Commentary: What should become of the NC State Four?

Even after we'd talked for about 30 minutes, the Rev. William J. Barber and I still had different ideas about what should happen to the four students ... ahem ... artists at N.C. State University who on election night scrawled their sadistic wish list on the free-expression tunnel at the university. Although most of the graffiti was painted over before it could be widely beheld, it's safe to say the four expressionists expressed no support for President-elect Barack Obama.

Asked what he wants to happen to these Van Goghs of vitriol, the Rev. Barber, head of the state's NAACP, said, "We believe there ought to be expulsion, at the least."

Me, I say leave 'em alone and let 'em stew in the broth of their own hatred. If they truly believe what they wrote – and there's no reason to think they don't – it'll consume and destroy them soon enough. It can't be easy being them and possessing 19th century minds on a 21st-century university campus that fosters inclusion. That, and realizing that their hate-filled hieroglyphics actually unified the campus, should be punishment enough.

I want these prejudiced Picassos in school for another reason. There, at least, they might actually have their hearts, minds and eyes opened. Remember, reverend, a mind is a terrible thing to waste.

To read the complete column, visit The (Raleigh) News & Observer.

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