Hazing and the US Military

Jeff Yang of the Wall Street Journal, writing in the “Arts and Entertainment” section, notes “unsettling parallels” between recent implications of hazing and the 1992 Tom Cruise/Jack Nicholson A Few Good Men.

The wandering article touches on religion, race, discipline, and the recent suicides of servicemembers thought to be related to hazing, as with PVT Danny Chen in Afghanistan.

The article closes in citing the ironic participation in hazing by members of military academies — while simultaneously demanding their subordinates recite “Schofield’s Quote,” which denounces such treatment.

Unmentioned, and probably not understood, is that sometimes what people might consider “hazing” may be the “lesser of two evils” on the parts of the victims. Hypothetically, a Soldier caught in wrongdoing might be given a choice: pay the required official retribution (and get a black mark on your record), or, say, do 1,000 pushups or some other created (but unofficial) punishment.  Rather than ruin their career, and acknowledging the fact they were in the wrong, many may choose the “hazing” option.

From an internet source, talking about the very serious issue of falling asleep on guard duty (a crime considered so serious, in some armies death was actually a legitimate punishment, including the American army in the Civil War):

You’re pulling guard. The guy with you takes his shift [while you rest]. A guy you’ve known for a couple a months. Good guy. Good soldier. You pass out, wake up and find him snoozing. Do you report this guy? Take care of it “in house.” Or let it slide?

One response:

Cover his a–, then kick his a–.

Illegal?  Technically.  Common?  Likely.


  • Let’s not write this off as hazing just yet JD…one of his assailants’ (Offutt) is facing charges including assault, negligent homicide, and reckless endangerment for [supposedly] inflicting weeks of physical abuse, humiliation and racial slurs and certainly culpability in his suicide.

    It is conceivable that Offutt will have a few good men defending his stellar character, superior military record and all around good guy. Maybe, just maybe, we can’t handle the truth.

  • It seems to me that there are strong parallels between the type of hazing described herein and Christian proselytizing in the armed forces and service academies.

    JD’s “lesser of two evils” analogy certainly applies to cases in which the target of coercive religous proselytizing settles for “unofficial” harassment instead of trumped up insubordination charges or other action damaging to his career.

    It appears that “organized hazing” could well include coercive Christian proselytizing.