Some of these girls are about to find out what hazing really means
May 7, 2003 11:30 AM   Subscribe

High School Hazing??? Wha??? What an incredible example of both idiocy and some truly disgusting behavior. Personally, I grew up in the frosty northeast in the mid 80's where there was no shortage of inter-clique "Breakfast Club" style nastiness, but I had never even heard of such a thing until I had seen Dazed and Confused. Is this a regional thing? Certainly, there is no shortage of this kind of juvenile ridiculousness happening elsewhere in the country, but it never ceases to amaze me every time I hear about it. Were any MeFi'ers subject to this kind of awful ritual while they were growing up?
posted by psmealey (96 comments total)

 
I attended a small-ish high school on Long Island, and this sort of thing was pretty commonplace when rushing (we called it "dogging") for a sorority or frat. This may be local lore, but it was my understanding that the Greek organizations were banned in the late 1970s by the school district for hazing, and that the clubs were continued on by the students.

We had to do stuff like clean a local bar with our toothbrushes, serve drinks to the frat while dressed in bunny outfits, were blindfolded, told to drink, and made to answer questions about our sex lives (such as they were), and wash the active sisters' cars. There was no actual violence for the girls, but there was a constant threat of it. I remember one girl getting smeared in coffee grounds and assorted trash. The boys dogging for the frat were paddled and left off in the woods in their underwear.

You were better protected from the hazing rituals if you had an older sibling or former babysitter to run interference on your behalf.

I have no idea if this is still going on (I graduated in 1987), but it wouldn't surprise me at all if it were. Old traditions die hard.
posted by astruc at 11:43 AM on May 7, 2003


There's a difference between hazing and ... whatever the hell these kids were up to. I don't see much wrong with the Dazed and Confused style of hazing. We had simliar silliness at my high school. But this video proves that it was pretty much a group beating.
posted by Witty at 11:47 AM on May 7, 2003


Yep. My high school had this. During some of it teachers were looking on. I never saw a teacher step in. The lesson I learned from it was that violence and subjugation are part of the system because those in authority want it that way. Bullies proliferate because their behavior is part of the atmosphere those in authority need to do their job. Authority needs fear of violence.

It took me a long time to realize that such things weren't allowed out in the real world.
posted by y6y6y6 at 11:48 AM on May 7, 2003


I graduated in 1989, so it has been a while, but...... it was fairly common where I grew up. ( Texas) When I was a freshman, I was the unfortunate kid who had an impossibly beautiful older sister who was a senior, and EVERY male senior wanted to "impress" her, I guess..... so they couldn't wait until "Tammy's little brother" made it to High School.
The very first day of class, I was picked up by a group of football players, carried out back, and dumped in a trash can. Then they taped the lid down, threw me up on the roof of the school, and rolled the trash can ( with me in it) off the roof, and down a very steep hill that led to the practice field. Of course, the baseball players were out there at the time, and I guessed they all laughed at this trash can rolling down the hill towards them with what sounded like a badger inside of it.

After I recovered from my broken leg, fractured collarbone, mild concussion and cracked ribs, I thought it was kind of clever myself.

God I hate football players.
posted by bradth27 at 11:54 AM on May 7, 2003


There was plenty of bullying at my (Charlotte, NC) highschool, and I've heard all sorts of stories about fraternity hazing, but I've never seen nor heard of the class hazing like in Dazed and Confused or the subject article. The video was really nasty.
posted by MrMoonPie at 11:55 AM on May 7, 2003


I don’t get the concept of hazing; dogging, jumping in, rushing or whatever name it might go by at all. Most of the victims of these rituals agree to undergo a painful, humiliating or degrading act in order to join some group. How can a person want to join any group that requires such initiation? I have never had any interest in joining any group that asks me to show fealty by allowing myself to be hurt or humiliated. What is the attraction?
posted by arse_hat at 11:56 AM on May 7, 2003


We had a powder puff football game at my high school, but it was sanctioned and controleld by the administration. This is way out of hand.

In terms of hazing, well, I suppose one could argue that I participated in a hazing ritual when I was in high school, but it wasn't like this *at all*. I was in Drama Club and we had a chapter of the International Thespian Society, and there was public humiliation involved with the induction. We had to wear black plastic trash bags with signs on them and perform various songs when commanded to by a thespian ("I'm A Little Teapot" with choreo was a particular favorite). It was embarassing but it was also a lot of fun and no one was hurt or overly harassed the year I was inducted (I got called lesbian I don't know how many times...if they only knew). The teachers knew what was going on and there were definite limits to what activities could happen. Those doing the initiating were responsible for the well-being of their initiates and it was an unspoken rule that if something bad happened we would be held accountable. Then in the evening there was a secret ritual, again with adult supervision.

That changed my senior year. One of the clearest moments I remember is that we had to protect the inductees at lunchtime from a mob of underclassmen who thought it would be fun to hurl food and coins at the inductees, as well as threatening to do awful things to them. Like taking one of the kids to the bathroom and peeing all over him (it didn't happen, but I believe the only reason it didn't was because we made sure he had an escort between classes--and this wasn't an unpopular geeky kid, either). At any rate, a line had been crossed that hadn't been crossed before.

They now do the entire induction in the evening, with attendance limited to members of Drama Club and parents.
posted by eilatan at 11:57 AM on May 7, 2003


Speaking of the Breakfast Club, Glenbrook North High School - the school where this 'hazing' incident occurred - was the school used in filming the movie. Just a little side note...
posted by mathis23 at 12:00 PM on May 7, 2003


And of course, now I sound like I'm all for hazing when I'm not. But I don't see that there's anything wrong with initiation rituals that are meant in fun and are ultimately harmless, as ours was. It was people outside our group that made it not-fun.

No one was ever hurt permanently by having to wear a black plastic trashbag and a paper hat while standing on a chair performing "I'm A Little Teapot"...right?
posted by eilatan at 12:02 PM on May 7, 2003


High school 'hazings' for jocks in my area (New Mexico) entailed, apparently, lots of alcohol, marijuana, and circle jerks, however, the story was the jocks beat each other up. I love willful denial.
posted by WolfDaddy at 12:06 PM on May 7, 2003


That Milky Way I just got from the office vending machine? Right in the garbage.

