It’s time to end hazing2 min read

Chris Padilla, Staff Writer

The recent alleged harassment of NFL player Jonathan Martin by fellow Dolphins teammate Richie Incognito brings to light an institution that is as old as it is ugly: hazing.

Hazing has an odd place in our society, simultaneously treated as a fine tradition and hushed secret.

It is such a valuable tradition that many fans, athletes and media members sided with Incognito, treating his actions — which include racial slurs, death threats, threats to his family and extortion — as boyish acts, while Martin’s reaction has been viewed by some as whiny overreaction.

Hazing is physical and mental abuse, ostensibly meant to create solidarity between new and veteran members of a group.

Acts of hazing include being pummeled with punches and kicks, branded, forced to consume unpleasant substances and sexual assault, all to create a bond based on humiliation and degradation.

Despite our culture’s often permissive treatment of hazing, it’s not simply horseplay, nor is it “just for fun”; it purely serves as a medium to inflict suffering.

It is a sad commentary on American society that we have become so base as to require the infliction of suffering upon one another in order to forge a brotherhood.

The worst part is that it’s not just a practice encouraged by the group; it’s sometimes also encouraged by those in charge.

For instance, according to the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel, Incognito may have been encouraged to “toughen up” Martin by the Dolphins coaching staff. While Incognito may have taken it too far, and was indeed punished by being suspended from the team, the disturbing possibility remains that the team’s leadership may have put him in his current predicament in the first place.

At best, hazing is a flawed institution; that it works at all speaks unpleasant volumes about the human race. At its worst, hazing is criminal, taking the sanity and sometimes the lives of its victims.

Fearing for his safety, Martin walked away, abandoning the Dolphins and perhaps his career.

That he had to walk away from such a lucrative career in order to feel safe is indicative of just how ugly hazing is.

The Dolphins are out a right tackle, while Martin loses valuable time he could use to advance his career.

We might never advance enough as a society to abolish something is medieval as hazing, but at the very least, we can always walk away from it.

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