Editor’s note: James Tracy was fired from his tenured professorship at Florida Atlantic University for questioning official narratives of terror events, especially the 12/14/2012 Sandy Hook shooting, whose fourth anniversary is this Wednesday. Now Tracy’s Memory Hole Blog has been taken down by WordPress, with no clear explanation given. Since here at Veterans Today we still believe in the First Amendment, academic freedom, and other such antiquated notions, we are giving Dr. Tracy a platform to tell his side of the story. For more information, listen to my radio broadcast Psychology professor William Woodward discusses “witch hunts vs. academic freedom” and my forthcoming interview with James Tracy, which will be posted here. –Kevin Barrett
How Questioning the Sandy Hook Official Narrative Cost Me My Tenured Professorship
By James F. Tracy, Ph.D.
In his classic essay, “The Mass Society,” C. Wright Mills makes an enduring set of observations on the import of genuine political communication. He distinguishes between “a public,” by which he means an autonomous citizenry informed by a participatory communicative process, and a “mass,” or set of social relations where the state has exerted all but complete control over communication and opinion formation.
In the mass society, Mills argues, “institutional authority, with its sanctions and controls, penetrates the public … One thinks of the late Nazi street-and-block system, the eighteenth-century Japanese chum, the Soviet cell structure. In the extreme, the formal structure of power coincides, as it were, with the informal ebb and flow of influence by discussion, which is thus killed off.”
In an era of false flag terror and mass casualty incidents this “formal structure of power” exerts itself as official narratives of complex and sometimes staged events. A form of psychic and emotional control short-circuiting reason, such a storyline is laid out by government authorities and vigorously reinforced by corporate media in the event’s immediate aftermath. At this time of collective trauma such an explanation is most apt to take hold. The Sandy Hook School massacre of December 14, 2012 was one such spectacle where this dynamic played out great precision; one where examining the facts that contrasted with the prevailing narrative and its implied institutional authority became especially taboo. No one has become more aware of this over the past few months than the present author.
Along these lines, many understand how the phrase “conspiracy theory/theorist” is strategically used in mainstream political discourse to label thought or utterance conflicting with the official story. The term is particularly effective against a target when public discourse is misinformed on momentous events, often by the very news media that supposedly exist to inform their constituencies. Professional journalists and academics especially fear being identified with anything that smacks of “conspiracy,” and this often translates to professional malpractice by intentionally avoiding close analysis of key issues and events. The term has been used against this author repeatedly by major news media, which since 2013 have sought to pressure my employer, Florida Atlantic University, to fire me from my tenured position of Associate Professor of Journalism and Media Studies for essentially practicing what I have been professionally trained to do.
The Great “Sandy Hook Victims'” Subterfuge
In December 2015 the South Florida Sun-Sentinel published a guest opinion attributed to Lenny and Veronique Pozner, the parents of six-year-old Noah Pozner who allegedly perished in the Sandy Hook massacre. The article, titled, “Sandy Hook Massacre 3rd Anniversary: Two Parents Target FAU Conspiracy Theorist,” included the subtitle, “FAU Professor James Tracy Taunts Sandy Hook Victims.” In the editorial the Pozners use their roles in the shooting narrative to frame me as a stalker. This was done primarily by misrepresenting a letter I sent to Lenny Pozner’s “HONR Network,” an organization opposed to independent research on the event calling the official storyline into question. My letter took Pozner to task for a dubious copyright infringement claim he filed with my internet service provider in early 2015.
“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,” the Pozners waxed indignantly. “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.'”
The article skillfully downplays exactly how Lenny Pozner himself prompted my letter, which was sent to the HONR Network’s business address included in the complaint. In fact, the certified letter receipt wasn’t even signed by Lenny or Veronique Pozner, but rather by an “agent” who apparently picks up HONR Network mail at a retail shipping and postal box center.