Also, there's no group on earth I want to belong to so bad that I'd put up with shit like this. People are nuts.

Oddly enough, in my high school our sports teams kinda sucked, so the jocks were themselves kind of an "out" group. It was more the rich kid party crowd that ran things.

Let's look at a public high school a moment: It's run by the government, everyone has to be there but no one really wants to, everyone travels in tight-knit violent packs, drugs and alcohol are rampant, discipline is overbearing but ineffective and the food sucks.

Remind you of anyplace...
posted by jonmc at 12:09 PM on May 7, 2003


I thought that hazing was something done in college, not high school. Then again, when you go to an all-girls catholic high school, you don't need to have hazing to make life a living hell.
posted by MsVader at 12:11 PM on May 7, 2003


i can believe this took place, but they were stupid enough to videotape the whole thing? there were many more people present at this thing than i initially thought too...that to me is the really sick part. OTOH, look at Woodstock '99...as for me, in urban rust-belt Jersey in the early 90s we had nothing to fear but a little shaving cream on the last day of band camp. *nerrrrd alert*
posted by serafinapekkala at 12:13 PM on May 7, 2003


So much suppressed rage in our culture.
posted by gottabefunky at 12:13 PM on May 7, 2003


eliatan: But I don't see that there's anything wrong with initiation rituals that are meant in fun and are ultimately harmless, as ours was.

I think you're safe. There's quite a bit of distance between "I'm a little teapot" and being force fed shit. One's downright quaint. The other is totally insane. And evil, actually.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 12:15 PM on May 7, 2003


What doesn't make sense to me is that the juniors seem to just be sitting down in the middle of the field, taking it. How does this ritual work? Ladies, please be seated while we pour paint on you, beat you with a bat, and force feed you poo. Surely these juniors knew this wasn't good time fun once things got underway, yet they continued to just sit there. Self-esteem, anyone?
posted by alou73 at 12:19 PM on May 7, 2003


bradth27...that is a horrible story. Not speaking for others, but I would have forgiven you if you went Columbine on their asses.
posted by vito90 at 12:19 PM on May 7, 2003


I didn't join a sorority in college, but I know that hazing rituals, especially the embarrassing kind are commonplace at my university. In high school the senior would attack the freshmen during the first week by hitting them with eggs on their way home. I graduated from high school in '96 and this was a very accepted practice in my community.
posted by Raichle at 12:21 PM on May 7, 2003


billed as a "powder puff" football game.

One of the girls received 15 stitches in her head, one has a broken ankle, and another girl suffered hearing loss.

"There were definitely people cheering on, and there was definitely alcohol involved," Movish said. "But (others) saw this happening, and I saw people just turn around and run away in disgust. It didn't go as planned, to say the least."

At my school powder puff football was flag football for the girls that were the group who did the stats & water-bottles for the school's football teams. The frosh/soph vs junior/seniors. This was usually played during lunch hour. I notice the teens today are doing things earlier; frats/ sororities & attending spring break college style.

Slow down your moving too fast...
posted by thomcatspike at 12:21 PM on May 7, 2003


Bradth27, what happened to the football players?
posted by iconomy at 12:22 PM on May 7, 2003


vito90: Nice to see you responding to violence by encouraging bigger, deadlier, violence. Congratulations, you earned your American Patriot Card.
posted by PrinceValium at 12:23 PM on May 7, 2003


I grew up in a rinky-dink town with a rinky-dink high school: 500 students my senior year, 120 in my graduating class. When I was in 8th grade, we had a 'Step-Up Day' to experience life at the high school for one day. One of the then-seniors took a thick wooden paddle to one of the 8th grader's backside and broke it. There was some legal action that took place, but I cannot remember exactly what kind.

My senior year, some classmates duct taped a freshman to a banister. He hung there through a class period before someone found him.

The only other hazing story I can remember was the senior wrestlers making the freshman wrestlers shave their heads. But I see that as plain hazing, not abuse like the girls in the story or the paddling incident at my own high school.

One induction tradition that recently stopped is for the National Honors Society - the current members would go the the prospective member's home in the early morning (with the parents' permission), put a bag over their head, and 'kidnap' them to the school. This was how one found out one was accepted. This is one tradition I'm glad is gone.
posted by rhapsodie at 12:24 PM on May 7, 2003


Any one notice in the video clip the image used for suburban violence? A gun?!?
posted by thomcatspike at 12:28 PM on May 7, 2003


I have no pity and no sympathy for the attackers in situations like this. I think it's unfortunate none of the girls attacked had guns. It would have been self-defense, pure and simple. Hell, for killing someone so ruthless and brutal as that, I'd have considered giving them a medal.

I hope the judge gives the attackers a nice long jail sentance.

On a side note, the people cheering this on should be smacked upside the head and arrested. Assholes.
posted by Mitrovarr at 12:31 PM on May 7, 2003


Inasmuch as criminal actions were clearly documented, I hope these fine young flowers of womanhood end up learning about our fabulous American legal system. Just maybe if they learn that you can't assault people when they are 17, they will not try it again when they are 27. If nothing else, maybe the kids coming up behind them will learn that they a) shouldn't tolerate this crap b) must not instigate this crap.

I also hope they find out what looser helped them get the alcohol that was "clearly involved." There is no excuse for this stuff, and any adult that could have done something but did not should be liable.
posted by ilsa at 12:32 PM on May 7, 2003


I went to Lane Tech High School in Chicago ('89), a huge public school in the city. The absolute worst "hazing" I ever saw there was seniors throwing pennies at the freshmen. And even that didn't happen very often.

Of course, people still insist that the only decent schools are private or suburban.
posted by jeff-o-matic at 12:32 PM on May 7, 2003


...And Mitrovarr, your consolation prize is the John Ashcroft Certficate of Moral Fortitude. Thanks for playing.
posted by PrinceValium at 12:33 PM on May 7, 2003


We get it, PrinceValium, you don't like violence even of the imaginary cathartic kind. You win the Tim Robbins/Richard Gere moral narcissism award. Here's your halo, polish it regularly. If you keep it up, we'll get you a nice dead horse to beat.
posted by jonmc at 12:37 PM on May 7, 2003


That Milky Way I just got from the office vending machine? Right in the garbage.
Funniest comment.

