Hash House Harriers Are Misunderstood: "We're Not Inebriated"

Jess Swanson
Costumed hashers before their run past the airport on July 29th

I recently ran with the Fort Lauderdale's hash for the first time. Though I had only heard whispers about the group's weekly shenanigans, no one running that evening (myself included) expected it to end in handcuffs and tears near the Fort Lauderdale airport -- though there were provocative TSA costumes involved.

After writing a post about the misadventure and then another post about the detained hasher's prior arrest in a thong involving Tasers, tear gas, and drag queens, Fort Lauderdale hash's community organizer, Virgin Dick (he preferred not to release his civilian name), told me is concerned the events have portrayed the runners as more reckless and intoxicated than they really were. He stressed that police rarely interrupt their runs and that my interaction with the group was outside the norm and simply a case of bad timing.

See also: Inebriated Runners Wearing TSA Costumes Get Swarmed by Police Near Airport Runway

"Hash House Harriers has groups all over the world," Virgin Dick explained, his lighthearted tone suddenly serious. "After the post, I was surprised by the intensity of some of the comments. I mean for one, they called me an idiot over and over again. [It was] mostly the European [hashers] where they only drink after they run. But I've never been to a hash on this side of the ocean that does that."

He also had qualms such as our labeling the group "inebriated runners" in the headline and including real names and photos since some of the hashers are police officers and school teachers by day who don't want their hashing alter egos exposed. VD also divulged that since the post linked to their Facebook group, he was convinced to change the privacy settings from public to private.

"[Hashers] were offended the word 'inebriated' was used a couple of times. It made us sound a lot more drunk than we are in general. We're pretty straight while running; we don't get lost in the woods or anything. We're not inebriated. I don't know what the word is, but it isn't inebriated. But other than that, I thought it was a fair assessment of what we did."

In all of VD's time running with the hash in South Florida, he can remember only one other instance when police cut their run short: It was shortly after 9/11 when a police officer eating at a restaurant near the Fort Lauderdale airport spotted the hare laying his flour trail in the parking lot and confused it with terrorism. According to Paris, no police report was filed even though it ultimately led to the hare winding up on the other end of a cop's gun as 13 cop cars, three firetrucks, and a helicopter surrounded him.

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This article falls far short of the mea culpa that is deserved from Jess Swanson, who refers to herself as a reporter. In a previous article, the author referred to members of the Hash as "inebriated." That's a fairly specific term. My understanding that the State of Florida (where this story takes place) considers inebriated to be a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 percent or above. There were no arrests for public drunkenness, which seems to be at odds with the use of such a precise term. When was a sobriety test conducted? Or could it be that there was drinking by some or all of those present and that the author put a reckless assumption into writing? And who was allegedly inebriated? Just some, or was it every person present? The author makes no distinction and paints everyone with the same brush. The author describes hashing and its traditions without a thought to the whether other Hashes across the globe might be different. Something called "research" would have revealed that traditions, behaviors and cultures vary greatly between Hashes -- even within the United States. Our members include doctors, lawyers, mechanics, analysts and other positions of great responsibility. Many have security clearances and take great offense to such irresponsible reporting.

It boggles the mind how these several articles slipped past the author's editor

The Hash and hashers involved in this story must also bear responsibility. Trespassing is never a good idea. It's been said, "If you have a half a mind to hash, that's all it takes." Over the years, we sometimes jokingly refer to ourselves as half-minds. But joking aside, allowing this reporter to attend the Hash -- even after the first story ran -- can only be classified as stooooo-pid.  In fact, bringing any reporter to a non-charity event Hash is generally a bad idea because they are unlikely to appreciate the full picture in its proper context. This is particularly true within the United States' journalistic culture where honest news takes a back seat to titillating entertainment.

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