Sensitivity Hazing

Thomas J. FlemingTwo members of the Kappa Alpha Psi chapter at Florida A & M have been sentenced to two years imprisonment for a violent hazing they inflicted on a fraternity pledge, who suffered a punctured eardrum and bruises on his buttocks. Michael Morton, 23, and Jason Harris, 25, were convicted under a 2005 Florida law making hazing a felony subject to a penalty of up to five years in prison. Morton’s fiancée, five months pregnant, asked for leniency, as did FA&M officials, but judge Kathleen Dekker was deaf to all appeals, including the defense claim that the victim, Marcus Jones, was a willing participant in the initiation ritual and could have withdrawn at any time.

An irrelevant datum, significant only as a sign of what can and cannot be said these days, is the simple fact that none of the stories–including the account on–noted that Kappa Alpha Psi is a traditionally African American fraternity or that the hazers and the hazee are black. Race, we would be told if we were sufficiently impudent to inquire into this reticence, does not matter, except when the victim is black and the perpetrators are white.

At Arizona State University, a few days before the sentencing of the KAPsi students, senior Ryan Visconti decided to opt out of a sensitivity training exercise. In the exercise Visconti, who had been told to play a homosexual Hispanic, tried to attend church only to be rebuffed by another student playing a church lady who told him he was going to Hell. Visconti describes the exercise as an “ultra-clear example” of the victim mentality and liberal bias that permeate ASU.

Critics of the role-playing exercise have mostly focussed on the negative stereoptyping of whites, Christians, and Hispanics: Visconti was told he could choose either to be “a landscaper and live in a ghetto apartment or be unemployed and homeless.” However, hardly anyone has challenged the notion that it is a proper function of a university (or of the state itself) to change the basic attitudes of the students whose parents pay the taxes and tuition that make ASU possible.

It is easy to get lost in the details of the two stories. The race of the fraternity brothers is irrelevant as is the accidental puncturing of the initiate’s eardrum, but equally irrelevant are the silly attributes assigned to the roles being played at ASU–whites are business executives, minorities live on welfare, Christians are bigots. Morton and Harris were not convicted of puncturing an eardrum but of taking part in hazing, which in itself constitutes a felony, while the ASU role-playing game would be just as ridiculous if the roles were reversed.

If we strip away the accidents, we can see that hazing and sensitivity training are similar activities. Both are a good deal like boot camp, that is, they aim at breaking down the old man and building up a new man who will belong to the group. The significant difference is that while Marcus Jones decided of his own free will to join a fraternity, knowing the grueling ordeal that lay in store for him, Ryan Visconti was required by ASU to undergo a process of humiliation that seems designed, as Visconti put it, to “reinforce the most disgusting, hateful and ugly stereotypes in our society.”

Then why did the fraternity brothers get two years for participating in a voluntary hazing, while the ASU officials who designed and supervised the role-playing farce got off with mixed criticism and praise for their good intentions?

Everyone knows the answer. Hazing, for all its faults and openness to abuse, is designed to produce men who are tough, resolute, and loyal, while sensitivity training is intended to produce guilt and shame among straight, white, Christian males.

Suppose we were to have access to statewide media in Arizona and managed to persuade a majority of the voters of Arizona–a supposedly conservative state–that sensitivity training is an institutionalized form of bigotry. What would happen? Nothing. We live in the country we want to live in. We watch films and TV shows and comedy routines that routinely ridicule everything that decent people believe, and we send our children–without even warning them–to the leftist indoctrination camps we call universities.

Some conservative Americans know that our cultural-educational system is designed to alienate the hearts and minds of their children, but they feel powerless to do anything. They send checks to their alma mater, pretending to believe it is still the same school they attended. They hold their nose and close their brain, while voting Republican, and they vainly believe that their congressperson is not as crooked and evil as every other congressperson. They are, in a word, collaborators in the concentration camp of the mind that is American culture. If even a fourth or a third of conservatives–a small fraction of Americans in general–started refusing to collaborate, as young Jason Visconti refused, it would be the beginning of a cultural revolution.

In the meantime–which will probably be forever–study Latin, read books written before your parents were born, and send your checks not to Alma Mater but to Chronicles and The Rockford Institute.

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