Brad nothing happen to those guys? Your sister did nothing back either?
posted by thomcatspike at 12:40 PM on May 7, 2003


The football players, in my situation, went right on playing football. I was told to pretty much keep my mouth shut, since they were just having fun and all. One of the parents eventually paid the medical bills, but none of the players were ever charged with anything - and never missed a day of school.
The football team at my high school was very important to the school, and everyone was like, "come on, they didn't realize that you were going to get hurt, it was all in fun.."
It pisses me off - even 16 years later - that I went along with everyone and we didn't press charges.
One of the guys involved now works at a gas station in my old hometown. Every time I go back home to see my grandmother, I make a point to stop in and make rude comments like, "So, how's it goin'? I see you're still workin' the pumps, huh? What, you pushin' for assistant manager? How much does that pay, $6.75?" and then just laugh like a hyena. Sometimes, I even make a comment about his hairy back or greasy bald spot.

It's a small thing, but it makes me feel better.
posted by bradth27 at 12:42 PM on May 7, 2003


PrinceValium - I take it you weren't bullied in school? It's a rare and forgiving person who's experienced severe persecution of this sort and didn't end up thinking that bullies should be shot in the head.
posted by Mitrovarr at 12:44 PM on May 7, 2003


Even though, at my high school, the worst hazing one could expect was having to wear a beanie or if a male, get a forced hair cut, I thought the concept and ritual was ridiculous then and it's obviously absolutely dangerous now - how horrible!
posted by harja at 12:46 PM on May 7, 2003


What doesn't make sense to me is that the juniors seem to just be sitting down in the middle of the field, taking it. How does this ritual work?

There is a cognitive dissonance between seeing oneself as strong and free (as we would all like to) and admitting to being a victim. Putting it crudely, human beings are pack animals who also like to be independent. Putting an 'independent' human being in such a situation causes a great deal of psychic pain. Some links which go some way to explaining how this works :-


The Stanford Prison Experiment.
'Our planned two-week investigation into the psychology of prison life had to be ended prematurely after only six days because of what the situation was doing to the college students who participated. In only a few days, our guards became sadistic and our prisoners became depressed and showed signs of extreme stress. '

The 'jailers' acted out the role of sadists, and the 'prisoners' the role of weak, depressed victims, when the 'society' of the experiment put them in that role. Psychological resistance under such circumstances is incredibly difficult, and incredibly
brave.


The Stanford Prison Experiment: Still powerful after all these years.
'I was sick to my stomach. When it's happening to you, it doesn't feel heroic; it feels real scary. It feels like you are a deviant. '


Domestic Abuse Awareness.


'According to the British Crime Survey 2000, domestic violence accounts for 23 per cent of all violent crime in England and Wales ...Yet, despite the frequency of these attacks, the crime remains the least reported to police.
Shame, stigma and fear all still help to keep the subject of domestic violence behind closed doors.'
posted by plep at 12:49 PM on May 7, 2003


wait, I just did the math, and it was more like 18 years ago. Jesus, I have been carrying this around for a while. heh. Bastards.
posted by bradth27 at 12:49 PM on May 7, 2003


PrinceValium - I take it you weren't bullied in school?

Are you serious? I have a website and I post on Metafilter!

Lest I be further accused of being like Richard Gere (though I do want to learn to tapdance at some point), my views are practical, not moralistic. If I am entitled to hate violence againist me, why should I not hate all violence?
posted by PrinceValium at 12:56 PM on May 7, 2003


in order to get into school dances for free, i was in the Key Club. They never got to haze me because i just refused to go to any of the iniations. Also--since early morning kidnappings were the common start--i told my mom that if anyone contacted her for persmission to do that she was to say no. I had one of those ornamental [no sharp edge, just a sharp point] samurai swords right next to my bed, and i told her i'd use it. Since--at the time--i spend a lot of time messing around with various weapons (could still draw the sword and hit a thrown penny until a few years ago) i really, really did mean it.

worked for me.

i was spared freshman hazing in highschool because i was only about 4'10" and 85lbs. People were embarrassed to hassle me or something....my taller friends got beat up for being 'new wavers'. Lucky i didn't end up like bradth27.
posted by th3ph17 at 1:02 PM on May 7, 2003


I forgot about the paddling in Dazed and Confused. I was only thinking about what the senior girls were doing to the new freshman. Just wanted to clarify... I don't think the paddling (or any kind of physical harm for that matter) is acceptable hazing. Shaving cream and ketchup fights seems reasonable though.
posted by Witty at 1:04 PM on May 7, 2003


This kind of stuff never happened where I grew up, and I'm from Milwaukee, not too far from there (A few hours away)
I've also never heard of a soroity or Frat in a high school setting (from the first post) what would the point be?
This kind of "lord of the flies" stuff should be expected when unsupervised kids get together. There should be planning on the adults part to expect it and to keep it from getting out of hand.
posted by Dillenger69 at 1:04 PM on May 7, 2003


When you lettered in a sport at my high school, you were expected to join the Letterman's Club. The annual initiation included lots of alcohol and your choice of ritual: 1) swim across a small lake with a live frog in your mouth (if it died or escaped, you had to do it again with a new frog) or 2) climb a tree naked with a large dill pickle clenched between your butt cheeks (if it fell out, you had to eat it and try again). In spite of relatively impressive upper body strength that would have helped me in the tree climb, I chose the lake swim. When I say something tastes like frog piss, I'm qualified to make the comparison.
posted by joaquim at 1:09 PM on May 7, 2003


On our hockey teams(club, not school) we always had older players that wanted to "whup on" younger players coming up into a new age division.

I'm proud to say that those older players were always pounded by good, legal(though brutal) checks in scrimmages by other older players.

Almost all the players most anxious to pick on the younger players were never very good hockey players.

The only hazing that I actually remember being public was a school synchronized swimming group-club thingy("The Terrapins"), whose member tended to make up the truly elite(way out-ranked mere cheerleaders).

