CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- First, the Circuit Court of Kanawha County denied Katelyn Campbell relief from threats by her principal, George Aulenbacher. Then, Campbell continued to be threatened by friends of Aulenbacher who sent her hate mail and spit on her at school even as her graduation day approached. What is more, Aulenbacher barred Campbell from making her honors speech at her graduation ceremony despite promises not to interfere with her anymore.
Campbell, fearing for her life, has, advisably, been carrying mace in the event she is attacked. Lest we forget, cowardly adults in Charleston failed Katelyn when she needed them the most. She is being forced to look over her shoulder still. And her authoritarian principal is still at large:
An authoritarian is always, and in all things, an authoritarian. When in a position of power, an authoritarian values obedience over truth, and demands loyalty over all other values including accuracy, fidelity, and certainly compassion. The behavior of Katelyn's principal, calling her in and threatening her because she gave her opinion -- framing her outspoken truth-telling as personal betrayal -- is a classic example of the mindset of the bullying tyrant. He was telling her, with no room for doubt, that she owed him cowed silence -- his due as her master. And that he was willing to punish her -- assassinate her career -- for daring to be her own person. It is hard to imagine a more inappropriate mindset for an educator charged with the care and training of young people that we expect to be participating citizens in a free society.
Even if the school presentation by abstinence-only speaker Pam Stenzel had been perfectly benign, and Katelyn had been totally incorrect in her assessment of it, the principal would have been totally out of line in demanding slavish "loyalty" and silence -- dues paid to a tyrant or a dictator rather than an educator.
And the threat to attempt to derail her college admission was inexcusable. It was also ineffective -- laughably so, if he had known anything about the redoubtable character of Wellesley College. What we have is not only a bully, but a pathetic, ineffective bully who brought a whirlwind of lawyers down upon our house. He should resign, and if he has not the wit for regret, he should be drummed out of the educational profession.
Rabel, an author and Emmy Award winning broadcast journalist, lives near Charleston.