On Hazing

By Josh Forman | Section: Dec 4th, 2009 December 4th Print Edition, Issues, Views

Hazing is associated with many organizations all over the world, but college groups get the largest reputation. Having been hazed in the Marine Corps, I take this issue pretty personally.

In the military, it’s easy to let your ego overcome you, just like in a fraternity or sorority. But in the military you learn the skills to take charge and react in the most stressful and deadly situations imaginable, and power is clearly conferred through bills and promotions. With all of that training, power can easily be abused. Sometimes, especially for junior troops, hazing is an unfortunate reality.

The United States Military does not teach service members to haze each other or abuse their positions. I was taught that the people who haze other members were hazed in their past, though I was also taught to accept it as a part of tough learning, training and discipline. But that’s not how I felt when it happened to me.

I’ll never forget the day. I was a junior Marine. I always demanded respect even when I was the lower guy on the totem pole. One particular sergeant didn’t like that. He was so disgusted with me that he decided to take things into his own hands. Yeah, I know demanding respect from superiors as a junior Marine sounds a little crazy, considering the nature of the Corps, but I simply believed that once I’d gone through the rigors of boot camp, being torn down and rebuilt, I would be respected as an adult again, as funny as that may sound in retrospect.

So this sergeant, accompanied by others of his rank, cornered me in the men’s locker room and told me, “So you think you’re big shit.” He pushed me into the wall lockers causing me to fall flat on my butt, knocking down nearly every wall locker in that room. “Come on, bitch! Say something now! You don’t get respect LANCE CORPORAL,” he screamed. That was the only time in my adult life to date that I had not been able to defend myself. I kept thinking, I could punch the hell out of him and then get my ass kicked by his fellow sergeants. Not to mention what may have happened to my military career, a lance corporal hitting a senior sergeant, yeah right. So I stood up with tears of raging anger in my eyes just thinking, “If this asshole was on the other side of this fence it would be on.”

Though, I learned something. That day I knew I would never allow myself or any other Marine haze junior troops. I stood by that through the end of my enlistment, Aug. 8, 2008, when I received an honorable discharge as an accomplished Sergeant of Marines.

There are many different forms of hazing: too many to list. The general idea of hazing includes various activities involving harassment, abuse or humiliation used as a way of initiating a person into a group or acclimatizing them to the group norm. However, we mostly focus on the physical stuff, you know — hitting, branding and all the other usually painful things.

Fraternities, sororities, ROTC programs and sports teams have long tried to justify hazing. Some believe it creates a bond. I’m not down with that. You don’t physically hurt people to make them feel a part of the group; come on, people. I can understand why teaching a fellow frat brother or sorority sister to be stronger by raising their voices from time to time can seem effective, but even that can be done with tact.

Josh Forman is a former marine and a student at Tulane University. He can be reached for comment at .

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  1. […] https://thehullabaloo.com/2009/12/04/on-hazing/ […]

  2. A comment from a former Marine sergeant…. Of all places and organizations, the Marine Corps is one where respect is earned…. it’s not something that is given and certainly not something that a lance corporal demands of his noncommissioned officers. It does not work that way. I say again: respect is EARNED, and is neither a birthright nor is it owed nor can it be demanded.

    I offer no countenance for actual incidents of hazing (forcing an initiate to drink alcohol in excess, shaming an individual in public, spanking a pledge with a paddle, all the rest of that). The Marine Corps is not a college frat, however. It’s not yer high school football team and it’s not get-to-know-me week at the student newspaper. The Marine Corps is a life of discipline and training and developing the capacity to bring focused and coordinated violence to an enemy (the writer knows this). When this military discipline breaks down, bad things happen and good Marines die. What the writer describes was not “hazing,” nor was it even hazing’s legitimate cousins like “initiation ritual” or “right of passage.” Rather, the writer describes a Marine unit with a discipline problem (ie, an E-3 continually mewling for “respect” rather than earning it), and a sergeant who stepped up to deal with that discipline problem in his unit.