New Terrapins were dressed for school for one day by the older Terrapins, and were outfitted in garish costumes, comprising a lot of bizarre things like underwear over their swimsuits, make up apparently done with a mortician's kit, hairstyles from public access music videos, and ever increasing amounts of foodstuff added to their outfits as the day went on(peanut butter applied to their hair in the lunchroom, honey down the front of their swimsuits at first break, marshmallow cream under their arms).

I knew for a fact that I didn't understand high school at all when I was attending, didn't ever even try to make sense of it, and have suffered no ill effects from not being concerned with whatever it was those lunatics were doing ever since.

The Terrapins that I have seen in the twenty years since high school have turned out to be a particularly neurotic batch of self-centered bores.
posted by dglynn at 1:10 PM on May 7, 2003


PrinceValium - I take it you weren't bullied in school?

Are you serious? I have a website and I post on Metafilter!


You owe me a keyboard and a mouthful of coffee.
posted by Space Coyote at 1:19 PM on May 7, 2003


Prince Valium - as you no doubt know, I was engaged in a bit of hyperbole. And it's not because I was bullied much in school. I was bullied a little bit, but I was also the guy that stood up for others when they got bullied. The problem is, as this thread illustrates, many of those bullied have absolutely no recourse. The environment the bullying takes place in is one that is sympathetic to the (football playing, good looking, wealthy, imposing in physical size, popular) bully, and against the (computer programming, pocket-protector wearing, dweeby) bullee. By mentioning Columbine, I wasn't actually wishing for it to happen, nor meaning to justify it, just reminding you that the two kids who went off at Columbine were victims of bullying at the hands of jock students in their own school.

This kind of shit has to stop. If I had a kid, I swear to God, I would train him or her every martial art possible so he or she was the baddest of the bad asses in the school. And then I would tell them to always be on the lookout for the weak and helpless and make it known you were their protector. Bullies suck, and they are usually cowardly, and all it takes is for one person to stand up to them and their veneer of toughness will disappear.

And yes, this was one of my favorite movies in the world growing up.
posted by vito90 at 1:32 PM on May 7, 2003


I'm a high school junior right now, and hazing-wise, I think I got pushed in the halls once when I was a freshman. Generally hazing seems to be limited to haircuts in our school. I also never really had that much of a problem with bullying, even though I'm really geeky and arrogant - no one was ever eager to start a fight with me because I'm almost impervious to pain (I sliced my right thumb in half in the middle of an art class, went up to the teacher, calmly asked to go to the nurse, and seriously freaked the entire class out), 6 feet tall, and 175 pounds - and have been 6 feet tall since 8th grade. Not pissing people off does wonders for not getting beat up as well.
posted by Veritron at 1:34 PM on May 7, 2003


I've also never heard of a soroity or Frat in a high school setting (from the first post) what would the point be?

I never much thought about the why at the time. I was 15 when I went through initiation. It was just what you did if you were a part of a certain social subset in my high school.

The frats and sororities started out as legitimate school clubs, from what I understood at the time, and were carried on by the kids after the school board stopped supporting them. Their original purpose was as a social club involved in local charitable events. They were also a direct feed to college fraternities and sororities-- my letters of introduction for college rush were written by the mothers of my high school sorority sisters.

The people I grew up with tend to move back to that town and raise their kids there, so I think a lot of it just continues out of a sense of tradition.
posted by astruc at 1:41 PM on May 7, 2003


Never underestimate the idiocy of crowds. This is what's happening at my old college at the moment. I bet you didn't know you could kill someone my forcing them to drink water.
posted by KnitWit at 1:48 PM on May 7, 2003


The only other hazing story I can remember was the senior wrestlers making the freshman wrestlers shave their heads. But I see that as plain hazing, not abuse like the girls in the story or the paddling incident at my own high school.

Ah! that's not hazing at all. All the wrestlers at my school shave their hair anyway because it gets in the way with the helmut thingy they have to wear. My friend, who's a girl, was on the team and ended up shaving her hair too after a week of it falling in her face and getting the way at practice.

These hazing stories really scare me. I remember hearing about this stuff before I went to high school, but none of it ever happened. Old siblings sometimes play-fight their younger brother's friends or fake-"stuff them in a trash can." But they only really do it so someone from yearbook can take a picture of them doing it -- it's all goofy and after the picture is snapped the older kids usually stop the macho-routine.

I dunno, maybe my school is an exception. Or maybe I am so out of the loop that I just don't realise hazing is going on. But people generally seem to be friendly with each other. Class-rivalry is only really present on the day of our pep rally, and then all it boils down to is lots of yelling and cheering and color coordinated outfits by grade.
posted by puffin at 1:55 PM on May 7, 2003


I don’t get the concept of hazing; dogging, jumping in, rushing or whatever name it might go by at all. Most of the victims of these rituals agree to undergo a painful, humiliating or degrading act in order to join some group. How can a person want to join any group that requires such initiation?

I think this is a really interesting question. I've never been the victim of or the witness to these kinds of initiation rites, but they seem like a less well-monitored version of the same kinds of practices that occur in ancient tribal societies, where all youth, or at least all young men, are subjected to some kind of painful / difficult "passage" into adulthood. For instance, having 8 to 10 ritual cuts made down the forehead and being left to bleed over a pit, and then having to swim across the local river for an all night "war" (fake war) with the tribal elders.

Why do they do this? Going through the ritual makes them feel they have undergone something and are therefore stronger; they're strong enough to have endured what the elders, whom they respect, once had to endure. They create a ritual of pain in order to prove that they can undergo pain. Members of these tribes take great pride in their initiation.

