Sunday, January 18, 2009

Fraternity redux

I keep coming back to the problem of the young man who died of alcohol poisoning. I think it's that I am having trouble picking out the threads that weave through it, and the motives behind the persons making decisions. One curious thing seems to be that the death of the young man and the allegations of hazing have drifted apart. It seems clear that the partying (or hazing) incident gave an opportunity for the young man to overindulge, but didn't actually cause it. This comes from a kind of grudging account in the newspapers, which early on quoted someone as saying that the young man was "made" to drink vodka to a later admission that he wasn't forced to do anything.
The charges that have been filed on students include hazing and offering alcohol to a minor. The second is almost certainly true. The first may be also, but I'd be interested in finding out just what happened. The young man was "abducted" by two coeds, duct taped, and painted blue, if I remember what the newspapers said. Is that all of it? And, more importantly, did he object? Fight? Cry for help? Or did he go along with it.
The laws against hazing are there to protect people from getting hurt. In the past people have been seriously injured or even killed as a result of hazing. On the other hand, the only real pain I see in this one is when someone rips the duct tape off. That stuff really sticks.
No charges have been filed in the death.
The university president has called for a "task force" to look into hazing practices. Well and good. We're facing a huge financial crisis and we still have time to worry about painting people blue.
The tragedy of the young man's death is already sinking beneath the froth of hazing charges. Those charged, by the way, have pleaded innocent. Now, if I were a lawyer for one of the people charged, and the city had a really good case, I'd recommend pleading down to a slap on the wrist and getting it over with. If, on the other hand, the city's case was lousy, I might recommend pleading innocent and fighting it out in court.
One wonders about all the fuss and bother. I simply can't see why so much of our resources are being spent on a bubble. On the other hand, I don't have all the information I need to make an informed guess, as I'm limited to what I get from the paper.

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