Thursday, January 18, 2007

The Haze Clears From Your Eyes (But Not Potter's)

Andrew Potter has written a defense of hazing practices (with a qualifier that they ought not to cross over into illegality). In essence I suppose it's hard for me to disagree with his argument that voluntary associations of adults can engage in pretty much anything not illegal.

What bothers is that leaps a bit too far and tries to ascribe way to much nobility to head-shaving and alcohol consumption. Check out this overreach:
Philosophers over the years have used different terms to describe this ethic. Plato called it thumos, usually translated as "spiritedness" or "passion." Hobbes called it pride, Rousseau talked of amour-propre, and Hegel described it as part of our desire for recognition. These are all ways of getting at the same phenomenon, namely, the desire to compete, to assert oneself over and against others.
Assert oneself? I'm sorry Mr. Potter, but the hazing has to be one of the ultimate acts of the herd. Everyone does it. You do it too. We all do it. Yeah, there you are asserting yourself against others... Hah. Go ahead and haze all you hazers, but it's just an act of conformity and submission to the group mentality. Stop pretending you are warriors, you are as bad as middle-aged men pretending that their barbecues are somehow comparable to hunter-gatherers roasting game on open flame.

Hazers should be allowed to haze, just as I am allowed to call the practice kind of lame.