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Protesting 9/11 Conspiracy Theorist By: Krista B. Ledbetter
The Northwestern | Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Nate Nelson said the waste of taxpayer dollars and tuition money is disgusting.

And according to the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh College Republicans, the decision by UWO's Campus Greens to invite controversial University of Wisconsin-Madison lecturer Kevin Barrett to speak Thursday night was just that, a waste.

"We do support free speech, that's why we're here," Nelson said to protestors and curious students outside Reeve Memorial Union on Thursday. "What we don't agree with is our taxpayer dollars and tuition dollars being wasted to support this idiot."

In August, Nelson, chairman of UWO's College Republicans, began organizing a rally for Thursday in conjunction with and in protest of Barrett's presentation about academic freedom and his theories about the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.

Barrett believes that the Sept. 11 attacks were orchestrated by the U.S. government and covered up by the current administration. His conspiracy theory gained national attention this summer when Rep. Steve Nass, R-Whitewater, and 61 other legislators sent a resolution to Gov. James Doyle denouncing Barrett's views and calling for the termination of his one-semester teaching contract.

"We don't think this gentleman (Barrett) portrays a good image for the university system," Nelson said. "(His beliefs) are not something that represent Wisconsin. I don't think taxpayer dollars should be paying for him to be an instructor in the university system. I think it may be time for him to move to a private institution."

UWO's College Republicans, Students For Academic Freedom, and the newly formed Protest Warriors took part in Thursday's rally. Nelson said Nass was invited to speak at the rally, but a family emergency kept him from coming.

Meg Teasdale, of Oshkosh, had a son in Iraq, and in her opinion, Barrett's theories are "absolute lunacy."

"I think it's terrible he's teaching in the university system," Teasdale said, as she held up a sign urging administrators to "fire Kevin Barrett."

"I feel our campuses are here to teach the facts, not to teach their own, personal agendas," she said.

Rally organizers had support from College Republicans from Marquette University, as well, who drove from Milwaukee on Thursday to rally against Barrett.

"Kevin Barrett is purporting to teach truth in the face of clear facts," said Daniel Suhr, a Marquette student. "For him to travel the nation and embarrass the state by spreading his propaganda, and knowing our taxpayer dollars are paying for this, is really an insult to all of us who love the University of Wisconsin and what it's supposed to stand for."

Mary Ellen Burke, also of Marquette, said the value of each student's diploma is decreasing as long as administrators are using tuition dollars to bring people like Barrett to campus.

"It is not OK to use my university dollars to pay for Kevin Barrett to tell his lies," she said.

Krista B. Ledbetter: (920) 426-6656 or kledbetter@thenorthwestern.com

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