(This post has been days in the making … I just couldn’t get around to finishing it.)
I went to Starbucks to get some stuff done the other night, you know, get out of the house, not have to bother with Flan on me, etc.? But, I got there and Twitter was blowing up with the news of the firing of Joe Paterno, and if there’s something I can’t stay away from, it’s my social media freaking out with discussion of big and/or controversial news. I fired up a live feed of ESPN, and got in on the commentary/discussion.
If you’re not in the know, as I wasn’t until a few days ago, I think, the very short and short of it is this: Joe Paterno has been coaching or part of coaching at Penn State for 50 some years. He’s the legendary coach’s legend. And this weekend, he was going to break the record for most games coached. A man with a legacy, a true leader, an 80+ year old man who will forever be remembered … as the guy who didn’t do what he needed to do (CALL THE COPS) when he was told by a graduate assistant that his colleague, Jerry Sandusky, was found having anal sex with (RAPING) a 10 year old in the locker room shower. And, as far as I understand it, that’s *just the beginning.*
I started that post two days ago? and kept going around and about with what I wanted to say. I know most of what I wanted to get at, but there’s so much here. The impetus for the blog post was that my spidey sense was tingling about the whole Paterno thing. Not that he wasn’t clearly in the wrong or shouldn’t be fired, but that it was all a misdirection. You fire Paterno, everyone gets nuts, and then people don’t have to look at the real issue.
I went and read the grand jury* report. I was avoiding it, as Dan Bernstein calls out in that article. But, it wasn’t the graphic sex mentioned in the report that was what haunted me. I had seemingly already heard about this from too many sources already. It was the systematic cover-up and outright lies from the Penn State Administration that was disgusting and chilling.
There is NO question that Paterno’s own lies and covering up for his friend and former co-worker Sandusky are there. Taking a report of a man raping a boy and turning it into “fondling or doing something of a sexual nature” is despicable, to be sure. In no way am I suggesting that Paterno is blame free here. But there were so many other moments of the grand jury report that led to so many other questions I couldn’t get my mind around.
In the time that I’ve spent trying to write the post and then doing other things and then going around on the internet, I’ve found two blogs that really have taken my need to finish this and summed everything up better than I could have.
One is a piece by John Scalzi called “Omelas State University.”
John talks about a piece of science fiction called “The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas” in an analogy to the Penn State situation, but the first part of his piece was exactly where I was at when I started to write my post. He starts with “These things should be simple:”
1. When, as an adult, you come come across another adult raping a small child, you should a) do everything in your power to rescue that child from the rapist, b) call the police the moment it is practicable.
2. If your adult son calls you to tell you that he just saw another adult raping a small child, but then left that small child with the rapist, and then asks you what he should do, you should a) tell him to get off the phone with you and call the police immediately, b) call the police yourself and make a report, c) at the appropriate time in the future ask your adult son why the fuck he did not try to save that kid.
3. If your underling comes to you to report that he saw another man, also your underling, raping a small child, but then left that small child with the rapist, you should a) call the police immediately, b) alert your own superiors, c) immediately suspend the alleged rapist underling from his job responsibilities pending a full investigation, d) at the appropriate time in the future ask that first underling why the fuck he did not try to save that kid.
4. When, as the officials of an organization, you are approached by an underling who tells you that one of his people saw another of his people raping a small child at the organization, in organization property, you should a) call the police immediately, b) immediately suspend the alleged rapist from his job responsibilities if the immediate supervisor has not already done so, c) when called to a grand jury to testify on the matter, avoid perjuring yourself. At no time should you decide that the best way to handle the situation is to simply tell the alleged rapist not to bring small children onto organization property anymore.
These are some of the aforementioned questions I couldn’t get my mind around. Why does the dad of the graduate assistant tell him to come over to his house and then go to Paterno the next day? Why wouldn’t the DAD have him call the cops? I mean, what the fuck? How badly have we mangled our morals and priorities in this country that college football has become so hallowed that we can’t even see what to do when a CHILD is being RAPED? Or if that was too shocking, what the obvious path is soon after?
Harlan Conn on Bloomberg.com gets to more of the point with “Coming Clean is Only Play for Penn State, Paterno.” Unfortunately, what’s done is done. So, Harlan begs for the truth and continues to ask the questions that are still ambiguous but need answering:
First, when did someone on campus first suspect Jerry Sandusky of sexual assault?
According to the grand jury report, in 1998, Sandusky admitted that he showered with an 11-year-old boy. This was known by campus police, the State College Police Department, the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare and the Office of the Centre County District Attorney. Are we supposed to believe that this information never got back to head football coach Joe Paterno or anyone in authority on campus? How could that be? If an English teacher were being investigated, I’d guarantee that the head of the department would know about it.
