Sunday, January 13, 2013

FAU Professor Incites Cyberbullying of Connecticut Victims' Families

"Experience: that most brutal of teachers. But you learn, my God do you learn."
- C.S. Lewis
December 14th is my birthday.  I am a Sagittarius. That is what I know about that date - the first thing I know about it, in fact.  But for the people of Newtown, Connecticut, that date will be forever associated with a bloody massacre that ripped their families violently apart and shattered their spirit.
Imagine my disillusionment when I woke up that day expecting to see a long stream of "Happy Birthday" messages on my personal facebook timeline and only found worried messages of regret and heartbreak in my newsfeed. December 14th is now less celebratory for me too.

Information travels fast - faster than it can be verified and faster than it can be taken back.  Nobody knows this better than countless embarrassed journalists and bloggers (including myself) who have accidentally put the wrong information into the working hands of an unassuming public.  There is one person who has the ability and obligation to teach young journalists the magnitude or importance of getting it right and controlling their impulses when interpreting facts and opinions. That man is James F. Tracy, a professor of Media History and Analysis at Florida Atlantic University. 

When it comes to analyzing the media coverage of the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting, Jame F. Tracy has grossly and obscenely ignored everything you could see as a hard fact and replaced these obvious truths with his own paranoid delusions of a government conspiracy.

In short, he went on a public access radio program out of Berkley, CA and spread bizarre rumors that the Newtown Connecticut massacre never really happened at all... or that if it did happen, it was because President Obama ordered it to happen.  He theorized that the grieving parents and children of the victims were merely "actors" playing a role for the media.  He told the show host that it was not possible for one shooter to fire off so many rounds in such a short period of time - because he refuses to accept the fact that the shooter had used a Bushmaster semi-automatic assault rifle.
This conspiracy theory that he's created plays just perfectly for homicidally insane connoisseurs of such weaponry.  NRA members and right-wing extremists flocked to this idea almost instantaneously.  It was a disaster... a 2nd disaster.  The wound for victim's families has already been re-opened and salt poured into it.

Erica Lafferty is the daughter of Sandy Hook's dearly departed Principal.  Dawn Hochsprung is her mother - who died on December 14, 2012.  Erica is an avid Twitter user and just days before the incident, she was re-tweeting President Obama's remarks on the fiscal cliff negotiations.   Then, on the day of the tragedy... she received the news and also took to Twitter.

The above tweet (and the community connected to it) does not exactly fit in with the conspiracy narrative that the Sandy Hook Tragedy may have been just a front for Obama to do his evil New World Order deeds.  In fact, the victims themselves don't fit into any such narrative.  Neither do internet lurkers such as myself.

James Tracy's exploitive fame-mongering theory is bad enough as it is... but it can get worse.  Much worse.  As I said before - certain types of people are drawn to this sort of kool-aid and they don't just swill it down themselves - they clumsily slosh it all over everyone else.

Enter a gun-rights advocate named Brodie.  Brodie had been following the rants of other crazies like Alex Jones and re-tweeting Ultimate Fighting Champions when he happened upon Tracy's "Sandy Hook didn't happen" radio rant on the internet.

Brodie did what he thought was necessary to protect the reputation of this esteemed professor at FAU... He decided to question Erica Lafferty on whether or not the mother she is grieving really ever existed at all. 

Erica had been busy promoting rubber support bracelets that read "WWDD" (What would Dawn Do) in memory of her mother's heroism. The proceeds from these bracelets would be donated to her late mother's scholarship fund.  Brodie evidently did not bother to understand this before demanding that Erica defend the loss of her mother. 
Can you imagine having to defend the fact that your departed mother really existed in the first place to random internet trolls while you're trying to get your friends excited about supporting her favorite cause?

Twitter has since suspended the @BrodieBrasseaux account, but like all conspiracy kooks, he's probably continuing his interrogations under another name.  He is just one example of many.

But yet one more insult still lingers in this whole debacle... Florida Atlantic University has (so far) refused to let their esteemed colleage, Dr. Tracy take a vacation to the funny farm.  The School even issued a press statement to such effect.  They wish to make it known that they, as a school, cannot be held legally accountable for Dr. Tracy's flippant skewering of truth and justice... and he will remain a tenured professor at Florida Atlantic University.

Tracy did in fact issue an apology... but only a half-hearted one that was directed to the victims families all while still defending his conspiracy theories and not apologizing for planting this evil (yet totally absurd) seed in everyone's imagination to begin with.  No - Tracy has in fact added NEW conspiracy theories on top of the old ones... because he's that convinced by his delusions.

What bothers me now is that FAU seems to have taken a "not really our problem" approach to handling this situation.  Yet, until this man is no longer in their employ, a degree from FAU will not be worth the paper it's printed on. 

That is certainly their problem to deal with.

- Jarrett Terrill


  1. FAU, cut the dangerous lunatic loose NOW!!

  2. FAU should act responsibly and extend to Dr Tracy a Leave of Absense and that he only to return when he has medical doctors assurances that he has the capacity to understand human compassion!


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