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Outing Hashers & Witch Hunts

Part I

Ugly things are happening in Southern California.

As best I can figure, the adult son of a hashing couple in the San Diego area is accused of raping and murdering a high school girl. The son, a registered sex offender, lived at home with his mother and step-father (though he is apparently not a hasher himself).

On a community web site for concerned citizens (appropriately named Scared Monkeys), an amateur sleuth discovered the hash connection, including the hash names of the mother and step-father, links to the hashes they’re involved with, their email addresses, and their actual address. Other amateur sleuths jumped into the fray, unearthing much of the dirt routinely published on hashing web sites, including photos of naked drinking people, and all of a sudden amateur sleuths have turned into vigilantes, demanding law enforcement investigate this group of alcoholic pedophile swingers with nasty names . . . and oh by the way vandalizing the home of the couple at the center of the storm. As I write, a local right-wing AM talk station in the San Diego area is on the warpath, drumming up the hashing connection. We are all Tutsis now.

Already, hashers have started pulling any and all personal information from hashing forums and web sites. Photos, email addresses, names . . . going, going, gone. And the vigilantes are in full pursuit, crying “if they didn’t have anything to hide, why are they hiding from us?” Uh, could it be they don’t want their own homes vandalized?

I swear, I’m beginning to think our hashing websites are our own biggest enemy. We just can’t resist bragging about drinking, debauchery, and sex, things that don’t happen nearly as much as we like to pretend they do, things that should be kept private and off-line, things that have nothing to do with hashing.

Next time you look at your own hash’s web site, pretend you’re an outraged citizen trying to dig up dirt on the hash. What’s on your site that shouldn’t be there? Might be a worthwhile exercise.

One of the local TV stations today aired photos taken from a hashing website, including one of the accused murderer’s mother surrounded by hashers in various stages of nudity . . . and the mother may already have lost her job at a local hospital. What’s next? Trial by drowning?

When I read the original series of posts on the Scared Monkey vigilante forum, I formed the impression that the man who has been accused of murder lived at home with his hasher parents. That is not true, and I apologize . . . I should have dug deeper.

Part II

A better title for this rant might have been Fear & Loathing in San Diego, but what the hell . . . I’m sticking with Outing Hashers & Witch Hunts.

Now that a few days have passed since the initial hysteria, southern California hashers have pulled most photos and personal information from their H3 sites, and commentary on the SoCal Hash List, at the request of the hashers involved, has mostly died out.

But I just revisited the vigilante forum, Scared Monkeys, where the condemnation of hashing and hashers continues unabated. Anti-hashing hysteria has by now spread far beyond the bed-wetters’ little forum: case in point is this post to an area blog (click on the image to go to the site, and be sure to scroll down and read the comments):

witch hunt
Click image to read article

Of course local media have been busy fanning hash hysteria, witness the following articles (again, click on the images to read the original articles, and be sure to scroll down to read the comments):

witch hunt_2
Click image to read article

witch hunt_3
Click image to read article

The second article (immediately above) contains some of the “incriminating” photos taken from a local hash website.

This all started with an internet search. A local news outlet published the names of the accused’s mother and step-father. One of the Scared Monkey vigilantes Googled the names and followed links to a couple of San Diego area hashing websites (and, sadly, the Half-Mind Catalog USA H3 Contact Directory, which I started back in 1995). From those websites the vigilante learned the mom and step-dad’s hash names, email addresses, the street address of their home, and their phone numbers. The witch hunt was on, with fellow vigilantes quick to imagine the worst about hashing and to associate it with sexual predators and murder. Thanks to information published on the Scared Monkeys forum, someone vandalized the mom and step-dad’s house, and, as you can see from one of the articles above, the mom is likely to lose her job (if she hasn’t already).

If, 20-plus years ago, you were to pick up a copy of Magic’s World HHH Directory, you’d have gotten a pretty good idea of what hashing was about. You’d have learned about the history and traditions of hare & hounds running, the origins and spread of hashing, and oh by the way you’d have a great directory of hashing clubs around the world.

If, on the other hand, all you know about hashing is what you read on the internet, you might be misinformed. Too many hash kennel websites stress drinking, nudity, and sex. Drinking, nudity, and sex is what the Scared Monkey vigilantes discovered when they started surfing H3 sites, and that’s what they’re reacting to.

