Sandy Hook: Professor James. F Tracy, justification of criticism

MikeG

Senior Member.

I thought that this excerpt from the article was interesting. [emphasis mine]

“There’s still a lot that most of us don’t know,” said Peter Bonilla of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education. “I would hope that it not be the case that this investigation and their termination proceedings are motivated by hostility to his views — which are obviously quite in the minority and quite unpopular. I can only hope that they give him the same process that it would give any other faculty member who is accused of the same violations that Professor Tracy is.

“… It’s very easy for anyone’s message to go viral and to lose control of that message, and universities have in those situations a lot of pressure to look for a kind of quick and easy solution,” Bonilla said. “It’s unfortunately easy for universities in those situations to forget their institutional values where free speech and academic freedom is concerned. That is a concern of ours.”
Content from External Source
I may have said it before, but there is always some confusion between academic freedom, free speech, and responsible speech. That last quality is an important part of the debate, beyond the collective bargaining agreement (which Tracy violated) or due process concerns.

Academics have rules to follow, especially ones that pertain to handling claims and evidence. Tracy was bound by those rules. Sidestepping that core obligation distracts from his departure from professional standards.
 

deirdre

Senior Member.
I thought that this excerpt from the article was interesting. [emphasis mine]

“There’s still a lot that most of us don’t know,” said Peter Bonilla of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education. “I would hope that it not be the case that this investigation and their termination proceedings are motivated by hostility to his views — which are obviously quite in the minority and quite unpopular. I can only hope that they give him the same process that it would give any other faculty member who is accused of the same violations that Professor Tracy is.

“… It’s very easy for anyone’s message to go viral and to lose control of that message, and universities have in those situations a lot of pressure to look for a kind of quick and easy solution,” Bonilla said. “It’s unfortunately easy for universities in those situations to forget their institutional values where free speech and academic freedom is concerned. That is a concern of ours.”
Content from External Source
I may have said it before, but there is always some confusion between academic freedom, free speech, and responsible speech. That last quality is an important part of the debate, beyond the collective bargaining agreement (which Tracy violated) or due process concerns.

Academics have rules to follow, especially ones that pertain to handling claims and evidence. Tracy was bound by those rules. Sidestepping that core obligation distracts from his departure from professional standards.

I agree with all that. I dont think his "Sandy Hook research" qualifies in anyway as "academic research" because it is bunk to the max. Certainly not "PhD" quality!

But that aside, I'd like to point out to readers that the termination letter says the "Provost" first asked him for paperwork November 10th- a full month before the Pozner article came out. I'm pointing this out specifically only because the Hoax Culture is fixated on the Pozner article as the reason for his termination.

Although, it is possible the request for documentation had to do with his book "Nobody died at SH". As i pointed out earlier, that book states his college affiliation and in no way has a disclaimer that his views are not representative of the University..something he was warned about in the past.

She also mentions him 'promoting' other materials he did not disclose (which could be his book as he does promote it publicly).

So that would indicate a connection to SH. But Tracy writes about all sorts of things (i dont follow because its Jade Helm/zionist type stuff i dont understand), so unless he goes through with the lawsuit..wrongful termination..which i believe he will, we wont know for sure the specific details behind their thoughts.

It IS interesting to me that the University let him slide 3 years without submitting disclosure! It is well documented they were aware he engaged in external activist work.

Either way, i think the letter is pretty specific his termination due to insubordination and not providing appropriate paperwork. They seriously lucked out that Tracy didn't just submit the paperwork (although the book/FAU linked still may have gotten him fired. ?)
 

marcus112

Member
I agree with all that. I dont think his "Sandy Hook research" qualifies in anyway as "academic research" because it is bunk to the max. Certainly not "PhD" quality!

But that aside, I'd like to point out to readers that the termination letter says the "Provost" first asked him for paperwork November 10th- a full month before the Pozner article came out. I'm pointing this out specifically only because the Hoax Culture is fixated on the Pozner article as the reason for his termination.

Although, it is possible the request for documentation had to do with his book "Nobody died at SH". As i pointed out earlier, that book states his college affiliation and in no way has a disclaimer that his views are not representative of the University..something he was warned about in the past.

She also mentions him 'promoting' other materials he did not disclose (which could be his book as he does promote it publicly).

