Hope for Humanity (Message to James DiBenedetto)

I’m addressing this specifically to Jim at Eleven Day Empire because I think the story will resonate with him.

About two years ago, he wrote in disbelief about a brutal hazing incident involving a small town high school football team. The incident, which in any other situation would result in sexual assault charges and the perpetrators sent to prison for years, resulted instead in the football season being cancelled, and parents angry that their kids had been punished.

Jim reacted in angry disbelief, as did I, that these parents could be so blatantly insensitive over what their kids had done, in effect blaming the victims of the bullying for a punishment that was, under the circumstances, light. In Jim’s view, the parents themselves were lucky that they weren’t lobbed into prison themselves. The whole incident had him despairing over the state of humanity.

This past week, separate hazing incidents affected the McGill University football team and the Windsor Spitfires junior hockey team. The response has been swift: the coaches of the Spitfires have been heavily fined and suspended for a year. At McGill, the university has agreed to forfeit the rest of its football season. And the response from the media has not made mention of parents upset at their children being punished. Quite the opposite, in fact. Here’s an excerpt from an editorial in my local paper, the Record:

Hazing tradition deserves to die
The Record October 20, 2005 Thursday OPINION; Pg. A10


The black eye disfiguring both teams came from what some people mistakenly consider a good, old tradition — hazing. A tradition, it may be. Good it is not. And it is more than old enough to be tossed on the garbage heap of customs that once seemed normal but are now recognized as cruel — timewasters like bull-baiting and cock fighting. Hazing is as out-of-place in the 21st century as either of those barbarisms. Wrongly perceived as a harmless form of initiation or male bonding, it led to outrageous indignities being perpetrated on young men in two separate incidents.


It must have taken extreme courage for young men like Aliu and at least one of the McGill players to have spoken up, knowing they could face mental or even physical retaliation. It certainly took more courage than what was shown by the fools who mindlessly ran with the pack.

There can be no excuse, no defence, no justification for this kind of activity. Certainly some young athletes accept hazing as a badge of masculinity that gives them the right to belong to a group. But for those who see through the macho ruse, it is abuse — frightening, demeaning and painful. What parent would willingly expose a child to such gratuitous punishment? And when the parents are absent, who must fill their shoes and act as mentors and protectors? It is the adults — the coaches, managers, trainers.

In Montreal, as well as Windsor, adults who should have known better failed their young charges and betrayed the trust invested in them by employers who forbid hazing activities. Such initiations do not turn a boy into a man; they make him a goon. In 2005, Canada needs goons no more than it needs hazing.

Hear, here! So, Jim, just to let you know: there is hope for humanity yet.

Non Progressing Labour Sucks

So, Erin spent roughly thirty-six hours in what turned out to be non-progressing labour. From 7 p.m. Tuesday until 3 a.m. this morning, she had some serious contractions, ranging from 20 minutes to 45 minutes apart. It all had us certain that labour was imminent, and my mother-in-law just about pulled a Dukes of Hazzard (leaping into the driver’s seat of her car through the window) and making the 14-hour drive to Kitchener in about seven.

But, no. One contraction last night at 11 p.m., and then the last one at 3 a.m. This, says the midwife, is common. Just a dress rehearsal for the uterus to get its act in gear. (sigh). We’re slightly peeved.

Although we can take comfort in the fact that we didn’t rush off to hospital to have this baby, as some mothers in prelabour have been known to do…

The due date of October 29 is back on, as is my prediction of a November 1st birth for Vivian.

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