Letters

Letters 10-27-2014

Paging Doctor Dan: The doctor’s promise to repeal Obamacare reminds me of the frantic restaurant owner hurrying to install an exhaust fan after the kitchen burns down. He voted 51 times to replace the ACA law; a colossal waste of money and time. It’s here to stay and he has nothing to replace it.

Evolution Is Real Science: Breathtaking inanity. That was the term used by Judge John Jones III in his elegant evisceration of creationist arguments attempting to equate it to evolutionary theory in his landmark Kitzmiller vs. Dover Board of Education decision in 2005.

U.S. No Global Police: Steven Tuttle in the October 13 issue is correct: our military, under the leadership of the President (not the Congress) is charged with protecting the country, its citizens, and its borders. It is not charged with  performing military missions in other places in the world just because they have something we want (oil), or we don’t like their form of government, or we want to force them to live by the UN or our rules.

Graffiti: Art Or Vandalism?: I walk the [Grand Traverse] Commons frequently and sometimes I include the loop up to the cistern just to go and see how the art on the cistern has evolved. Granted there is the occasional gross image or word but generally there is a flurry of color.

NMEAC Snubbed: Northern Michigan Environmental Action Council (NMEAC) is the Grand Traverse region’s oldest grassroots environmental advocacy organization. Preserving the environment through citizen action and education is our mission.

Vote, Everyone: Election Day on November 4 is fast approaching, and now is the time to make a commitment to vote. You may be getting sick of the political ads on TV, but instead, be grateful that you live in a free country with open elections. Take the time to learn about the candidates by contacting your county parties and doing research.

Do Fluoride Research: Hydrofluorosilicic acid, H2SiF6, is a byproduct from the production of fertilizer. This liquid, not environmentally safe, is scrubbed from the chimney of the fertilizer plant, put into containers, and shipped. Now it is a ‘product’ added to the public drinking water.

Meet The Homeless: As someone who volunteers for a Traverse City organization that works with homeless people, I am appalled at what is happening at the meetings regarding the homeless shelter. The people fighting this shelter need to get to know some homeless families. They have the wrong idea about who the homeless are.

Home · Articles · News · Books · Fraternity Hazing gets your Goat
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Fraternity Hazing gets your Goat

Nancy Sundstrom - February 26th, 2004
The latest in this genre is Brad Land‘s “Goat,“ a searing and unforgettable
tale of fraternity hazing that is as hard to put down as an accident is to
look away from. It‘s also an astonishing debut that is filled with power and
passion and pain as it spins a cautionary tale about fraternities and the
tragic consequences that sometimes accompany the need to belong and be
accepted. No wonder other authors like Burroughs, Susan Orlean and Lorenzo
Carceterra (“Sleepers“) are raving.
About to begin his sophomore year of college, Land is a trusting and
slightly naive 20-year-old who is still dealing with the aftereffects of an
assault where two strangers he gave a ride to robbed, beat and kidnapped
him. The local police aren‘t exactly helpful in assisting Land, though his
assailants are later arrested. Through it all, Land tries to move his life
forward and in so doing, leans on his younger, self-centered brother, Brett,
who proves to be about as much of an ally as the cops were. When Brett
leaves for Clemson and joins a fraternity, Kappa Sigma, Brad follows,
believing it will help him start anew.
Early in Goat,“ he recounts what life was like on campus:

“This is how it goes:
We‘re getting floored at a beginning-of-the-semester party. Me, my younger
brother Brett, these three people we came with. At this old fraternity
house. Two stories with a big front porch and a backyard with a chain-link
fence.
Brett‘s on the porch standing next to me. People moving all over the place.
Like cells. Everything pulsing. All sweat and smoke. The house is breathing.
These two girls come up. Just stand there looking us over. One of the girls
looks at Brett like she loves him already. She‘s short and has long hair
pulled into a ponytail. Legs all muscled like a soccer player‘s. She‘s
wearing a Zeppelin T-shirt with a hole beneath the neck cuff. The other
girl‘s standing beside her all bucktoothed and shaky. Got a tattoo on her
left shoulder blade. Something swirled and tribal. Her arms crossed. I give
her a smoke and she nods, cups one hand around the lighter I hold out and I
can tell she‘s drunk by the way her eyes wobble, the way she squints them
against the porch lights. The other girl rubs the shaky one‘s back, runs her
hand down and pauses in the bare patch of skin between her jeans and top.
The shaky girl looks her over and smiles. Brett tells them to kiss. They
look at each other and laugh and then the shaky girl moves toward the other
one, puts a hand around her waist and holds the cigarette out to the side.
Her tongue‘s out and inside the other‘s mouth and they lock together, wet
cheeks pulsing with the overhead light. The shaky one steps back and pulls
on the smoke, exhales and looks at Brett.
I‘m staring at the two girls and the shaky girl asks if that was okay, and Brett says yeah that was cool, and I nod, say yeah good, and then Brett says do it again and they just laugh.
The short girl says you don‘t even know us and Brett says so and cocks back
his beer. When he brings it down, she takes the beer from Brett and drinks.
Hands it back. And now the shaky girl looks at me like she knows something
about me with my skinny arms and black hair all matted from the hot air
outside. Brett‘s talking to the short girl and I don‘t know what to say with
this shaky one staring at me. The short one leans, whispers in her friend‘s
ear. They turn and walk away.
Brett tells me they want us to come over later.
I nod like it‘s standard.
School‘s two days away, and for both Brett and me, it‘s the whole
college-in-the-same-town-you-went-to-high-school-in thing. It‘ll be my
second year, Brett‘s first, and right now I‘m not too happy with this small
liberal arts school because it‘s backward and I went to high school with
most everyone there, but for right now, just right now, it‘s okay because my
brother‘s here.
I couldn‘t hack school last year at another college because I was lonely and
I failed most everything. I tell everyone it was from the drugs or the
alcohol but the truth is I was just lonely and cried all the time and lived
in an old house with lots of dust.“

Desperate to belong, Land subjects himself to barbaric hazing rituals that
only serve to deepen the humiliation and phobias associated with his
abduction. As a new pledge, or “goat,“ Land accepts the abuse until pushed
to a point where he challenges the frat group‘s mentality and the
sublimation of his own will to violence. It is the death of another goat
after an especially brutal round of hazing that pushes Land away from the
life he has fought to be a part of, and the act is his first real step in
healing and redemption.
In “A Streetcar Named Desire,“ Tennessee Williams wrote that “Deliberate
cruelty is not forgivable,“ and that sentiment rings throughout this book.
The violence is jarring, but never gratuitous, and Land has a fresh, hip,
often funny style that serves to lighten the material when it is very much
in need of it. Like James Frey, he plays with language and grammar (there
are no quotation marks), and while it can sometimes be annoying, it also
doesn‘t diminish the power of this coming-of-age tale. Like Land‘s journey
itself, this is tough-going in parts, but the knowledge gleaned makes it
well worth it, particularly for male readers.
 
  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
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