Saturday, January 3, 2009

Death by Vodka

The local newspaper had another story today about the young man who died of alcohol poisoning a few weeks ago. Seems like he was "kidnapped" by a couple of sorority girls, duct taped up, painted blue, and offered vodka to drink. Indictments are to be handed down: the fraternity and the sorority will be arrested for felony hazing, there will be a gaggle of arrests for hazing and for providing alcohol to a minor.
A number of things emerge from the murk that surrounds the story. First, the fraternity and the sorority had apparently knowledge of the hazing. If so, this is stupid almost beyond belief. Second, the young man was not forced to drink. He was offered liquor. Different thing entirely. Third, it turns out that the young man had a history, albeit not a long one, of binge drinking.
Taken altogether, it seems that the hazing incident and the death from drinking are only tenuously connected. That is, the young man apparently did all the drinking on his own hook, and might have killed himself at another time. It happens.
So, what about the hazing, that people are being arrested for it? It seems to consist of the "capture" of a strong, aware, alert, young man by two young women. Second, the program included stripping the young man to his shorts, painting him (it is to be hoped) Aggie blue, duct taping him, and letting him drink himself to oblivion.
One if tempted to ask, "What would have happened if the young man had not died?" The answer is, probably, nothing. No charges, no arrests, no really screwed up lives.
Hazing is a dumb activity. It can be dangerous. It can be fatal. However, in this case, it was only dumb. Certainly one would not choose to be duct taped and painted blue. The kidnapping is a little more problematical; I don't think I'd mind that.
It's the death that has engendered this lust for justice (read "revenge"). The boy died; somebody has to pay.
The charges brought against the people involved are "just." That is to say, they are within the purview of the law. It's the motive behind all this that is a little unsettling. That and the fact that the newspaper hasn't remarked at all on the evolution of the story as more and more facts come out.

No comments: