Independent journalist Michael Tracey went out to Connecticut College on Monday to give an in-person speech that led to widespread ridicule online.
The fiasco began last week after Tracey unleashed a thread on Twitter criticizing the school over its mandatory vaccination policy and mask mandates.
The blogger derided the school’s faculty as akin to “profiteers, scammers, busybodies, and neurotics using COVID-19 as an excuse to impose their weird little petty tyrannical rule.”
But with his Twitter tirade having little effect on the real world, Tracey took the streets. With a microphone and portable speaker in tow, Tracey set up shop at Connecticut College in an attempt to air his grievances.
Footage of the speech begins with Tracey claiming that although he could care less about the rules of a small liberal arts college, the alleged “climate of conformity” at the school compelled him to speak out on the behalf of students who feared retribution for pushing back on such policies.
The speech quickly went off the rails after Tracey began getting heckled by one student who repeatedly referred to him as “Tucker Carlson’s bitch.”
After being asked to use one word to describe his intentions, Tracey responded with what he claimed was three words: “Giving voice to the voiceless.”
Although the sentence was actually five words, Tracey attempted to correct his failed attempt at understanding the number three by incorrectly stating that the sentence was actually four words.
The disastrous attempt at a rousing speech, coupled with Tracey’s half-untucked shirt and honking cars, was quickly mocked all across Twitter.
But supporters of Tracey argued in his defense. Fellow independent journalist Glenn Greenwald described Tracey’s actions as legitimate reporting on an important societal issue.
“Michael Tracey again did something his left-liberal critics won’t—got his ass off the couch to go do actual reporting on a consequential societal and political conflict—and now they’re all holding hands to mock him as the outcast nerd in an attempt to feel tribally protected,” Greenwald wrote.
Tracey also defended his speech in a series of tweets on Tuesday in which he suggested that COVID restrictions could be enforced until the end of time.
“Just bear in mind that while the media cool kids snark and sneer at nonsense, some of the country’s most influential institutions are *at this very moment* reneging on their prior claims that vaccine = normalcy, and adopting a ‘permanent crisis’ model that could well last forever,” Tracey wrote.
The dean of the college announced the next day that the measures put in place, described by Tracey as authoritarian, had worked to bring down the number of positive infections on campus. As a result, the school said it would begin easing up on some COVID-related restrictions.
Unsurprisingly, Tracey celebrated the announcement in a tweet in which he appeared to suggest that his speech had somehow influenced the decision.
“Less than 24 hours after my visit to Connecticut College, and after administrators went into DEFCON mode to prevent my entry, the benevolent Dean announces he talked to Fauci and the lockdown will be lifted immediately, after previously giving no indication this would happen,” Tracey wrote.
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*First Published: Sep 14, 2021, 12:06 pm CDT
Mikael Thalen is a tech and security reporter based in Seattle, covering social media, data breaches, hackers, and more.