So that would indicate a connection to SH. But Tracy writes about all sorts of things (i dont follow because its Jade Helm/zionist type stuff i dont understand), so unless he goes through with the lawsuit..wrongful termination..which i believe he will, we wont know for sure the specific details behind their thoughts.

It IS interesting to me that the University let him slide 3 years without submitting disclosure! It is well documented they were aware he engaged in external activist work.

Either way, i think the letter is pretty specific his termination due to insubordination and not providing appropriate paperwork. They seriously lucked out that Tracy didn't just submit the paperwork (although the book/FAU linked still may have gotten him fired. ?)
'They seriously lucked out' [...] accurately reflects the disengenuos nature of [you]. [...]. His opinon is valid and is acceptable wherever it's posited, and everyone one of you [...] people have only [given your] opinions in the name of knowing who's right and who's wrong and what qualifies as bunk, crazy theories, and every other demeaning aassertion based on your [...] logic and opinions. [Do] you think you can claim his opinion re: Sandy Hook, Boston or any other event , is wrong but your opinion on the issues is correct and that means shit to anyone? You use your [...], baseless opinion to declare his opinions are wrong, not realizing that a hypocrite would blush if he heard you make a foolish claim such as that.

To you @MikeG , since you boldly assert the importance of an academic using 'responsible speech', how about you providing for us a definitive, widely accepted explanation for the meaning of, or definition of,.......... 'responsible speech'.

I will stand with Mr Tracy [...]

mod edit: just fixed the tag to @MikeG
Admin edit: Politness fixes.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
@marcus112, your post has been edited by me for politeness. You have posted here before, and you know that politeness is required. If you read your edited post you will see the content and questions are intact. There's nothing to stop you from communicating in a polite and factual manner.

This will be your only warning. Please be polite, or you will no longer be allowed to post here.
 

MikeG

Senior Member.
"To you @MikeG , since you boldly assert the importance of an academic using 'responsible speech', how about you providing for us a definitive, widely accepted explanation for the meaning of, or definition of,.......... 'responsible speech'."


Good to hear from you Marcus.

I doubt that I will find a "definitive, widely accepted explanation for the meaning of, or definition of,.......... 'responsible speech'."

I can offer language that governs the idea for academics, which hopefully keeps this discussion focused.

As a starting point, I am including Article 2 (Academic Freedom) of my own faculty collective bargaining agreement. The emphasis is mine.

A University FACULTY MEMBER is a citizen and a member of a learned profession. When he/she speaks or writes as a citizen, he/she should be free from University censorship or discipline, but his/her special position in the community imposes special obligations. As a person of learning he/she should remember that the public may judge his/her profession and his/her University by his/her utterances. Hence, he/she should at all times be accurate, should exercise appropriate restraint, should show respect for the opinions of others, and should make every effort to indicate that he/she is not a spokesperson of the UNIVERSITIES.
Content from External Source
http://www.apscuf.com/members/contract/2011-2015-faculty-cba


In the case of James Tracy, his contract covers “Academic Freedom and Responsibility” under Article 5 of the collective bargaining agreement. I am attaching a copy for your reference.

5.2 Academic Freedom. The principal elements of academic freedom include the freedom to:

(a) Present and discuss academic subjects, frankly and forthrightly, without fear of censorship, and to select instructional materials and determine grades in accordance with Board and University policies. The objective and skillful exposition of subject matter, including the acknowledgement of a variety of scholarly opinions, is the duty of every employee.

(b) Engage in scholarly and creative activity, and to publish results in a manner consistent with professional obligations.

(c) Speak freely on, and seek changes in, academic and institutional policies.

(d) Exercise constitutional rights without institutional censorship or discipline.


5.3 Academic Responsibility. Freedom entails responsibilities. The Board of Trustees, the University, and the UFF accept responsibilities to: (1) scholarship, (2) students and colleagues, (3) the University, and (4) the larger community which the University serves. These responsibilities include:

(a) Scholarly responsibility to be forthright and honest in the creation and communication of scientific and scholarly knowledge and to uphold the ethical standards of their discipline
Content from External Source

So, as far as a "definitive, widely accepted explanation," a few things apply. Most of these are common sense rather than, as you say, "bold" assertions.

