I recently read an intriguing piece in the Chicago Sun Times. The article was about Patrick Warbel, a high school junior who was suspended on allegations he had initiated a "hit list." According to Warbel, he had not actually created such a list, but he had held a discussion on the people he hated in his high school band. The most interesting part of the article to me was the description of Warbel. He was described as an honor student at the top of his class; furthermore, he was painted as harmless.

I disagree with the sweet-as-pie portrait of Patrick Warbel. The band member at Reavis High School in Burbank admitted to making very negative comments about fellow band members after what he described as a particularly bad rehearsal. Furthermore, he admitted to heading a discussion about his hatred of the other members.

Simply because he is an intelligent student with high SAT scores, his actions are perceived as somehow more justifiable or less dangerous. I'm not saying he would have become a high school gunman, but why take a chance? Some of the most notorious killers in our nation's history have been highly intelligent, quiet people who, on the surface, appear harmless. Jeffrey Dahmer's neighbors described him as a nice guy who kept to himself. I wish this country would wake up and realize dangerous people can be of any color, social status, background and age.

Warbel and his mother feel the high school blew a small situation out of proportion by suspending the boy for four days. I disagree. What's worse in this situation, an overreaction or no reaction? Frankly, it's surprising to me that Warbel's mother isn't more concerned. Perhaps she should get her son into some counseling and try to understand from where this hatred is coming. Instead of attacking the school, she should use some of that energy to help her son.

Surely Warbel should suffer some consequence for trying to incite hatred among members of a group. In today's society, a person preaching hatred to a group should not be taken lightly. Warbel should have known his actions would be interpreted as threatening and potentially dangerous. Maybe, he could have taken out his frustrations on a couch pillow or stress ball. He didn't though; he announced his frustrations to a group. That doesn't sound like an intelligent, quiet person to me.

I congratulate the person who stepped up to the plate to begin an investigation. The world we live in today is used to high school shootings and bomb threats. It's sad, but true. We focus on the tragedy when it happens but don't act to prevent further tragedies. How many other potentially dangerous high school situations could have been prevented if someone had taken action earlier? Students, parents and teachers need to reach out to students they think may be troubled. Sometimes reaching out can simply mean calling attention to someone.

Warbel might have been having perfectly normal feelings of anger toward people who were not playing the right notes during a band rehearsal. It's normal to be angry when you are performing up to standards your teammates are not. It is not normal to want to kill them. An investigation in this matter is perfectly justified.

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