A university in Florida made efforts Wednesday to fire a professor who upset many by calling the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School a hoax.
Florida Atlantic University gave associate professor James Tracy 10 days to file a grievance before facing termination. Tracy wrote that media reports of the shooting in Newton, Conn. were fake, according to the Washington Post.
Parents of one of the victims responded in outrage last week. Lenny and Vernonique Ponzer penned an op-ed in the Sun-Sentinel calling for Tracy’s dismissal.
“The heartache of burying a child is a sorrow we would not wish upon anyone. Yet to our horror, we have found that there are some in this society who lack empathy for the suffering of others. Among them are the conspiracy theorists that deny our tragedy was real. They seek us out and accuse us of being government agents who are faking our grief and lying about our loss.”
The letter continues, detailing Tracy’s interactions with the Ponzers.
“Tracy even sent us a certified letter demanding proof that Noah once lived, that we were his parents, and that we were the rightful owner of his photographic image. We found this so outrageous and unsettling that we filed a police report for harassment. Once Tracy realized we would not respond, he subjected us to ridicule and contempt on his blog, boasting to his readers that the “unfulfilled request” was “noteworthy” because we had used copyright claims to “thwart continued research of the Sandy Hook massacre event.”
In response Tracy wrote a post on the “Hoax at Sandy Hook” Facebook page defending himself and reasserting that there were no deaths at Sandy Hook. The Post reported that Tracy claims that “local co-conspirators” profited from faking grief and that the Ponzers sought to bully the school into firing him over his extensive research.
Tracy, who earned a doctorate at the University of Iowa, “teaches courses examining the relationship between commercial and alternative news media and socio-political issues and events” according to Florida Atlantic’s website.
Tracy has 10 days to file a grievance to a notice of termination that university officials filed publicly Wednesday.