Thanks for stopping by! If you like what you read, tell your friends! If you don't like what you read, tell your enemies! Either way, please post a comment, even if it's just to tell us how much we suck! (We're really needy!) You can even follow us @JasonBerner! Or don't! See if we care!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

From Penn State to State Pen?

Today being Saturday, the day semi-traditionally reserved for sport commentary, I feel obligated to discuss the downfall of Joe Paterno, the longtime football coach at Penn State.
Unless you've been living under a rock--and no judgment here: Some of my most faithful followers are morlocks--you know Paterno was fired this week, a result of his actions--or inaction--in an unfolding sexual abuse scandal involving his former assistant coach, Jerry Sandusky.  Several years ago, a graduate assistant informed Paterno that he (the assistant) had witnessed Sandusky molesting a young boy.  Paterno apparently reported the incident to his superiors and then took no further action.  Whether Paterno is criminally liable in the case will presumably be determined in the coming weeks.and months.  At any rate, he seems morally culpable for not reporting the incident to the police or otherwise following up on his report to the school administration.

What's disheartening in this whole affair--aside from Sandusky's obviously repugnant actions--has been the reaction of the Penn State student body to Paterno's dismissal.  A large contingent went to the coach's home on the night of his dismissal to offer the coach their support in his time of need--which might be OK--and to protest the university's action--which is not.

Let me amend that: Protesting is OK.  People can protest anything they want.  But protesting Paterno's dismissal seems pointless at best and offensive at worst.  What are these people protesting?  The firing of a man who preaches discipline and education and moral standards but who saw fit not to report a credible case of child molestation--rape, in fact--to the police.  Do these people feel Paterno was unjustly fired?  Would they have the courage to say this to the parents of the children raped by Sandusky?  To the children themselves?

Paterno's unique standing in both the local Pennsylvania community and the wider world of college football further condemn him.  Many players in this drama may have feared for their careers or reputations if they had made accusations against Sandusky, a respected member of the Penn State "family"; Paterno can claim no such fears.  The man is a legend.  He would have faced no personal consequences for making his concerns known and for following up on the investigation.  So why didn't he?  Could he just not be bothered?

Given the information that has come out so far, I suspect that Paterno will not face criminal charges.  He probably fulfilled his legal obligations by reporting the matter.  But he has lost whatever moral standing he may have held.  More importantly, though, the students at Penn State and around the world who lament the "injustice" done to JoePa should save their sympathy for the victims of these crimes and accept--if not applaud--the action that the university took.

No comments:

Post a Comment