At least Clyde Magarelli isn’t molesting students, I don’t think, but William Paterson University in New Jersey has a real clunker in their sociology department. He’s teaching conspiracy theory nonsense instead of sociology. It’s the usual stuff: the Holocaust was exaggerated, the moon landings were faked, etc.
“We can’t land on it [the moon] and get back. We’ve never landed on it, you didn’t know that?” he says in one clip.
Magarelli also claims that the Gestapo, the secret police of Nazi Germany, only engaged in torture during the “last part of the war.”
In another video, he tells his students that Native Americans are not indigenous people.
“We call them Native Americans but those that have their own government outside — they were never considered part of the system,” he mumbles. “They had their own tribal system.”
Magarelli also believes that the Irish were the first slaves in America — a theory debunked by Irish experts who said their indentured servitude was “in a completely different category from slavery,” according to the New York Times.
Video clips of the guy saying stupid stuff can be found on this Twitter thread.
He is a full time, tenured associate professor at the university, and has been teaching there since 1967 (!!!).
Now this is a case, though, where academic freedom does come into play. He’s saying stupid, wrong, ignorant things, but the whole point of tenure is you’re protected — you can defy the orthodoxy in all sorts of ways. He’s doing it. You can’t fire him for that.
But the flip side is that he has a job — he’s supposed to be teaching young people sociology, and he’s failing to do that. Academic departments have ways to deal, though: from the clips, it seems he’s teaching a first year course called “Social Problems”, which is almost certainly not part of the core curriculum. I’m going to guess that what the functional part of the department has done is shunted him off into non-critical electives, because you certainly can’t expect him to prepare students for other courses in sociology, and are limiting the harm he can do as much as possible. The curriculum can be thought of as a network that routes around damage, and deadwood faculty — he looks like the very definition of the term — are interpreted as damage and shuffled off to the side until they get around to retiring, or die.
The students should view him as a practical exercise in dealing with bad ideas.
The greatest harm he is doing, though, is that he’s taking up space that could be used more productively and creatively with a new faculty member — and he’s probably getting paid more than he’s worth. But that’s one of the inherent flaws of the tenure system.