Paul Revere by Cyrus Dallin, North End, Boston

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Friday, November 11, 2011

THE PENN STATE SEXUAL CRIMES SCANDAL

I've had a while to think about this terrible news. I've read a lot of people's opinions, and I think there's a simple way to deal with this sort of crime: If someone tells you that a child is being sexually molested, you report it to the police. Child fondling, molestation, and rape is a felony. A terrible, terrible crime. Period.

For everyone who thinks Joe Paterno has been dealt too harsh a punishment, here's what I'd ask her or him:

If a colleague came to you and told you he saw someone you've know for 20 years "being inappropriate" with or "fondling" one of your children or grandchildren, what would you do?

The damage this sort of crime does to a child is horrendous. Some children recover, some don't. Those who don't, carry feelings of betrayal and worthlessness inside themselves forever. Some are never able to form healthy relationships, some never trust again.  And some destroy themselves.

No institution, religious or otherwise, and no one who enabled such criminal acts against children should escape the full punishment of the law for one of humanity's ugliest and most evil crimes.

There is more disgustingly sordid information coming out about the monster that was Paterno's assistant coach. For all the good things Paterno may have instilled in his players, it appears he failed in the worst possible way when it came to protecting innocent children.

Penn State and Coach Paterno didn't do what they should have done: Protect children.


Andrew Sullivan gives us his view on the issue in a response to one of his reader's comments:

"...Sandusky was an assistant coach and once likely [a] successor to Paterno. I don't think it changes the point. Sandusky was in in the inner sanctum. He was one of them. Because he was one of them, his grotesque abuses did not seem to grotesque. Loyalty, friendship, the bonds of sports ... all probably contributed to the decision to fire him (traumatic enough) but not to send him to the cops. You and Megan are missing the psychological impact of being worshipped and immune in a community, and all the corruption that comes from that.It was surely, rationally, in the Catholic Church's interests to report all these things immediately. Look what damage it has subsequently done. But authoritarian insitutions, based on religion and cults, are not guided by reason, but by emotion.

Knowing, as they did, that he had created access to countless other troubled kids makes it all the more wicked. To my mind, Paterno needs to be prosecuted just as Ratzinger needed to be prosecuted back when he did the same thing in Munich. They are accessories to child rape. The only reason they weren't prosecuted was their status."

JOE POSNANSKI, the author who is writing a biography of Joe Paterno wrote this on his blog:

1. Joe Paterno is responsible for what happens on his watch. Period.

2. People are making assumptions about what Joe did or didn’t know, what Joe did or didn’t do, and I can’t tell you that those assumptions are wrong. But I can tell you that they are assumptions based on one side of the story.

3. We are in a top-you world where everyone is not only trying to report something faster but is also trying to report something ANGRIER. One guy wants Joe Paterno to resign, the next wants him to be fired, the next wants him to be fired this minute, the next wants him to be fired and arrested, the next wants him to be fired, arrested and jailed, on and on, until we’ve lost sight of who actually committed the crimes here.

4. I think the University could not possibly have handled this worse. It was disgusting and disgraceful, the method in which they fired Joe Paterno after 60 years of service, and yes, I do think Paterno was a scapegoat. Of course he was. I’ve already said that he had to be let go. But to let him dangle out there, take up all the headlines, face the bulk of the media pressure, absolutely, that’s the very definition of scapegoat. Three people were indicted and arrested. A fourth, I hear, will be indicted soon. Joe Paterno is not one of the four.

5. It is still unclear what Paterno did in this case. It will remain unclear for a while. You might be one of the hundreds and hundreds of people I’ve heard from who know EXACTLY what Paterno did. He HAD to know this. He DEFINITELY knew that. He COULD have done something. I respect that. Joe Paterno’s a public figure. You have every right to believe what you want to believe and be absolutely certain about it.

This is what Joe Paterno told the Grand Jury:

1. His assistant told him fondling and something of a sexual nature occurred between Sandusky and a 10 year old boy.

2. He found his assistant's report to him to be credible.

I disagree with Posnanski's assessment of Paterno's involvement in this, and dislike his attempts to make Paterno look like a victim.  I agree with this commenter:

Chris Clarke17 minutes ago
"It was disgusting and disgraceful, the method in which they fired Joe Paterno after 60 years of service,"

That THAT's what strikes you as disgusting and disgraceful speaks volumes. You say this:

"I think Joe Paterno had the responsibility as a leader and a man to stop the horrific rapes allegedly committed by Jerry Sandusky"

and then you follow it up with this:

"Joe Paterno has lived a profoundly decent life."

I think of the people I know who I would consider as having led profoundly decent lives, and I search my memories for the times when they failed to react when informed that children were being brutalized by their subordinates, and I come up empty-handed. As someone who has risked his job in the past to report on allegations of sexual harassment, I have no sympathy for Paterno.

But you, Mr. Posnaski: you are willing to give Paterno the benefit of the doubt for allegedly not speaking up, reporting Sandusky to the authorities, or taking any of the dozen other no-brainer steps to keep more children from being brutalized, but you call it "shameful" that people haven't stepped forward to defend Paterno? You can't have it both ways... unless your point is that the career of an "important" man is more important than the stolen well-being of innocent kids.

And I find that profoundly disgusting. Shame on you.


13 comments:

Truth 101 said...

I did a post on this at MMA which the editor changed the title of and pissed me off. Anyway, the institution was put before the children this slimeball abused. A despicable act. An act of cowardice from the guy who saw Sandusky raping a ten year old boy in a shower and instead of intervening, snuck out and passed the buck. The irony and justice is the cowardly and despicable actions to save the good name of Penn State will be what turns it into a joke and shadow of what it was. And that's what it deserves. And Joe Paterno deserves no sympathy. The most powerful person at the university in most cases is the head football coach. The president and athletic director do nothing without his blessing. Why Paterno said nothing while this scumbag sandusky was STILL hanging around kids and the university ten years after it was known he was a molester disgusts me. Joe Paterno deserves no accolades that he put the good name of Penn State and his sacred football program over the safety of children. Had this man stood up and defended children and seen that this clown was punished for his abusing of children Paterno would have been seen as even greater. As far as I'm concerned, he's pathetic.

TAO said...

Shaw,

Would you mind explaining your support for the Boston Red Sox in light of the fact that that organization supported child abuse:

http://www.thepostgame.com/features/201111/another-era-and-another-sport-sex-abuse-scandal-still-inflicting-pain-today

Truth 101 said...

You're rguing for the sake of argument TAO. Passing the buck while boys are being sodomized is neither understandable, justifiable because the Red Sox organization did something kind of like it, or forgivable.

Leslie Parsley said...

A well balanced piece that I shared and I ditto Truth on both counts. What in hell does supporting or not supporting a team have to do with any of this? It's about the individuals involved - the ones who committed these dastardly acts and the ones who looked the other way instead of reporting them - NOT the team.

Shaw Kenawe said...

TRUTH101,

You and I agree completely on this.

TAO,

I'm visiting on the Left Coast and had not read this story until you posted the link here. I hope the people in the Red Sox organization who were involved in the crimes against children are punished and the story receives more attention.

But I wonder if you ask the same question of the millions of people who continue to give their financial support to and stay within the Catholic Church?

Leslie,

Of course you're right. I personally know a woman who, when she was a child, was sexually molested by a man who was a US Marine. Should I tell that woman to detest the Marine Corps and all it stands for because of the despicable acts of one of their own?

Taking that to its logical conclusion would mean no parent should ever allow their child to attend Penn State, or every Catholic should immediately leave the Catholic Church, and no young man or woman should ever be encouraged to join the Marines.

billy pilgrim said...

i get really annoyed when sports announcers speak about "the integrity of the game". the game has no integrity, people involved with the game are the ones that are supposed to have integrity.

i read where the university was in the midst of a fund raising program to expand the stadium when a lot of this stuff came to light and the story was quashed so as not to affect the fund raising.from what i've read, my dead pet turtle had more integrity than mr paterno. but as they say in dune, the spice must flow.

dmarks said...

Paterno reminds me of one of those Catholic cardinals who covered up for the legions of rapist priests.

TAO said...

Passing the buck?

Yes Truth, its always something the number of people who demand from others behavior that they themselves are incapable of emulating.

If everyone actually acted as they claim they would, then the Holocaust would never have happened, segregation and racism would be words none of us have ever heard of.

There were all sorts of folks that are now going to come forward and claim to have seen things...and none of them spoke up. Its real easy to claim that these sightings should have been reported; as if the police always do the right thing.

