Opinion

State Sen. Goldfinch, it’s time to hand over your cellphone

Roger Brown
Roger Brown

Is it too late for someone to snatch state Sen. Stephen Goldfinch’s cellphone away from him before he commits the offense of “TWNT” — Texting While Not Thinking?

Again?

There’s no other conclusion to be drawn from the news — broken by The State’s Avery G. Wilks in the popular “The Buzz” column — that Goldfinch recently sent an ominous text to at least two trustees of The Citadel.

In his text, Goldfinch warned the trustees that The Citadel might face “consequences” if the military college went ahead with a plan to transfer advancing sophomores to different companies rather than keep them in the ones they were assigned to as freshmen cadets.

In reality The Citadel’s planned “shuffle” is clearly intended to lower the chances of sophomores staying in their original companies and becoming upperclassmen who inflict the same hazing on new cadets that they may have received as freshmen.

And what’s so outrageous about that?

To me it’s simply a common-sense move by The Citadel to remove a barrier that might affect future enrollment.

Look, according to the most recent Department of Defense study, well under 1 percent of America’s population is serving in the military. So if you’re a young kid attending a military college like The Citadel, shouldn’t it already be assumed that you’re deeply committed to serving your country — and that you don’t need to be subjected to mindless hazing by others to test whether you’re “tough enough” to be there?

Yes.

But Goldfinch — a 2004 Citadel graduate — still seems unapologetic about sending the two texts implying grave repercussions for his alma mater if it carries out the new anti-hazing policy.

And that tells me this:

We can already safely convict Goldfinch of two counts of Texting While Not Thinking.

The chances of Goldfinch lapsing into recidivism will always remain high as long as a cellphone is anywhere within his reach.

How much more tragic evidence needs to be presented to people like Goldfinch — from the Florida A&M marching band member who was beaten to death to the University of Texas student who died after being hazed for hours — before they understand that we need to stop glorifying hazing as a way to maintain “tradition” and “values”?

How many more research studies need to be conducted before Goldfinch and others accept that hazing is always more likely to foster resentment than it is “camaraderie”?

Obviously there haven’t been enough yet to enlighten some of the Jurassic-era thinkers out there.

The truth is The Citadel should be saluted for seeking to toss hazing into the dustbin of history — and critics like Goldfinch should just move out of the way and stop blocking the path to the garbage can.

In fact, here’s an idea:

Goldfinch should throw his cellphone into the dumpster, too.

Opinion Editor Roger Brown can be reached at (803) 771-8464 or rjbrown@thestate.com. You can also catch him on Twitter @RBrown_SCOpin.

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