Back in ’93 or ’94, someone set up a home page for the Chicago H3. The self-appointed webmaster thought it would be funny to link hashers’ names to pop-up porn photos. I wrote a rant about it, titled Who Speaks for the Hash? Back then it wasn’t uncommon for hashers to BS about hashing at work, or tell co-workers what their hash names were. Even in the early days of hash websites, though, it wasn’t a stretch to imagine curious bosses (or ex-spouses with axes to grind) using search engines to look up hash names. For Chicago hashers, the consequences of one immature webmaster’s actions could have been severe.

These days few of us would talk about hashing at work or share our hash names outside the hash (right, people?), and I doubt very much that the mom and step-dad in San Diego did. But they were listed as contacts on a hashing website that also contained material they probably wouldn’t have wanted their names associated with, had they thought about it beforehand, and now it’s bitten them on their asses.

I know, it’s not right, and I am most definitely not taking the side of the vigilantes. But here’s what I’m saying (and have been saying it for years, as you’ll see from many of my past rants):

The picture of hashing we paint on the net is the picture of hashing the public sees. We can depict ourselves as a club in the long tradition of hare & hounds runnning. We can depict ourselves as a drinking club with a running problem. We can depict ourselves as a group of alcoholic swingers. It’s up to us.

Responsible hashers don’t usually talk up drinking, nudity, and sex. When they talk about hashing, they talk about the fun of running and solving trail, the camaraderie of circles and on-afters. You look at hashing websites put up by older, more responsible hashers, and you’ll see simple, useful information: calendars of upcoming runs, directions to start locations, contacts for interested virgins and visitors, maybe some basic hash history.

The old Chicago H3 website is long gone (members rebelled and appointed a new webmaster years ago). But similar H3 websites are everywhere. Less responsible (and often younger) hashers like to brag about things that rarely if ever happen at the hash. They would have you believe the typical hasher gets puking drunk at every hash, that naked men and women run through the forest together, frequently stopping to fuck. Or maybe to puke, followed by fucking. All too often, these irresponsible hashers are the ones who put up hash websites. They think bragging about drinking and sex is a recruiting tool.

The whole idea of recruiting new hashers through online advertising — especially misleading advertising, which is exactly what many hashing websites are — is anathema to me. Hashing is for like-minded people. You talk up drinking, nudity, and sex to strangers, some of them are going to show up with false expectations, thinking hashing is something other than what it is. There are like-minded people out there, plenty of them, and we want them in the hash. But you don’t recruit them unless you know them, and you sound them out beforehand. You vet them first, then invite them.

To my mind, hashing websites should be information resources for fellow hashers. They shouldn’t be recruiting tools, and they shouldn’t be aimed at the non-hashing public. If you belong to a hash kennel, look up the website and see what’s there. If you see things that shouldn’t be there, call the webmaster and tell him about it. If he (or she) won’t take it down, call for a mismanagement meeting. Do what they did in Chicago, and take control of your website.

[This is a little bit off topic, but frankly, I'm worried about HashSpace. How long before non-hashers find their way in? I love HashSpace and don't want it to change, but I'm worried it's not secure enough. And I doubt very much that the HashSpace members who posted all those nude photos have the permission of the hashers shown.]

Just to be clear, I’m absolutely against changing hashing to accommodate the puritans around us. I don’t give a shit what hashers do, or don’t do, out in the woods, away from the public eye. I’ve probably done most of those things myself, and I don’t regret doing them (although in this age of cell phone cameras and video recorders, I’ll never do them again).

But I’ve always been a strong advocate of keeping hashing out of the public eye and under the radar of society, the media, and law enforcement. Why? Because of the shit going down in San Diego, that’s why. Because some asshole put a bunch of shit on a San Diego area website that never should have been there in the first place, just to show off.

Who speaks for the hash? You do. I do. We all do. Let’s be careful what we say.

Part III

This is the second time this year I’ve heard of hashers being outed by bedwetters concerned members of the public.  The first incident happened in San Diego.  Now it’s moving up the coast.  With the popularity of vigilante forums such as Scared Monkeys.com, whose members fanned anti-hashing flames in the wake of the San Diego incident, I expect we’re going to see more and more of this kind of thing.

Other than pointing out that, once again, a local hashing web site provided fuel for the anti-hashing crowd’s fire, I’m going to simply share the news article about the latest outing.  You can read it and draw your own conclusions.

From Cal Coast News.com:

New Arroyo Grande councilwoman leads a harried secret life

June 8, 2010 11:09 pm

By KAREN VELIE

Scandal-ridden former councilmember Ed Arnold stepped down to allow the Arroyo Grande City Council to avoid distraction related to his personal life, but at his replacement’s very first council meeting, questions about her lifestyle started a confrontation between her supporters and her critics.

