In the wake of yesterday's damning and international condemnation of James Tracy's allegations that the Sandy Hook massacre hadn't happened -- though apparently our commenters agree with him -- one group has flocked to the embattled professor's aid: his students.
Yesterday, his former student, Ryan Cortes, who's taken three of Tracy's classes, wasn't surprised by the professor's bombastic opinions. Most of Tracy's students say he may have incendiary views, but admire his courage in voicing them and exercising his free speech, said Cortes, who wrote a piece yesterday covering student reaction.
Indeed, Tracy's always been that way, and we reported yesterday. But it goes deeper. During his lectures, Tracy questions everything, Cortes says, perhaps not alleging conspiracy theories behind every corner -- but definitely implying it.
"They all have a similar feel," said Cortes, last year's editor of FAU's student publication, the University Press. "It's a lot of open discussion, sitting in a circle, discussing things and conspiracies come up. It's really healthy. ... He doesn't say his theories in declarative sentences, but he says, 'What do you make of this? Do you think something is fishy.' "
Tracy is the most outspoken and controversial professor in FAU's communications faculty. He incessantly blames the media for not digging deep enough, not asking enough questions, Cortes said. "He thinks the media thinks the public is stupid," Cortes said. "And it makes you want to become a journalist so you can change things. It's healthy, his bashing the media."
Other students decried the overwhelming excoriation of Tracy; yesterday, former student Dori Zinn also wrote on Twitter:
FAU is known for plenty of screw ups, especially within their Journalism department. James Tracy is one of the few making it worthwhile.-- Dori Zinn (@dorizinn) January 9, 2013
Though Tracy, who's looked haggard over the last few days, can be a tad aloof. He's smarter than most people -- and he knows it, said Cortes, adding he's "not so charming."
"But he's very ballsy, Cortes said. "He says what he wants and so few professors have the courage to talk like that."