Problem with these frat boy versions is that the frat boys are only a couple years older, and the traditions are not so fully entrenched, so that new, more painful or degrading, rites can be added pretty easily. Still, if it's up to the initiates to want to join, then they're the ones making the choice to undergo whatever they're forced to undergo. I wouldnt want to belong to such a club either - but any group has conditions for entry. Actually, maybe I have to take that back a little - I had to undergo a fairly gruelling "ritual" to earn a "black belt" in my martial art, and I did that voluntarily. Any test of endurance, willpower, concentration, etc, contains degrees of pain that may not be directly necessary for proving you have learned the knowledge you were supposed to learn - it can test whether you are strong enough to undergo something difficult. I think that's probably underlying some of the desire to go through these kinds of initiation.
posted by mdn at 1:56 PM on May 7, 2003


Mdn-

Problem is, a lot of hazing in High School is not so that the victim can join some kind of club or organization... it is done simply because "the freshmen need a good whippin! Yee Haw!" Or "Those band kids sho' nuff got it comin' to em! Let's whoop their ass and make 'em run across the football field with something up their butts! Won't that be funny!"
If you want to be a total idiot and voluntarily sign yourself for crap like this, fine with me. But hazing does not automatically mean that the victim was a willing participant, nor had any kind of expectations out of the ordeal.
posted by bradth27 at 2:08 PM on May 7, 2003


Knitwit: Its good to see a fellow card. I hope you didn't miss the Fark thread on the psi ep fracas. I found a few P-burgh kids there that way and had an AIM buddy chat going that night. (Class of 01,)
posted by dr_dank at 2:17 PM on May 7, 2003


...just reminding you that the two kids who went off at Columbine were victims of bullying at the hands of jock students in their own school.

And what does that have to do with anything?

Why should I care how much they got picked on in high school, any more than I care what they ate for breakfast?

They shot and killed people, with premeditiation and malice. It's absurd to even think of mitigating such an evil act with tales of high school woe.

Bullying is assault, and should be dealt with as assault. No question about that. But punishment fits the crime, and in civil society we punish criminal offenders with the law, not with fantasies of revenge.
posted by PrinceValium at 2:17 PM on May 7, 2003


Hey Prince, I may be wrong but I don't think Vito was purporting anything different than you are.
posted by harja at 2:23 PM on May 7, 2003


This kind of stuff never happened where I grew up

Same here, though I went to HS in a small town in southern Indiana.

I've also never heard of a soroity or Frat in a high school setting

Same here ... is this a new trend? I graduated in 1985. Anyone else from that era ever hear of something like this? I mean there was plenty of in-group/out-group stuff with cliques and all of that and there was plenty of cruelty to go around, but it wasn't organized.

I find this incredibly alarming. These are future citizens we are talking about here.
posted by moonbiter at 2:29 PM on May 7, 2003


The only other hazing story I can remember was the senior wrestlers making the freshman wrestlers shave their heads. But I see that as plain hazing, not abuse like the girls in the story or the paddling incident at my own high school.
Ah! that's not hazing at all. All the wrestlers at my school shave their hair anyway because it gets in the way with the helmut thingy they have to wear.


It's hazing if the freshmen are held down and made to endure a senior with a pair of electric clippers at their scalp.
posted by rhapsodie at 2:32 PM on May 7, 2003


Eh. Damn cliquey yanks.

(On preview - finally, it works in Mozilla again!)
posted by Orange Goblin at 2:38 PM on May 7, 2003


In eighth grade, everybody knew the local high school had a drainage area unwary freshmen were pushed into. Luckily it was drained and fenced off the year before I started attending.

My first day of high school the first thing I saw was a hanged dummy labeled 'freshman' hanging from one of the trees in front of the school.

I didn't go to football games until I was a sophomore because freshmen got tagged - upperclassmen would carry markers around in the stands and write on your face if they caught you. The normal marking was an 'F' on your cheek or forehead, but occasionally you'd come across somebody who'd been unfortunate enough to have 'loser' or worse scrawled somewhere on their face.

These administration started cracking down on these sorts of things, though, after some members of the football team were caught paddling some freshmen they'd been assigned to give a school tour to at orientation.

The cheerleaders at my high school had an initiation similar to eliatan's drama club.

My high school church youth group had an initiation/hazing ritual. Incoming freshmen were kidnapped (with parental permission) in the middle of the night and sent on an escorted scavenger hunt through town.
posted by emmling at 2:40 PM on May 7, 2003


I'm just really disturbed to hear that fraternities and sororities are encroaching into high schools as per astruc's posts above.... they absolutely do NOT belong there (you could argue they don't belong in college either). I have never heard of this before (I graduated from HS in 1990)?
posted by akmonday at 2:55 PM on May 7, 2003


I bet you didn't know you could kill someone my forcing them to drink water.

Child abuse cases over the years & people doing X.
posted by thomcatspike at 3:03 PM on May 7, 2003


i went to a total jock/preppy dominated highschool, and i frequently had dreams, fantasties of 'going columbine'

... but my fantasies usually involved a lightsaber in gym class
posted by 11235813 at 3:08 PM on May 7, 2003


Good God, I am really shocked ... honestly. Nothing like this ever happened in my (Canadian) high school, that I was aware of (and having a younger brother, I think I would have heard about it). And I was in no way insulated from bullying or abuse through popularity; I was as weird as they come (or did then).

I just spent the last three years fighting with my son (now 16) about going to a regular high school. I finally found an alternative program for him where he's happy to attend... but I'll never forget the day when we were talking about weapons and violence at school, and he gave me the strangest look and said High school's changed a lot since your day, you know. He was right.

He tried two different schools, and there was little to no help for him at either -- the counsellors there had bigger fish to fry than to worry about a well behaved kid who just didn't want to be there. After reading this thread, I feel even more justified in my decision to just let him get the hello out of there.
posted by jokeefe at 3:39 PM on May 7, 2003


I'm just really disturbed to hear that fraternities and sororities are encroaching into high schools as per astruc's posts above.... I have never heard of this before (I graduated from HS in 1990)

It's not exactly a new practice. My 54 year old mother was in a sorority in High school as well.
posted by KnitWit at 3:41 PM on May 7, 2003


I'm just really disturbed to hear that fraternities and sororities are encroaching into high schools as per astruc's posts above...

I have no idea what the current situation is, as I graduated from high school in 1987. So I don't know that these organizations are encroaching, per se. For all I know, they've since been eradicated.

