POLITICS

New College board member’s Twitter feed: COVID conspiracies and climate-change denial

Zac Anderson
Sarasota Herald-Tribune
Eddie Speir tweeted earlier this month about a Buffalo Bills football player collapsing on the field and implied it might be related to the COVID-19 vaccine. Gov. Ron DeSantis recently appointed Speir, the founder of Inspiration Academy in Bradenton, to the New College of Florida board.

The day after NFL Buffalo Bills football player Damar Hamlin collapsed on the field in a shocking incident that gripped the nation, Eddie Speir went on Twitter to share his thoughts.

Speir is the founder, board chair and superintendent of Inspiration Academy, a private Christian school in Bradenton. He recently was appointed by Gov. Ron DeSantis to the New College of Florida Board of Trustees as part of a conservative transformation of the state’s liberal arts honors college, and is pledging to end what he calls a "tyrannical ideology" at the school that is "patently anti-western civilization, anti-American, and anti-Florida."

Speir’s take on Hamlin, whose first name he misstates: “Devin Hamlin literally died on national television (so happy he is doing better now), and very few people are stating the obvious for fear of turning his tragedy into a political discussion."

Speir then delved into what he described as “the shocking number of people especially young athletes of have died suddenly” and implied there is a possible link to COVID-19 vaccinations.

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“Something has changed in our public health, and we should have a discussion to collectively assess this clear and present danger to all of us,” Speir wrote, pointing to “covid and vaccinations” as the change before lamenting that “it is clearly forbidden to know or talk about somebody’s vaccination status who has died suddenly.”

Speir’s Twitter feed includes multiple statements about COVID-19 that are disputed by scientific experts. There is no evidence Hamlin’s vaccine status played a role in his collapse or that such incidents have become more common, according to doctors interviewed for a recent Associated Press article.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the COVID-19 vaccines are safe and recommends them for all qualified individuals age six months and older.

"We need to have a proper debate and discussion about Covid misinformation," Speir wrote in an email response to Herald-Tribune questions about his Twitter comments. "Those previously trusted institutions like the CDC and the media have repeatedly lied about Covid and the safety and efficacy of the vaccine and masks."

Speir also repeatedly shared tweets that call climate change a “hoax.”

DeSantis’ new board appointees are causing alarm at New College. Their conservative views and mandate to completely reorient the school in the model of Hillsdale College – a conservative Christian school in Michigan – are certain to create turmoil on a campus with a reputation for left-wing politics.

Some board members are attracting more attention than others, though.

Christopher Rufo has received the most scrutiny so far, and is the best known of the new board members. Rufo has gained prominence for his activism around transgender and racial issues, making him a frequent guest on FOX News.

Christopher Rufo in Seattle, Washington.

Speir isn’t well known, but his Twitter feed could generate concern and is another example of the culture clash coming at the school. Some of his beliefs appear to be far outside mainstream scientific consensus, and his comments to the Herald-Tribune show he is eager to transform New College into something that is ideologically in sync with his views.

"This country has another pandemic," Speir wrote in his email to the Herald-Tribune. "A pandemic of useful idiots who are either too naïve or too unaware of the machinations of tyrannical ideology that threaten our very lives, our liberties, and our pursuit of happiness as Floridians."

"Today’s universities, New College in particular, become pipelines into this tyrannical ideology," Speir added. "When you separate a person from their creator and reduce their identity to a group, sexual preference, or skin color, you often create a victim in search of a villain, which becomes a community organizer euphemistically, an agitator historically, and a Marxist ultimately."

"I believe in freedom of speech, and I can respect people who I may disagree with, but it is not right to demand that taxpayers pay for this indoctrination of Florida’s youth," he continued.

In addition to his tweets about Hamlin and the COVID-19 vaccine, Speir retweeted COVID-19 concerns raised by others.

He shared a tweet by television journalist Lara Logan, who shared a video of a doctor touting ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine as COVID treatments and claiming the government knew of their treatment value – which is disputed by the Food and Drug Administration - well before the pandemic started.

“This timeline is critical… it’s what those in charge like Fauci knew & when they knew it,” Logan wrote, in reference to Dr. Anthony Fauci, former chief medical advisor to the president. “This tells us everything about intent. We cannot let them get away with murder.”

Ivermectin is used to treat parasites in humans and animals and hydroxychloroquine is used to treat malaria.

The FDA says ivermectin shouldn't be used to treat COVID-19 and hydroxychloroquine should only be considered as treatment in "clinical trial settings or for treating certain hospitalized patients."

Speir also tweets frequently about climate change.

“My first experience of climate change alarmism was the Acid Rain Scare of 1980,” Speir said in a sharing a tweet that referred to climate change as a “hoax.”

In another tweet Speir said “Sometimes it is difficult to briefly summarize the fabricated reality of ‘climate change.’”

Multiple tweets that Speir shared from other Twitter users refer to climate change as a “hoax” or “scam.”

Asked whether he believes in climate change, Speir wrote in an email that: "After experiencing a lifetime of lies, failed predictions, and fearmongering, I am understandably skeptical."

"As a child, I saw the frenzied panic mongers indoctrinate my school and teach us about the coming ice age," he wrote. "After that, we were literally told to fear the rain because of acid rain in the '80’s. Then came global warming with the warnings that Florida would be underwater by 2000. "

The curriculum at Speir’s Christian school – Inspiration Academy - also is attracting attention. The school primarily uses materials from the Bob Jones University Press, according to its website.

Carol Lerner, an education activist in Sarasota, said the Bob Jones curriculum “denies human evolution, distorts history and has a Christian nationalistic general thrust.”

Speir accused the Herald-Tribune of "wasting time seeking to assassinate my character and cancel me, instead of doing your own research."

Speir was appointed to the New College board Friday. On Monday, he had met with New College President Patricia Okker Monday and toured the campus, he said.

The college has "tremendous potential," he said.

"I am excited for the future and look forward to bringing my educational and business background to such an excellent Board of Trustees," he said. "I am reminded of a powerful axiom that has helped me navigate perilous waters in the past. 'We must confront the brutal facts and yet never lose hope!'"