Abu Ghraib and the Stanford Prison Experiment

Some other bloggers and at least one diarist from the Daily Kos (although none of the big dogs yet to my knowledge), have noted the strong similarities between the actions of the soldiers at Abu Ghraib prison and the Stanford Prison Experiment, which along with the Milgram Experiment ought to be required study for everyone, everywhere.

So since others have done the legwork on this, let me move on to the part that has really offended me about the coverage by the right-wing radio (and television) wingnut community. Rush Limbaugh, a guest on Hannity and Colmes (who Hannity immediately agreed with), and Weekly Standard online Editor Johnathan Last on Dennis Miller's show all compared the treatment of Iraqi prisoners to fraternity hazing. At first, I was outraged at the comparison--that Limbaugh et al would so trivialize something like this by comparing it to hazing. Then my girlfriend gave me the verbal slap upside the head that I needed for context--she does that a lot.

Folks--hazing is illegal for a reason. Kids still die every year from hazing incidents and it's been illegal now for quite a while. One of the things that was hammered into my head repeatedly when I was an active Greek was the seriousness of hazing policy. So to compare the treatment of Iraqi prisoners to fraternity hazing is no joke, and it certainly should not act to reduce the seriousness of the charges made against US troops. We have a skewed view of hazing because the main introduction most people have to fraternity life is Animal House.

Hazing in real life isn't Kevin Bacon grabbing his ankles and saying "Thank you sir may I have another." Just ask any parents who have buried their promising young freshman for some perspective.

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