The news that the Kappa Delta Rho fraternity at Pennsylvania State University had allegedly run secret Facebook pages where they posted images of nude, unconscious women, illicit substances and hazing activities should have come as a surprise. But given the numerous incidents of fraternity misconduct in recent months, such incidents strike me as abhorrent, but not shocking.
When fraternity-related issues or incidents arise in the media, it's often a one-sided discussion. Lawyers and university leaders are quick to condemn the fraternity (rightfully so) and the national chapter usually releases a statement along the lines of "These are not our values and we are investigating the problem." Rarely do members of the fraternity in question speak out. Whether it's because the actions are so often morally indefensible, or they're simply instructed not to speak to the press during investigations, it's hard to say.
Reporters at Philadelphia Magazine managed to contact and interview a member of Kappa Delta Rho who was willing to speak anonymously about the Facebook pages. From the first statement, he demonstrates a perverse lack of responsibility or comprehension, as he insists that the real issue is within the media coverage, rather than the "antics" themselves.
This is the statement he provided to the magazine prior to the interview:
It is shameful to see the self-righteousness that has sprung from the woodworks in response to the alleged Penn State fraternity "scandal." Here's a quick reality check: everyone -- from Bill Clinton to your grandfather to every Greek organization in the nation does the same old stuff, just as they have been for the entirety of human history. That's where that lil' old quip, don't throw stones if you live in a glass house, comes from. And believe me, we all live in a glass house. Thus it is laughably pathetic to see the media spring on an occasional incident such as this, especially a media complicit in overturning the same sexual mores and moral standards that for millennia had at least to some extent curbed outright licentiousness. The fire of indignant, misplaced self-righteousness that looks to ruin people's lives and unjustly ruin reputations is the abuse and violation that should be at the center of discussion, not the humorous, albeit possibly misguided, antics of a bunch of college kids.
Where to begin? I'd like to start with the assertion that he's characterizing taking photos of unconscious, unconsenting, nude women as "humorous, albeit possibly misguided antics." Depending on the state, those "antics" are criminal activity, not to mention, morally reprehensible activity as well.
Earlier in the paragraph, he mentions that "everyone... does the same old stuff." That's laughably untrue, and it's also another weak attempt to downplay the seriousness of the incident. There is a gaping chasm between normal college antics and sexual assault.
His righteous indignation about the media "unjustly ruining reputations" by covering the criminal activity in question is incredibly outlandish. One wonders if he is intellectually able to make the connection that taking and sharing a nude picture of someone without their consent can and does unjustly ruin the reputation of the victim. But sure, we'll feel real sorry about your frat's one-year suspension.
There are several other falsities and ludicrous aspects to the statement itself. But the interview itself demonstrates an even more astonishing lack of self-awareness or moral compass. The hole he slowly digs himself into as he tries to clarify his statements is painful for so many reasons.
First, he stands by his belief that it was nothing more than "harmless fun," and his frat just had the misfortune of being caught.
In his words: "It's minor. There's misdemeanors every day, thousands and thousands of little misdemeanors in every single community in the United States, and this is no different. This is a few select individuals who did a few select... possibly or probably inappropriate things, right?"
Tell that to the people who had their intimacies bared to the world against their will. It's just a minor thing, right? No personal trauma here!
When asked if he thought the frat deserved any type of blame, his immediate response was, "It's a hard question to answer."
No, it's not a hard question to answer. The people who posted the photos and are affiliated with the fraternity are most certainly deserving of blame.
He continues with, "But this is not a criminal thing. It's not anyone else's business, pretty much. It's an inter-fraternity thing and that's that."
If only this case were taking place in a state like California, where revenge porn laws keep this type of activity in check. Sadly, Pennsylvania has no such law on the books.
But, members of the fraternity are currently under investigation, and could end up facing criminal charges of harassment and invasion of privacy. If the police are looking into it, it's safe to say it could maybe be a "criminal thing."
Further down, he shows a profound lack of basic reading comprehension as he repeatedly refers to the pages as "satire." He stated,
The thing is, that it was a satirical group. It's like, there's literally sites like that that millions of people access, whether it's totalfratmove.com or any of the other thousands of sites that post, you know, pictures of girls and post funny text conversations and Snapchat stories and things like that. It was a satirical group. It wasn't malicious whatsoever. It wasn't intended to hurt anyone. It wasn't intended to demean anyone. It was an entirely satirical group and it was funny to some extent.
Does he know what satire is? It's usually not criminal activity. And, I'm not sure what aspect of society the fraternity was criticizing through their oh-so-humorous page. Also, despite the fact that he is obviously not a terribly well-spoken individual, I want to believe he isn't actually stupid enough to believe that no one would be hurt by the page.
I could continue. But, I'll let you read the rest for yourself. Hopefully, it incites the same kind of blood-boiling anger in you that it did in me.
The problem is not the media, it's the actions of those members in the fraternity who contributed, encouraged, or even tolerated this behavior. It's not necessarily fair to say that instances like this would justify the widespread discipline or at perhaps closer monitoring of fraternities. But how many instances of sexual assault, hazing, harassment, and other criminal activity will it take before something significant is done?