Public comment about recently appointed Arroyo Grande Councilwoman Karen Ray’s activities with the San Luis Obispo Hash House Harriers brought a moment of stunned silence to Tuesday night’s City Council meeting.

“I think it is highly embarrassing,” said Kevin Rice speaking about Ray’s activities as part of the reputed drinking club during the public comment period. “It is not reflective in what the community is looking for in a councilmember.”

An unnamed supporter of Ray and the SLO Hash House Harriers confronted Rice in the lobby of the city building and angrily accused him of ruining Ray’s professional life by making private matters public. Another supporter, who also refused to be named, objected to Rice mentioning Ray doing Jello shots in the Wal-Mart parking lot in ear shot of his 8-year-old daughter during public comment.

And while some residents contend that what Ray does in her private life should be kept private, others do not agree.

“With her lifestyle, she should not be a councilmember,” said Deb Napzok, an Arroyo Grande resident. “This is not who we want to represent our town.”

According to the SLO House Harriers web site, they are “a drinking group with a running problem.” They organize runs called hashers, an event that involves drinking and running after someone dubbed the hare.

Hashing is a mixture of athleticism, drinking, public nudity, cross dressing and hedonism, according to a hasher website.

Members are given nicknames such as Princess, Panama Jackoff, Rub Her Dinghy and SLO-Cop-You-Later (Ray’s nickname).

“It is a running group,” Ray said. “I have not been to an event in some time because it can be misjudged. I am no longer a member.”

And while Ray, a Santa Maria High School social sciences teacher, contends this is just normal adult activity, her comments about drinking in public places such as the Arroyo Grande Wal-Mart parking lot, sex on the running trail and her students’ drinking has caused some to question her ability to represent the city.

A 2009 news article about the Santa Maria High School swim team which is coached by Ray, notes that the swimmers have been given nicknames such as a girl dubbed Cherry Drop and a guy named Princess.

A few days after the story was published, another Hash House Harrier, Julie Workman said on the Yahoo string frequented by the group, “What’s up with one of them having the same nickname as our own Princess? Hmmm, nicknaming a student after your husband, should I be concerned?

“Also, Cherry Drop isn’t a half bad hash name,” Workman added. “Does she like to drink beer?”

Another hasher, “Otter Sea My Clam,” chimed in and asked Ray if the naming of her student was part of a hash crossover.

Ray responded, “We’re totally unashamed of taking a page out of the Hash Handbook for namings! The kid named Princess… :-) And yes, funny you should ask, Cherry Drop has been known to toss a few back.”

Santa Maria Principal Craig Huseth said it is inappropriate for his teachers to be discussing their students on public message boards. Ray, however, does not agree.

“There is nothing wrong with me commenting on a student’s drinking,” Ray said. “She (Cherry Drop) is known to toss a few back.”

Earlier this year, another Yahoo message string starts with the posting of a man’s bare butt with the word “bitch’ welted or stamped into the skin three times. While the picture says “by SLO-Cop-You-Later,” Ray contends someone else posted the photo.

Next on the string, Stubby Python asked, “Where is my phone, where is my hair, why do I have a black eye and what the f**k is stamped on my ass?”

Ray responded by telling Stubby Python she could clear up his questions.

“That’s not your ass,” Ray said. “Yours was tied to a pole with a five dollar bill stuck in your crack.”

Ray told CalCoastNews her postings were in reference to a birthday party she attended with people she has know for 30 years and that her comments should have been kept private.

“There is nothing questionable or irresponsible,” Ray said. “Some of this is tongue in cheek.

“This goes back to a difficult appointment and there are camps of people upset that their person didn’t win (the council seat).”

Rice does not agree and points to several YouTube videos which display hashers exposing themselves and to photos on the group’s website.

Pictures include female genitalia, a man with his testicles placed on a passed out man’s head, a man with his pants down and Ray at a picnic table.

Late Tuesday night, most of the photos from the site were removed. Nevertheless, CalCoastNews has copies of the website’s original version.

Last month, the City Council voted to replace former councilman Arnold with Ray, one of seven candidates for the recently vacated council seat. She had been serving as chair of the Arroyo Grande Planning Commission.

Arnold faces five felony charges stemming from an alleged assault last December involving a female Arroyo Grande city employee, who is allegedly dating his wife, and two charges related to allegations of child pornography. He has pled not guilty to all counts.

“I am not the only person involved in city politics who is a hasher,” Ray said and refused to provide the other SLO Hash House Harrier member’s name. “What upsets me about this is the city has been through so much.”

- Flying Booger

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