First, people are entitled to their opinions. I don't think anyone here at Metabunk or anywhere will contest that.

Second, people are not entitled to facts. Facts are not the same as opinions. That is where this discussion seems to be breaking down. Tracy is welcome to his opinions, but has to be responsible about using his facts.

I welcome further discussion on this topic.
 

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MikeG

Senior Member.
Thanks to Deidre for finding this article from the Palm Beach Post.

Fired FAU professor James Tracy drops union-funded attorney

James Tracy, the professor recently fired from Florida Atlantic University amid controversial statements about the Sandy Hook massacre, has dropped his union-funded lawyer and hired his own attorney, according to the faculty union.

Tracy said Tuesday he hired attorney Louis Leo IV of Medgebow Law in Coconut Creek last week. Tracy told The Palm Beach Post the week of his dismissal that he planned to take “legal action” in his firing.
Content from External Source
http://www.mypalmbeachpost.com/news/news/fired-fau-professor-james-tracy-drops-union-funded/np7Y9/

Generally, union attorneys specialize in labor law as it specifically applies to their collective bargaining agreement. They have the best sense as to whether or not faculty have a viable case or not. Most faculty tend to listen to their lawyers, but this is not a regular case, or client for that matter.
 

Hevach

Senior Member.
He did drop the lawyer, rather than the other way around. If the lawyer dropped him, that would pretty much mean he doesn't have a case and the union's hanging him out to dry.

He could have been doing this preemptively to avoid the perception created by a union lawyer refusing the case, but it could also mean that the lawyer thought he might have a case, but made clear it had to be a different case than Tracy wanted to make. That is, the lawyer basically told him, "You've got to STFU on all this Sandy Hook nonsense or you're going to be laughed out of court," but perhaps Tracy wants exactly that (i.e. "fired for opinions that weren't shared by my superiors") to be his case.
 

MikeG

Senior Member.
He did drop the lawyer, rather than the other way around. If the lawyer dropped him, that would pretty much mean he doesn't have a case and the union's hanging him out to dry.

He could have been doing this preemptively to avoid the perception created by a union lawyer refusing the case, but it could also mean that the lawyer thought he might have a case, but made clear it had to be a different case than Tracy wanted to make. That is, the lawyer basically told him, "You've got to STFU on all this Sandy Hook nonsense or you're going to be laughed out of court," but perhaps Tracy wants exactly that (i.e. "fired for opinions that weren't shared by my superiors") to be his case.

That could be. Hopefully, we will see what his legal strategy will be in the next few weeks or months.
 

MikeG

Senior Member.
This article recently appeared on Memory Hole. It looks like Tracy will be going with the free speech argument.

The Subtle Mechanics of Unfree Speech Revisted

by MHB AdministratorHome • Tags: academe, academic freedom, Agora Project, censorship, FAU, FAU President John Kelly, First Amendment, Florida Atlantic University, James Tracy, US Constitution


“Our own FAU handbook says an employee may be terminated for questionable conduct, professional or personal,” trustee Robert Rubinsaid. “And what Professor Tracy said wasn’t?”

But making comments that are embarrassing to a university is not grounds to fire a tenured professor, said Robert Shibley, senior vice president of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, which advocates on free speech issues.

“Professors are citizens, too. They have the right to espouse various ideas, even if they’re controversial, as long as it doesn’t impact their teaching and their students.” -Scott Travis, “It’s That Professor Again: FAU Egghead Who Doubted Newtown Massacre Questions Boston Bombing,” South Florida Sun-Sentinel, April 24, 2013, A1.
Content from External Source
http://memoryholeblog.com/2016/02/20/the-subtle-mechanics-of-unfree-speech-revisted/
 

MikeG

Senior Member.
I found an interesting article from Deanna Spingola about James Tracy.

http://spingola.com/JamesTracy.html


Granted, I did not know Spingola’s background, but I followed her sources instead.


It appears that Tracy was president of the faculty union at FAU, the United Faculty of Florida (UFF).

Some of his official statements can be found at the UFF-FAU website.

http://uff-fau.org/uff-fau-presiden...sider-colleges-reorganization-and-leadership/

This is all interesting because as the faculty union president, Tracy had an intimate understanding of his collective bargaining agreement and university policies.

