The video: Promotions are usually celebrated with congratulatory drinks at a local watering hole, or at the very least, an enthusiastic handshake. But that wasn't the case for newly minted Army Sgt. Phillip Roach, whose superior officers at Fort Bragg marked his rise from specialist with what the Army now calls an "unauthorized hazing" ritual. The April 4 incident was captured on video that was only recently released. (Watch it below.) The disturbing footage shows a higher-ranking officer taking a few practice swings at Roach's gut with a large wooden mallet, then delivering "a brutal coup de grace" to his chest. Roach is sent reeling then crumpling to the floor, slicing his head open on a chair along the way. After the video ends, says Roach's father, Ken, his son suffered a seizure that could keep him from ever returning to active duty, where he was to have piloted unmanned aerial vehicles. The hammer wielder has been fined $1,000 and reprimanded, but Ken Roach, an Army veteran himself, wants a stiffer punishment. "It was assault with a weapon," he tells the AP. "He could have killed my son."
The reaction: Only in the Army would good news like a promotion be feted "with dangerous physical violence," says Gabriel Legend at Gather. But while the Army brass blames this hazing on a few bad apples, it sure looks like "another example of the Army's unofficial 'policy' of not only allowing soldiers to be victimized by other soldiers, but punishing victims when they do come forward." Roach really could have died, and other soldiers almost certainly have, through injuries from hazing or suicide afterward. Sadly, "promotion hazings in the service are common," says Geoffrey Ingersoll at Business Insider. But the good news is that "disturbing" videos like Roach's will probably put an end to these "twisted" rituals. Clearly, the public does not approve. See for yourself:
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- How the South's ugly racial history is haunting ObamaCare
- The real story behind Deliver Us From Evil
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- What if Leo Strauss was right?
- If Democrats abandon immigration reform after Tuesday's likely loss, they will turn 2016 into a debacle
- Beware of Splenda: The backlash against artificial sugars
- Stop making fun of philosophy and read some philosophy
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- 6 things the happiest families all have in common
- The culture war finally comes to the Catholic Church
Subscribe to the Week