CNN is reporting (an AP story) that four fraternity members pled guilty in the death of a college student who was “forced to drink large amounts of water during an initiation rite”. The judge in the case wanted to consider a torture charge with a potential life sentence. All four men will serve time, and the victim’s mother is “proud” that the men accepted responsibility.
The word “forced” caught my attention. Was 21 year old Matthew Carrington actually forced to drink five gallons of water and then perform calisthenics in a freezing basement? Forced seems to imply that a gun was held to his head, or that his life had been somehow threatened. But thus far I have yet to find a single report indicating that this took place.
It seems to me that a 21 year old “opted” to take part in a freakish initiation ceremony. No one held a gun to his head, and no one threatened his life. He wanted to join the Chi Tau fraternity. And even if he had no idea of the initiation ceremony in store for him, he still could have got up and left. But he didn’t.
A 21 year old is a legal adult in this country. 21 year olds (in every single state) can drink, drive, vote, get married, be subpoenaed … a 21 year old is an adult. And Matthew Carrington, a 21 year old adult, took part in an initiation ceremony that killed him. But he was not forced to do so. He made a choice, albeit a bad one, and paid with his life.
Whatever happened to personal responsibility?