As if to prove that a person can file suit about anything, Professor James Tracy has sued the Florida Atlantic University over his termination. Mr. Tracy is the person who some months ago denied that the Sandy Hook massacre occurred. The parents of one young victim, Noah Pozner, 6 years old, claimed that Mr. Tracy harassed them and challenged them to prove their son existed. The professor was reportedly taunting the parents. He was fired last January. Mr. Tracy was previously reprimanded in 2013 for writing on his blog that the Sandy Hook massacre was staged and for questioning the validity of other mass shootings. See CBS news report.
He has filed suit alleging First Amendment violations and wrongful termination. It is true that a state agency may not take action against an individual for expressing an opinion in a public way. But, harassing or taunting is not protected free speech. The parents of Noah Pozner described the harassment in an opinion piece published in a Florida newspaper. So, the employer can show it relied on the perception of other persons. The school will not even have to argue it believed Mr. Tracy was harassing. It can argue simply that it relied on a victim’s parents.
Too, it is one thing to have strange ideas. But, when the strange idea is part of the lawsuit, then one’s credibility starts at a deficit. Mr. Tracy’s case will be a difficult one from the get-go.