Tuesday, May 20, 2008

UVA Only Wants You To Write About Unicorns, Rainbows

What have we become? College campuses, a notorious beacon for vigilant self-expression, dissent and academic freedom, have begun to eerily resemble communist Russia. UVA at Wise (who knows there the fuck THAT is) recently threw 23 year old Steven Barber in a mental institution and expelled him for writing a creative short story that fictively explored the vicious acts that occurred last year on the Virginia Tech campus. Granted, they found three guns in his dorm room - but he had permits for each, and the docs who analyzed him deduced that he was neither a harm to himself or others. Lots of people own guns for protection - and Virginia college students are understandably super wary of maintaining a certain level of protection against the very acts that Barber sought to bring to light in his story.

Perhaps, like me, Barber sorts through his own feelings by writing about them, achieving catharsis through reliving the horror he puts down on the page. And really, there's nothing wrong with that. If it's against school policy, expel him for (legally) owning guns, but don't kick the kid out of school because he is a dark visionary. As Gawker pointed out, imagine the bloody horror pieces writer favs like Bret Easton Ellis must have churned out in college. I hate to imagine a world without Less Than Zero and The Rules of Attraction because some uptight administrator is afraid of writing that strays from the vein of Judy Blume.


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