Half-Mind Weblog

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First, Do No Harm

Historians tell us that hash names were invented so that scribes could write about hashing without getting members in trouble with wives, girlfriends, and bosses. That makes a lot of sense to me. It might even be true.

Those of us who toil as hash scribes and webmasters understand the need to protect our fellow hashers. We would never print a hasher’s real name, nor would we publish a photograph of a hasher in a compromising position unless we had permission from the hasher in the photo. And even then we’d probably ask ourselves, “Yeah, but was she drunk when she gave me permission?”

Physicians often distill the Hippocratic Oath down to four words: “first, do no harm.” As hash scribes and webmasters, that should be our oath too. Do not harm our fellow hashers. Do not harm the hash.

We’ve all heard the stories: hell, I’m in one of them. Many years ago I did a favor for a harriette by mailing her a stack of old hash trashes. I did her a favor, all right – I gave her documentary evidence of her former husband’s moral depravity, evidence she used in an attempt to get his child visitation privileges revoked. I’ve since heard of lawyers finding and using “candid” photos from hash trashes and hash web sites to sock it to hashing spouses in divorce cases.

Recently, U.S. military authorities went after hashers, and hashing itself, in Okinawa, Japan, where hashing has long been dominated by U.S. military personnel. I’ve been told that the authorities actually studied photos posted on the Okinawa HHH web site in an effort to determine the identities of individual hashers. I don’t know about you, but hearing that makes my blood run cold. When I was GM of the Okinawa HHH in the early 90s, I was a U.S. Air Force lieutenant colonel, chief of plans and training for the 18th Fighter Wing at Kadena Air Base, holder of a top secret/special compartmented intelligence clearance, one of the senior F-15 pilots on base, and jockeying for command of a fighter squadron. If the authorities had come after the hash then as they’re coming after it now, I’d have had a lot to lose. It’s probably a safe bet that most of us, if threatened, would choose careers over hashing.

Everyone talks about Okinawa, but what happened there isn’t exactly unprecedented – back in ’97 or ’98, the GM of the SHAPE HHH in Brussels lost his civilian job at NATO when his co-workers found the SHAPE HHH web site and told his commander about it.

Listen, folks, hash trashes and web sites can be dangerous if non-hashers get hold of them. I’ve been preaching this hash sermon for a long time, ever since the mid-1990s when the webmaster of the original Chicago HHH home page thought it was funny to hyperlink hashers’ names to pop-up porno pix.

How many of us have let it drop at work that we’re hashers? I imagine a lot of us have. It’s kind of a kick seeing the envious looks of co-workers. We enjoy the raffish reputation we have with our colleagues, who know we have more fun on any given weekend then they’ll have all year. I bet many of us have shared our hash names too, just to rub it in a little.

Well, what do you think these co-workers (and bosses) are doing when they’re alone in their cubicles? They’re surfin’ the web, that’s what, looking for off-color stories and photos on the local HHH page. Woe be your sorry hashing ass if they see you flashing your tits, doing a butt-chug, or just minding your own business sitting on a block of ice.

We, hash scribes and webmasters, can hurt hashers if we’re careless with their identities. We can hurt hashing if we focus on drunken revelry instead of hashing. The things we like to photograph and write about are for us, not outsiders.

Hash trashes are probably less dangerous than hash web pages. They’re private, after all, written to be shared with fellow hashers. But all it takes is one act of carelessness, like mine, and presto, they’re public. And hash web sites? They couldn’t be any more public if they were billboards. Anybody in the world can read our web sites, and they do, sometimes with malicious intent. We don’t need to be handing out stones to the mob: some of them are just waiting for a chance to cast those stones against us. Hash scribes and webmasters are the public face of hashing, and as such have responsibilities toward hashing and hashers. That responsibility is: first, do no harm.

- Flying Booger

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