What do you think about the firing of Joe Paterno? Do you agree with those upset that he was fired? If so, I urge you to read the Grand Jury Report on Jerry Sandusky. Did that ruin your day? Sorry, I can’t stop thinking about what those boys will think about their personal Psycho every time they see a shower. Also, I just want to know — what if one of the rape victims had been your son? Wouldn’t you want somebody to have stopped it, if they’d known, which they did.

As for all the witnesses and others in positions of accountability, especially in the athletic department, who remained quiet for years as Sandusky committed his shameful acts, there crime is more heinous. As MLK Jr. said (with Dante’s inspiration) “The hottest place in Hell is reserved for those who remain neutral in times of great moral conflict.”

Now, for the student and player outrage over their beloved coach’s firing, and the potential impact on their lives. Do you have any idea how the rioting looks to people around the world? I grew up around football. My father played pro football, my husband played in college and one of my children played played OL in high school and college. I dutifully wore the team colors every game day, and cheered and despaired over plays I can no longer remember. Football games are certainly occasions to build school spirit, but my husband, son and I are horrified to see students supporting a coach who did not prevent a criminal from such disgusting abuse. A coach is a role model in our society. He has an obligation to set a moral standard for his team, as well as the millions who follow the games. No one is above the law, not even kings of the great American pastime. Couldn’t he say more even now — than that he was disappointed with the Trustees’ decision? Really?

Jon Stewart said it best on The Daily Show Thursday night as he compared the football institution to the Catholic Church, as well as the criminal coverups of child molestation. Addressing the Penn State students, he chided them:

No one’s trying to take away your religion, in this case football — they’re just trying to bring some accountability to a pope and his bishops who funked up…and don’t worry, you’ll still get to go to your services on Saturday against Nebraska. Nobody’s going to try to take that away, because obviously you’re young, and that would be a traumatic experience, and we wouldn’t want that memory to scar you for life.”




Photo: Penn State Nittany Lions head coach Joe Paterno on the sideline. Taken by Associated Press. Released into the public domain (by the author).
Suz Korbel

Susan Korbel

Graduating in '71 from Cornell gave me a few unencumbered years of protesting, followed by 4 happy hipster grad student/worker years at U of Michigan, completing a Ph.D. in public administration. Followed a comedian to San Francisco, then my heart to Austin Texas to learn the TV business, dabbled in hot&heavy politics in DC, and returned to Austin & San Antonio, Texas to hone my political/media skills. I make my money conducting consumer and political opinion studies.

  1. Susan: One of my many flaws is that I actually like college sports (in spite of my better more informed self). But I totally share your outrage about every aspect of this horrible sordid saga. Tolerating any abuse of children is beyond the realm of any morally acceptable conduct. At every level, as far as I can tell, the people at Penn State failed to act with any level of common decency. Several folks I know who have very affectionate ties to that university totally agree. I feel fairly sure that the students who demonstrated in support of Paterno will some day mature and come to rue their actions.

  2. A goodly number of people, it seems, are lacking in self-control. They rely on their environment to send them signals to direct their behavior. So, when an object to which they are attracted, not knowing their intent, fails to resist their advances out of innocence or weakness, the absence of resistance is taken as consent.
    Children are vulnerable to being abused. There are estimates that up to one million cases of incest occur in the U.S. annually, despite the almost universal taboo. Of course, one doesn’t declare taboo something that people never do. And, if so many people abuse their own children, it shouldn’t be surprising that other people’s children are targets, as well. There are many reasons why the U.S., alone with Somalia, has refused to ratify the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Our children have no rights and continue to be considered the property of their parents, to be done with as the parents (and those who act in loco parentis) choose. Ownership trumps human rights in our legal system.
    Why is there so little public discussion of child abuse? It’s not just because those cases which come to the attention of public officials are dealt with behind the closed doors of the judicial system to “protect the privacy of the victims.” Guilt, it seems, accounts for much of the secrecy–not the guilt of the abusers (who often feel no guilt) but of the authorities or other family members who ought to have been paying more attention. While we assume that the sense of guilt keeps people from repeating bad behavior, that’s often not the case. People who feel guilty about having been negligent frequently go into denial, telling themselves there was nothing to feel guilty about. I think it’s pride that does that. In any event, denial is evident in many people, especially the spouses of incestuous abusers, who fail to call a halt when they can.
    The million teens who run away from home each year don’t do so for no reason.

