Author Topic: Hazing thrives in organizations obsessed with conformity... - CBC Opinion  (Read 10776 times)

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Offline Haggis

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Not sure if this is relevant or not.  How many instructors are class b reservists? A while ago it used to be a significant percentage.   Not to knock reservists, I am one, but I have seen some young inexperienced reserve instructors that were not properly mentored or supervised.  Most have never experienced CFLRS but now would be teaching there? possibly longer than they should be (ie class b trap)

Could that be an issue or is it something that runs deeper that exasperates other issues?

I was a member of the NCMPD CWOs Working Group from 2009 - 2013, the exact time frame when the CAFs addiction to Class B's was the only way to make up the staffing shortfalls forced on us by Afghanistan. The Working Group would visit CFLRS frequently to view the training and get feedback on  a variety of issues facing the CFLRS.

We saw no difference in the quality of instructors between Reg F and P Res (Class B).  Both had rockstars and thuds in their ranks.  In fact, at the Farnham Garrison, the OC, CSM and about half the instructors were Class B, but they were also all ex-Reg F.  Properly trained, led, mentored and managed, both Reg F and P Res members can excel.  And, as one other member of the Working Group used to say "there's no hat badge on a helmet".
« Last Edit: January 04, 2019, 14:25:11 by Haggis »
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Offline Remius

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Ok, that's good to hear.

I've worked in a few places where some class B types were beyond their best before date.  Myself included in one particular case. 

Thanks for the insight.
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What's more important than it occurring (because young "A-type" personalities are always going to pull stunts like this) is what is done by the chain of command upon finding out?  What leadership does when they do see it happen should give us an idea of whether it thrives or not.  The incident in Winnipeg is an example - the chain of command is engaged and is cleaning house to address the problem they've identified.

This is a terrible example to support your point. It was a catastrophic failure that resulted in the loss of life. The Chain of Command did find out about it, they did nothing, they continued to do nothing, a soldier killed himself, they subsequently did nothing, and only after a BOI (mandatory because a soldier died during a training exercise) and a Brigadier-General having the buck land on his desk did *anything* happen.

This incident is yet another example of the CAF leadership not being competent enough to do anything to right the ship until a complete and utter catastrophic failure occurs which renders no other option. It is not a feather in the cap of leadership.The only thing done right here started at way to high of a level.

The only point to sustain is that the Div Comd wasn't afraid to say on national television "the senior leadership involved screwed the pooch on this one, we've had to fire them and now we've got to fix this." That's handling it well from a public affairs perspective, as the talking heads are usually assuring the public that our senior leadership is great, blaming the junior personnel and promising to provide them with better training so *they* don't make the same mistake again, never acknowledging the senior leadership failures. Example, the Tiger Williams / VIP flights debacle.
« Last Edit: January 09, 2019, 07:31:43 by ballz »
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Offline Infanteer

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The only point to sustain is that the Div Comd wasn't afraid to say on national television "the senior leadership involved screwed the pooch on this one, we've had to fire them and now we've got to fix this."

I was referring to the Division Commander's actions with my example, so I probably should have been more clear - because the unit leadership clearly was deficit.  Once he found out the extent of the problem, he took action, fired leaders who didn't do their job, and has put measures in to fix the issue.  That's a big difference from what transpired in the 1990s, with keeping things quite and shuttling people off to get promoted down the road....
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Offline Lumber

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I was referring to the Division Commander's actions with my example, so I probably should have been more clear - because the unit leadership clearly was deficit.  Once he found out the extent of the problem, he took action, fired leaders who didn't do their job, and has put measures in to fix the issue.  That's a big difference from what transpired in the 1990s, with keeping things quite and shuttling people off to get promoted down the road....

What incident are you guys talking about? I just finished reading the whole thread and I didn't notice a description of the initial incident.
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What incident are you guys talking about? I just finished reading the whole thread and I didn't notice a description of the initial incident.

https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/manitoba/military-suicide-minto-armoury-1.4946583

Discussed on our forums here https://army.ca/forums/index.php?topic=129558.0
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Offline Lumber

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Is any "initiation" ritual considered "hazing"? We have a lot of initiation rituals in the Navy, but I wouldn't call them "hazing". Some are voluntary, some are not.

