The word, “hazing” is a slimy euphemism for humiliation, assault, battery, and manslaughter. I’d pin the last on perpetrators of the atrocity in Palm Beach, Florida, that took the life of drum major, Robert Champion, attacked in a bus by fellow band members, left battered, vomiting, semi-conscious, and soon to die. Any temporizing or rationalizing is as corrupt as claiming that wife battering is a private matter, or that children molested in a church is a church matter.
Members of hazing groups should be encouraged to come forward and describe brutal hazing experiences, also those that were welcoming, enlightening, or joyous, to show that uplifting alternatives can replace what has become an aberrant cultural perversion. Groups that induct new members should be urged to renounce hazing, or if the word is kept, redefine it to outlaw physical abuse, which will be called by what it is: crime.
I knew a sorority girl who told about being blindfolded and given something she was told was a raw fish eye. Ordered to eat it, she did, immediately vomited, to learn it was a crushed grape. Is that hazing? In my opinion, yes, but let wiser people sort out definitions of where a joke ends and barbarism begins. Any fraternity, band, team, or club that persists in criminal hazing should be shunned and driven off college campuses.
Cruelty not only harms victims but elicits the worst of the perpetrators. What was in the minds of Florida A&M band members when they were beating Robert Champion? Were they getting sadistic thrills? The word “sadistic,” remember, comes from the French Marquis de Sade, who got sexual kicks out of torturing. Is that what drives hazers? Are they sick evil monsters? What else could cause people to beat another person to death?