Given the importance of Penn State football, are we really supposed to believe that no one from the campus police, the state public welfare department or the district attorney’s office told any of the university coaches or officials? So who knew? And how much did they know? And who did they tell? And who stopped the investigation?
And again with the natural flow of logical questions about why McQueary reacted the way he did:
In 2002, with the retired Sandusky given full access to Penn State’s campus and facilities, 28-year-old graduate assistant Mike McQueary witnessed Sandusky raping a 10-year-old boy in the football building’s showers, according to the grand jury report. McQueary reacted, it appears, not by interceding but by leaving the scene and telling his father and then Paterno. Many people are now focused on Paterno’s reaction to the news — he simply reported it to his superiors — but I’m having a hard time with McQueary’s response.Most people I know like to believe that if we were a big strong former PSU quarterback and saw a man in his late 50s anally penetrating a 10-year-old boy, we’d do more than walk away, “distraught,” to quote the grand jury report, tell a few people and then keep quiet about it for almost a decade.
Mike McQueary, why have you stayed silent all these years? If you left the room because you were just so shaken, then say so. If you were worried about your future with the team, you need to let us know that, too. If you were intimidated because Sandusky had been your coach, let us know. And if he or anyone else threatened you in any way, we need to know that, too.
And then, ask yourself this: If you saw a 58-year-old man you didn’t know anally penetrating a 10-year-old boy in, say, a movie theater, would you really not intercede or call the cops?
At the end of the day, the last and biggest picture is this: How do we get a country and an educational system where football is the most important thing? Where the money and the power and the prestige is so crazy important that people no longer can tell right from wrong? No longer have a moral compass? And to the point of not being able to call out, report and demand justice for PEDOPHILIA? We’re not even talking NCAA money shit. We’re not talking buying boys Cadillacs (which is a whole other thing). We’re talking about you know a guy is a straight up pedophile and you don’t do anything about it. At all. Even BEFORE he gets the chance to rape a 10 year old in your facilities’ shower. SERIOUSLY?
How have we gotten to that point? How have we gotten to the point that college fucking football warrants that? I am not saying that the slime and the lies and the sexual assaults and all of the disgusting shit politicians do is okay, but at least, in their minds, some of them are trying to be the President of the United States. I can get my mind around how that sort of prize gets people further down the level of insanity quicker. But football? You don’t get to rule the world. What are we talking about here? Money? That’s really it, isn’t it? Money.
I can’t get my mind around any of this. I hope the country wakes up and takes a look at itself. I hope *every* alumni of every college that has a huge athletic program, takes a moment to think about what they are really in love with. What the Michigan and Notre Dame and Duke and Ohio State and Florida and Texas and Indiana and countless other colleges are really doing in those programs … Football, Basketball, in particular. What we are really making of those kids and of ourselves at the end of the day. If we are so enthralled with a game that we forget about the education that is supposed to teach critical thinking and ethics. An education that is supposed to give a well-rounded experience and send us out into the world adults, ready to make hard decisions.
The whole situation brings to mind the word travesty:
- a literary or artistic burlesque of a serious work or subject, characterized by grotesque or ludicrous incongruity of style, treatment, or subject matter.
- a literary or artistic composition so inferior in quality as to be merely a grotesque imitation of its model.
- any grotesque or debased likeness or imitation: a travesty of justice.
Of truth, justice, of education, of manhood. Let the truth-telling begin.
*Did you know what a Grand Jury really is? I’ve been hearing that term my whole life and I guess I just thought it was a Federal case that was so important that it had this thing called a Grand Jury. Nope. It’s this thing that’s retained by some states (which I don’t quite get … how are these people picked and permanently “retained?”) for these kinds of cases (which kinds? How is it determined what cases get brought before a Grand Jury) made up of a lot of people, and their job is to determine if someone should even be brought up on charges (indicted). And it sounds like they have a lot more leeway than what it takes to convict someone (beyond a reasonable doubt). They’re doing probable doubt, I think. And, they just get to call people and have them testify and there’s no judge and they are their own little investigative unit. Bizarro. BUT, they’re just regular people as far as I can tell, and there’s no culling of the herd; there’s no jury selction. No one weeds anyone out saying “hey, has anyone on THIS jury been molested before?” Any of that. It’s bizarre, the little I read on Wikipedia. Still would like to learn more about this premise. And not every state does it? I don’t get it. I thought the District Attorney was the one who brought shit before the Judge who determined if charges were brought to trial. Weird.