Hallelujah! University Wants To Fire Professor For Harassing Sandy Hook Parents

James Tracy, soon-to-be former professor at Florida Atlantic University (image courtesy WPTV)
James Tracy, soon-to-be former professor at Florida Atlantic University (image courtesy WPTV)

Earlier this week, we told you about James Tracy, a communications professor at Florida Atlantic University who is one of the more notorious Sandy Hook truthers. Tracy not only believes that the Sandy Hook massacre was an elaborate hoax, but even accuses the parents of the 20 kids who were murdered that day of making money off the “fake deaths” of their kids. Well, Tracy may have finally gone too far. After the family of one of the victims complained that Tracy had harassed them repeatedly over the years, FAU announced that it is beginning the process of firing him.

According to a statement from the university, vice provost for academic affairs Diane Alperin served Tracy with a notice of termination late Thursday. Under the terms of FAU’s collective bargaining agreement with the United Faculty of Florida, Tracy has ten days to respond to this notice, after which the university could potentially be free to formally fire him.

Although FAU has not gone into any specifics, it’s pretty easy to tell what the final straw was for university officials. On December 10, Larry and Veronique Pozner, parents of six-year-old Noah Pozner, wrote a gut-wrenching op-ed in the (Fort Lauderdale) Sun Sentinel accusing Tracy of harassing them. The Pozners said that Tracy sent them a certified letter demanding that they prove Noah had even been alive and that they were his parents. The Pozners were so frightened that they actually filed a harassment complaint with the Newtown police department.

The op-ed got little notice at first. However, when Raw Story got wind of Tracy’s despicable behavior, the condemnation came fast and hard. The Coalition to Stop Gun Violence launched a petition calling for university president John Kelly to fire Tracy immediately. Within 24 hours, it garnered 5,100 signatures.

I first heard about Tracy in 2013, only a month after the Sandy Hook shootings. He is a frequent contributor to the Center for Research on Globalisation, a far-left version of WorldNetDaily. To give you an idea of how much credibility this guy has, he claims that the Oklahoma City bombing and the September 11 attacks were staged. He has since claimed that virtually every mass shooting that has taken place in this country in recent memory never really happened. Just today, for instance, he took to his blog, The Memory Hole, to suggest that something didn’t quite add up about the San Bernardino shooting. You’ll have to take my word for it, folks–I’m not giving a guy who finds it even remotely acceptable to harass people in the name of fact-finding any additional traffic.

A number of people have wondered why FAU hasn’t taken steps to cut ties with Tracy sooner. Well, trolling in conspiracy theory, outrageous as it is, shouldn’t be in and of itself grounds to fire a professor. The First Amendment, remember, protects even unpopular speech. But the strongest protection of free speech would not protect someone who stoops to the level of harassing people. No responsible university should have to tolerate a professor who engages in such behavior.

Tracy strikes me as a left-wing version of Charles C. Johnson, the pseudojournalist and right-wing provocateur. Just like Tracy, Johnson’s idea of journalism crossed the line into out-and-out harassment–a tactic that got him permanently banned from Twitter. However, this sort of despicable behavior should be condemned regardless of what political shade you may be.

If Tracy does contest his firing, I hope that the United Faculty of Florida tells him that he’d be on his own if he went that route. Speaking as the son of a union official, there are certain things that no union worth its salt would defend. You would think that harassment would be one of them.

Darrell is a 30-something graduate of the University of North Carolina who considers himself a journalist of the old school. An attempt to turn him into a member of the religious right in college only succeeded in turning him into the religious right's worst nightmare--a charismatic Christian who is an unapologetic liberal. His desire to stand up for those who have been scared into silence only increased when he survived an abusive three-year marriage. You may know him on Daily Kos as Christian Dem in NC. Follow him on Twitter @DarrellLucus or connect with him on Facebook. Click here to buy Darrell a Mello Yello.