When we talk about "hazing" in the media, it's usually in pretty abstract generalities—the victims were humiliated, beaten, forced to drink to excess, and so on—but there's nothing quite like a photograph to drive home just what something means. These photos from an investigation into hazing at Inglemoor High School (go, King County!...sigh) are really difficult to look at. Basically they'll make you want to shoo all your kids back up into your womb and then spackle the sucker up tight.
The teenagers were a part of a school spirit group called the "Naked Viks.” They are a non-sanctioned group that cheers at the school's football games.
James Walvatne said he was blindfolded on Monday night and then brutally beaten..
"They used PVC pipes, headless golf clubs, and flour and maple syrup. They peed on us and stuff," said Walvatne, a junior at the school.
He said a group of seven juniors were chosen by senior to be a part of an initiation at a park in Snohomish County.
Neighbors heard screams and then called police. “We woke up to what sounded like someone staple gunning someone and screaming,” said neighbor Jeannie Collier.
Fucking hell. I don't know how long it's been since you've spent any time with a high school junior, but these are kids—real high schoolers aren't Dylan McKay and AHHndrea Zuckerman. And what's almost more painful to process than the photos is the victims' reaction to their own hazing. It's like watching insecurity turn into indoctrination in real time.
Walvatne said he didn't tell the other students to stop beating him because he wanted to be a part of the group.
"It's just tradition. I don’t think they should be in trouble that could just ruin their lives," said Walvatne.
...Friends of the victims are disappointed the school shut down the Naked Viks for next year. “They shouldn’t have had to go through that and then have them take it away. It got out of hand one year. It’s been a tradition forever,” Nick McPherson said.
McPherson told us if he had been selected for the Naked Viks he would have quit the football team, “Instead of football I would rather be a Naked Viking.”
In an atmosphere like a suburban high school—a social economy based on popularity and conformity—coercion is essentially built into every activity. But since the victims didn't actually object or tell the other students to stop torturing them, it's not clear
whether or not what charges can be filed. Ugh. Ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh.