Tenured university professor under fire over 911 views
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UNH prof provokes 9/11 firestorm
By PETER SPIEGEL
From Staff Reports
1 hour, 14 minutes ago
Scores of UnionLeader.com readers have commented by e-mail on yesterday's article on a University of New Hampshire professor's views about a 9/11 conspiracy.
William Woodward, a tenured professor of psychology at UNH, believes an "elite" group within the federal government orchestrated the Sept. 11 attacks on America. He hopes to teach a class that would explore Sept. 11 "in psychological terms."
Several state leaders, including U.S. Sen Judd Gregg, R-N.H., have criticized Woodward for bringing the radical theories into a classroom at a public university supported with taxpayer dollars.
UNH graduate Mary-Ellen Azem, who said she, too, is a teacher, wrote that Woodward "has the right to state whatever he believes. But I challenge his right to do so in a classroom without the presence of an opposing opinion. If he wants to set up a debate on campus, where students can freely attend, that would be fine. However, when students are in that classroom, like it or not, he is in a position of authority and power so his opinion holds more weight."
Greg Opritza of Bedford had this to say: "Professor Woodward is clearly lacking any evidence for his theory that the U.S. government orchestrated 9/11. However, he has every right to present those views as his opinions in an upper-level class at a state university. I don't think our young people need Sen. Gregg's protection from the indoctrination of a leftist professor. They are more than able to think for themselves."
Ronald A. Tancrede of Rollinsford disagreed.
"As long as he is teaching in a system heavily subsidized by public funds, his 'personal reality' should not be taught as fact," Tancrede wrote. "I prefer my tax money to be used to pay teachers to educate my children in the known truth and not some attempt to undermine my government."
Deborah Whitaker of Hillsborough said her daughter is a recent UNH honors grad. Until recently, Whitaker said she worked for UNH Cooperative Extension, where she taught a program on media literacy to teens. Whitaker criticized the Sunday News article, saying there were "basic flaws in your reporting.
"Besides my objections to the less than objective manner of reporting, MY outrage is with Sen. Gregg's comment," she wrote. "Freedom of speech is, after all, what we are fighting for. His position is an affront to the sensibility' of those Americans like myself who believe in the foundation of the Constitution and the right to speak out against the government, ESPECIALLY in the classroom."
John M. Healy of Warner wrote that Woodward is "at UNH, at taxpayer expense to educate, not indoctrinate."
"This is nothing but a left wing, anti government wacko misusing his position as a platform for political rhetoric," he wrote, adding later: "He does and should have the right to his opinions, but voiced in the proper public forum, not the psychology classroom."
Nancy J.M. White of Amherst wrote that she had just dropped her daughter off at UNH on Friday.
"I'm very happy that such a fine university is able to have such a thoughtful professor on their staff," she wrote. "I applaud William Woodward's stance ... more information needs to be out there about 9/11, and the government's complicity in this 'EVENT'. I favor as much questioning of this horrific event as possible, and what better way for our kids to be educated than by questioning the "official' government stance."
James Osborne of Manchester also had words of praise for Woodward.
"Bravo to Professor Woodward!" he wrote. "An institution of higher learning should be a place to present ALL ideas regardless of how radical or out of the mainstream they may be."
Bob Fournier of Moultonborough didn't beat around the bush in his e-mail.
"I think he should be fired!" he wrote.
"What he believes about 9/11 has been put out by the Iranians," Fournier wrote. "Does he believe the Holocaust didn't happen, too? We don't need people like him."
George Lincoln, who described himself as a displaced New Hampshire native, echoed Fournier's sentiments.
"I can solve the problem in two words," he wrote. "Fire him."
"... he has been hired by the state of New Hampshire to teach at a public university," Lincoln wrote. "What he believes is not necessarily fact. He needs to be teaching psychological facts to students to enable them to form their OWN opinion. Colleges and universities have become brainwashing platforms for the liberal elitists in this country and as a result students cannot learn the facts and form their own opinion."
Many e-mails came from national "it-was-a-conspiracy" believers, though some with local ties voiced that opinion about Sept. 11 as well.
"I personally believe Bin Laden was in back of it but some in power knew it would happen and let it happen," wrote Genevieve C. Fraser of Orange, Mass., a former resident of Hampstead and Dover.
Bill Cain of Bow pointed to the collapse of World Trade Center Building 7, which he called a "controlled demolition."
He described as overwhelming "the amount of evidence that 9-11 was something other than what the government has said."