An A, and a Request to Leave

Charles Whittington, an Iraq veteran and a student at Maryland’s Community College of Baltimore County, recently wrote an essay about his experience as a solider for his English class. His professor gave him an A. And then his college told him to stay off campus. According to an article by Childs Walker in the Baltimore Sun:

Whittington… submitted an essay on the allure of combat for his English class at the Community College of Baltimore County in Catonsville. He called war a drug and wrote that killing “is something that I do not just want but something I really need so I can feel like myself.” Whittington’s instructor gave him an A and suggested that he seek publication for the piece. The essay appeared in the Oct. 26 edition of the campus newspaper.

Two weeks later, the former infantryman was called to a meeting with high-ranking college officials, who told him he would be barred from campus until he obtained a psychological evaluation. “We all believe in freedom of speech, but we have to really be cautious in this post- Virginia Tech world,” says college spokesman Hope Davis, referring to the 2007 massacre of 32 people by a student gunman.

Ah yes, Davis is only thinking of the children. While her sentiment sounds legitimate, it’s actually ridiculous. And rather offensive.

War is an addiction. This is well documented. Returning soldiers have been saying this for thousands of years. As General George Patton once said, “Compared to war all other forms of human endeavor shrink to insignificance. God, I do love it so.” There’s no reason for the community college to treat Whittington like some sort of dangerous freak.

Not only does Whittington’s essay not reflect a psychological problem, it’s not even a particularly novel point to make.

Whittington, for his part, says that whatever violent impulses he has are well controlled by medication and therapy.

Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer