Author Topic: Hazing thrives in organizations obsessed with conformity... - CBC Opinion  (Read 8006 times)

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Offline Dimsum

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Call it hazing. Call it initiation ritual. Call it tradition.

It could be a private school, or a sports team, or a military unit. St. Michael's College School. Upper Canada College. The Ontario Hockey League. The Royal Winnipeg Rifles or the Canadian Airborne Regiment.

Psychologists have many theories about why brutal and sadistic power rituals of this nature still exist in our supposedly civilized society. But the glaringly obvious fact is that they almost always involve men, in all- or mostly-male organizations, whose members believe that they are superior due to an embroidered badge sewn on their blazer, their sweater or their uniform.

Take a number of young males and form them into a unit or team of some kind, put them through physical and mental stress via rigorous learning, sports and athletic or field training, all while constantly stressing to them that they are superior — that the rules don't apply to them, that those who are not part of the group do not and cannot understand them, and sooner or later you'll have misogyny, racism and atrocity. (Don't forget to give them an embroidered badge.)

The military is the acme of this.

It is perhaps notable that all these organizations, which are supposedly intended to create leaders and to enable individuals to rise to their full potential, are in fact obsessed with conformity. Any form of individuality is beaten down, and initiation rituals are an means to the end. Get with the program, or suffer the consequences. Of course the staff, administration, officers and other leaders routinely claim they knew nothing of what was going on after the fact, and profess shock and dismay.

While I personally was never physically abused during my four decades of service as a reservist, there were many occasions on which my refusal to take part in traditional rituals caused me personal humiliation, intimidation and threat. Many of these stemmed from my refusal to drink alcohol; others were caused by my refusal, as an atheist, to take part in what were compulsory religious services.

To this day I vividly recall being pushed back against the mess bar by a choleric major who jabbed his finger into my chest and bellowed: "If you want to be an officer in this regiment you'd damn well better learn to drink like one!" I was rescued by the steward, a war veteran named Corky Ayers, who refused to pour a drink for me and told the major so. I endured many such incidents.

Admittedly, that is not anywhere near as bad as being allegedly buggered by a broom handle, or beaten with a hockey stick, but the mentality behind it is the same: either get with the program or be an outcast. It's a guy thing, and until we find a way to deal with that, it will continue to occur.
Imagine a Canada in which we had never segregated education, sports or the military. No boys' schools, no girls and boys teams, and women and men were equal in the Forces from the beginning. Would we have the same degree of problems with hazing, intimidation or sexual assault?

We men have to own up to a very simple fact: it's our fault. And therefore, only we can really do anything about it. We must look closely at how we raise our sons, and teach them that they are human beings first, and men second. We must show them that they prove their manhood by respecting, not abusing, other people, men or women.

Perhaps we need to take drastic measures: re-organizing sports, or private schools, with gender-equality in mind. We must demand that the Forces take meaningful steps to eradicate all these hazing "traditions" and fixation with conformity. The Charter and the Supreme Court have made it clear what "the program" should be. Let's make them get with it. If Canada is indeed going to lead the world in this century, this would be a good place to start.

https://www.cbc.ca/news/opinion/hazing-military-1.4962270
Philip II of Macedon to Spartans (346 BC):  "You are advised to submit without further delay, for if I bring my army into your land, I will destroy your farms, slay your people, and raze your city."

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Offline Jarnhamar

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Some good points in that article and some not so good ones. Very much agree with his views on conformity. Gender equality such as mixed gender hockey teams or perhaps boxing? That'll work.

I wonder why Mr Keene is wearing arid cadpat in the article picture, he doesn't appear to have deployed to the middle east.
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Offline Halifax Tar

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Some good points in that article and some not so good ones. Very much agree with his views on conformity. Gender equality such as mixed gender hockey teams or perhaps boxing? That'll work.

I wonder why Mr Keene is wearing arid cadpat in the article picture, he doesn't appear to have deployed to the middle east.

I noticed that as well when I dug into his background.
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Offline Monsoon

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I noticed that as well when I dug into his background.
Don't know the guy or what you're seeing, but the bio on this CBC article - https://www.cbc.ca/news/opinion/universality-of-service-1.4363985 - says, "Tony Keene was a reservist in the Canadian Armed Forces for 40 years and completed multiple overseas tours of duty." Perhaps he served as an UNMO in Sudan, if you're certain he's never been to the ME.

Offline Remius

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I certainly don’t agree with the statement that hazing “thrives”.  Does it exist? Yes.  If left unchecked it could thrive.  But I don’t agree that it thrives in the CAF.
Optio

Offline daftandbarmy

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I certainly don’t agree with the statement that hazing “thrives”.  Does it exist? Yes.  If left unchecked it could thrive.  But I don’t agree that it thrives in the CAF.

If it does, there is more willingness, and far more avenues, for getting it sorted out than there were 20 years ago, IMHO.
"The most important qualification of a soldier is fortitude under fatigue and privation. Courage is only second; hardship, poverty and want are the best school for a soldier." Napoleon

Offline PuckChaser

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The guy was a PAFFO after a brief stint as a Inf Pl Comd, career reservist. His bio never indicates any Middle East deployment, but as a PAFFO he went to Haiti and Rwanda, likely on TAVs.

Full bio (news article format) here: https://militarybruce.com/journalist-soldier-comes-full-circle-2/

Online AbdullahD

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I could be very biased here but this article seems extremely biased in my books. Mainly the points of it thriving and always involving men, secondary points of it being brutal and sadistic as well.

Some instances of female hazing, showing it is not just males
https://www.therichest.com/rich-list/most-shocking/10-of-the-most-insane-sorority-hazing-stories/

Interesting read that hazing and the culture of hazing could be linked to the down fall of certain fraternities that practice it and leading to the reduction of hazing itself (my conclusion)
https://c.ymcdn.com/sites/www.psiu.org/resource/resmgr/Docs/Fraternities_in_Decline.pdf

Now the instance with the major he cites seems far more like bullying then hazing, but still does not make it right regardless.
https://canada.humankinetics.com/blogs/excerpt/the-differences-between-bullying-and-hazing-and-how-you-can-prevent-it

Bullying statistics
http://www.bullyingstatistics.org/content/bullying-statistics.html

Rand paper on US military hazing
https://www.rand.org/content/dam/rand/pubs/research_reports/RR900/RR941/RAND_RR941.pdf

All in all, the article has great points destructive hazing, bullying etc needs to be stopped. But I feel that hazing is on the decline due to the decrease of fraternities and sororities that practice it, that the claiming that the military is the Acme of hazing is completely off based and that fraternities are far better suited to that title and lastly the author may have gotten bullying and hazing confused.

Unless of course he is claiming BMQ is hazing.. in that case he is off based too I would guess because the reasons for discipline, toughness etc in bmq differs greatly then in hazing.

Also I suspect he lurks this site and I would love to hear a better explanation of what he was thinking when he wrote this piece.. right now it just feels like a quick paycheque to me nothing substantial at all.

Abdullah

Offline Blackadder1916

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I could be very biased here but this article seems extremely biased in my books. . . .

The topic title says it all . . . CBC Opinion . . . , though to clarify it is not an opinion from the CBC, but an opinion piece written by someone not employed (or paid) by the CBC but simply provided a venue where a range of opinions can be presented.  You know, like back in the old days of good journalism when you could turn the actual paper pages of the most trusted sources of media and find things like letters to the editors and op-eds on the page opposite the editorial.

In the grand scheme of things, this is a nothing piece.  Opinion only, it is not a research report nor is his opinion supported by any sort of data which could have been easily referenced.  In other words, the writer said what he "believed" not what he knew to be fact.  It would be entirely appropriate to surmise that the CBC editors may have been biased in accepting this opinion piece for publication because they may have been impressed by the CV of the author, but to suggest that the CBC is presenting this as a story would be off.

This, however, would be an ideal opportunity for an individual who wishes to refute the premise put forth by Mr. Keene to submit his/her own opinion piece to the CBC and to properly support such a rebuttal with proper research.  I, however, won't be doing that since (as I previously wrote) this is a nothing piece and I have better things to do with my time.

https://www.cbc.ca/news/opinion/opinion-faq-1.3834532
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Online AbdullahD

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Yeah opinion pieces are the bane of society sometimes.

To be honest, I lack the time to see if my points stand up to scrutiny on this subject so publicly refuting I will not do.

Abdullah

Offline Retired AF Guy

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The guy was a PAFFO after a brief stint as a Inf Pl Comd, career reservist. His bio never indicates any Middle East deployment, but as a PAFFO he went to Haiti and Rwanda, likely on TAVs.

Full bio (news article format) here: https://militarybruce.com/journalist-soldier-comes-full-circle-2/
According to the link you provided he also did four tours in the Balkns as a PAFFO.
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Offline PuckChaser

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According to the link you provided he also did four tours in the Balkns as a PAFFO.

Yeah didn't want to summarize his whole life, just wanted to address the CADPAT(AR) issue.

Offline garb811

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To this day I vividly recall being pushed back against the mess bar by a choleric major who jabbed his finger into my chest and bellowed: "If you want to be an officer in this regiment you'd damn well better learn to drink like one!" I was rescued by the steward, a war veteran named Corky Ayers, who refused to pour a drink for me and told the major so. I endured many such incidents.

Considering he joined in 1964, (55 years ago) which given the context is likely around when this incident occurred, yet the average reader will presume it is a recent event, it might have been germane to the say when this actually happened; but that would diminish the impact of the event to his thesis.

Offline Dimsum

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Considering he joined in 1964, (55 years ago) which given the context is likely around when this incident occurred, yet the average reader will presume it is a recent event, it might have been germane to the say when this actually happened; but that would diminish the impact of the event to his thesis.

I read the mandatory religious services part as a bit of a timestamp. 
Philip II of Macedon to Spartans (346 BC):  "You are advised to submit without further delay, for if I bring my army into your land, I will destroy your farms, slay your people, and raze your city."

Reply:  "If."

Offline PuckChaser

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Considering he joined in 1964, (55 years ago) which given the context is likely around when this incident occurred, yet the average reader will presume it is a recent event, it might have been germane to the say when this actually happened; but that would diminish the impact of the event to his thesis.

It obviously wasn't a bad enough event, he's still a member of the mess at the unit in question. Unless I'm victim shaming by pointing that out...

Offline Infanteer

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I resent that microaggression.
"Overall it appears that much of the apparent complexity of modern war stems in practice from the self-imposed complexity of modern HQs" LCol J.P. Storr

Offline Journeyman

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Having crossed paths with the author when (for my sins), I was posted to a Reserve unit in Toronto, this article fits the 'self-aggrandizing' and 'underwhelming' personal perception acquired then  (he may  have been awesome; I just didn't see it).  I'm guessing that maybe he couldn't get in with the QOR, so that he could have gotten "an embroidered badge" of his own.   :boring:


And yes, I agree with folks who have highlighted the dated nature, and bullying/hazing, shortcomings of the narrative.

There’s nothing more maddening than debating someone who doesn’t know history, doesn’t read books, and frames their myopia as virtue. The level of unapologetic conjecture I’ve encountered lately isn’t just frustrating, it’s retrogressive, unprecedented, and absolutely terrifying.
~Chris Evans

Offline BeyondTheNow

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I’m kind of a bit taken aback by some of the posts in this thread. It sounds as though just because one didn’t experience it personally or hear about it, it must not be happening.

Let me tell you a story from CFLRS that happened within the last 5yrs. I won’t narrow down the date any further. I’ve been starting and stopping this post repeatedly since reading some of the responses. There’s absolutely no logical way that I’m the only one who’s come across scenarios such as the one I’m about to share, or other instances of disgusting behaviour.

There was a male on my pl who was the stereotypical nerd or geek one might envision. We’ll call him “Stan.” Stan was tall, lanky—skin and bone, bad acne, glasses, kept to himself—he was a computer junkie. ‘Very smart and kind when someone took the time to interact with him though. He had zero PO failures—he kept up with everyone and pulled his weight as expected. He wasn’t a TC by any means, but he could be depended upon.

One evening after we’d been dismissed for the day, closer to lights out, a couple of guys came running to the girls area of the floor. We were in green sector, 7th floor. We were still on Indoc. (The males & females were divided by a white shower curtain suspended from a removable shower rod. The guys were yelling...panicked. Our first reaction was to tell them off because they were in our area and a few of us were in various stages of undress. This wasn’t allowed and if duty staff caught you while doing their rounds there’d usually be annoyingly inconvenient consequences for the pl and/or persons.) Anyway, once we realized something wasn’t right, we heard the details. A bunch of guys had teamed up on Stan, held him down and drew swasticas on his face in marker. They had been physically aggressive towards him also, all in the name of “fun”, on more than one occasion. By all accounts he had done nothing to anyone on the pl. We were even told he actually WAS Jewish, but the aggressors didn’t know that at the time. I can’t confirm that fact though. Apparently the guys were laughing hysterically while they did it—they thought it was just hilarious. We were shocked. Myself and another older female on the pl talked about reporting it to staff asap, but were told it already had been. I never followed up, I don’t know if anyone else did. And I regret it. This is not a joke. This is an event that actually took place. I spoke to Stan the next day just to say hello. Remnants of faint marker were still on his face. I never heard of any repercussions. There was another individual on the pl who had a similar MO and he and Stan were friends. He didn’t get picked on quite as much though. I don’t know if Stan is still serving.

This was, by far, not the only incident that crossed a line I either witnessed and/or knew about.

The op ed may have been his personal thoughts and perspectives. And maybe events are out of date. And maybe things aren’t as bad as they once were. But to deny that there’s still a problem, either during BMQ or after training altogether, is sticking one’s head in the sand.
« Last Edit: January 03, 2019, 20:18:28 by BeyondTheNow »
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Offline Infanteer

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I’m kind of a bit taken aback by some of the posts in this thread. It sounds as though just because one didn’t experience it personally or hear about it, it must not be happening.

I don't think that is what is happening.  I think folks are taking umbrage with the opinion piece stating that these kinds of behaviors thrive in the military, based on a single anecdote.  You also provide a single anecdote of something that occurred at a basic training institution.  How about in the battalions and regiments, the ships, and the squadrons?  Is hazing thriving, or are we allowing conjecture to form the narrative? 

Personally, I've seen nothing to indicate that its a rampant problem that is out of control or "thriving."  I've seen/heard of isolated incidents, but the ghost of the Airborne Regiment still lingers in most corners of the Army, at least.  What's more important than it occurring (because young "A-type" personalities are always going to pull stunts like this) is what is done by the chain of command upon finding out?  What leadership does when they do see it happen should give us an idea of whether it thrives or not.  The incident in Winnipeg is an example - the chain of command is engaged and is cleaning house to address the problem they've identified.
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Offline Journeyman

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Let me tell you a story...
And, in this instance, I would call this bullying, not hazing in the sense of some dumbass initiation ritual.  The people conducting it weren't 'senior' members initiating someone into the unit; they were merely stupid fellow recruits.

Neither practice is acceptable, and I certainly don't believe that hazing is "thriving" in today's CAF.


Edit: Infanteer clearly types faster, and argues more coherently, than I do.
There’s nothing more maddening than debating someone who doesn’t know history, doesn’t read books, and frames their myopia as virtue. The level of unapologetic conjecture I’ve encountered lately isn’t just frustrating, it’s retrogressive, unprecedented, and absolutely terrifying.
~Chris Evans

Offline Infanteer

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And, in this instance, I would call this bullying, not hazing in the sense of some dumbass initiation ritual.  The people conducting it weren't 'senior' members initiating someone into the unit; they were merely stupid fellow recruits.

Neither practice is acceptable, and I certainly don't believe that hazing is "thriving" in today's CAF.

Good point on bullying vice hazing.
"Overall it appears that much of the apparent complexity of modern war stems in practice from the self-imposed complexity of modern HQs" LCol J.P. Storr

Offline Eye In The Sky

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I’m kind of a bit taken aback by some of the posts in this thread. It sounds as though just because one didn’t experience it personally or hear about it, it must not be happening.

Let me tell you a story from CFLRS that happened within the last 5yrs. I won’t narrow down the date any further. I’ve been starting and stopping this post repeatedly since reading some of the responses. There’s absolutely no logical way that I’m the only one who’s come across scenarios such as the one I’m about to share, or other instances of disgusting behaviour.

There was a male on my pl who was the stereotypical nerd or geek one might envision. We’ll call him “Stan.” Stan was tall, lanky—skin and bone, bad acne, glasses, kept to himself—he was a computer junkie. ‘Very smart and kind when someone took the time to interact with him though. He had zero PO failures—he kept up with everyone and pulled his weight as expected. He wasn’t a TC by any means, but he could be depended upon.

One evening after we’d been dismissed for the day, closer to lights out, a couple of guys came running to the girls area of the floor. We were in green sector, 7th floor. We were still on Indoc. (The males & females were divided by a white shower curtain suspended from a removable shower rod. The guys were yelling...panicked. Our first reaction was to tell them off because they were in our area and a few of us were in various stages of undress. This wasn’t allowed and if duty staff caught you while doing their rounds there’d usually be annoyingly inconvenient consequences for the pl and/or persons.) Anyway, once we realized something wasn’t right, we heard the details. A bunch of guys had teamed up on Stan, held him down and drew swasticas on his face in marker. They had been physically aggressive towards him also, all in the name of “fun”, on more than one occasion. By all accounts he had done nothing to anyone on the pl. We were even told he actually WAS Jewish, but the aggressors didn’t know that at the time. I can’t confirm that fact though. Apparently the guys were laughing hysterically while they did it—they thought it was just hilarious. We were shocked. Myself and another older female on the pl talked about reporting it to staff asap, but were told it already had been. I never followed up, I don’t know if anyone else did. And I regret it. This is not a joke. This is an event that actually took place. I spoke to Stan the next day just to say hello. Remnants of faint marker were still on his face. I never heard of any repercussions. There was another individual on the pl who had a similar MO and he and Stan were friends. He didn’t get picked on quite as much though. I don’t know if Stan is still serving.

This was, by far, not the only incident that crossed a line I either witnessed and/or knew about.

The op ed may have been his personal thoughts and perspectives. And maybe events are out of date. And maybe things aren’t as bad as they once were. But to deny that there’s still a problem, either during BMQ or after training altogether, is sticking one’s head in the sand.

Speaking as a former Instructor at CFLRS (I've been gone from CFLRS for over a decade), I'd like to make a point;  IF you're told "Don't worry it has been taken care of", or words to that effect, I suggest you do follow up.  If there was no 'words' from the Platoon Staff, including the Platoon Officer, to the entire course if/when something like this has been reported, that is usually a decent indicator the staff do not know about it.  If people are not being 'interviewed/questioned' by staff, that could also be an indicator that staff do not know.  If an incident is alleged to have happened, usually actions will be taken (informally and/or formally) to determine what happened, who was involved, is administrative and/or disciplinary warranted, should a UDI be ordered/MPs contacted, etc.  If you're not sure if it was reported and you feel it is something that should be, ask to talk to your staff, NCOs, Officer, someone.

We will continue to have this crap in the CAF as long as it exists in Canadian society, where we recruit from.  Personally, I've not seen or heard of anything like this in many years.

It is unfortunate the Duty NCO didn't go thru your Sector while this was happening, BTN.

I wonder, back in my day, if a bunch of guys ganged up on a weaker kid, they'd usually be the ones that were told to back off or they'd suffer some actual consequences.  I've seen more than one kid when I was back in Elementary or Junior High get a shitkicking for picking on someone weaker than them.  Bullies, some of them at least, learned lessons the hard way back then.  Nowadays, it's about 'using your words' and softer approaches. 

I wonder if that bites us in the *** as a society now...

« Last Edit: January 03, 2019, 20:49:04 by Eye In The Sky »
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Offline BeyondTheNow

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I certainly can’t speak first-hand to what’s going on in Battalion, various Infantry Regiments, etc.—It wasn’t my intent to insinuate that.

The points I zeroed in on from posts are the ones intimating that nothing nefarious is taking place, either ritual, bullying, or otherwise, at the recruit and/or training level and beyond.

According to info available to the public, CoC in Winnipeg is taking action now, but only after things came to light and (some) events are now common knowledge. I’m not trying to say there’s similar problems plaguing CAF, but I think it’s fair to assume, to a certain degree at least, that other inappropriate activities are still taking place under the radar, hopefully very minimally.
"Stop worrying about getting back to who you were before it all went wrong. To heal is to understand that the person you've since become is the one who's most capable of doing whatever it is you were put here to do."~SR

Offline garb811

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And, in this instance, I would call this bullying, not hazing in the sense of some dumbass initiation ritual. 
...
Actually we need to call it what it really is, Assault.

Offline Humphrey Bogart

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I certainly can’t speak first-hand to what’s going on in Battalion, various Infantry Regiments, etc.—It wasn’t my intent to insinuate that.

The points I zeroed in on from posts are the ones intimating that nothing nefarious is taking place, either ritual, bullying, or otherwise, at the recruit and/or training level and beyond.

According to info available to the public, CoC in Winnipeg is taking action now, but only after things came to light and (some) events are now common knowledge. I’m not trying to say there’s similar problems plaguing CAF, but I think it’s fair to assume, to a certain degree at least, that other inappropriate activities are still taking place under the radar, hopefully very minimally.

There will always be inappropriate activities that take place in any environment.  Why?  Because some people are mean, terrible, nefarious, psychotic, etc.

You are trying to change human nature which is impossible btw.  The CAF goes to great lengths to prevent these sorts of incidents but we aren't miracle workers and we aren't going to catch them all.

You could take CFLRS out of your story and change it to XXX University, School, Workplace, etc and you would find the same thing.