Generally speaking, it is beneficial to possess a healthy degree of skepticism. It's a necessary component of critical thought, which is badly needed in our society because lies come from everywhere — television, the internet, acquaintances, government, and other places. Unfortunately, there are people who possess more than a "healthy degree" of this characteristic, which drives them down the bizarre and winding road of absurd conspiracy theories.
James Tracy is one such conspiracy theorist. He believes that the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting was a false flag operation orchestrated by powerful elite interests. He believes the same thing about last summer's shooting at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado; the same thing about the September 11 attacks; the same thing about the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing; and the 1993 World Trade Center bombing; and the assassinations of John F. Kennedy, Robert F. Kennedy, and Martin Luther King, Jr.
On Wednesday, Tracy even cast doubt on the "official version" of the Taft Union High School shooting in California.
That James Tracy believes all of this is in and of itself unremarkable. The internet is rife with basement-dwelling trolls who've immersed themselves in wholesale fantasies about a government cabal bent on [insert Bond villain-like endgame here]. Esoteric forums and chat rooms serve as virtual echo chambers in which batshit ideas reverberate with all the potency of a sonic boom.
But James Tracy is not just some internet troll hiding behind a user name. He is an Associate Professor at Florida Atlantic University — a public college. According to the Orlando Sun-Sentinel's database of the state's academics, Florida taxpayers pay Tracy an annual base salary of $58,276. In addition, the database lists a separate allocation of $6,374, which would bring his total annual pay to $64,650.
Believing in a conspiracy here or there need not automatically be cause for derision. A fair number of Americans believe, like Tracy, that something is not quite right with the official story of John F. Kennedy's assassination. People are certainly entitled to their skepticism and to ask questions. But to reflexively believe the opposite of every "official version" of every traumatic event that has occurred in recent memory is to demonstrate a deplorable penchant for relishing in a faux knowledge that places one in a tiny and supposedly enlightened minority.
When it comes to the lengthy menu of well-known conpiracy theories, not only does Tracy order every item on it; he asks why there aren't more choices.
I've previously written that Florida is a weird state for a variety of reasons, but its continued employment of James Tracy with the use of taxpayer money might be the weirdest one of all.