For example, "7 days at sea". When a sailor has been at sea for 7 straight days for the first time in their career, their wingers usually surprise them on watch with a pie to the face, or an raw eggs shampooing. Technically, you could call this textbook assault, but I've never heard anyone complain, and msot of the sailors I've seen come away smiling, I assume because the feeling of accomplishment (i.e. "I'm a real sailor now") and camaraderie.

The other more intensive initiation ritual, which is completely voluntary, is of course, our line crossing ceremonies. Is it hazing if it is voluntary, even though it might be unpleasant? (interesting tidbit from a ceremony I participated in: I love hot sauce, and I really like corn pops, a strawberry coulis is great, but eating the three together will make you want to hurl)
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Offline PuckChaser

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If they aren't comfortable with the events, don't consent but are still forced to do things, or are treated differently if they choose not to participate it would still be hazing in my books.

In this day and age if the Navy still wants to do stuff like that, each member should be fully informed as to what each ritual is and consent to it in advance, as well as making sure that anyone not consenting isn't ostracized because they're not comfortable with doing whatever wierd stuff you guys come up with.

Offline Rifleman62

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Quote
For example, "7 days at sea". When a sailor has been at sea for 7 straight days for the first time in their career, their wingers usually surprise them on watch with a pie to the face, or an raw eggs shampooing.

How did this come about? How does it relate to the Navy, or being at sea? Pies/eggs? Line crossing ceremonies I understand.
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I was referring to the Division Commander's actions with my example, so I probably should have been more clear - because the unit leadership clearly was deficit.  Once he found out the extent of the problem, he took action, fired leaders who didn't do their job, and has put measures in to fix the issue.  That's a big difference from what transpired in the 1990s, with keeping things quite and shuttling people off to get promoted down the road....

I guess, if the context is to compare to the standard 20 years ago, then I can concede example makes sense as to show some improvement. But, I was 4 years old during the Somalia affair so from my perspective, that the buck didn't stop until a Brigadier-General's desk on this one shows that the bar for accountability still has a long ways to go, as that bar is not something I associate with / consider.

We can't expect Brigadier-Generals to know about this stuff going on within unit lines, and therefore be able to step in and prevent these types of environments from becoming poisonous. If the bar is set any higher than a unit CO's desk on these types of localized issues, then the bar isn't high enough. What I wonder is if those who were even closer to the problems, such as Pl Comds and SNCOs, actually felt that the environment was wrong but felt powerless to do anything about it because they wouldn't be backed by those who have the actual authority required (such as the sub-unit command team, and unit command team) to reinforce change to a positive direction.
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How did this come about? How does it relate to the Navy, or being at sea? Pies/eggs? Line crossing ceremonies I understand.

I think Lumber brings up a great question. It is not a black and white issue. Not everything has a negative affect on individuals nor group morale. If you want to be part of a group, there is *always* some level of conformity required. Are we seriously going to say that  the CAF could be an effective machine without some level of conformity? Without group norms, traditions, rites of passage, etc? Could BMQ or BMOQ not be construed as sanctioned hazing in an attempt to achieve conformity?
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Offline Haggis

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I think Lumber brings up a great question. It is not a black and white issue. Not everything has a negative affect on individuals nor group morale. If you want to be part of a group, there is *always* some level of conformity required. Are we seriously going to say that  the CAF could be an effective machine without some level of conformity? Without group norms, traditions, rites of passage, etc? Could BMQ or BMOQ not be construed as sanctioned hazing in an attempt to achieve conformity?

There has to be some nexus to a bonafide operational requirement (BFOR) for all training and activities conducted during BMQ/BMOQ and other PD/training.  One issue is that the nexus is not always apparent to the trainee.  Maybe it was poorly articulated by the staff?  Maybe the trainee was not intellectually able to draw the link?  (i.e. why do I have to go through the gas hut if I already trust that the mask will work?)

