First, let me begin by saying that there is nothing humorous or entertaining about sexual assault. It is a crime whose emotional wounds may last long after the physical wounds have healed. That being said…
At the beginning of this year, Alabama and LSU met in the national championship football game in New Orleans. Alabama was the victor, but that did not stop both sides from celebrating the event to the fullest. Following the game, a fan dressed colorfully in LSU clothing was found passed out in a local fast food restaurant. We know this and the subsequent incidents, by the way, because someone was nice enough to post a video to YouTube (search for “Alabama trash teabags drunk”). In the video, the LSU fan is asleep at a table while a crowd of Alabama fans laugh heartily. The Alabama fans take turns stacking empty food containers on his back, patting him on the head, taking pictures, etc. until one fan takes it to the next level. A man in the video opens his fly, pulls out his scrotum, and proceeds to rub it on the face of the unconscious LSU fan. Well one thing lead to another, and after 400,000 video views, the Orleans parish District Attorney filed charges for sexual assault.
So to recap, there is nothing funny about sexual assault. But, if you are a guy who spent any time at all in college, you probably laughed heartily at the video. There was a crime committed there, but I maintain not because of the act per se, but because the perpetrator and the victim were not roommates, frat brothers, or otherwise close friends. Allow me to explain.
It is a very well known rule in every college in America that you do not want to be the first guy to pass out. Ever. For if you do, you are asking for “it”. In my day, they thankfully didn’t have camera phones so I can only assume what happened to that poor fellow in Alabama never happened to me. However, I’ll never know. One of the most common courtesies extended to an unconscious friend was to draw liberally on his face with a Sharpie permanent marker. Humiliation was key. If he had an important job interview the next day, an ideal drawing might be sexual in nature, for example. Another clever trick was to draw eyeballs on top of his eyelids. Not only did this make the guy look like he was staring at the ceiling while he was asleep, it usually went undetected since the drawings were obscured while he checked the damage in the mirror with his eyes open.
Why do guys behave like this? Well first, it’s really, really funny. Doubly so, if you are drunk yourself. Secondly, it is an altruistic, caring action to encourage our peers not to overindulge. Counseling, interventions, and education all have their place. But few things are as effective as walking into a job interview with Merrill, Lynch with the outline of a large, blue penis on your forehead. That’s a lesson you take with you for life.
Back to our friend in New Orleans, if a crime was committed it was that these actions were taken against a stranger where the implied consent was not present. If these two men knew each other, the victim needs to drop the charges at once and plan his revenge accordingly. For this was all done for his sake, and we can all be pretty sure he won’t drink so much the next time he’s in town.
I was at a Las Vegas Burger King a couple of months ago, and witnessed the police wake up a man who had passed out at one of the tables. He was respectably dressed, and appeared simply to have taken his evening too far (this was at 8:30am). When the police asked him if he knew where he was, he named a city not in the state of Nevada. See, now that is funny. It may be that he got hammered at the bar across the Strip, and just got hungry. But I hope instead that he was the first one to pass out in his local nightclub in Wisconsin or somewhere, and his caring friends loaded him on a Greyhound with a Post-it on his forehead that read “Vegas or bust”. For some people a simple hangover won’t do it, and a real hazing is the only way to responsible consumption.