By Teachers, For Teachers
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. _ The top elected official in Newtown, Conn., has called on Florida Atlantic University to fire communication professor James Tracy over his assertions that last month's school massacre of 20 children and six adults may not have happened.
In an emailed comment, Newtown First Selectman E. Patricia Llodra called Tracy an "embarrassment" to FAU and all educators for espousing what she called "his outlandish conspiracy theories."
"Shame on you, too, FAU, to even have someone like this on your payroll," wrote Llodra, a former teacher. "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."
A Monday story in the Sun Sentinel in which Tracy discussed his views went viral and touched off a firestorm of controversy. While many callers and emailers defended or even applauded Tracy's remarks, others, including current and former FAU students, said they found his theories outrageous and offensive.
In response to the outcry, FAU president Mary Jane Saunders on Wednesday issued a statement seeking to further distance the Boca Raton school from the tenured professor's opinions.
"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," Saunders said. "FAU joins the entire nation and people around the world in feeling profound grief for the lives lost on that awful day."
In several posts on his memoryholeblog.com, Tracy, 47, suggests the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary may have been an event staged with hired actors and orchestrated by the Obama administration to promote gun control.
Prominent legal scholar Jonathan Turley wrote in his blog of Tracy's theories: "For those mourning the loss of the 20 children and six adults, it was both an outrageous and hurtful claim _ leading many to call for the firing of Tracy. However, as correctly noted by the FAU administration, this was a personal blog and Tracy has every right to espouse such theories."