Some traditions are key to fostering conformity and group cohesion.  A good example would be the USMCs "Crucible" exercise which has a clear BFOR nexus and is the final validation of boot camp training.  In my mind, an initiation/rite of passage must have a desirable outcome and be something, while apprehended to a degree, is looked upon favourably by the participants.  Nothing worthwhile should ever come easy particularly when lives are at stake. 

Over the years I've been subjected to several initiations/rites of passage etc.  Some made sense.  Some did not, at the time.  Some never did.  Luckily I never suffered serious physical or mental injury as a result.  Traditions come and go.  Things that were done to me four decades ago, while acceptable then, would result in jail time for the staff these days.  I have no heartache with that. The "good old days" weren't always good.
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Offline AbdullahD

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I was debating sharing this, but figured might as well. Lumber got me thinking about initiation vs hazing and I stumbled upon this, it touches on that and that North American culture could be well served having more substantial initiation rights.

Slightly off topic, but it is interesting at least to me.

https://www.samwoolfe.com/2014/06/the-psychology-of-initiation-rites.html

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Certain groups in our country start ritual initiation when they cut the tips off their infant male offspring's penis. It can only get better from there.
Apparently, a "USUAL SUSPECT"

“In peace there's nothing so becomes a man as modest stillness and humility; but when the blast of war blows in our ears, then imitate the action of the tiger; stiffen the sinews, summon up the blood, disguise fair nature with hard-favor'd rage.”

 Every normal man must be tempted at times to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag, and start slitting throats

Offline AbdullahD

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Certain groups in our country start ritual initiation when they cut the tips off their infant male offspring's penis. It can only get better from there.

See that is interesting rituals, traditions and/or initiations that are "as old as time" must have started for a reason...

But whether those reasons exist in this day and age and whether those traditions should be practiced is another discussion.

https://www.healthline.com/health/mens-health/circumcised-vs-uncircumcised#risk-of-infection

I know men who have been circumcised as an adult due to medical reasons, upon looking into it more hygiene, STD prevention etc makes the pro vs con, barbaric or not conversation far more interesting. Practicing upon kids who can not realistically understand or respect the gravity of the decision is another discussion to have as well... but I think this if for another thread lol

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The hygiene argument has been torpedoed since soap became a thing, and STDs? Really?  Stick your best friend in a dirty place, and I can guarantee that a condom is far better protection than a mutilated foreskin.
« Last Edit: January 10, 2019, 01:15:53 by Kat Stevens »
Apparently, a "USUAL SUSPECT"

“In peace there's nothing so becomes a man as modest stillness and humility; but when the blast of war blows in our ears, then imitate the action of the tiger; stiffen the sinews, summon up the blood, disguise fair nature with hard-favor'd rage.”

 Every normal man must be tempted at times to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag, and start slitting throats

Offline AbdullahD

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The hygiene argument has been torpedoed since soap became a thing, and STDs? Really?  Stick your best friend in a dirty place, and I can guarantee that a condom is far better protection than a mutilated foreskin.

Condoms, yes are better. But sometimes unavailable or not used.. so an argument is there to cicumsize. this link has links to 104 different pages discussing it or research papers covering it.

http://www.cirp.org/library/disease/STD/vanhowe6/

Soap and hygeine? I would have been inclined to agree, but it seems even with the advent of soap it is still issues.

https://www.circinfo.net/penile_hygiene.html

Now how needed these traditions are in the modern era, is a discussion that I think religions could be well served having it is to bad emotions get involved to easily due to the personal nature of it.

This is a very debatable issue, I think we will not be able to agree on it. But we will derail this thread badly.

Abdullah

Offline Oldgateboatdriver

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How did this come about? How does it relate to the Navy, or being at sea? Pies/eggs? Line crossing ceremonies I understand.

I think Rifleman is referring to the "7-days-at-sea-pie-in-the-face" thing only.

And quite frankly, that's a new one to me. Served a little over 24 years exclusively in the RCN until I retired in 2001 and I have never heard of nor ever witnessed that alleged "tradition". It also wouldn't have waited very long in those days, as we basically sailed 7 straight or more just about once every second month.

Other than crossing the line ceremonies, I can't think of much in the Navy of that time that would constitute hazing, other perhaps than the odd person with bad personal hygiene being shown that showers exist in a rather rough way.

