Thursday, September 22, 2011

Baylor student, PTSD victim violates "informal norm"

In a world of steel-eyed death where men are fighting to be warm... - Bob Dylan

BULLETIN: Associate Dean of Judicial Affairs Bethany J. McCraw issued a summons for Mr. Oestheimer to appear at the Baylor University campus police department on Tuesday for an interview about his appearance at the Jones Library dressed only in a thong. The experiment is an assignement of Sociology Professor Kevin Dougherty for his students to violate an "informal norm" and write a paper about the resulting reactions of authorities and observers.

The YouTube segment of the event in question has received 1,500 views since it was posted late last week. - The Legendary

Waco – On the campus of Baylor University

In a sociological experiment assigned by his professor, Brian Oestheimer was given the task of “violating an informal norm” by Professor Kevin Dougherty, PhD.

Mr. Oestheimer is a native of Orange County, California, an army combat veteran of the Iraq War who saw action in the 2\7th Mechanized Cavalry of the 1st Cavalry. He received an honorable discharge at Killeen's sprawling Ft. Hood Army base in November, 2004.

His military occupational specialty code was “11B,” or Rifleman. As is typical of young warriors returning from the latest 10-year war – or is it 20 - his body is heavily tattoed in the centuries-old fashion of men in the profession of arms.

A senior at Baylor, Mr. Oestheimer will graduate soon.

When Dr. Dougherty assigned the class their experimental task, he reportedly stripped off his suit, tie, coat, shirt and trousers as he spoke, to stand before the class of about 250 in shorts and a wife beater t-shirt.

The professor has recently made the news probing similar attitudes and beliefs.

Dr. Dougherty recently released one of the most comprehensive surveys ever undertaken in America of peoples' attitudes toward work, religion, politics and mental health.

A total random sample of 1,714 adults answered a battery of 300 questions for the Gallup Organization in 2010.

"What we found most significant is that there's this belief that work consumes so much of people's time that they have nothing left over to participate in religion," he said. "That appears to be the opposite. If anything, we're showing even more participation."

While independent business owners have much the same attitudes about religion, entrepreneurs tend to pray more, according to the survey, which showed that 34% prayed at least several times a day and 32% practice meditation.

Paul Froese, as associate professor of sociology and a research fellow in the Institute for Studies of Religion at Baylor. He says some of the candidates are already ramping up their "God talk" to appeal to voters who want less government.

The survey took an extensive look at how faith in God sustains the American dream. The data showed that those who believe strongly in God's plan earn less and have less education, and they are most likely to believe that the government is intrusive, healthy people don't deserve unemployment benefits and anything is possible with hard work.

People from that set report far fewer mental health issues.

"When they talk about God, it's shorthand for conservative economic policy. They're embracing a free-market society like a religious faith," Froese said. "And religious language is going to be found on both sides of the aisle. We've already got (Michele) Bachman and (Rick) Perry holding prayer rallies, and President Obama quoting Scripture."

Two other comprehensive reports on these subjects were released in 2006 and 2008.

Dr. Dougherty's task for members of his sociology class: violate an informal norm, gauge the reaction of bystanders and those in authority, and document the resulting behavior of the major set in relation to society's expectations.

Mr. Oestheimer took him up on his challenge – with alacrity and military precision.

He stripped to a thong-style Speedo, blithely strolled through the Jones Library on campus at about 10 p.m. on September 15, then split for his home in California for the blessed event of the birth of a son.

That's where he was when he received an e-mail from the Associate Dean of Judicial Affairs, Bethany J. McCraw, who told him in no uncertain terms he has been reported by a university official for a possible violation of exactly the norms he voluntarily chose to violate – on assignment and for experimental purposes.

He must arrange a meeting with her to consider possible disciplinary action against him for “deliberate indecent and inappropriate conduct.”

Stong language.

A victim of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Mr. Oestheimer said he is only now coming out of his shell, a barrier he built between himself and the world while fighting in Iraq.

“It took a lot for me to go to supermarkets, to go to libraries, to go places – because of PTSD,” he told The Legendary.

Those who suffer from the disorder report feelings of survivor guilt, anger and inexplicable fears and rage – all entirely inappropriate in the instant context, but, yet, as natural to them as any other emotional commitment.

It's a survival thing, something often described a “normal reaction to an abnormal situation.” It was a situation that persisted for years upon years.

A well-documented and compensible disorder that is a natural occurrence among men who have faced hostile fire when they go in harm's way, the malady is marked by exaggerated startle reaction, hypervigilantism and a tendency to overestimate the actions and attitudes of others.

On a beach in Southern California, his behavior would be considered neither indecent, nor inappropriate.

By becoming nearly nude in the palace of knowledge, a cornerstone of the ivory tower that is the paramount spot on the campus of the nation's largest private religious institution of higher learning, Mr. Oestheimer exposed his psyche and a tortured soul to the scrutiny of the greater world.

One may notice from the video that the men attempt to totally ignore Mr. Oestheimer, as difficult as that may be. Women, on the other hand, react with laughter, giddy, giggly titters and belly laughs interspersed with admiring comments. Only one woman is seen to react with disapproval, a female who was in a meeting with other students in an informal cubicle erected with temporary barriers in a study area of the library.

His YouTube video will be tracked through this site worldwide and daiy progress reports posted for use in his scholarly paper.

The Legendary salutes this warrior so triumphantly returned to American soil.

After all, we've all been supporting the troops for so long now – decades upon decades – that we should all be feeling like tired old jockey straps.

So mote it be.

Watch these columns for further developments. - The LegendaryLink

Let's you and him fight -

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