I did some Googling, trying to nail it down, but couldn't find anything.
posted by astruc at 3:43 PM on May 7, 2003


argh -- the hell out of there, I mean
posted by jokeefe at 3:47 PM on May 7, 2003


Bullying is assault, and should be dealt with as assault. No question about that. But punishment fits the crime, and in civil society we punish criminal offenders with the law, not with fantasies of revenge.



PrinceValium, I don't know what kind of magical fairy world you live in, but out here in the real world, nasty people get away with doing nasty things to weaker people all the time. Crap like this happens at every high school and college every day, and it is an extraordinarily rare case that is ever publicized or condemned. Maybe your occasional clucking of tongues and a comment, "oh, those crazy kids..." You're right, it is assault. But what percentage of these crimes to you think are punished properly? How many are ever recognized as crimes? I'm guessing that number is really, really close to zero. And you know what? That sucks.

If people have to deal with it by fantasizing about staking their bullies down in the desert, peppering them with a nail gun, and pouring bleach into the holes, I say good on 'em. Actually acting out a violent fantasy like that is unacceptable, of course - although a little more standing up would do some kids a lot of good.

The actions of those Krazy Kolumbine Kids were obviously twisted and wrong, but through the horror, you know that there was a tiny little reptilian part of a lot of peoples' minds that were cheering them on.
posted by majcher at 4:00 PM on May 7, 2003


I think part of the reason why someone doesn't leave partway through the hazing is it's a hard thing to do. In the shock experiments run by someone, can't remember who, they convinced a person they were shocking a person close to death, but the people generally kept going. Frequently when there's something you're committed to, it's hard to back out, and harder when the person with power over you is standing right next to you.

As well, people do hazing because people tend to back out of the group less. People rationalize, "Well, I suffered a lot to be in this group, I must really want to be here," and they believe it pretty strongly. That only explains groups, though, not high school hazing.
posted by stoneegg21 at 4:08 PM on May 7, 2003


I believe the Sorority and Fraternity in high school is a hold over from older times when most people didn't go on to college. You'd probably only see it in smaller, more "traditional" communities now-a-days.
posted by Dillenger69 at 4:08 PM on May 7, 2003


akmonday: they're not encroaching; they're returning. My parents each had sororities and fraternities in their high schools. Neither was interested in joining them in high school or in college, so I don't know what sororities and frats were like in the 1950s. I just know they existed, because I looked through their yearbooks and asked.

I was a cheerleader in high school, but there were no initiation rituals. On the contrary: the night before Homecoming (usually midnight-2am-ish), the cheerleaders drove around and decorated the cars of all the senior football players with streamers and balloons. The junior varsity girls were brought along so they could pass it on to the next group.
posted by swerve at 4:12 PM on May 7, 2003


I know that when one of the guys in my house at school was made a prefect, the other prefects caught him sleeping, shaved his pubic hair and buggered him with a frozen banana.

He was one of the five people in the house who killed themselves before they reached 30.

Yeah, I'm writing a book.
posted by Hogshead at 4:24 PM on May 7, 2003


A hazing sucess story (sort of): I was picked on for the first half of my Freshman year, before the guys on my sports teams decided I was cool and started defending me against people. I was 4'11" and 86 pounds back then. If I hadn't put up with the occasional abuse (being locked in a coffin-prop in the theater, constantly being picked up and pushed against lockers, etc), I never would have made it through those tough first months. By senior year I was one of the popular kids. Sometimes you just have to put up with that shit.

As aside- This video is awful. The only good chick initiations are the kind with nighties and pillowfights.
posted by Samsonov14 at 5:05 PM on May 7, 2003


majcher:

The actions of those Krazy Kolumbine Kids were obviously twisted and wrong, but through the horror, you know that there was a tiny little reptilian part of a lot of peoples' minds that were cheering them on.

I know I was in some small part, because I knew exactly what they were going through. I know it's not P.C. to say so, but I don't particularly care.

The hazers will always scratch their heads and say "Huh? I don't get it".

The function of U.S. schools is to get you to conform, not to learn anything. I was lucky since I was mostly ignored, not abused. If I had been abused, I could easily see going down to my school with a 12 gauge and shooting everyone in sight.

No, it wouldn't have been right, but it would have felt damn good.
posted by mark13 at 5:09 PM on May 7, 2003


Did he not think to ask what the banana in the freezer was for?
posted by Space Coyote at 5:16 PM on May 7, 2003


Geez Hogshead, that must have been some house . . .

I'm curious about all this "hazing" stuff. Never experienced it myself, but I was always at schools with very large minority populations. My first thought was that these people haven't had enough practice escaping from mobs of drunken white men.
posted by MetalDog at 5:22 PM on May 7, 2003


The actions of those Krazy Kolumbine Kids were obviously twisted and wrong, but through the horror, you know that there was a tiny little reptilian part of a lot of peoples' minds that were cheering them on.

I'm sorry, but nobody that I know cheers on mass murder, publicly or privately. Let's agree to disagree on this point.

As for bullies not being held accountable for their actions, I agree on that point. The answer is, of course, to change this system rather than take it as given.

And I don't want to get into my personal history on a public forum, but chances are that I'd trade the magical fantasy land I grew up in for yours any day.
posted by PrinceValium at 5:34 PM on May 7, 2003


stoneegg21, you're speaking of Stanley Milgram's experiments regarding obedience to authority.

...the most important thing I learned in college...
posted by NortonDC at 5:36 PM on May 7, 2003


Speaking of the Breakfast Club, Glenbrook North High School - the school where this 'hazing' incident occurred - was the school used in filming the movie. Just a little side note...

Actually, no. Breakfast Club was filmed at Maine North, which is now closed and I think serves as a police station or something municipal? I've driven there a few times in the past, pulling my car up to the doors where they got dropped off. Heh.
posted by wells at 5:36 PM on May 7, 2003


Although, now that I look at IMDB, Hughes did reference the GBN of his memory, and it looks like some of it -was- filmed at that school.

Sorry about that.
posted by wells at 5:39 PM on May 7, 2003


Weirdly, watching the hellacious footage and reading the descriptions, I thought of the training that US Navy SEALs undergo.

