A CCBC student and war veteran was barred from campus after having a violently graphic essay about his time in war published in the school paper. Check out the Baltimore Sun article here: http://articles.baltimoresun.com/2010-11-20/news/bs-md-veteran-suspension-20101121_1_iraq-veteran-war-veteran-campus-violence
I once wore a shirt to middle school that read “See Dick Drink, See Dick Drive, See Dick Die” on the front with three stick figures to represent Dick and his actions. The back of the shirt in big block letters, read “DON’T BE A DICK.” At the principal’s office, I stood behind the First Amendment like it was a shield that could deflect a nuclear bomb. Even then, I knew it wouldn’t work. I was just wearing the shirt to be a dick anyway. There were no social or political motives I was campaigning. At 12, I understood that though a legally binding supplement to our country’s constitution, there were sometimes more important issues which trumped my freedom of speech.
Charles Whittington, a war veteran and community college student in Catonsville, MD, had an essay published in the school paper in which he spoke openly and graphically of his addiction to violent killings and his hate toward “the rag heads that hurt our country.” He was banned from campus pending a psychological evaluation and seems to honestly question why. After a DUI in which I was barely over the limit, I had to have a psychological evaluation before I was able to drive again, which I believe to be completely justified. If I was responsible for a college campus full of potential victims to a person’s admitted addiction, especially any “rag heads” who might press a once-dormant button in an admitted killing machine, I think a psychological evaluation is the least I should require, if for nothing else than to protect my own ass.
I understand why Charles is upset. These writings were recommended by his therapist and he was encouraged by his professor to publish this particular essay. The administration’s reaction was a complete contrast to his professor’s advice. So he is now being punished by his college administrators for carrying out the wishes of another of his college administrators. I hope for the sake of the student that the professor has taken some responsibility for suggesting he publish his essay. Surely, the professor must have imagined this reaction as a possibility.
Maybe Charles is simply voicing the thoughts of most men and women who fight in combat, making public what most people think about in private. If so, he is certainly a hero for that and he wouldn’t be the first writer to be persecuted for his writings. He shines a light on the real issue here, which is the reintegration of these government-made killing machines back into society after being “brain washed” by the military to the point where killing is “something I really need so I can feel like myself.” However, it doesn’t change the bottom line in the eyes of the Community College admins.
In a November 2010 article in the Baltimore Sun, Charles rejected comparisons that had been made of him to Seung-Hui Cho, the Virginia Tech shooter, claiming Cho wasn’t a “veteran or a soldier, and he was mad at the school.” Charles is correct on this subject. His background is much more consistent with John Allen Muhammad, another man who had trouble reintegrating himself into society after war and took his sniper rifle to over 13 people around the DC Beltway in 2002. Whittington likely would not turn into this sniper at all, but no one is a murderer until they are. There’s not a single-file path all serial killers have to follow and his essay is just cause for speculation.
I ran a well-respected day camp for 7 years and if one of the kids had chicken pox, he or she wasn’t allowed back until they had a note from the doctor saying they were no longer contagious. If another child contracted the disease, I could at least show the parents –in writing – that I did what I could to avoid that. If a trained killer – who could likely snap someone’s neck without thinking about it – were to take out his pent-up aggressions on a “rag head” classmate of his after this essay was published and the administration hadn’t done anything about it, there would likely be a big pile of bricks and a skate park where a college campus once was. If this murder still happens after a passing psychological evaluation, the college has a legal leg to stand on. A psychological evaluation isn’t a brain sample and these administrators have a business to protect. Like it or not, that’s the bottom line. Hopefully one day, Charles, for everything he’s been through, will be able to see it through their eyes, just like I’m sure the admins are trying to see through his.