Contrary to the claim that I was “taunting” or “harassing” the family, Pozner had his HONR network associates, which include several individuals assuming false “sock puppet” identities on social media, have pursued borderline criminal projects to infiltrate, disrupt, and otherwise intimidate individuals who’ve publicly questioned and researched the Sandy Hook event. In fact, Pozners’ group has been known to ruin the online reputations of individuals, contact neighbors, relatives, and employers with false and misleading information on given targets, and carry out internet bullying campaigns to discourage citizen journalists. This treatment was crystallized in the Pozners’ December 10 piece, which even pitched a blueprint for how and why FAU administrators should proceed with my termination.
The FAU Faculty Handbook
When do the interests of the college and its students take precedence over the tenure of a professor who has clearly proven himself in violation of the university’s own policy? The FAU Academic Affairs Faculty Handbook clearly states that “A faculty member’s activities which fall outside the scope of employment shall constitute misconduct only if such activities adversely affect the legitimate interests of the University.”Shortly after the well-crafted subterfuge appeared and I offered a response the same paper published a few days later, it reverberated across a broad array of corporate news media. Almost without exception the stories repeated the Pozners’ claim sans any reference to Lenny Pozner’s harassment of me through a bogus copyright claim to an image of his alleged son that had been reproduced many millions of times over following the family’s voluntary circulation of the photo in 2012.
In previous months Pozner had filed dozens of such claims against bloggers and YouTubers, in particular those posting the feature-length documentary, We Need to Talk About Sandy Hook, released in late 2014. Many YouTube researchers had their channels summarily closed down following such unsubstantiated claims, despite the fact that using such imagery clearly falls under the “fair use” provision of US copyright law.
With the above in mind, my certified letter to Pozner’s organization pointed to the constitutional implications of such harassment and accordingly requested substantive evidence that he in fact owned the image he was requesting my ISP or I remove from a blog post. Few news articles actually discussed or linked to the letter, with the New York Times a rare exception. Yet even the Times failed to address the fact that Pozner’s copyright infringement claim threatened the most fundamental free speech protections that even my internet service provider acknowledged.
My Letter to the HONR Network
Here are the key portions of my March 30, 2015 letter to Pozner and his organization:
“As you know, in addition to [the photograph of Noah Pozner’s] broad circulation following the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre event on December 14, 2012, this image was published by British Broadcasting Corporation and received similar worldwide circulation following the December 16, 2014 Taliban attack on the Army Public School and Degree College in Peshawar Pakistan.
“You have provided your electronic signature under penalty of perjury that you are the copyright holder of the above referenced image and have accordingly requested that it be removed from Memory Hole Blog.
“I have voluntarily removed the image in question on March 30, 2015. However, given that numerous similar copyright complaints made by you against parties that have publicly questioned and analyzed the Sandy Hook massacre event, I have reason to doubt the good faith nature of your March 22, 2015 DMCA copyright infringement claim. An action with such potential weight to stifle free speech needs the utmost scrutiny. I am therefore requesting written evidence of the following from you:
“1. Proof of your identity via copy of a government-issued document, such as a state driver’s license or passport.]
“2. Proof of your relationship to the deceased party, Noah Pozner, whose alleged photograph appears in the image in question referenced above.
“3. Proof of your ownership of said image via a signed and notarized statement from a qualified and licensed forensic expert substantiating your legal ownership of said image, including the date and time of the image’s capture.”
Professional journalists could have easily accessed, reviewed, linked to and quoted from the above correspondence, and pursued Pozner for additional information. But already complicit in constructing and perpetuating the official Sandy Hook massacre storyline, such outlets doubled down, reinforcing the narrative by making James Tracy an even more menacing antagonist whose behavior in this instance bordered on criminal.
My query was pitched as a callous, out-of-the-blue request for “proof that Noah once lived.” This was central to convincing the public and academic community, including many of my colleagues and students, that my termination was warranted. As an example of how the strategy worked, The Daily Beast interviewed a former FAU journalism student who had taken two classes with me in 2013, one of which involved journalism criticism. “‘[Tracy’s class] was basically about news stories that the media doesn’t cover as widely. That was the overarching subject of the class,’ said former student Christopher Ross.”
The article continues to explain how the student stood behind Tracy in what he believed to be a free speech fight with the college. He called him a “great professor.” “I had him the first class he taught coming back from the Sandy Hook [controversy]. He didn’t talk about it in the class. He completely separated what he did as a teacher,” said Ross.
