A Florida college professor who blogged that the Sandy Hook school massacre may have been staged — or didn't happen at all — is an "embarrassment" who should be fired from the public university where he teaches, said the top official in the grief-stricken Connecticut town where 20 children and six adults were gunned down last month.
James Tracy, an associate professor of media history at Florida Atlantic University, made the bizarre claims in a series of posts on his personal blog, memoryholeblog.com. Although the school distanced itself from Tracy, who has also doubted the official versions of the JFK assassination, 9/11 and even the more recent movie massacre in Aurora, Colo., Newtown First Selectman E. Patricia Llodra said the conspiracy theorist has no business drawing a taxpayer-funded paycheck.
"Shame on you, too, FAU, to even have someone like this on your payroll," Llodra, herself a former teacher and school administrator, told FoxNews.com in an email. "Professor Tracy is an embarrassment to me as an educator and should be to you as well. I can assure you, sadly, that the events here in Newtown unfolded exactly as are being reported, with the horrible outcome of the violent death of 26 innocent people, including 20 children.
"It is outrageous and an insult to all caring people to think that this man would chose this event as a stage for his outlandish conspiracy theories," she added, calling his statements "wrong, inconsiderate and insensitive."
Haven't these parents and the community been hurt enough?
- Newtown First Selectman E. Patricia Llodra
Tracy, who did not return calls seeking comment on Tuesday, told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel he considers his conspiracy-mongering a scholarly endeavor.
“I describe myself as a scholar and public intellectual interested in going more deeply into controversial public events,” he said. “Although some may see [my theories] as beyond the pale, I am doing what we should be doing as academics.”
The Boca Raton public university said Tracy was speaking only for himself.
“I want to make it clear that those views and opinions are not shared by Florida Atlantic University, and I am personally saddened by any media stories that have added to the pain felt by the victims’ families,” FAU President Mary Jane Saunders said in a statement obtained by FoxNews.com.
“FAU joins the entire nation and people around the world in feeling profound grief for the lives lost on that awful day,” the statement continued. “Our hearts break for the victims, their loved ones and friends, and all the people of Newtown. The world lost innocent children and brave adults whose lives were dedicated to education. In the aftermath of this terrible tragedy, we learned of the tremendous heroism of the Sandy Hook teachers and administrators. We admire their courage in the face of unspeakable horror and we honor their memory.”
In a posting titled “The Sandy Hook Massacre: Unanswered Questions and Missing Information,” Tracy questioned how Adam Lanza was able to fire off so many shots in such little time and noted a lack of surveillance video or still images from the gruesome crime scene.
“Inconsistencies and anomalies abound when one turns an analytical eye to news of the Newtown school massacre,” Tracy, 47, wrote. “While it sounds like an outrageous claim, one is left to inquire whether the Sandy Hook shooting ever took place — at least in the way law enforcement authorities and the nation’s news media have described.”
When pressed by the Sun-Sentinel, Tracy acknowledged that "one is left with the impression that a real tragedy took place," but suggested the Dec. 14 massacre was some sort of staged event.
“Was this to a certain degree constructed?” he asked. “Was this a drill?"
Llodra said the university should be ashamed to even have Tracy on its payroll.
"Haven't these parents and the community been hurt enough?" she asked.
Tracy’s comments are reminiscent of those by a former University of Colorado professor who compared some Sept. 11 victims to a Nazi in 2007.
Ward Churchill was terminated by the university after an essay he wrote described some of those victims as “little Eichmanns,” a reference to Adolf Eichmann, the Nazi leader who helped orchestrate the Holocaust.
Churchill lost an appeal before the Colorado Supreme Court in September to win back his job. His attorney, David Lane, said Churchill plans to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.