    If I’m reading this right, (1) the writer got pushed against a locker and then fell down, (2) got yelled at for his chronic disrespect of NCOs in his unit, and then (3) cried when his feelings got hurt. Really? That was it? I know fifth-grade girls who’ve gotten thumped harder. And “hazing”? Rather, this sounds like an individual trying to retrospectively cloak his own immaturity and petulance under the mantle of “poor me, I was a victim… I was HAZED.”

    If the writer had wanted to actually earn some respect, here’s what it would have looked like: Pick his narrow ass up off the floor, ask the sergeant if he’d care to take off his stripes for about five minutes, and throw down. Would the writer have gotten his ass handed to him? Possibly. Would those sergeants have respected him more for standing up and acting like a man and fighting back? Highly probable. They’re warriors after all, and will respect a fighter before they respect somebody whining that “you’re not being nice to me… where’s my respect??”

    Would he have gotten busted down to PFC? Not if those same sergeants had thrown an arm around his shoulder, offered him a rag for his split lip, and then dragged him to the enlisted club for a cold one. “Hey Gunny! Come over here. No shit, you should have seen LCpl Forman in action. We thought this boy was a pussy, but he’s a stone-cold killer!”

    But even if busted, so what? It’s not too far to fall for the price of one’s dignity and doing something to actually earn some respect.

    I hope that by the time the writer reached the rank of “accomplished Sergeant of Marines,” he was able to recognize that military courtesy and discipline exist for a reason, and that an NCO has a leadership responsibility, not only to the newly minted Marine but to the unit as a whole, to ensure that discipline and those protocols are upheld.

    Having said this, I thank the writer for his service.

    Semper fi.

  3. Sounds like Joe went through the corps during the colonial period. I am a marine vet. Served during desert storm/shield, and when i beat the shit out of my platoon sgt for kinda the same shit, his fellow NCO’s not only kicked my ass, I got OTH discharge. Thats Other Than Honarable, just in case they didn’t use that during WWI Joe. Marines are so I, me, my these days. Most Sgt’s don’t put there damn wing around peons anymore. They just fuck over them and pay attention to kissing the COs and SNCOICs asses to get high fit reps. I understand what the young sgt. is saying, and I commend him. At least he left the Marines with dignity. Fighting back only left me paying for college outa my own pocket. I’m sure sgt. Forman is livin it up with the G.I. bill. It’s kinda f’d up that you communicate with fellow marines like that too Joe Blow The Rag Man. Semper I, F*** the other guy.

  4. Despite the poor diction and spelling, I understand this individual’s perspective. It’s not unusual to see some people disaffected by the experience of being a Marine. For every one of those, however, there are ten others who carry with them an enduring affection for the Corps and their experiences and for those of their fellows who share the same values.

    In my view, an individual’s ability to achieve success in the Marine Corps is directly related to the integrity, bearing, endurance, and other leadership/character traits that the individual possesses.

    I’d be interested to hear the opinions of other vets on their views of honor, respect, accountability, and character… relative to service in the military.

    Semper fi

  5. […] […]

  6. Josh Forman I sure hope you were never placed in a combat situation while defending our country. I respect you endlessly for your service, but a guy who joins the Marines and then complains about mistreatment when he is yelled at and pushed by a superior officer sure doesn’t sound like my image of a Marine. Or any American soldier for that matter. Not quite sure why you chose the Marine Corps as a career path if you are that upset by violence and aggression I’d say good choice on the whole “going back to school” move

  7. Sounds like your a lazy punk who fells that you deserve respect without earning it. The brave soldiers who have served our country in the past generations would roll over in their graves after reading this nonsense. If you continue to think and act like this, you may make it to your end destination, but you will never EARN respect. Grow a set of balls and stop complaining.

  8. I bet none of you assholes who commented on this would say it to his face. How dare you dummies ever talk shit to a man who wore the uniform. For all of yas who never served your country, shut the F*** up, or suit up and chew sand and oil like I did. Josh Forman, where the hell are you? Say something to these numbnuts. We were taught to never leave a Marine hanging, and I’m not. Hey True…that lazy punk was probably the guy on post while you got drunk and smoke pot in this free country you dummy. You people are just talking crap because this is online. The Marine Corps does not promte lazy punks, or whimps to the rank of Sgt. It’s amazing how people grow balls when there writing. I can tell you one thing, you punks wouldn’t be talking about me like this