But when told that Tracy had sent a certified letter to the Pozner family demanding proof of the existence of their dead son, Ross changed his tune. “Oh, man,” he said, then sighed. “Now, hearing that, I can understand why the school would want to take action. I think it’s okay to express your opinion, but you’ve gotta let the parents grieve.”
Jewish/Israeli Role in Termination?
The Pozners’ complaint resonated loudly in the Jewish press, with the Pozners’ editoral being reproduced in the Jewish Forward, and news of my pending termination was trumpeted by The Times of Israel. Given such exposure combined with South Florida’s large Jewish population and the Pozners’ ethnicity I can only conclude that this constituency was especially vocal toward FAU leaders that I should pay for such research with my livelihood. One party that contacted me as the termination proceeded suggested that Pozner wrote the letter at the behest of wealthy Jewish donors.While speculative, the allegation makes some sense given that over the past few years certain prominent figures at FAU have expressed interest in appointing a university president who would unflinchingly fire any faculty member who fell out of line. In 2013, following press attention of my analyses of Sandy Hook and a handful of other controversial events involving FAU faculty and administrators, FAU Foundation Board Vice Chair and former Virginia “super lawyer” Jay Weinberg observed,
“Because we are a diverse university … that doesn’t mean that we tolerate bigotry or prejudice. You have to draw a keen distinction between free speech and hate speech. I think that [in light of] recent events at this university, we need a president that understands that and who will act decisively with respect to it.”
Jeffrey Feingold, a dental industry entrepreneur and powerful Jewish Republican Party activist and FAU trustee, called for my termination at at least one trustees meeting in 2013, with the identical rationale presented in the Pozners’ December 10 editorial. Feingold also bizarrely argued at the time that FAU students protesting the university’s affiliation with the for-profit prison company Geo Group “could lead to violence like the Boston Marathon bombing.”
In addition to South Florida having one of the largest Jewish populations in the United States, thus possessing potential collective influence on area institutions, there are also close ties between FAU, the State of Florida, and the nation state of Israel. For example, FAU is a co-sponsor of the Florida Israel Institute, an organization established in 2012 “to promote the development of enhanced governmental, economic, technological, cultural, educational and social ties between the State of Florida and the State of Israel.”
Florida Governor Rick Scott accompanied FAU trustee Feingold on a trade mission to Israel in 2011. One upshot of that trip was a 2014 student exchange program between FAU’s new medical school and Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, Israel’s “leading science and technology university,” according to a report in the Sun-Sentinel. Chaim Shacham, the consul general of Israel to Florida and Puerto Rico, notes that Florida and Israel “have a ‘unique’ relationship: Florida has laws to prevent state dollars from going to companies working with Iran” and “Florida businesses have offices in Israel.” In addition, several FAU faculty, including Israeli-American journalist Ilene Prusher, who was hired by the university in June 2015 to teach journalism in my very department, have close ties to the influential nation state.
Conclusion: “Limits” to Academic Freedom/Free Speech
Less than one week after after the Pozners’ co-authored piece appeared in the Sun-Sentinel I received a letter from the Associate Provost in charge of personnel matters that the proposed disciplinary action based on a seven week-long dispute I had with the administration concerning its “outside activities” policy. To my astonishment the recommended penalty was termination from my tenured position as Associate Professor. As if to placate the mass, upon sending me the letter the administration issued a press release stating that it was moving to fire me, but that it couldn’t comment further because its own policy prevented any public comment on personnel matters!
For the next two weeks news outlets reinforced the notion of how there were “limits” to academic freedom and free speech, and that my letter to respond to Lenny Pozner’s harassive copyright infringement claim simply crossed the line of civility and professional comportment. How could the official narrative the same media had devoted so many of their resources toward ever be questioned? Sadly, though predictably, journalists never pursued Pozner for the same information I had reasonably requested nine months earlier.
As an example, a few days after the Pozners’ editorial appeared, I confronted a local broadcast reporter in my driveway, asking if he had done his due diligence in interrogating the Pozners’ claims before knocking on my front door. “Mr. Pozner showed me a death certificate” for his son, the reporter replied. As many Sandy Hook researchers are aware, the very document Pozner circulated in 2014, with its inconsistent tones, fonts and clear digital manipulation, was clearly a forgery. Yet such “proof” was entirely acceptable to this “journalist.”
