The Misadventures of Quinxy truths, lies, and everything in between!

11Jul/120

The Sick, Sad World of Hazing

The sad case of Robert Champion, Florida A & M University drum major who died after a hazing incident, continues to baffle me.  By all accounts I've read, the "normal" hazing procedure which new members of the FAMU band received included:

[Pledges] attempting to run from the front door of the bus to the back of the bus, down the center aisle, while initiated members of the Bus C posse position themselves in between seat rows, launching punches, slaps, kicks, hitting with objects, yelling, or assaults and batteries otherwise upon the 'pledge' as he or she runs down the aisle of the bus.  Should the 'pledge' fall to the bus floor from the blows sustained to his or her body, the 'pledge' may be stomped and is then dragged back to the front of the bus, and must begin the ritual again.

And:

[T]he "Hot Seat," in which a pillowcase or other object limiting the flow of oxygen was placed over a victim's head. He is then asked questions by a hazer. "If or when the victim answers a question correctly, the object is briefly lifted to allow a brief flow of oxygen to the victim, and then quickly pulled back down over the victim's head as another question is asked," the complaint says. "Should the victim fail to correctly answer the question, the object is not removed and the victim is prevented from inhaling fresh air, before the next question is asked. During this time, the victim is punched, slapped, kicked, or hit otherwise by members of the 'Bus C' posse."

Robert Champion died as a result of these and other hazing rituals, having been literally beaten to death.

And what forced me to read and re-read articles on his death when it first came to light was my inability to accept that what the news was saying could possibly have happened the way it was described.  How could and why would this man's friends, acquaintances, mentors, official and quasi-official supervisors, and even possible strangers to him (alumni, etc.) assault him?  Horrendous acts by themselves aren't surprising, history is replete with them, but what was relatively new to me was barbarous acts committed for the supposed purpose of cementing friendship and camaraderie.  This inhumanity of man upon his fellow man makes other monstrous historical acts almost seem "logical" by comparison.  Who could hit, stomp on, or suffocate a friend?  What sort of sick, sadistic qualities must lie in these souls that could allow them to participate in these sorts of rituals?  What sort of sick, sadistic qualities must lie in Robert Champion that would cause him to willingly, knowingly subject himself to this treatment?  The sad and shocking truth surely is that most of us must have those sick, sadistic qualities of abuser and abused, because I'm not so naive as to think that any of these individuals is a special breed of monster or freak.  The environment surely allowed the latent sickness to manifest itself more fully, but surely it was present in some form before, during, and even after.

I still struggle to comprehend how easily men will commit such acts and subject themselves to such acts.  It is as though history has taught us nothing.

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