  3. I almost hear the cries of a 10 year-old, pleading for help. People saw; coaches knew; men wearing badges knew; university officials knew; perhaps the DA who disappeared from planet earth five years ago knew. Parents could get no sympathy much less justice. Until now. Apparantly Pennsyvania has a governor and attorney general who aren’t cowered by football coaches and their minions.
    It’s time for taxpayers to look at college football’s mega-programs, bolated budgets, booter clubs, tax exempt organizations, alumni excess, recruiting tactics; graduation rates, coaches perks and begin asking some questions.
    And, for those who went on a tear on the college campus, in the event you aren’t expelled, arrested and brought to justice (and you have every reason to fear your state’s attoney general who might be your worst enemy today), pick up a biography at the Penn State library of cocaches you’ve likely never heard of like Pop Warner, John Wooden andVince Lombardi. These scandal-free men had some pretty high standards and produced more than a few who went on to greatness.

  4. It seems to me that the graduate assistant who saw what was happening in that shower should have beat the bejesus out of Sandusky right then and there and taken his chances that the judical system would give him a medal! How could he have let that go on? And if the law in Pennsylvania is like the law in most other states, the obligation of the assistant as well as Paterno was to report to law enforcement officials, not just to your superior. What a terrible, terrible state of affairs. And for the students at Penn State to fail to recognize the trauma that the failure of these grown men to protect these vunerable children is perhaps the saddest part of this whole thing.

  5. Let’s say you walked into a shower and saw a small boy pinned to the wall while a grown man was anally raping him. Wouldn’t your first reaction be to holler “HEY FELLA, WTF DO YOU THINK YOU’RE DOING?” and rescue the child? Yep. Me too. Firings and jail time are exactly what those wagon-circlers deserve.
    If I can say this (and I am famous among friends for my general indifference to children), can you imagine what the mothers of Pennsylvania must be feeling right now?

  6. A consistent pattern of enclosure, using only “internal review” to safeguard the organization first, the children last.

    Here’s the hand washing from Second Mile:

    “The most recent reports we’ve read this past weekend state that Mr. Sandusky met the alleged victims through The Second Mile. To our knowledge, all the alleged incidents occurred outside of our programs and events. However, we are encouraging anyone with information regarding this investigation to contact investigators from the Office of Attorney General at 814-863-1053 or Pennsylvania State Police at 814-470-2238.

    As The Second Mile’s CEO Jack Raykovitz testified to the Grand Jury, he was informed in 2002 by Pennsylvania State University Athletic Director Tim Curley that an individual had reported to Mr. Curley that he was uncomfortable about seeing Jerry Sandusky in the locker room shower with a youth. Mr. Curley also shared that the information had been internally reviewed and that there was no finding of wrongdoing. At no time was The Second Mile made aware of the very serious allegations contained in the Grand Jury report.

    Subsequently, in November 2008, Mr. Sandusky informed The Second Mile that he had learned he was being investigated as a result of allegations made against him by an adolescent male in Clinton County, PA. Although he maintained there was no truth to the claims, we are an organization committed first and foremost to the safety and well-being of the children we serve. Consistent with that commitment and with The Second Mile policy, we immediately made the decision to separate him from all of our program activities involving children. Thus, from 2008 to present, Mr. Sandusky has had no involvement with Second Mile programs involving children.”

  7. Suz Korbel

    For those of you like me who are having a hard time shaking the horror of this story from your thoughts, Andy Borowitz weighed in with this for today’s game:
    “Penn State Replaces Entire Student Body with Interim Student Body” http://www.borowitzreport.com/

  8. Paterno gets what he deserves. He’s selfish, arrogant, and all he cared about was being the all-time winningest coach. Well guess what. Today he is the biggest loser to ever come out of college football. I hope the victims and their families find some peace somehow. Oh, and as far as Paterno being so great, %$&#@*$ that. He would have been fired long ago if he coached in the SEC where 5 & 5 seasons show you the door. He was a loser, he is a loser, and he will always be a loser.

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