There was stuff going on at this "powder puff football game" that NAVSPECWARCOM doesn't sanction for BUD(S) students who want to be SEALs when they grow up. Hmmmm. Maybe the SEAL community ought to look into powder-puff football in suburban Illinois as a Hell Week event.
posted by alumshubby at 7:08 PM on May 7, 2003


People seem to be discussing two different things here:

Hazing - a bonding ritual gone horribly wrong, where new or potential members of some group are assaulted/abused whatever as a "rite of passage" and then allowed to join the group and accepted as members who have proven themselves. (i.e. senior girls doing these horrible things to junior girls before they pass the torch or whatever) In general, they'll get to "pay back" some future incoming group what they went through. ("Hazing" as a word generally referring to the more harmful and extreme end of the initiation concept)

Bullying/Ostracism/etc. - Where kids who are different are assaulted/abused for being different or weak or not conforming. Obviously no payoff of being accepted into a group when you're done. This kind of stuff apparently happened to the Columbine shooters.

Both are sick and wrong, but they inspire different kinds of violence. Hazing virtually guarantees (if there is no intervention to stop it) a legacy of "paasing on" the abuse, while bullying, when it leads to violence, leads to people lashing out against whoever either did the bullying, or whoever they feel represents their oppressors.
posted by antimony at 7:28 PM on May 7, 2003


Another Canuck chiming in: no hazing nor frats/sororities in the high schools. Bullying, etc, of course, but not this sort of coordinated thug behaviour.

I'll be the one who'll point out the Bowling for Columbine connection. In Canada, bugger-all violence involving guns. In the USA, it's, what, the #2 cause of death? In Canada, bugger-all hazing. In the USA, apparently not uncommon. In Canada, a general culture of cooperation, collaboration, concession. In the USA, it's mano-a-mano, wild west, toughest dog owns the lot.

Yes, it's another of the Fishes' gross generalizations, a stereotyping sort of thing. And I continue to assert that stereotypes do not arise in a vacuum.

Have fun with this one. :)
posted by five fresh fish at 7:30 PM on May 7, 2003


I was in the first-ever class of freshmen at my school (before that they only had grades 10-12), and there was Frosh Day. On that day any freshmen might get hazed. In reality only a few did -- swirlies, being duct-taped to the flagpole, etc.

In the following years the Frosh Day thing continued. I knew a few people who did the duct-taping. But I never actually saw anyone getting hazed; just heard the stories and saw some culprits hauled down to the principal's office.

I did see one guy get put into a garbage can (containing garbage) and then corked in by the weight of a giant disco ball - like 3 feet across - that was going to be used at the school dance that night. Then the guys who put him in there kept saying "if you break the school's disco ball trying to get out, you'll get busted. That disco ball cost at least $300." So the poor kid stayed in the garbage can.

In retrospect he should have come out and told all to explain the damage, but I understand why he didn't.

This was at the high school radio station where I worked. At the time there was a much more harmless hazing for new announcers, which is what I went through; basically, while you were doing one of your first broadcasts, someone would go in the other studio and try to make you crack up on air by doing weird stuff through the window -- holding up signs saying weird stuff, making faces, etc. I remember one guy would put his bare butt cheeks up against the window between Studio A and Studio B while a news announcer was trying to read the news.
posted by litlnemo at 8:07 PM on May 7, 2003


Hey, five fresh fish - I'm not saying that you're wrong (quite the opposite), but as a Yank, I'd like to hear your theories about what's going on in the US that's not going on in Canada that apparently makes these sorts of things (insane bullying; Columbine) happen here, but never in America Jr. A joke, BTW.
posted by GriffX at 8:31 PM on May 7, 2003


"The actions of those Krazy Kolumbine Kids were obviously twisted and wrong, but through the horror, you know that there was a tiny little reptilian part of a lot of peoples' minds that were cheering them on."

I'm sorry, but nobody that I know cheers on mass murder, publicly or privately. Let's agree to disagree on this point.


does 13 dead count as mass murder?

i knew more than a few people who've admitted cheering (on the inside), btw.
posted by lotsofno at 8:32 PM on May 7, 2003


lotsofno - were those the people who heard the quote "Anybody wearing a white baseball hat dies!"?

I'm being flip here, but I suspect that the geek-reaction or bullied-in-high-school-reaction to Columbine was something like the rest-of-the-world-reaction to 9/11: "Holy shit that's terrible, but I kinda understand how it happened".
posted by GriffX at 8:36 PM on May 7, 2003


In Canada, bugger-all hazing.

That didn't stop my wife from being stuffed into her locker.

More bullying than hazing, I suppose, since she didn't get to be popular after that, but still.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:12 PM on May 7, 2003


I went to high school less than 40 miles from where this all happened. The only hazing was pelting graduating 8th graders with water balloons or shaving cream (which was also done to fellow high school students, regardless of age/class). The water balloon/shaving cream stuff was frowned upon by administration: you'd get tossed from school if they found you with either, but they didn't really look that hard.

Personally I thought it a great game. Yes, even when I was the target. It just didn't get far enough out of hand to get genuinely scary. There were legends of serious hazing that'd curl your toenails, but I tend to think they were only legends as nobody ever seemed to be able to produce a name for the victim or perp--highly unlikely in a school with a student population of 850 or so.

There was also bullying at the HS, of course, but that's a different thing entirely AFAIC. It's directed at a few specific individuals rather than a large group, and is far crueler than a bit of shaving cream.

Later on, I joined a fraternity at Northwestern. There was 'hazing' despite strict university rules against it, but to me it wasn't a big deal. You had to memorize information about the fraternity and your 'brothers,' then were quizzed weekly (whoopy do; there's an obvious socialization function there anyway), and on one particular night you were put through all sorts of trust games. One involved being led out onto a roof while blindfolded, made to step onto a ledge and told to fall forward. Far below you could hear the voices of your 'brothers' shouting that they were going to catch you. When you fell forward, you landed on a couple of old mattresses and found the 'ledge' was really just a cinder block--you never left the roof. I thought those games were fun as well, even as a pledge, and saw a certain value in the 'trust' aspect of them.

