Comment of the Day: “The Hazing Abuse of Michael Warren”

Frequent commenter and anti-child abuse advocate Steven Mark Pilling catalogues the defenses and rationalizations offered here by collegiate commenters who thought my post was overly hard on pro-hazing Hartwick College. The references to “Hounddog” relate to a thankfully buried film shot five years years back that required a 12-year-old Dakota Fanning to be the victim in a graphic rape scene with an adult actor. Steven, along with Paul Petersen and others, successfully exposed the film’s skirting of laws and exploitation of Fanning. You can read my ethics commentary on that horrible story here and here.

“Jack: In reading those collegian posts and your responses, I almost had a feeling of deja vu. Isn’t it amazing how all the excuses and means of “defending the indefensible”- no matter what the specific issue- have points of commonality that immediately grab at you? When I was involved in the “Hounddog” issue, I ran into them all. I see many of them here…

“’Shooting the Messenger” is a great one. Your opponent has made his case too well? Attack his character in a way that transposes onto the issue at hand, thus taking attention OFF the main issue. “Hounddog” Equivalent: “Why are you obsessed on Dakota Fanning (you perv)?”

“Then there’s moral equivalence. “Two Wrongs Make It Right”. If you can establish that others have committed abuses prior to the one under discussion, then it lessens the outrage… even if the abuse under inquiry ranks among (or is!) the worst of its genre. “Hounddog Equivalent”: “Well… what about Brooke Shields’ “Pretty Baby”? Wasn’t that as bad?”

“Or “Apples & Oranges”. Cross-genre comparisons with the attempt to unite them and thereby lessen the stature of your issue. “Hounddog” Equivalent: “Well how about kids being REALLY molested all the time?”

“And “False Traditionalism”. This is where abhorrent behavior is sugar-coated by making it out as a slightly “off-color” reflection of an otherwise time approved concept… regardless of the fact that it violates the very fundamentals of what concept was first established to promote. “Hounddog” Equivalent: “It’s ART!”

“Among the others are the old “Facts? What Facts?” gambit. HE: “You don’t know the industry and your facts are poop besides. Nyah!”. The “Who Are You To Judge?” angle. HE: “Damn judgemental Christo-fascist.” The “Trust The Authorities At The Scene” motif. HE: “Her parents and agent were good with it.” The “Now I Yam A Man” reposte. HE: “She’s mature for her age… at 12.” The “Why Pick On Us?” cop-out. HE: “We’re really good and misunderstood people. Now THOSE guys are bad!” And, of course, the ever popular “It’ll Raise Awareness Of The Issue” trumpet. HE: Same phrase!

“It’s a “Hounddog” World, Jack. My God, I need a cold beer!”

3 thoughts on “Comment of the Day: “The Hazing Abuse of Michael Warren”

  1. Entertaining. I like how you compare yourself to Jack. He was attacked with poor arguments and you were ostensibly attacked with poor arguments. Excellent.

    Should I mention here how Jack was only attacked with poor arguments and you ignored all the good arguments you were attacked with? Or should I talk about how you are completely misrepresenting the attacks against you to create false equivalences? How about how your position (No one under 18 can handle anything to do with sexuality) is completely indefensible, while Jack’s position (letting real abuse occur is bad) is pretty much agreed upon by all. I don’t know. I think maybe I shouldn’t get involved again.

  2. Having attended and been around colleges for several decades, I have heard the rationalizations for hazing over and over again. I hear “it is just a few bad apples who spoil it for the rest”, “we have always done it that way”, and “if the pledges agree to it, it is OK”. I have seen incidents of hazing at all 5 institutions I have attended or worked for. Hazing is not rare, and it is probably near universal.
    When I have talked to fraternity and sorority members, they all tell me the same thing “Well, we don’t do that anymore” and “some of the groups (in our Greek organization) haze, but we don’t” When I ask them what they do at rush now, I get things like
    “We make them wear a large, embarrassing piece of paper on their shirt for a month”
    “We don’t let them talk to anyone outside the group for the month of rush”
    “We make them line up and sing embarrassing songs in front of everyone”
    When I point out that those things could be considered hazing, I always get the response “Well, we have to be allowed to do SOMETHING”. When I suggest just having a mixer where you talk to the pledges and get to know them, they are very dismissive.

    Frats and sororities haze for a very good reason, it makes the members more dedicated. The more vicious the hazing, the more fanatic the devotion. It is strange, but true. I don’t think you will get rid of hazing until you get rid of fraternities and sororities. I know there will be very dismissive and dissenting opinions made about this. For those of you who read such dissent, ask yourself this question “Would you trust a cult member to truthfully and accurately describe what goes on in their cult?”.

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