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On Trial: Charles Xavier

Welcome to Comical Musings.  We are excited to bring you the next entry in our “On Trial” column where each month, we will be taking a character or concept from comic books and putting it “On Trial.”  We will state who or what is on trial and why and then your favorite Writer’s Blok writers will weigh in with their opinions on the side of the prosecution or the defense.  Once you have finished reading the report, you will decide by voting on the poll and hashing out your feelings in the comments section.  Through all of this, we will establish if the accused is really guilty.  This month’s plaintiff is Charles Xavier, better known as Professor X.  He is a bald-headed wheel chair-bound (sometimes) psychic with omega level mutant powers.  Created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, he gathered and trained the X-men and has been a seminal superhero comic book character for decades.  He has the ability to pop your brain with his mind, he can make you do whatever he wants, and he was portrayed in films by Patrick Stewart and James McAvoy.  He is particularly important in recent events in the Marvel Universe.  As Spider-Man has taught us time and time again, “with great power comes great responsibility,” but how responsible is Charles Xavier?  He speaks for the mutant population and runs a school full of living weapons, so he has the power, but is he responsible?  Charles Xavier stands before you today, accused of being an unfit guardian of the children that he “loves.”

The Prosecution:

JK Leo:

As a teacher, I can confirm that “Professor” Charles Xavier (where the hell did he get his degree, anyway?) is a crappy headmaster. For gym class, he hurls kids into a veritable death-ocopia where they fight a sentient AI designed to maim them. The teachers include a Canadian ninja who has knives in his hands. The headmaster is, additionally, kind of known for being hella creepy. He telepathically manipulates his protegé (a girl about 25 years his junior) on the reg. Plus, a school for students with specific genes in their DNA? That’s borderline racism, Charles. Separate but equal is inherently unequal. You know what that means?

Danger Rooms for all, or Danger Rooms for none.

On another note, Professor X has a standing enemy in the mutant mastermind/terrorist Magneto, who almost never passes up the opportunity to smash up a building and endanger the lives of others.

Also, he tends to draft the strongest of his students onto an unsanctioned paramilitary strike force. If I walked into my Honors English class next week and picked out all the football players, then said “We’re gonna go beat some people up. Illegally.” I would get my ass fired in about five minutes.

Xavier is bad.

Hal:

I can appreciate what “Professor” Charles Xavier is trying to do for DNA-challenged youths through his school, but I would assert that his Hogwarts-for-mutants approach is flawed and he is an unfit caretaker for children, mutated or not.  Professor X was most famously portrayed by Patrick Stewart who also played Captain Jean-Luc Picard, but some would argue that Xavier has more in common with Jean Claude Van Damme, in that he uses his mansion, specifically the Danger Room, for his personal mutant Bloodsport.  From a childcare standpoint,  a room solely dedicated to “danger” might not be the best addition to a boarding school, but the lack of fatalities tends to indicate that at least some safety procedures are in place and it does not pose a major threat to any of Xavier’s wards.  Instead, one might look to some of the other “professors” at the school as an indication of Charles Xavier’s general lack of concern for the children’s welfare.  If he truly cared about these youngsters would he really trust them into the hands of a Canadian mass-murderer who is “the best at what he does*” or a reformed villainess and professional skank?  I don’t want to condemn Professor X through guilt by association, but it is an issue of concern.  Instead, I would point to Xavier’s reprehensible behavior in the realm of social media a glaring example of his being a terrible role model and an unfit guardian.  As headmaster of the school, he is the ultimate authority and example of what behavior is and is not acceptable.  And yet, with the assistance of the super-villain Magneto, Xavier constructed the world’s first social networking computer – Cerebro – and he uses it almost exclusively for cyber-stalking and cyber-bullying.  It has taken decades for generally available technology to catch up; the internet has only recently begun to reveal how damaging this behavior can be.  But Xavier has been at it for years.  It clearly shows he has a cavalier attitude toward his responsibilities as a role model, and toward the children’s well-being in general.  He may be the smartest man in the room, but the fact that he is not fit to care for children is as plain as the shiny surface of his scalp.

*This refers to killing people, not teaching.

Shiera Carter:

Professor Xavier, a well-meaning Omega-level genius mutant, is arguably one of the most complex characters in the comic book world. His school for mutants (aka “Gifted Youngsters) is seen by some as a haven, while others view it as a breeding ground for mutiny and insurrection.Personally, I believe Charles Xavier set out with a wonderful mission in mind- to gather up those children whose mutant powers were just coming to fruition and to guide them through learning to use those powers “for good”. He educates them, protects them, and works very hard to create a sense of “home away from home”.However, he also takes gross liberties with the childrens’ lives. He facilitates the creation of, quite literally, his own personal mutant army. He puts them through training and orders them to fight battles against his pseudo-frenemy Magneto on a whim. Xavier decides what battles to fight, and his X-Men jump like trained monkeys at his psychic call to arms. And not everyone gets the chance to join this army- only those mutants whose mutation (or “powers”) is desirable in battle are offered the opportunity to join the X-Men. The kid who looks like a frog, complete with gills and webbed hands and feet, is offered no place amongst the X-Men. Sorry buddy, you may be a great tactician or trained in jujitsu, but you’re basically a human frog. Your mutation just isn’t sexy enough. And your skin is slimy. Talk about shooting down someone’s extracurricular interests.Xavier also possesses software advanced enough to spy on every mutant on the planet, with no boundaries or restrictions. Not only does this invade every privacy law I’ve ever heard of, but it’s just plain creepy. No one should have that much power.Overall, I believe Charles Xavier to be a  hero strayed from the path. He is responsible for many lives and ostensibly wants to make the world a better and safer place. This is admirable! But his methods of achieving this peace are questionable at best, abusive at worst. Charles Xavier should be regarded as a hero to many mutants who without him and his safe haven of a school would have had literally nowhere safe to go. However, Xavier also needs to revisit his why he began the school in the first place. His methods are unorthodox and his power nearly unlimited- it’s only through his innate goodness and desire to help people that he hasn’t turned into someone worse than Magneto. Everyone has limits. Charles Xavier needs to learn his.

The Defense

The Black Ness Monster:

Allow me to defend Professor X (as he is known to me) if only because very few of my compatriots are–admittedly, not a very strong basis for my case but bear with me. Much has been made about the legitimacy of a “Danger Room” in a classroom environment, but are we allowed to project our own mortal upbringings on mutant children? Charles Xavier’s gym class is a little unorthodox, but do we criticize the Spartans for their abusive and US Marine-like training of their youth?  We do?  …well, should we?

Now, the Marvel universe gives us very little insight into the Mutant Academy’s arithmetic classes, though I suspect they, too, might involve the element of danger, but we are to assume that, when you can shoot laser beams from your eyes and phase through walls, perhaps Algebra isn’t the first thing on your mind. These students have a duty, a calling. Xavier isn’t breeding a new generation of students; nay, he is raising an army–a Spartan, mutant army–that will defend this nation … a nation that repeatedly insists that it doesn’t want dirty mutants defending it … but their nation, nonetheless. So, if he has to forgo teaching Dickens in order to prepare his students to take on Magneto, then so be it.

These mutant children, some of whom can become invisible children, and their non-background checked instructors are America’s only hope when Apocalypse is at the door. They are the few, the proud, the X-Men.

 Scott Deaux:

Chuck Norris defines love as “a reluctance to murder.”  By this definition, Charles Xavier loves everyone.  The fact that he literally could mind control or brainwash entire communities and doesn’t is a huge positive in his category.  Obvious power withheld is meekness and “the meek shall inherit the Earth.”  I think that that’s from Wrath of Khan, but anyways.  Xavier is a scary individual that could do anything with his advanced powers and the fact that he chooses to assist humanity with them, no matter how unorthodox his means (Danger Room) is a credit to his character.  However, the question isn’t “is Xavier soft on the normals?” because we know the answer would be “yes,” to that.  The question is whether he is a suitable caregiver for the throngs of mutant children in his custody.  I would say “yes” to that as well.  The greatest thing that a parent can hope to accomplish is to instill good qualities in their children and build their character.  One could easily make a case (and I do) that by teaching all of these mutants, these living weapons to walk a higher path morally and socially is the greatest thing that he could do for their future.  The Brotherhood of Evil Mutants are some scary guys to have to contend with and without Xavier, all mutants would be one step closer to joining the ranks of these mutant terrorists.  He most certainly has their best interests at heart and, c’mon you gotta break a couple of eggs to make a cake!

Jim Tenkins:

Let me make this plain and simple: Charles Xavier does the job none of us wants to do. He handles the “specialest” of the special needs. He handles the “problemest” of the problem kids. And he does it because he wants to make the world a better place. This isn’t some Dangerous Minds/Freedom Writers/Coach Carter kind of business. These are kids that will literally shoot lasers out of their eyes and melt your face if things get out of hand. And sometimes they do.

You call Charles Xavier reckless? I ask you, are you willing to take over and do a better job? Sure, maybe he sometimes uses them as his personal army, but that seems like a small price to pay in order for you and me to be outside the blast radius. I consider this matter closed.

YOU ARE THE JURY.  PROFESSOR X HAS BEEN ACCUSED OF BEING AN UNFIT GUARDIAN.  HOW DO YOU RULE?

 

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About Scott Deaux

Favorite Comics: Lazarus, Essex County, Chew, Superior Foes Of Spider-Man, Age of Apocalypse stuff, The Nightly News, Ultimate Spider-Man, Ultimate X-Men, Pax Romana, Avengers, NEXTWAVE: Agents Of Hate, Sweet Tooth, We3, others... Favorite Quote(s): "Journalism is just a gun. It's only got one bullet in it, but if you aim right, that's all you need. Aim it right, and you can blow a kneecap off the world." - Warren Ellis "People who hold signs go on...to hold many other things" - Eddie Pepitone

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