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Who Speaks for the Hash?

Dear Hashers, please forgive me, but I want to talk seriously for a moment about web sites and hash trashes. What got me thinking about this topic was the recent announcement by _______ HHH mismanagement that they’d launched a new, “official” web site to replace the one that previously claimed to represent them.

Hash infighting is nothing new. Hashers frequently disagree with their hash scribes, but what makes this case interesting is that it wasn’t some mundane personality conflict . . . this dispute was over what the old web site was saying to the rest of the world about that hash and its members.

And what was it saying? In case you’ve been busy mining uranium in Siberia, the ________ HHH web site, while appearing to be a normal bulletin of hash activities and upcoming runs, also contained links. Hash names of local hashers were highlighted in blue, and when you clicked on those names explicit pornographic photos popped up.

Some would say “big deal.” I’m here to tell you that the hashers involuntarily involved thought it was a big deal. The loudest protesters were the harriettes. As one woman wrote to me, “I could care less if someone has a porno web site. But I joined a drinking club with a running problem, not a sex club with a drinking problem! What if that site encouraged someone to join because they believed we actually did those things? Frankly, I don’t know many men who are afraid of being raped.”

“Okay,” you say, “but hashers who didn’t like the site didn’t have to read it.” True, but that’s not the point. The point is that anyone with access to a computer and the net could call up that site. And whether or not the webmaster who put it on line had the hash’s approval, to an outsider that site was the ________ Hash House Harriers’ site. Whether members of the hash liked it or not, that site represented them to the world.

Try this scenario: You belong to a hash. You’ve got squat to do with the your hash’s web site. In fact, you don’t even know there is one. Suppose your hash name is, say, “Joebagadonuts.” One day at a company party you’re bullshitting about the hash and you tell your boss your hash name. A few days later the boss gets bored and goes web surfing. He finds your club’s site. He sees a line that says “This week’s hash shit went to Joebagadonuts.” Your name is in bright blue letters, so he clicks on it. He’s suddenly looking at a photograph of a naked woman defecating into a man’s mouth.

Run this scenario through again, substituting “non-hashing spouse,” “your child,” “someone with an axe to grind,” or any number of other possibilities for “boss.” Far-fetched?

I once got a long-distance call from a harriette I didn’t know. She told me she was the scribe for her hash and that she was collecting hash trashes from other kennels, and wondered if I’d pretty please send her some from mine. She had a sexy voice, and she mentioned some hashers I knew, so I packed up some old trashes and put them in the mail. Two weeks later she called again and told me she loved what I sent, and asked if I’d send her one from June of the previous year, because some hasher from her kennel visited mine back then, yadda yadda. I was uncomfortable sending her the June hash trash, because it was particularly crude, but . . . did I mention she had a sexy voice?

You can guess the rest. Her story, of course, was a ruse. She was collecting evidence to use against her hasher ex-husband, in order to cut off his visitation rights with their daughter. Why did she want a June hash trash? That’s the month the father had custody. “Just look what that bastard exposed my baby to last June!” Copies of that regrettable June trash went everywhere . . . to attorneys, child protection agencies in several states, newspapers, bosses, old acquaintances, even parents. It’s a miracle her ex-husband and I are still friends, but that’s another story.

Far-fetched? Maybe not. This happened in the print newsletter and snail mail days. Today, with the net, it would happen a lot faster.

Hash trashes and web sites aren’t written by mismanagement. They’re usually written by one hasher, and they reflect that hasher’s viewpoint. Hash trashes usually don’t circulate outside the hash (I damn well guarantee you I won’t circulate them outside the hash again!), but they can wind up in the wrong hands, and web sites, of course, are there for the world to read. No rules? Sure. But a hash scribe or webmaster who cares about his or her fellow hashers still needs to think about consequences. If outsiders shouldn’t see it, it shouldn’t be in print or on the net.

Back to the situation with the ________ HHH web site: no one got raped; no one got hurt. But the page certainly conveyed a false picture of that hash, and members finally said, “enough.”

- Flying Booger

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