There were a couple other activities that I did not appreciate, and I railed against them at chapter meetings and refused to allow my room or possessions be used for them (pathetic, really; I prolly should've depledged if I had any spine whatever) but nothing to the point of eating excrement or physical abuse. It was all relatively mild psychological or physical discomfort (an 'interrogation' by a supposed official from the national frat who was actually just an alum; having to put out a fire by spitting a mouthful of tabasco and god knows what else onto it; etc.) and the instigators did ease off on those who were obviously not 'taking it well.' I was a spring pledge, so they brothers had gotten the nasty stuff out of their system that year and I was spared or I probably would have bailed--at least, that's what I'd promised myself when I joined (no abusive hazing).

Frankly, I think a certain amount of what some folks call 'hazing' is actually beneficial to group solidarity. It does make an event of joining the group and imparts psychological significance to having become an insider. In fact, many sociologists and psychologists (including, for example, Charlie Moskos who was a professor of mine at N'western) say that one problem with modern American society is that it lacks any sort of definitive rite of passage. Hazing rituals help mark the transformation from out-group to in-group, and impart a sense of accomplisment and belonging in the hazed.

The dangerous part is that it can very easily get out of hand (these are just kids, after all; they do stupid stuff all the time). My own feeling is that it would be better to manage such rituals so they stay in the "I'm a little teapot" or trust games area, rather than trying to ban them outright. The latter seems to result in their going underground and getting out of control (War on Drugs, anyone?).
posted by setmajer at 1:03 AM on May 8, 2003


My tutors had to learn the combination of my locker - so they could let me out before class.

bullying, not hazing of course. kinda funny bullying too, not really evil stuff. Besides, I always took revenge, like dropping rotten eggs through the vents of the bullies lockers. Their jackets smelled foul.
posted by dabitch at 2:11 AM on May 8, 2003


Speaking as a Brit, I've often seen America as a country obsessed with conformity and acceptance. I'm not saying it is, just saying that's the impression that it gives.

It's fascinating to see a country founded on personal liberty having such a blind spot when it comes to those under voting age.

One thing I've never understood, these greek letter club thingies, why would you join them? What do they do for you? (serious question).
posted by fullerine at 2:17 AM on May 8, 2003


these greek letter club thingies, why would you join them?

My understanding of fraternaties comes entirely from 80's comedy films (mostly starring Rodney Dangerfield), but I always had an idea that it would give you business links later in life (like in that Simpsons episode when Smithers gives jobs to his Alpha Tau frat brothers over Homer).

On the other hand, I think there's a tribalistic urge to join and be protected by an organisation that's also at work here.

Speaking for myself though, I have never heard of a fraternity in my own country, and the only thing I ever joined at Uni was the "Role-Playing Game Society".

...oh how I wish I were joking
posted by backOfYourMind at 5:05 AM on May 8, 2003


Although looking at the grammar in the post above, you'd never know I went to university at all!
posted by backOfYourMind at 5:07 AM on May 8, 2003


Speaking as a Brit, I've often seen America as a country obsessed with conformity and acceptance. I'm not saying it is, just saying that's the impression that it gives.

Not to say you're wrong, but I think that's mostly a matter of not seeing the water you're swimming in. That would have been my impression of British cultures too. In both cases, it's probably because you can actually see the things people are conforming to better when they're not the things you conformed to.

One thing I've never understood, these greek letter club thingies, why would you join them?

They're probably best seen as a mix between social clubs and residential colleges (without any faculty). You'd join one because you like the people involved and wanted to hang around with and/or live with them. I joined one because I'd finally found a bunch of like-minded dorks.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 6:56 AM on May 8, 2003


I know a lot of people who joined sororities because they wanted a group of ready-made friends or because they thought it would look good on their resume. I never had a desire to join one (and frankly, I'm a fat, smart, non-cute girl, so I probably wouldn't have been able to rush even if I'd wanted to) or the financial resources, for that matter. It's expensive, being in a sorority/fraternity.

I feel like I should clarify my comments earlier in the thread after reading all these horror stories about hazing/bullying. The stuff we did wasn't done to everyone in drama club, it was just to those who were eligible to become thespians--you had to work your butt off over the course of two or three years to get there, and the only acitvity we did was the initiation, so the public initiation was the reason why people did it. (And you know, this was a bunch of drama people--we were a bunch of show-offy freaks anyhow!) We never did anything that would hurt someone. And when it became clear that the climate of the school would no longer tolerate the initiation, it became a private activity. I'm feeling pretty guilty about it all now, though.
posted by eilatan at 7:36 AM on May 8, 2003


setmajer - "one problem with modern American society is that it lacks any sort of definitive rite of passage."

Isn't surviving high school in itself a rite of passage?
posted by MsVader at 9:04 AM on May 8, 2003


There was stuff going on at this "powder puff football game" that NAVSPECWARCOM doesn't sanction for BUD(S) students who want to be SEALs when they grow up. Hmmmm. Maybe the SEAL community ought to look into powder-puff football in suburban Illinois as a Hell Week event.

Just talking about the training of SEALS with my brother whom is in the Navy. I mentioned how the current training seemed toned down some from what I had heard in past years of the program. He said the Navy realized they were washing out the smarter ones of the bunch.
posted by thomcatspike at 10:55 AM on May 8, 2003


In Canada, bugger-all hazing

i guess all you smug Canucks never played hockey or joined the military, eh?

"In another contest, the team captain placed marshmallows into the rectum of two rookies, with the last one able to push it back out being forced to eat both."

Yum!
posted by mrgrimm at 12:09 PM on May 8, 2003


Been around for years... non-News item. Only interest is focus on rich white girls with absent parents. As reported by glitter queen Anna Devlantes.
posted by {savg*pncl} at 9:36 PM on May 8, 2003


Ewww. That's as good an excuse as any for not playing hockey.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:11 PM on May 8, 2003


My high school was a hardcore nerd haven, and in my senior year, a small group of seniors (like three guys and three girls -- we had a class of 110, so three was a sizeable group) started up these groups that could be considered fraternities/sororities. They did have some public hazing, but it mainly consisted of standing in a line and shouting out things like some low-rent military school thing.

99% of the school was pretty disgusted with it, though.
posted by Katemonkey at 7:37 AM on May 9, 2003


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