Dee Jay Gordon Fire Away!

By Dee Jay Gordon

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So let's think about this for a minute: it's okay to send our young men and women in the military off to war, where they may be maimed or killed, but it's not okay for them to take part in some silly initiation ceremony. I'm talking, of course, about the Marine paratroopers who get "blood pinned" after their 10th jump. The TV scandal shows made a very big deal out of this hazing ritual, showing footage of Marines pounding and grinding the pin into the chests of the newbies. And, yes, it looked disgusting and barbaric. So I called a buddy of mine who happens to be a Marine paratrooper to ask if he was "pinned" in such a manner. "Absolutely," he replied, "It's an honor to wear the golden wings, and all the men who jumped knew that when they hit 10, they'd be 'punched in'."

Hazing rituals are as much a part of our culture as peanut butter and jelly. The frat houses do it, the military does it, any time you get a group of guys together as part of an elite group, there will be hazing. Hazing sends the message "you could take it so you're one of us now". It's a bonding experience. Yes, most of the time it's painful, and that's because guys seem to get excited over how much pain they can take. It makes them feel macho and cool. My personal thought is that if they want to really test their mettle, they should give birth. But I digress...

Is hazing violent and dangerous? Sometimes. But the thrill of the hazing is in being able to brag that you made it through. It's a guy thing. Women don't do that. When my niece "became a woman", my sister and I hazed her by taking her shopping and buying her her first pair of pantyhose. That's why the female cadets at the Citadel are having such a hard time getting acclimated. They don't want to shave their heads so what do you think the odds are that they want to be whacked on the butt with a paddle? And, of course, should they be whacked on the butt with any item at all, that constitutes sexual harassment, opening up a whole new can of worms.

Hazing instills camaraderie among men who have far more difficult tasks ahead of them. It's not mandatory, nobody holds them down and forces them to be hazed. Nobody brings in a note from Mommy saying "Please excuse Junior from swallowing live goldfish." It's a tradition that these men look back on proudly. In the case of military men, they may go on to be shot at, dusted with chemicals, lost at sea, taken prisoner by enemy forces, or have handgrenades hurled at them. Yet there is public outcry over a boo-boo that can be taken care of with peroxide and a Band-Aid.

Unfortunately, in the case of the Marine paratroopers, you had a bunch of hyped up guys who didn't know when to stop. Even more unfortunate, they were caught on videotape being stupid and the media got hold of it. But I find it interesting that this "breach of security" hasn't sparked a wave of scar-chested men, coming out of the closet to cry about the barbaric treatment they received at the hands of their fellow paratroopers. However, many "pinned" men went public to say that they knew about the initiation and went for it anyway, not traumatized in the least by getting poked. That's what I like about men...they take their lumps to become what they want to be, not crying or complaining, just accepting it as part of the process. I respect that. It's just a shame that the media and the rest of the wanna-be's can't respect it also.

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