By Steve Hunley

There is no plainer way to put it; quite simply hazing should be illegal.  A recent reminder was the filing of a lawsuit by a former Florida State University student who claims he sustained a brain injury while being forced to participate in a hazing ritual.  That particular ritual was called the “Scumbag of the Week” and the young man says in his lawsuit another fraternity brother had hit him in the head, leaving him to recover at a neuro-intensive care unit at Tallahassee hospital.  All of us have read about some unfortunate student who has died from alcohol poisoning or the like after having participated in some sort of hazing ritual.  Perhaps the most infamous case was that at Penn State where Timothy Piazza died after an alcohol-fueled ritual called the “Gauntlet.”

Hazing comes in many forms nor is it confined to college campuses and fraternity houses.  The school district in McMinnville, Oregon just kicked three players off the local soccer team and suspended five others for a hazing incident.

Hazing is dangerous.  Hank Nuwer, author of Hazing: Destroying Young Lives, points out there has been at least one death per year in this country that can be directly attributed to hazing since 1961.  There were four such deaths in 2017.  Some campuses have gone so far as to ban hard liquor altogether in an effort to reduce hazing incidents.  Perhaps a better idea is to ban the use of all alcoholic beverages, however not every incident is related to alcohol.

Some hazing involves a series of demeaning tests, oftentimes while being whipped or the like.  I cannot really understand just why someone would want to belong to a group or organization that requires degrading and humiliating its prospective members as a price of entry.  No group is that exclusive.  Who among us would pay the hefty fees to join a country club if we were required, as the price of admission, to run naked through the golf course while being chased by other members riding in golf carts and toting whips?  Who among us would join a service organization if we were required to be blindfolded and clean sidewalks and toilets with a toothbrush as the price of admission?

Unless someone is injured or killed, perhaps we ought to reserve cleaning sidewalks or floors and toilets with a toothbrush for those who are found guilty of having engaged in hazing.  That seems more appropriate to me and they might even learn a lesson.

Every human being is worthy of being treated with dignity and respect until or unless he or she shows he or she doesn’t deserve it.  Hazing is merely another form of bullying and shouldn’t be tolerated by a civilized society.  Bullying is a big reason why so many youngsters consider or commit suicide.  Neither hazing nor bullying should be tolerated by our society and there ought to be serious ramifications for those who enjoy degrading and humiliating others.

My final suggestion is we all should just live by the Golden Rule.