Following is my e-mail conversation with someone who identified himself as one of Jane Christensen's students at N.C. Wesleyan College (some background for those who need it). I provide it because I think the student's progression in the exchange rewarded my optimism for him. Perhaps the logical leap into the gaping maw of immediately believing grand conspiracy theories isn't final, after all. Also, it's quite different from my exchange with Prof. Christensen (which was remarkably similar to her exchange with a reporter for the Rocky Mount Telegram).
I am withholding the student's name out of consideration for his privacy. The exchange took place May 4-5, beginning with his first e-mail to me:
I'd just liek to tell you that you are one of the most imcompetent news journalists I have ever seen. All you have done was sensationalize Mrs. Christensen to get headlines and try to promote your own moronic ideas about polotics. As a student of Jane Christensen for the first time this semester I took her out a pure interest. I hear what everyone was saying about her and I was curious. After completeing her class I can say you are far from the truth and some of the views on her website are directly expressed at all in her class. All you are trying to do is take away from the free-thinking and academic world by promoting your slander of Jane Christensen. You should have researched a little beyond one website and not have been such a dumbass before you put an article out. My name by the way is ____ _______ and if you want to have some integrity and respond to this I'd be happy to have a discussion with you either over e mail or even phone.
Thank you for your feedback. Did you actually read my article? I cannot decide whether you did or not, given the lack of familiarity with my column your letter exhibits.
Do you know what a straw man is, _____? That is substituting your own argument for someone else's in order to make it easy to defeat. If you don't know what a straw man is, then consult this sentence of yours that begins, "All you are trying to do is take away from the free-thinking and academic world."
P.S. In the future, before you call someone incompetent, please learn the proper way to spell the word. That one little detail will make your insult even more devastating, I assure you.
understandable and quite wity of a response I may add. The fact remains though that you are wrong and in your article you do make generalizations that are not correct and that is of course why Alex Jones pointed out the holes in your article. I don't even agree with 100 percent of what Christensen says but I do think you approached your article like a arrogant asshole, but you are allowed your opinion. I'll make sure I use spell check next time so maybe I can force something a little more clever out of you then you pointing out a typo perhaps? Once again, you should check your sources... This isnt some war of conservatives VS liberals but a battle over the truth. Do you actually know what happend on 9/11? We have no awnsers so why not speculate the possibilities cause obviously noone has been held accountable.
The article was based on the principle of res ipsa loquitur, the thing speaks for itself. Another way of putting it is, it's based on Justice Brandeis' idea that "Sunlight is the best disinfectant." All I did was report what was in the syllabus, provide a sampling of what was on each site in the syllabus and discuss the sections of the course. You mention Alex Jones; he could not give me anything factually wrong with my article even though I asked him twice if there were anything factually wrong with it. His answer was basically that he didn't like my opinion nor the placement of his websites with the others. Nevertheless, I understand it serves his rhetoric purposes to say he shot holes in it.
Incidentally, I have never called this a war, but your professor has. If speculation is your game, knock yourself out, but don't delude yourself into thinking that speculation equals truth.
In return though you manipulated it seem that the individual Jane Christensen beleives in everything that is on the sites. I just don't see what is factual about the actual article and I dont understand what you think about the course is so wrong? Is it wrong to challenge the leadership of your country? I was under the impression that only the strongest patriots will go to the grain to defend their nation. I see the point of view you have and at I would have agreed before but after spending a semester with Christensen I can say that I did as you are jumping to conclusions based on her site. I appreciate you being civil enough to discuss this with me though because everyone else who is calling Mrs. Christensen a bigot and anti-semite havent yet responded and I doubt they will not.
Perhaps it would help if you would tell me what you think is not factual in my article. I think the reasons for my criticism are obvious. But to reply to them with "Is it wrong to challenge the leadership of your country?" is a non sequitur. One does not attend a college class with the primary purpose of challenging the leadership of one's country; one attends to learn about a particular subject, and one should hope that that subject is presented professionally with all traces of a personal agenda on the part of a professor checked at the door. (Should a proper education lead to your challenging the leadership, that is another matter; informed vigilance is a part of the citizen's duty.) Furthermore, even if you believe that "only the strongest patriots will go [against] the grain to defend their nation," it does not follow that going against the grain for the sake of going against the grain is defending the nation or evincing patriotism. Misunderstanding how to apply such a definition of patriotism will be prelude to a most quixotic life of contrariness for contrariness' sake.
Finally, regarding civility, although I cannot speak for the others to whom you wrote about this matter, I would suggest that you amend your manner of address if you truly seek to begin a dialogue with someone with whom you disagree. Normally I ignore people who assail me with insults couched in poor grammar. I chose to respond to you only because you identified yourself as a student, and therefore I assumed you are still learning. Presentation and first impressions count in this society; if you wish to be taken seriously, take care that your language is that of someone worth taking seriously.
Also, just for my own use can you explain to me what is acually factual about 9/11 except a lot of innocent civilians died for nothing? I mean why not try and seek something instead of just turning our backs to it and not accepting that maybe something is foul about the story?
I think it is beyond question that Islamofascist terrorists perpetrated the attacks of Sept. 11. The attacks were not the first attempted on the World Trade Center, nor were they the first perpetrated against Americans by terrorists adhering to that particular philosophy. As is the nature of any major historical event (see, for example, the Pearl Harbor attacks, the Kennedy assassination, and the moon landing), there are unanswered questions and a lot of ambient noise surrounding it, and the thoughtful person must have the tools in place to parse them all. The grand conspiracy explanation (this is the term for it, you understand; I'm not using the word "grand" in a sarcastic fashion) is the one theory that is unfalsifiable — everything can be explained in it, but that should not give one comfort, but rather suspicion of the proffered explanation. At any rate, it should be the last, not the first, resort intellectually for anyone seeking to make sense of the events. Unfalsifiability leads people to believing patently ridiculous things, such as that even those who criticize the theory are part of the conspiracy, which is what Alex Jones and your professor have said about those (me included) who have criticized her course.
His reply, and the last word on the subject:
good way of putting it, I just want to see both sides of the spectrum really.