Mudcat Café message #953349 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #59651   Message #953349
Posted By: wysiwyg
15-May-03 - 05:05 PM
Thread Name: BS: What should happen to the IL hazers?
Subject: RE: BS: What should happen to the IL hazers?
Like I said, I came from there, not originally but most of my growing up years (4th grade thru HS at GBN) were spent there. I find this hard to discuss without looking at my own feelings about the place. I have found it interesting that no one asked me, since I said early on that I am from there, what it is like there. I say this not in criticism, just that I found that interesting.

A few things I would like to comment upon--

FL, you did just turn this into an abortion debate thread. IMO neither side of that debate has learned the skills of talking about it without sparking off thought-stopping upset, of the same sort you refer to in your post.

Ron, what I see here is a mix of venting thoughts describing things people would probably not actually do, as individuals, and rational thought about sketchy facts. I see your point about mobs-- most Mudcat threads about politically hot issues do seem to generate a mobby kind of response in the threads. But I am not sure I agree that we can extrapolate too far about going from that kind of groupthink to violent action IRL.

Regarding Northbrook, and hazing in Northbrook. When I went to HS there (late 60's), it was an honored tradition, school-supported (in fact if not in policy), that all incoming freshmen were hazed on a particular day just after the start of the school year. I forget what they called it, or how the incoming frosh were briefed ahead of time, if they didn't have older sibs to fill them in. But you were expected to show up on That Day wearing an old shirt of your dad's, so that nasty things could be written on it or splashed on it, and to mark you as a frosh.

During the passing period, lunch, and so forth, any senior could claim you as their slave for just about any act that can be perfomered in public without getting arested. (You would hope some friend of your older sib would claim you early in the day and be nice, thus making you unavailable for others' attentions.) It was often verbally cruel but no one got hurt physically as I recall.

It was part of the expectation that once you became a senior, you would "top" what had been done to you. Since I skipped senior year, I don't have that end of the event to share. But theoretically, knowing you would get your turn someday made the experience "bearable" for some of the victims.

At the time I went to GBN, Northbrook was in the throes of neighborhood change. It had been a small, community-spirited, family-friendly and quiet small town for all its history. The housing stock was mixed in age and substance, and the social classes were diverse and harmonious. It was all pretty stable. The schools were good, produced a good mix of college-bound and vo-ed graduates, and teachers knew families as neighbors.

All this began to change in the early to mid-70's, with acres of open fields becoming brand-new subdivisions of expensive ticky-tacky. Corporate HQs began to move into the suburbs, and housing was needed for the executive transfers and the professionals to service their families. All around the center of town, where the lovely older homes sat on tree-lined streets, these monstrosities of architectoidism and social experimentation squeezed out homemade baseball space, space to run with your dog, space to meet and neck pretty innocently, and paths through the tall summer grass to adventure on.

A generation of kids came of age losing their cherished wandering spaces, places they had used to play out the games that move us from kid to young adult, places to practice the skills we saw modeled at home and on TV to see how they really worked, places to get away from alcoholic parents or geeky grownups in general. Bicycles became obsolete almost overnight.

Northbrook became divided into new (moneyed) folks and town (making a decent living) folks. Town folks enjoyed the economic boom at first, but soon resented being treated like provincial hicks by nouveau-riche suburbanites with no roots in the community, and no desire to have roots. It was, frankly, a land grab.

The schools and the local chamber of commerce flexed to meet the demands of the newcomers. The local political system was entirely overwhelmed by people with no sense of history.

As this affected the high school, teen suicide rates began to climb there. Remember when you first heard about this phenomenon in the US? Among other places, that was Northbrook they were talking about.

High school, ah yes, happy memories! The old separation between greasers and jocks now became a more finely-graded, pressure-laden separation of minute differences in how well one dressed, what car mom and dad gave you, how you expected to do on SATs, what school mommie and daddie would buy your way into. Kids succeeded, sometimes by becoming cheaters and victimizers, or they failed and some cracked up completely.

There were drugs of choice like LSD and pot and booze, and a lot of money to pay off mistakes made in the grip of them. The elite moved on to mind-numbing addictions, like reds and ludes and horse.

Well. As time went on, everything got more and more competitive. The schools, starting with the kindiegardens, got more and more inhuman. By the early 80's, when I toured the schools and observed classes to see if my son would go to one, school was a scary place where meanness between kids became a game of such skill and energy that I could see no such thing there, anymore, as childhood. (I homeschooled all the time I lived there wit my son.)

Northbrook got prettier and prettier in the chamber of commerce brochures, except that the very gracious and well-kept traditional homes in the main part of town were absent (tho some of us did live in them). The Main Street shops you could walk to, as a kid, barely survived, because now we had Northbrook Court near the new subdivisions, with Neiman Marcus of all things, in NORTHBROOK????

Country roads ringing the town became 4-laners, then 6-laners, and now some are 8-laners. The corporate HQ phenomenon moved partly overseas, and a lot of the jobs moved back to downtown Chicago. Now Northbrook is just a "desirable" bedroom community with great schools (uh huh), where you have to rush in your car, on your cellphone, to where the jobs are, or to the trains that go to the jobs, or to Northbrook Court and the other area malls. Dog-eat-dog drivers where kids once grew up.

It doesn't surprise me a bit that hazing has escalated to this point.

It doesn't surprise me that the kids there who were involved have NO ideas of the most basic human values people here at Mudcat might expect them to understand and possibly uphold.

It doesn't surprise me that mommie and daddie want to sue the school (or someone else) over it all.

It doesn't surprise me that we have reality TV based on these warped values of money and competitiveness to the point of injury, and that a person wins these by voting everyone else OUT.

In case you didn't get my point yet, the girl who said, "Well, no one died did they?" honsestly , from what I can see, from the view I have of the place, has NO IDEA how extreme a statement that question makes. But she's not the problem. She's a symptom.

Should they know better, well yeah, duh, dubble-duh. I don't think there is anyone left there, to have taught them. Should they be puniches, of course. But I don't think there is a will to make the punishment relevant to what happened. Be cruel to the cruel ones? They've already had that.

So I think each person in Northbrook who lives in one of those houses ought to be dropped off in one of the small rural towns in the US like the one I live in, or deposited on a working family farm, or sent to Army survival school.... I think if they were split up away from each other and given real life to touch and real dirt to smell, and given real kindness from humble people grateful for what they have-- I think that would do it.