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Things Aren't Always as They Seem
by Timothy Rollins, The American Partisan
3 November 2003

Was the 14-year old student who drew a picture of a Marine blowing away a Taliban fighter behaving inappropriately, or was his suspension too harsh?


As I was going through my regular list of websites of various newspapers and television networks as part of my daily routine, I came across a New York Post article that was posted on the FOX News Channel website which caught my attention. The article dealt with the suspension from school last week of Scott Switzer, 14, from Colts River, New Jersey. It seems young Mr. Switzer's actions came about because he 'drew a "patriotic" stick figure of a U.S Marine blowing away a Taliban fighter', according to school officials, in the report filed by the New York Post.

In further reading the article, it is learned that both the young man's father and stepfather are serving in the military - his father is a Navy engineer serving in the Persian Gulf, and his stepfather is in the Army. Curious to see if there was more to this story, I called the school, which referred me to the superintendent's office, where I asked to speak to Dr. Leonard Kelpsh, who is the Tinton Falls (New Jersey) school superintendent. His assistant Fran referred me to their attorney on the matter. After speaking to their attorney - Martin Barger, he informed me there was indeed more to the story than was being reported, and that the picture of the stick figures had in fact, the name of another student above the so-called 'Taliban' figure, and THAT was the reason for the suspension.

I asked him if he could fax me a copy of the drawing, to which he initially said no, because the name of the other student was on it. When I suggested that "if he black out the last name of the student, neither one of us would get bit on the butt", he agreed to make a copy available, which arrived in my office about five minutes later.

Given that young Mr. Switzer has attention deficit disorder as well a history of prior disciplinary problems in school, to include three 'minor' incidents and an earlier suspension (according to family members), the school was not only right in suspending Scott, the fact of the matter was the kid got off light - especially in the politically-correct times we are currently under siege in. If I were young Mr. Switzer OR his parents, I wouldn't even THINK of filing a lawsuit against the school district, for I can tell you right now as a rule of law, this one is a no-brainer. The school district would not only win, they would probably fight back and have the Switzers assessed court costs, which would add up to a hefty sum very quickly, and on a military salary, they would very definitely feel the pain.

Scott Switzer made a very stupid move by placing the name of the other student above the so-called 'Taliban' figure. It's akin to walking a tightrope with a stick of dynamite between your knees - a recipe for disaster guaranteed to make nobody win and everybody lose - especially Scott Switzer. This young man needs to be thinking for his future - both in the short and especially the long term, lest the remainder of his life be ruined all because of what he thought to be one cute practical joke literally blowing up in his face and coming back to haunt him for as long as he lives.

With the recent disclosure in Colorado that the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office had information as far back as 1997 on the Columbine shooters yet failed to act on it, the need for vigilance in actively seeking to prevent any kind of violence of this kind - however large or small can never be overemphasized, nor can it be blown off as was shown by the body count at Columbine High School two years later. Whether Switzer is just a kid blowing off steam or someone seeking to even a score is something for the professionals to figure out, but as a parent, if my kid's name were above that 'Taliban' stick figure, I'd have demanded that Switzer be placed in a rubber room for 60 days for a thorough head cleaning inside and out.

I defy any parent to argue that one with me.

© 2003 Timothy Rollins

Timothy Rollins is Editor of the American Partisan.

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