Offline Rifleman62

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Where do the "wingers" obtain (purchase  ;)) the pies/eggs on board a ship? If there were 5/10/20 newbies, that's a lot of rations wasted.   ;)
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Offline Furniture

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Where do the "wingers" obtain (purchase  ;)) the pies/eggs on board a ship? If there were 5/10/20 newbies, that's a lot of rations wasted.   ;)

In my experience it's no more of a waste than letting the cooks run any of the food through the Flavoursuck3000 and throw it on the steam line...   :boke:

I have no idea when the 7 days at sea thing started, but by the time I was sailing on the Left Coast in 2012 it was well established.


Offline Navy_Pete

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In my experience it's no more of a waste than letting the cooks run any of the food through the Flavoursuck3000 and throw it on the steam line...   :boke:

I have no idea when the 7 days at sea thing started, but by the time I was sailing on the Left Coast in 2012 it was well established.

I vaguely remember it starting to be a thing in the late 2000s; probably a new tradition that grew up around a time when people were struggling to get enough sea time to complete their OJTs.

Now we've gone hard over to the riding the ships hard, putting them away wet, and wondering why we get major failures, but life without challenges is boring.

Offline Tcm621

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I think Rifleman is referring to the "7-days-at-sea-pie-in-the-face" thing only.

And quite frankly, that's a new one to me. Served a little over 24 years exclusively in the RCN until I retired in 2001 and I have never heard of nor ever witnessed that alleged "tradition". It also wouldn't have waited very long in those days, as we basically sailed 7 straight or more just about once every second month.

Other than crossing the line ceremonies, I can't think of much in the Navy of that time that would constitute hazing, other perhaps than the odd person with bad personal hygiene being shown that showers exist in a rather rough way.

When I was in the Navy, some people got "hazed" during their first seven days at sea. It was real popular among the bosuns. The other one I saw was when one of the MS changed messes. His friends would often helpfully pack up all his gear and his mattress to help him move. Copious amounts of duct tape may have been involved.

I think some sorts of initiation rituals are extremely valuable and in some cases the worth is directly related to the discomfort. One role of these rituals was to strength camaraderie though mutually shared miserable experiences. if you ask virtually any CAF member what a change parade is, they will know and the vast majority will have some story about their experiences. That is something we all share that Rob at the Bank doesn't understand. The weird insults that only seem to exist in the military is another. If you call someone a blade everyone in the CAF knows what you mean or if you call an MP a meathead, we all know what you mean. These are all little rituals we share with each other adn it brings us together.

All hazing rituals have this ideal at their core. Where we get lost is that the military is an organization where toughness is a virtue and people will take things a step (or ten) too far. The video of 1 Commando leading the black guy around on a leash back in the 90s is a horrible example of hazing gone wrong. A good initiation can be scary, or exciting, or uncomfortable but it is usually followed up by an outpouring of camaraderie and welcome. I actually support sanctioned initiation rituals because then it can be kept in check. Rather than have a couple of random Cpls or Jnr officers deciding what is appropriate, we can have the leadership over see it and (hopefully) use their authority and experience to ensure the end result is positive.

Offline Eye In The Sky

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What about the initiation traditions are RMC?  Those are known, supervised events AFIAK...yet to some it might make some 1st years uncomfortable...and then, not long after, they're the ones 'administering' the next group of 1st years.

Hazing, or tradition?
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Offline Chief Engineer

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Seen the "seven days" at sea in 1992 when I was sailing in HMCS Terra Nova, usually you were duct-taped up in the mess and threatened. Fast forward to present day and you are accused of hazing for making sailors go through the crossing the line ceremony. ::)
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Offline Lumber

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Seen the "seven days" at sea in 1992 when I was sailing in HMCS Terra Nova, usually you were duct-taped up in the mess and threatened. Fast forward to present day and you are accused of hazing for making sailors go through the crossing the line ceremony. ::)

Well, maybe this is just your choice of words, it since the line ceremony is now voluntary, were you to "make" someone go through it, then yes, it would be hazing (although having now graduated to shellback, I can say the ceremony wouldn't be much of a bad experience to be forced through).
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