It also follows that Tracy would also understand the meaning of “potential, actual, or perceived conflicts of commitment or interest.”

These may have included not only his work on the Memory Hole blog, but also his fundraising on the blog itself.

The bottom line is that, regardless of his ongoing claims, Tracy's firing has nothing to do with free speech at FAU.

And he was probably one of the faculty at FAU who knew that best.
 

marcus112

Member
'They seriously lucked out' [...] accurately reflects the disengenuos nature of [you]. [...]. His opinon is valid and is acceptable wherever it's posited, and everyone one of you [...] people have only [given your] opinions in the name of knowing who's right and who's wrong and what qualifies as bunk, crazy theories, and every other demeaning aassertion based on your [...] logic and opinions. [Do] you think you can claim his opinion re: Sandy Hook, Boston or any other event , is wrong but your opinion on the issues is correct and that means shit to anyone? You use your [...], baseless opinion to declare his opinions are wrong, not realizing that a hypocrite would blush if he heard you make a foolish claim such as that.

To you @MikeG , since you boldly assert the importance of an academic using 'responsible speech', how about you providing for us a definitive, widely accepted explanation for the meaning of, or definition of,.......... 'responsible speech'.

I will stand with Mr Tracy [...]

mod edit: just fixed the tag to @MikeG
Admin edit: Politness fixes.
I apologize re:impoliteness/language.............
 

Tobes

Member
In the feud between Tracy and the Pozners, Tracy is accusing the Pozners of faking their son's death to profit from charitable donations. And he makes these accusations without a shred of evidence.
Now, I know people have done a scam where they claim their child has cancer or some other serious illness for that purpose, but has anyone ever faked a child's death, perhaps, as Tracy suggests, creating a fictional child for that purpose?
I guess there's nothing new under the sun, but I have a hard time figuring out how or why anyone of reasonable intelligence would do such a thing. It seems like it would be so easy to get caught. Somebody, a neighbor, a distant relative, a teacher, another kid at the school would speak up and tell everyone that the couple never had kids or they never saw that kid before in their life.
I just don't think people do that and I doubt anyone ever has, but I could be wrong.
 

Tobes

Member
How have his rights to free speech been compromised? He still has his blog. He's appearing on talk shows.

And libel, which is what he is doing when he accuses Lenny Pozner of some very serious crimes without a shred of evidence to back up his accusations, is not protected speech.
 

MikeG

Senior Member.
How have his rights to free speech been compromised? He still has his blog. He's appearing on talk shows.

And libel, which is what he is doing when he accuses Lenny Pozner of some very serious crimes without a shred of evidence to back up his accusations, is not protected speech.

I think that he is talking about his free speech rights when he was faculty. If you go back and look at his termination letter, the circumstances involved have nothing to do with free speech.

It is a shame that he decided to include his own union in the lawsuit. It is likely he decided that they were in collusion with the university when his union lawyer could not produce Tracy's desired outcome.

I am curious to see what a judge says once Tracy has to produce evidence of his claims.
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
http://www.sun-sentinel.com/local/palm-beach/fl-reg-james-tracy-fau-closings-20171208-story.html

December 11, 2017, 7:20 PM

A former Florida Atlantic University professor who claimed he was fired in retaliation for blogging that the Sandy Hook massacre was a hoax lost his bid to get his job back.

Jurors in the federal free speech lawsuit filed by James Tracy took just three hours to reject his claim that the university terminated him for his conspiracy theory blog.

The university said he lost his tenured position because he repeatedly refused to obey reasonable requests from his bosses.
Content from External Source
 

NoParty

Senior Member.
http://www.sun-sentinel.com/local/palm-beach/fl-reg-james-tracy-fau-closings-20171208-story.html

December 11, 2017, 7:20 PM

A former Florida Atlantic University professor who claimed he was fired in retaliation for blogging that the Sandy Hook massacre was a hoax lost his bid to get his job back.

Jurors in the federal free speech lawsuit filed by James Tracy took just three hours to reject his claim that the university terminated him for his conspiracy theory blog.

The university said he lost his tenured position because he repeatedly refused to obey reasonable requests from his bosses.
Content from External Source
Ah, I was overdue for a "feel good" story. :)
 
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