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Penn State: On a Serious Note

I’ve gotten a little grief for my Conversations with Joe Pa series, and I want to clarify my position on the child sexual abuse scandal that has rocked the university. Let me first start with the obligatory, not everyone at PSU is a card carrying member of NAMBLA, or even supports Joe Paterno. And further, I suspect that almost none of them support Jerry Sandusky. The point of the series is not to damn an entire university, or to make light of the abuse that these children allegedly suffered. I am of the school of thought that an effective way to keep the powerful, and the powerful and evil in check, is through mockery and ridicule. Not that I include view my self on their plane, but think Jon Stewart or South Park.

What I’ve been trying to convey is that the support of Joe Paterno is misplaced. There are two main defense arguments for Paterno that go something like this.

  1. Paterno didn’t understand the seriousness of the allegations.
  2. Paterno did his part by telling his Athletic Director. Really?

Argument One- For years we have been told that Paterno should keep his job a PSU regardless of his age. “He’s vibrant” we’re told. “He’s still very much involved” in running a 100 plus person, $72 million organization we’re told. But we are led to to believe that this vibrant, intelligent, engaged CEO did not bother to ask enough follow up questions of Grad Assistant Mike McQueary, to understand what “horsing around” meant. By Paterno’s own Grand Jury testimony, he knew enough to ask more questions.

And we are to believe that prior to McQueary’s allegations in 2002, he knew nothing of the 1998 investigation into similar acts, that must have at least touched the PSU admistration at some point. If he and Athletic Director Tim Curley thought Jerry was just “popping towels” with these kids, why was he banned form bringing them on campus in 2002?

Argument Two- Paterno went to Curley to report suspicion of what was, in light of the 1998 allegations, a serial child rapist. Change the word rapist to murderer, and say it out loud. Who would report a serial killer to their boss, unless you work for the FBI? But I guess rapist was ok with Joe PA. And while murder, many may argue, is far worse than child molestation. In some repects I would disagree. Murder is horrible and final. Molestation is horrible and lasts a lifetime. Victims suffer with this their entire lives, and are lucky if they don’t grow up with the same prediliction toward sex with children. From a societal standpoint it is worse than murder, because molesters create more molesters. Murderers only create dead people.

So I just don’t buy the idea that Paterno is a victim in this. He acted in the interest of Penn State Football, and in the interest of Joe Paterno. The second part of the last sentence is even more obvious now that we have learned of his financial interest in Second Mile. So Good Ol’ Joe was looking out for Joe. Who was looking out for the children? It was supposed to be Jerry Sandusky.