"Two Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity brothers at Florida A&M University, Michael Morton and Jason Harris, received two-year prison sentences on Monday for hazing fraternity pledge Marcus Jones."This case has been a local news item for some time, now. There's been a mistrial, a hung jury, and finally, some convictions.
When I first heard about it, the case resonated with my pre-existing opinions about the practice of hazing. After I heard how severe the beating was, there was no question in my mind that the "brothers" took things too far... even if the victim was a willing participant.
"Yet a statement from Jones, read aloud by a victim advocate because he was not present, spoke of his being forced to leave FAMU because of his injuries, which required surgery, and, "I've been looked at as a snitch by my peers."It's too bad that this young man's peers see him as a snitch, despite the broader implications of this case. Besides, if I remember correctly, it was the victim's father who decided to go to court, not the victim, himself. In fact, Mr. Jones, the father, has been accused of exploiting the situation to make an easy dollar.
"I don't want another college student to be beaten like I was," said Jones, noting he receives counseling and has sleepless nights.
His father Mark Jones told the judge: "Marcus' life is a total wreck now. ... These individuals who want leniency tortured my son.""
I don't know about that. Actually, I tend to doubt it.
Whatever the case, no one's questioning the fact that this young man's injuries were very real and very painful.
"Attorney Chuck Hobbs, who defended Morton, vowed to appeal the conviction and sentence. He said the state's hazing law is poorly written and ambiguous.See, this is a tough one, for me. In fact, it's one of the toughest parts of this case, in my opinion.
"Marcus Jones was a willing participant," he said."
One of the reasons earlier trials were so difficult was because there were unclear definitions of "serious bodily injury," if I remember correctly. As far as I was concerned, though, injuries that require surgery EASILY qualify.
Now that I think about it a little more, I remember that my very first college roommate sported his fraternity symbols as keloidal flesh on almost a dozen parts of his body. He and others CHOSE to do this, branding themselves like cattle (or slaves), and no one called the cops on them because of it.
Maybe these no-hazing laws weren't as strict, at the time, if they existed at all, but I have to wonder what the difference is/was between the two situations?
Perhaps it's the fact that people like my roommate INTENDED to create scar tissue while the plaintiff, in this case, probably wasn't longing for the business end of an operating table.
"Race also plays a role in how black defendants like Morton and Harris are perceived, Hobbs said.That's a toughie. I can't speak to how fairly or unfairly this law has been applied, but I thought it was an interesting wrinkle.
"I believe her," Hobbs said of Dekker's comment that race didn't affect her sentencing in this case." But he accused the justice system of being more permissive with white fraternity brothers and said, "This system is full of racism on a daily basis.""
Besides disliking it, I guess one of the main reasons I'm against hazing because it's based on an imbalance of power in favor of those who don't necessarily know when to quit. This could easily result in "serious" bodily injury.
What do you think about hazing?