Just two days after fraternity Kappa Delta Rho was suspended for abhorrent and potentially criminal photos, a Kappa Delta Rho member gave an anonymous defense of his fraternity’s actions.
In an interview with Philly Mag’s Holly Otterbein, the anonymous KDR brother referred to the public response as self-righteous. He said that “every Greek organization in the nation does the same old stuff, just as they have been for the entirety of human history.”
I’m not sure that his “they’re all doing it too” argument will hold up in court, but the brother said it’s “laughably pathetic” when the media “looks to ruin people’s lives and unjustly ruin reputations,” arguing that the actions of the fraternity were “humorous, albeit possibly misguided.”
Here is the initial statement from the brother in full, with some highlights from his interview with Philly Mag below:
“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.”
In the interview, the brother elaborated on his statement, explaining that he isn’t aware of any similar Facebook groups operated by other fraternities. He said that “everybody fools around … [and]engages in what might be considered inappropriate behavior. … Like back in the Middle Ages, they would find a witch or somebody who the community thought was a witch or something like that and toss them to the crowd, you know? When the person’s no different than anyone else.”
In case you aren’t following the analogy, the anonymous KDR member is seemingly pointing the finger at other fraternities, alleging that its unfair to single one organization out for actions that are widespread. It’s unclear what he meant by this, as he explicitly said that he has no knowledge of any similar Facebook groups posting unauthorized photos of naked students.
He also argued that the media’s response to the fraternity scandal has been overblown. In the interview, he said that this scandal is “minor” because there are thousands of misdemeanor crimes throughout the United States every day. He said that this should be reported no differently than other misdemeanor crimes, if it’s even reported at all. When asked if he thinks the fraternity itself, as opposed to the media, deserves any blame for how widespread this scandal has become, he said that it’s a hard question to answer.
“I think people should be responsible for themselves, and, I mean, I obviously had nothing to do with any of these postings, but … just think, is it smart to post this on social media,” he asked. “Is this ethical in regards to the people who it involves? 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.”
The State College Police Department, for one, disagrees. An ongoing investigation by the department is looking into potential charges including harassment and invasion of privacy for the fraternity’s Facebook group, which posted nude photographs of females, many of which were reportedly passed out in the pictures. The anonymous KDR member said in the interview that the group was satirical, meant to make fun of fraternity stereotypes with no intent to hurt or demean anyone.
“It was an entirely satirical group and it was funny to some extent. Some of the stuff, yeah, it’s raunchy stuff, as you would expect from a bunch of college-aged guys,” he said. “But, I mean, you could go on any one of hundreds and thousands of different sites to access the same kind of stuff and obviously a lot worse and a lot more explicit.”
When pressed on what was “funny” about the group, the member backtracked on his comment, explaining that “satire” is the right word. He pointed to website’s like Total Frat Move, which post pictures of girls at fraternity parties, as the source for said satire.
For the fraternity brother, the real disappointment here is not only the fact that his fellow brothers took part in actions that were potentially illegal and undoubtedly immoral and demeaning, but that someone would snitch. “It is a brotherhood and nobody expects anyone to go and post stuff publicly or so forth and so on,” he said. “It’s a real disappointment that this kid went and did this. … I hope nobody gets in trouble because nobody did anything worth getting in trouble over.”
That sentiment and the entire basis of this anonymous fraternity brother’s argument is a microcosm of everything that’s wrong with fraternity culture not just at Penn State University, but nationwide. This certainly isn’t as serious as the widespread issue of sexual assault and rape at fraternities that has made headlines recently, but it’s a whole lot more serious than this member of Kappa Delta Rho is making it out to be.
Taking nude photographs of unconscious girls, whether it be at a fraternity house or anywhere else, is extremely unethical in the first place. To then post those photographs in an online group that included 144 people is illegal in addition to its vile immorality. If this fraternity member truly felt that the actions of his fellow brothers was even remotely defensible, he wouldn’t hide behind a label of anonymity and point fingers at the media for the disgusting actions of his peers. There’s nothing funny about what the brothers in KDR did and there’s nothing funny about how vastly misguided this attempted defense of their actions is.