Olympic College Bullwhip Ban

[I sometimes write for a news and opinion blog called Freedom Outpost. The site has a daily digest emailed to roughly 800 thousand subscribers. I published an article there yesterday hoping it will spread awareness of the situation and expose more people to sport whip cracking. Below is the article in its entirety:]

Political Correctness Targets Bullwhips at Olympic College -Freedom Outpost
by Rhett Kelley

There’s a small but growing sport here in the U.S. It’s called Sport Whip Cracking. Imagine something like trick roping, but with a bullwhip instead. Adam Winrich currently holds 9 Guinness world records for whip cracking. He is known around the world and travels extensively performing. As you can see from this video footage of Adam, sport whip cracking is actually very impressive to watch.

Yet, it seems today nothing can escape the critical glare of the politically correct extremists out there who seem to find offense under every rock and behind every tree. Last weekend, I was alerted that whips and whip cracking have now been banned on the Olympic College campus in Bremerton, WA. This after professor Karen Bolton raised a fuss in an email after seeing a student on campus cracking a whip.

The Olympian Reports:

Bullwhips are no longer allowed on campus after an email complaint from a professor about the historical use of whips and their meaning to her as well as other students.

OC student Jason Harris’ whip cracking was brought to the attention of OC’s President, Dr. David Mitchell as well as all OC faculty and staff through an email from professor Karen Bolton. She said she felt offended by the recreational practice because of the historical context of the whip and it’s origins in slavery.

“Being a person of color, it literally made me feel sick to my stomach,” said Bolton in the email, “that whip has symbolism.”

Symbolism indeed Professor Bolton!

To many, it’s a symbol of adventure; of that first time they went into a movie theater and watched Indiana Jones use his bullwhip in Raiders of the Lost Ark. To others, it symbolizes monthly gatherings with friends at a local park to practice their sporting routines. For guys like myself, a whip symbolizes youth spent largely on a sprawling ranch in central Florida, being part of a multi-generational family business of raising cattle. And for others, it’s a reminder of a grandfather who once had a bullwhip and would crack it to entertain the grandchildren.

For one gentleman I know, it’s a symbol of overcoming tragedy: being able to crack a whip in both hands at once, even though his hands are prosthetic hooks following a high voltage power accident while serving in the Air Force. The symbolism of a whip to the people I know is that of a connection to actual experiences they’ve had. Sadly, Professor Bolton can only see a symbol of something terrible from the past that she has most assuredly not experienced herself. As one commenter posted on my Facebook page, if she sees such vivid symbolism of slavery at the mere sight of a bullwhip, then she’ll probably faint if she travels here in Georgia and passes by a cotton field!

I’ve sold whips to people of all colors and creeds on 6 continents. In all the years I’ve made whips, I honestly cannot recall anyone being offended at the sight of a whip because of some symbolic connection to Antebellum U.S. slavery. Most people are very curious and thrilled by the crack a whip makes. I’m sure at least one of my many black friends would tell me if my products were offensive to them. If anything, I find the biggest misconception people have when they learn I make whips is that I’m making them for people with some kind of sexual fetish or something. Never is there any mention of slavery.

The article goes on to state that Professor Bolton further sees the whip as a weapon. Can a whip be used as a weapon? Anything can be used as a weapon. Any one of the mundane objects cluttering my desk right now could be used as a weapon if I had no other options. I’ve sold many whips to those who use them in martial arts. There’s at least one book on the subject. The question is, did Mr. Harris use his whip in an unsafe or threatening manner? According to campus security, he did not. And neither Washington law nor campus rules classify a whip as a weapon.

Professor Bolton would do well to investigate sport whip cracking a little bit. I recommend she spend some time online checking out whip cracking videos. She might also try to catch a show by the aforementioned Adam Winrich, or my friend Chris Camp. Hopefully she would reconsider her position. After that, she could pay a visit to my website at Cowwhips.com, and I’d be more than happy to make her a whip of her own.

If she could just try to overcome the prejudices in her own mind, Professor Bolton might even find sport whip cracking to be an enjoyable pastime. It could be a nice break from the lofty, yet absurd, intellectual atmosphere of academia. It sounds like she needs it.

(If you think this is absurd as I do, please contact Olympic College president, Dr. David Mitchell about his decision to ban whip cracking on campus, his email address is dmitchell@olympic.edu. A very well written form letter that can be found at Bullwhips.org, the site where I originally learned of this situation.)

About Rhett

3 responses to “Olympic College Bullwhip Ban

  • Steve Koliski

    Thanks Rhett. This shows what PC does in guns and whips as well..

  • Whipcracking Amateur

    To: Dr. David Mitchell
    President, Olympic College.

    From: A recreational whip user

    Date: April 28, 2013

    Subject: Bullwhips on Campus

    Perpetuating race-based fear of otherwise neutral objects risks facilitating the causes of those who seek to benefit by maintaining psycho-social advantages over populations to whom they wish to maintain an air of superiority.

    I speak as someone who cannot be intimidated by nooses, whips, branding, negative appellations, etc. I reserve the right to strike back if I am targeted by those espousing race-hatred. I will not belittle my own sense of humanity by demonstrating how easily I can be intimidated by those who are not superior to me. I also speak as a Black American who lived through the Civil Rights era, and is now retired after 34 years as a faculty member at a major mid-Atlantic institution of higher learning. I fully understand the implications of negritude in America, and I have lots of experience with campus politics. I also understand the positives and negatives of current attitudes of “political correctness.” I am not a fan of PC, but I recognize its power to skew policies. That skewing, unfortunately, is not necessarily for the better.

    I do not see the logic inherent in recoiling from certain symbols of racial oppression, while embracing others. I recognize, for example, that Christianity and Islam both provided important moral justifications for those who indulged (either as facilitators or direct practitioners of the trade) in wholesale enslavement of various ethnic and racial groups. Do I fear the Bible and the Koran? — of course not. Many Americans whose ancestry can be traced back to the American form of race-based slavery take delight in singing the anthem of the Ku Klux Klan, “Amazing Grace,” despite its having been written by a maritime slaver (who, contrary to popular myth, only briefly eschewed the slave trade industry, eventually returning to his “old” ways). “Amazing Grace” could easily be seen as equally representative of the atrocities of racial injustice as ropes, bed sheets, and burning crosses, but it usually is not. Some historically Black fraternities have embraced “voluntary” branding with symbols of their “brotherhood.”

    The primary use of whips on the American continent has been as tools for the control of animals. The term, “bullwhip” originates from a style of whip used in cattle driving. There are other whips – snake whips, coach whips, etc., any of which could, and might have been used in the abuse of human beings, but that kind of use does not describe their usual purpose, nor does it represent their most frequent use, either historically, or in the present.

    There are regions in America where whips are still largely used in cattle herding. Different styles of whips are popular in different areas. Florida has its cow whips, Montana and other western states have bullwhips and snake whips. The stock whip was developed in Australia, where it and bullwhips are still important and commonly used in the herding of cattle. Coach whips are rare in use due to the use of motorized vehicles for transporting people. When such whips are used as animal control tools, it is their sound (the gunshot-like crack produced as the tip of the whip breaks the sound barrier) that is used to generate animals’ response, not the impact.

    Other types of whips (sjamboks, flails, flogs, quirts, scourges, etc.) derive their intended effect through impact, and it is those types of whips that have most often been used within many cultures to punish and even kill target individuals. Most are not very long. Some of are not very flexible. Many have more than one tip (e.g., cat-of-nine-tails). Their techniques of use are completely different from the types of whips alluded to in preceding paragraphs. (The Roman scourge was a particularly brutal multi-tailed whip that required skill on the part of its users to avoid completely disabling or killing its victims on those occasions when permanent disability or death was not the desired outcome.) Practitioners of BDSM prefer to use variants of these kinds of whips to put some of the “kinkyness” into their practices. When they use single-tailed whips, they are usually only a few feet long, and are technically more akin to signal whips.

    Arguably, the modern popularity of fancy bullwhip use stems from movie characters like Indiana Jones, Cat Woman, Zorro, and (in the 1950’s) “Whip” Wilson and “Lash” LaRue.

    Fancy whipcracking, whether via organized sporting competition, or through entertainment venues, does not include racially-tinged imagery. Nor does it include violence or injury to persons or any other living organisms. Racial prejudice among its practitioners is no more prevalent among organized whip cracking groups than among collegiate fraternities and sororities, or within many places of worship.

    If whip cracking can be proven to have been used to intimidate persons of specific racial and/or ethnic backgrounds on your campus, then your actions are justified. If, on the other hand, you have had a knee-jerk reflexive response to the paranoia-driven complaints of one hyper-sensitive faculty member, then your response was one of “irrationalization,” and serves no purpose other than to cater to certain people’s desire to cling to a sense of victimhood. That cultural sense of victimhood can never be overcome until objectively neutral objects can be seen as just that. I recognize that within particular contexts, otherwise neutral objects lose their neutrality, but sport whipcracking does not represent such a context. One of the functions of institutions of higher learning is to prepare those in attendance to function competently in the real world outside of academia.

    Ultimately, when it comes to the well-being of your campus and its inhabitants, you (in the words of ex-president G. W. Bush) are the “decider.”

  • Steve

    Letter of the law? Take a stock-whip instead. (“Bullwhips are no longer allowed on campus”)
    Nice blog, to a foolish policy.

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