While James Tracy's two baby daughters vied for their father's attention on a recent morning outside of May Memorial Unitarian Church in Boca Raton, one of the country's most-hated professors thought for a moment.
"I'd say if given the chance, apology might be something I'd be interested in," said Tracy, who theorized two months ago whether the Sandy Hook shootings had occurred as the media had portrayed it -- or even at all.
But despite the sweeping condemnation and that his comments helped incite harassment of some parents of Sandy Hook victims, he expressed recalcitrance. He's convinced that at some level, he's right. Something strange happened in the coverage of Sandy Hook. The government, the media, the corporations -- they planned something. Though he's not sure what.
What's more, he said, it's odd that if his musings had so seriously affected any of the parents -- why hadn't they lashed out at him? Why hasn't he received any angry phone calls? If he were one of the parents, he said, he would have been screaming.
"Strange," Tracy said. Then let the thought drop.
A lot of things strike Tracy as strange. Most of the mass shootings have seemed odd, as well as the killing of Osama Bin Laden and the Greek debt crisis. He doesn't know who's pulling the strings -- but he says someone definitely is.
"I've written about a variety of very controversial stances," he said. "I like to get people to think. That's why I have the profession that I have, and that's what I do as a scholar."
Then he quickly clarifies. His blog, memoryholeblog.com, isn't a place of academic work exactly. It's his personal thoughts -- though they're amplified by his scholarly work and oftentimes construed as scholarly work.
And as for his real research? Tracy has published an underwhelming 15 articles in his ten years at FAU -- on topics ranging from reggae music to librarians. None of these articles rises to his blog's level of controversy or bombast. That's because academia requires proof -- something Tracy never has, nor wants to get.
"It's more important to ask questions sometimes than to provide answers," he said, later saying he would never want to be a reporter because that would ground his thoughts in what he could prove or disprove. Tracy's not interested in truth. He's interested in conspiracy.
One academic familiar with Tracy's communications' department who wanted to remain nameless said most of Tracy's work isn't academia. "You want to get attention and fame -- but not the kind Tracy has," he said.
Tracy's not sure he agrees. He boasted about the number of clicks his work on the conspiracy site, Global Research, has attracted -- "30,000!" -- and concedes his work there is more widely read than anything he's done in academia.
But it's also lured a certain demographic Tracy has never associated with. Most of the comment boards on his articles offer a glimpse into the mind of the fringe right wing.
According to one commenter:
I dont think anyone died at sandy hook ( beside maybe lanza and his mother) who where then plants , i think the whole thing was a scam . i think they are ALL ACTORS . there are the 1200 PARENTS whose children went to this 'school' . where are 600 children that attend this so called 'school'?
the only people i see on interviews are obviously bad actors and all interviewed BY CORRUPT MEDIA OUTLETS . so I believe NON OF IT . we need professional INVESTIGATORS to go in there and this should bring the whole CORRUPT MEDIA AND GOVERNMENT TO ITS FILTHY KNEES
Tracy doesn't think he legitimizes this sort of raving by providing a home to it on a tenured professor's personal website.
It's all part of proving a conspiracy.