The State of Penn State…


…is a pretty sorry one right now.

OK, let’s get this out of the way: what happened in Happy Valley is inexcusable. There is no legal punishment available to the state to deal true justice to that scum named Jerry Sandusky. Further, it is clear that Penn State leaders didn’t do nearly enough with the information they had to spare some little boys from the torture of that monster. Appropriately, Penn State is paying a heavy penalty, though there are many–and I might even be among them–who’d give the school the “death penalty” for a year or three (no football at all; all scholarship players free to transfer to other schools without sitting out a year). Nothing I will say subsequently to this ought to be seen as diminishing the seriousness of their reckless irresponsibility.

And I’m not finished yet. Penn State icon Joe Paterno, “JoePa” as he is known to the faithful, is of course not above blame. As he said before his passing, he should have done more. And that’s true: he should have. His response was way too weak in the light of the allegations made, in the light of the damage done to the kids, in the light of the reputation of the university. Simply put, JoePa failed in this instance to fulfill his moral obligations (though he apparently fulfilled his legal ones), and without any question, this tarnishes his legacy. It’s sad, very sad, for this man who has been for decades universally regarded as one of the “good guys”, to come to such an ignominious posthumous fate.

Deep breath, now…

But OK, look: JoePa isn’t the bad guy here. The less-than-responsible guy, the failed-to-do-what-he-should guy, the remote accessory-to-the-evil-done even, yes. But Jerry Sandusky is the monster, and others bear in varying degrees greater culpability than does JoePa, extending to the university’s Board of Trustees (who’d resign en masse if they were real men), the president, the AD, and others. Do I sound like I’m excusing JoePa? Read what I’ve already written more carefully, because I am not; he failed. But for crying out loud, can we take this failure with just a modicum of perspective, please? Perspective, I note parenthetically, is often the first casualty of a crisis; that’s free for coming. But no, because of his one failure, JoePa must be pilloried, scourged, demeaned, and treated with scorn and contempt henceforth and forevermore. Take that statue down! Take all those wins away! Unearth his bones and have a public spitting contest! Why, he needs to take his place with Hitler, Stalin, and Jack the Ripper!


What happened in State College is a human tragedy, for which the university community will be paying dearly for years. And JoePa’s feet of clay figure prominently into the whole scenario. But let’s not lose all sense of perspective as to the legacy of a man who, though flawed like the rest of us, is still a great man in my book.


  1. Esdraelon on August 4, 2012 at 6:18 am

    Um….practically every decade there seems to be a stretch where society hits the ‘child molestation/abuse’ paranoia, extracts its pound of flesh from whomever the witch trials can put on the blocks, passes judgments, gains some satisfaction that it is doing something to ‘protect the children’, then blithely goes back to business as usual until the next flashpoint.

    Among hundreds of child-sex-abuse witch hunts in the 1980s and 90s, two examples alone–the alleged “child-sex rings” in Kern County, CA and in Wenatchee, WA–account for the arrest of over one hundred innocent people. Few among the accused were able to afford a private lawyer. None could have mounted a half-million-dollar defense. Most were dumped on underfunded public defenders facing cases of a number and magnitude they had never before experienced.

    In the first Kern County cases alone, two couples tried simultaneously in Bakersfield, the Kniffens and McCuans, were convicted on more than 400 felony charges. The judge handed down individual sentences from 273 to 405 years, for a total of over 1,000 years. Although they were innocent, their convictions eventually overturned, the Kniffens and McCuans–four white, middle-aged working stiffs and loving parents–were incarcerated for fourteen years, eleven in maximum security prison, as unrepentant child rapists.

    So, is Jerry Sandusky a ‘monster’? An upstanding citizen, or a pedophile who used his Second Mile Foundation as a front to procure young boys for himself and, as subsequent rumor would have it, his ‘wealthy donors’? Look at the preceding: All those cases as noted above, and cases throughout the Untied States, went to a court of law where the defendants were convicted by a group of their peers and ‘duly’ sentenced, yet were subsequently found innocent only through completely rendering themselves penniless in appeals trying to clear their names.

    One of the so-called ‘facts’ of the case is that Mike McQueary testified that he saw Sandusky ‘doing something’ that McQueary wasn’t 100@ sure what it was, with a child in the Penn State team shower, nevertheless he went to JoePa and told Joe told him he “did the right thing”. McQueary testified that he went back into the shower a few minutes later and Sandusky and the child had ‘separated’ and that both Sandusky and the child looked him “right in the eye.” First of all, what sane person would take a child into a public place, especially a football team shower and forcibly sexual assault them? Was Sandusky doing that for the thrill of it all?

    Be that as it may, the long span of time that McQueary had to ‘do the right thing’ while standing daily next to Jerry Sandusky borders upon depraved negligence at the very least.

    The trump card for the prosecution, however, was when those ‘brave children’ came forth with their well-rehearsed stories. Are those stories true? I don’t have a clue, but like the Kern County, CA and Wenatchee, WA cases, and practically every case where a child is concerned, the ‘adults’, and prosecutors with political aspirations, shoot first and ask questions later. Such cases are built on circumstance and innuendo, and those trying to defend themselves are characterized as ogres ‘preying upon the innocent.’

    ‘JoePa’ is not here to defend himself. Whether the consensus is that ‘he should have done more’, is anyone suggesting that he was aware of exactly what was going on? What was Sandusky to him that he would risk his name, his fame, and the good name of Penn State University, to sweep under the rug the fact he had a pedophile on his staff, and his consideration of that pedophile was more than his consideration of those children?

    Almost daily we read of Catholic Church priest convictions for molestations that make it appear that the Church is rampant with pedophiles just lurking in every confessional waiting for the unwary child to enter. Much like the ‘50’s where we saw a communist behind every tree.

    As to Louis Freh and the NCAA regards their conclusions in the Sandusky/Penn State matter, don’t get me started.

  2. Shane Ryans on August 20, 2012 at 1:07 pm

    You are right about them being in a sad state. Personally I am glad they caught him and I think his statue should be taken down.

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