Submitted by Toni King
It took two weeks for the Sun-Sentinel newspaper to announce that James Tracy had stirred up a controversy. In the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary mass shooting incident, the academic had published a series of articles describing the neglect of major media to address discrepancies in their own reporting, as well as the appearance of their collusion with law enforcement and federal agencies in carefully managing a narrative that focused away from journalistic investigation. Tracy’s writings gathered attention from independent researchers, but were little noticed elsewhere until, singularly, the Sun-Sentinel newspaper was roused to mount an exception to the Professor’s critique.
The problem for the Broward/Palm Beach counties publication was that Tracy, a PhD whose areas of expertise include media and communication studies, was the kind of authority the newspaper was accustomed to running to when it wanted to shore up its own credibility. What to do? Deciding to ignore Tracy’s observations helped the newspaper slip past the need to justify its own position, and move on to the only option left to it: discredit the man himself.
They began to cultivate a “Nutty Professor” trope. Because Tracy published his observations in a blog, he was portrayed as dwelling outside professional boundaries in the mad fringes of the internet, where, it was imagined, he compounded fantastical conspiracy theories from the innocent mistakes made inadvertently by the media in the early hours of the event.
In a string of articles, the Sun-Sentinel continued its defamation and was joined by larger establishment media in chorusing outrage that someone with professional credentials had the temerity to ask questions. The rhetoric turned uglier as Tracy was labeled twisted, his ideas bizarre, and the drumbeat to remove him from his position increased. In the comments sections of online print and news sites, the outrage and derision slid into physical threat.
Still no one would grapple with the issues that Tracy brought forward. Instead, mass media led the country in a pageant of grief, and the ensuing emotional wave helped drown out any critical response.
The victims became the story instead of the crime. Abandoning real investigation, much time and production were spent dramatizing each family’s unique grief, with on-air journalists evincing tearful awe at every inspiring story. A narrative developed that the ordeal was so heinous and the grief so unique that, in order to spare the families of the victims more intolerable suffering, one must ignore the crime altogether.
This idea was borrowed from the same politically correct culture that blankets the new “safe space” that used to be known as a college campus. It insists that the personal story, as dictated by the victim, is inviolate, and will accept only mute empathy in tribute. Implacably authoritarian, politically correct culture bends even universities to its will.
At Sandy Hook, if inquiry was hurtful, vengeance was enervating. Investigation of the crime may be abandoned, but the post-shooting career of many a Sandy Hook family took off with exuberance, as they joined in the grand campaign for gun control that happened to parallel a primary political goal of the Obama Administration and Eric Holder’s Justice Department.
In October of 2015, the edited volume, Nobody Died at Sandy Hook, was offered for sale on Amazon.com. Authored by independent research experts and six PhDs, and anchored by a chapter and a timeline written by James Tracy, it is a devastating critique of the official story handed down by the network of government and corporate media. The book is a clear demonstration that there are no lines of reasoning that lead to the conclusion that the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting was an authentic mass casualty event. After a month of successful sales, Amazon reversed direction and suppressed the book, illuminating the real threat to authority this research project represents.
In December, four days before the third anniversary of the Sandy Hook event, the ever-accommodating Sun-Sentinel newspaper published an op-ed from Lenny and Veronique Pozner, who say their son was killed in the incident. In another dismal attempt at neutralization, the Pozners accused Tracy of harassing them and called for him to lose his job. Though their story, as they tell it, seems easy to validate, they have yet to seek relief from Tracy’s assertions in a legal venue. Instead they make emotional appeals to the public based on the pain they suffer when asked about the specifics of their son’s death. They want control of the narrative and Tracy’s engagement in critical dialogue threatens that.
The Pozners’ late appearance here illustrates that, in the matter of Sandy Hook, PC culture has extended into political discourse as a cover for deception. The Sandy Hook Mass Casualty Event was an intentional perversion of the truth, and as the legal definition of fraud describes, was meant to induce the citizenry into surrendering a legal right. The authority of the perpetrators in power evaporates in the presence of this despicable lie.
While the government palpates the body politic for signs of resistance, and mass media is busy scrawling politically correct ideas across the face of questionable national events that seem to demand some urgent action, emotion is pouring out of the populace, short-circuiting critical thought and inciting a righteous desire for state intervention. Finally, the government has what it wants: a mass of citizens are clamoring for the agenda it was pushing all along.
This is a blasphemous inversion of participatory democracy. American civil society has been co-opted by illegitimate power and must be abandoned. It will have to be constructed anew in a public space that remains outside the control of the government and its institutions, where it can be called upon to justify its democratic legitimacy to its participants.
The public sphere gives rise to civil society through the free exchange of information and ideas, and by challenging the boundaries of acceptable speech and behavior. Thus public opinion can be turned into political action. At Tracy’s Memory Hole blog, readers trade views and knowledge, and following the scholar’s example, a critical dialogue is applied.
James Tracy’s job as an academician may be over, but his authority has never faltered in the public sphere where the true sources of political and moral authority are found. In the new public space, he is a locus of authority, and diverse citizens gather around and practice the art of intellectual self-defense and the hopes of free speech.