There was a post not too long ago about how hazing can be a good thing. I don’t want to say that the points that the person was making were wrong. I did comment on the topic, but a situation has come up that warrants a new thread on the topic. In case you don’t know what I’m talking about, a drum major for the Florida A&M University’s Marching 100 (their marching band) was killed in a hazing accident after a football game on the bus ride home.
The point that was made in the earlier post was more along the lines of fraternity hazing rituals and how they could be seen as entering a social contract with the brothers. I’m taking this in a different direction. During this class (at least in my section) we spent some time looking at different situations and trying to decide as a group whether they were right or wrong, focusing on the perspectives of cultural relativism, universalism, and cosmopolitanism. I will try to look at these points of view on this situation.
A cultural relativist might say that every hazing ritual is unique and you need to judge each of them individually. From this point of view, one might note some differences between fraternity hazing and this particular instance. They might see the fraternity hazing to be alright because the subjects are choosing to partake in the hazing and the results might not be lifelong consequences. However, the same cultural relativist might see the hazing that the FAMU band did as wrong because there are lasting consequences for many of the people involved, including one member being dead.
A universalist would probably try to just look at the subject as a whole and claim it all bad. If hazing is good for one then it is good for all, or if it is bad for one it is bad for all. Obviously each person has their own outlook, but they would choose whether all hazing is good or bad.
A cosmopolitan person might try to approach the subject from a place of understanding, while also trying to point society in the right direction if they were to decide that something needs to be done about hazing. “Cosmopolitans think that it’s okay for people to be different. That they care about everybody, but not in a way that means they want everybody to be the same” (quote from Appiah).
Now that’s what they may do, but if I may voice my opinion, I think that this needs to be approached from the stance of cosmopolitanism. What we as a society need to do is inform people of the problems of hazing. If we’re ever involved in a hazing ritual then we should exercise caution and take as many precautions to prevent a problem like FAMU experienced. Basically, everybody be smart and make sure that the University of Michigan never ends up in a story with a headline like this story.