the first place. Gotta love how the law works.

A personal blog does not have any standing on how well he performs his job.

Most of us have opinions and have said things other people don't like or agree with but it doesn't affect how well we do our chosen jobs.

On his personal blog? No. In his lessons to his students? Debatable.

But yeah you're not allowed to fire someone over what they believe. That's retarded. Even if you disagree with what they believe in.

There's a really good, clearly defined metric for this kind of thing: does what he said effect, in any way, his ability to perform his duties? No? Then leave his job out of it. This is the same kind of irrational bullshit we see when a politician is caught in an extramarital affair or we find out a teacher used to act (very, very poorly) in porn. What they do in their personal time is just that, personal. You can judge them as human beings, you can gnash your teeth and whine about it, but if their job isn't to be faithful, it's irrelevant. It's as simple as that.

People who call for terminations like this have the minds of petulant children. I'm a realist, I understand the importance of public perception, but I also understand that kowtowing to willing participants with delicate sensibilities is tantamount to negotiating with terrorists. Actually, it's worse than that. They're wrong, they're putting themselves in the position to be offended, then, instead of excusing themselves from the situation when they are, they try to force everyone else to adhere to their world view. Which is fine, the boundary conditions allow for that, but they also allow for us to tell them to go screw, among other things.

I don't think they've thought this through all the way, either. Do they want the person to just kill themselves? If not, how are they going to provide for themselves after they're fired? Are the people calling for their termination going to foot the money for living expenses until they find a new position? What positions are they fit to fill, anyway? If they're fired for saying something unrelated to their current job, how are they not unfit for other equally unrelated positions? Do we have some arbitrary distinctions to determine these new qualifications? I'd like to see how those were framed if we do. Like, can the professor become a mechanic? Can the porn teacher train horses? Can John Edwards collect shopping carts outside of Wal-Mart?

Of course Fox news is on his side, any excuse as long as it means white people can keep their guns. I've read some of his statement: the way he so patronizing danced around calling it an outright hoax "if at all". If he wants the the media to hold itself accountable he should set an example and resign so the school doesn't have to be associated with his ignorant fear mongering.

As much as it kills me to say this, no, I don't think he should be fired. My gut reaction was, "Hell YES!", but after a few seconds reasoning prevailed. If it had been on the school website, then yes, but it's his own blog. He's entitled to his own thoughts.
Still, if I was a kid in his class, I would have withdrawn in protest. I just wouldn't be able to sit and listen to anything that man had to say.

Professors in colleges have always had problems with mixing teaching people the subject with teaching their own opinion of the matters that relate to the subject. Professors are generally liberal and haughty, narcissistic and power crazed.

Burn the colleges to the ground...not sure if it should be done after or before the government.

https://secure.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/08/fau-professor-newtown-massacre-james-tracy_n_2428898.html

Apparently his problem is that he didn't get to see the crime scene photographs.

cerebreturns:
Professors in colleges have always had problems with mixing teaching people the subject with teaching their own opinion of the matters that relate to the subject. Professors are generally liberal and haughty, narcissistic and power crazed.

Burn the colleges to the ground...not sure if it should be done after or before the government.

Someone didn't like his final grades.

I have no idea what colleges you've been going to. At my uni, all of the professors are too busy researching to have any visible interest in politics. I think I had one professor who occasionally mentioned a club or organization regarding gay rights, but that is about it.

Comocat:
I thought it was funny that in link the Fox News analyst said the professor could be fired for saying things that were untrue. Oh Rly Fox news?

Screw glass houses try crystal palace.
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im guessing the professor is not tenure. Ive heard stories about how hard it is to fire them. Ive heard one story of a professor who had no idea why he was in a classroom at X time, just that he had to be there. Couldnt remember anything about the subject he was teaching, but they cant fire him because he shows up to class on time.

I live in England, where, technically, we dont hold the right to free speech, and you can be punished for saying the wrong thing. I happen to think that letting everyone say exactly what they want, all the time, with no repercussions is not necessarily a good thing.

THAT SAID! In the USA, where free speech is protected by law, you cannot punish someone for speaking freely. You just cant. If you want this guy fired, Florida, better change your constitution first. Simples.

Captcha: "no-brainer". Damn skippy, captcha.

Is he an at-will employee of the university? If so, then legally they can fire him without legal consequence -as- a consequence of his actions.

Alternately, a very loud public ostracization and/or distancing of themselves from his views might be in order.

Florida Atlantic University has no obligation to protect his Freedom of Speech. Freedom of speech only applies to the federal government (as well as the state governments with the 14th amendment). If they want to fire him, then by all means fire his ignorant ass. But do I personally believe he should be fired? No, he is entitled to his beliefs, no matter how fucked in the head he is. I just won't be crying if he is fired.

barbzilla:
For discussion sake, do you think he should be fired for his statements?

So the second ammendment is carved in stone and can't be challenged, but screw his first ammendment rights?

He might be an idiot, but last I heard the US was quite proud of being the land of free speech, a free press and being able to have an opinion contrary to the status quo without fear of persecution or prosecution.

Rawne1980:

Katatori-kun:

Freedom of speech only guarantees you the freedom to express your opinion. It doesn't give you the freedom to express it without consequence, nor does it require other people to employ you when you say stupid shit.

I don't know how the law works in America but in the UK, if he was fired over something said on his personal blog, it falls under unfair dismissal.

That would end up with said professor taking former employer to a tribunal and getting lots of money from them. In some cases it has resulted in former employers not only having to pay compensation but having to re-hire the person they fired in the first place. Gotta love how the law works.

A personal blog does not have any standing on how well he performs his job.

Most of us have opinions and have said things other people don't like or agree with but it doesn't affect how well we do our chosen jobs.

Not every country has that law. I actually don't know the American (or Floridian) laws pertinent here, but the fact that they don't come up in the article suggests to me that they aren't applicable.

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