With journalists this credulous it is little wonder that Mill’s mass society is a greater reality than ever before. In an era where information is purportedly at our fingertips, the prevailing narratives of major events take precedence over the facts and documentation that simply don’t support such storylines. Academics and those capable of earning a living as independent authors are the only members of society who have the security and privilege of taking on particularly controversial subject matter. My experience suggests that even tenure is not a safeguard for addressing such topics, particularly if institutional authority can harness and manipulate public emotion in such a powerful way toward the messenger.
 C. Wright Mills, The Power Elite, New York: Oxford University Press, 1956, 302.
 Documentation of such a police report does not exist in either Newtown Connecticut or Boca Raton Florida police department records. See James F. Tracy, “The Enduring Fraud of Lying Lenny,” orig. published at Memoryholeblog April 5, 2016, The Enduring Fraud of Lyin’ Lenny Pozner
 James F. Tracy, “Sandy Hook Massacre: Three Years of Subterfuge and Fraud,” memoryholeblog.com, December 14, 2015, http://memoryholeblog.com/2015/12/14/sandy-hook-massacre-three-years-of-subterfuge-and-fraud/
 Michael McPhate, “University in Florida Seeks to Fire Newtown Conspiracy Theorist,” New York Times, December 18, 2015, http://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/19/us/university-in-florida-seeks-to-fire-newtown-conspiracy-theorist.html?_r=0
 “While we believe that your use of the material is protected (we have fought for our users in similar cases in the past), please keep in mind that the complainant may choose to continue to pursue this matter, perhaps directly with you.” “[DMCA #2140616]: DMCA Takedown Notice,” (email), wordpress.com to James Tracy, March 26, 2015.
 James Tracy to Lenny Pozner/HONR Network, March 30, 2015.
 Ben Collins, “This Professor Trolled Sandy Hook Parents—And His University Wants Him Gone,” The Daily Beast, December 17, 2015, http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/12/17/this-professor-trolled-sandy-hook-parents-and-his-university-wants-him-gone.html
 Lenny and Veronique Pozner, “Time to Crack Down on Newtown ‘Truthers’ Who Tarnish Memory of Noah Pozner,” Forward, December 14, 2015, http://forward.com/opinion/327111/time-to-crack-down-on-shameless-sandy-hook-rampage-truthers/
 Renee Ghert-Zand, “Sandy Hook Conspiracist Harassing Jewish Family to Be Fired,” Times of Israel, December 17, 2015, http://www.timesofisrael.com/sandy-hook-conspiracist-harassing-jewish-victims-family-to-be-fired/; “Professor Fired After Claiming Sandy Hook Massacre Was a Hoax,” Times of Israel, January 6, 2016, http://www.timesofisrael.com/professor-fired-after-claiming-sandy-hook-massacre-was-a-hoax/
 Christopher Massana, “FAU Starts Looking for a New University President,” University Press, October 1, 2013, http://www.upressonline.com/2013/10/fau-begins-process-of-finding-a-new-university-president/
 Randy Schultz, “Editorial: FAU Trustees Need to Be Careful with the ‘Loser’ Label,” Palm Beach Post, August 22, 2013, http://www.mypalmbeachpost.com/news/news/opinion/editorial-fau-trustees-need-to-be-careful-with-the/nZZGw/
 FII Mission Statement, Florida Atlantic University and Broward College, http://www.floridaisrael.org/v2/index.php/about/fii-mission-statement
 Areil Barkhurst, “FAU Announces Partnership with Israel’s Leading Science and Technology University,” South Florida Sun-Sentinel, September 16, 2014, http://www.sun-sentinel.com/local/palm-beach/fl-fau-israel-university-20140916-story.html
 Jim Fetzer and Dr. Eowyn, “Are Sandy Hook Critics Delusional with ‘Twisted Minds?’” Veterans Today, May 1, 2015, http://www.veteranstoday.com/2015/05/01/are-sandy-hook-critics-delusional-with-twisted-minds/