Want to criticize big powerful organizations? Then maybe you are right! So, wouldn't that mean that we should be for smaller government? Nothing is bigger than government so maybe if organizations are evil when they are too powerful, so maybe if organizations have self interests that allow them to support child rape to protect the organization then lets ask ourselves, as liberals, could not the same argument be made against government?

So, lets all become Rand Paul Tea Partiers.

No one was punished in the Red Sox organization and you will continue to cheer on the Red Soxs. The Catholic Church is still going strong.

John Wayne Gacy was a powerful democratic mucky muck, and Jeffery Dahlmer was caught by the police chasing a NUDE Laotian boy who had escaped from him down the street and the POLICE turned the boy back over to him....

Oh, and how many people smelled something odd coming from Jeffery Dahlmer's home?

How about sexual harrassment? Look at the number of folks on the right who crack jokes about the women making claims against Herman Cain, and how many of those folks thought Clinton should be impeached for his infidelity?

Or vice versa?

Oh, sure, lets all jump on the bandwagon over Joe Paterno, lets all jump all over the thugs who rioted in their support of Paterno.

Because we are all so sure that we would never ever do the same thing!

Right!

If all the people who claim that they would have acted differently, if all the people who claim to be morally superior to the folks at PSU truly were morally superior then this country would be a moral utopia.....

....and it isn't!

Sorry, I have had to deal with these issues and I have heard all the indignation of public opinion and the reality is no one stands up, no one makes that call, no one gets involved, and no one stands for a higher principle if a job or a promotion is on the line....

Oh, but it is real easy to sit around and paint Paterno as filthy scum, the folks at PSU as lesser humans, and glorify our own moral superiority....

...well, I say BULLSHIT!

I know that when you make that call you will pay a price, and I know how people will desert you. If whistleblowing was such common behavior then we wouldn't need laws to support the behavior.

Truth 101 said...

Yes. It is bullshit that people are in a position that their job and security take precedence over boys being raped.

It's bullshit we need laws to protect whistleblowers and those laws are weak.


Perhaps we need an insurance company to issue whistleblower insurance.


Villification is the response these days. Personally, I'd rather be villified and have a scumbag rapist put away. But that's just me.

Shaw Kenawe said...

This has nothing to do with big government or anything else.

The adults in authority failed to stop child rape. Period.

Shaw Kenawe said...

Ross Douthat in today's NYTimes:

“I believe that Joe Paterno is a good man. I believe Joe Posnanski of Sports Illustrated, the brilliant sportswriter who is working on a Paterno biography, when he writes that Paterno has “lived a profoundly decent life” and “improved the lives of countless people” with his efforts and example.

I also believe that most of the clerics who covered up abuse in my own Catholic Church were in many ways good men. Of course there were wicked ones as well — bishops in love with their own prerogatives, priests for whom the ministry was about self-aggrandizement rather than service. But there were more who had given their lives to their fellow believers, sacrificing the possibility of family and fortune in order to say Mass and hear confessions, to steward hospitals and charities, to visit the sick and comfort the dying.

They believed in their church. They believed in their mission. And out of the temptation that comes only to the virtuous, they somehow persuaded themselves that protecting their institution’s various good works mattered more than justice for the children they were supposed to shepherd and protect.

I suspect a similar instinct prompted the higher-ups at Penn State to basically ignore what they described as Jerry Sandusky’s “inappropriate conduct,” and persuaded Paterno that by punting the allegation to his superiors he had fulfilled his responsibility to the victimized child. He had so many important duties, after all, and so many people counting on him. And Sandusky had done so much good over the years ...

The best piece about Darío Castrillón Hoyos was written by the Catholic essayist John Zmirak, and his words apply to Joe Paterno as well. Sins committed in the name of a higher good, Zmirak wrote, can “smell and look like lilies. But they flank a coffin. Lying dead and stiff inside that box is natural Justice ... what each of us owes the other in an unconditional debt.”

No higher cause can trump that obligation — not a church, and certainly not a football program. And not even a lifetime of heroism can make up for leaving a single child alone, abandoned to evil, weeping in the dark."

Infidel753 said...

The Catholic Church is still going strong.

It is not. It has lost most of its political influence in Ireland, a country it totally dominated as recently as twenty years ago. It's losing members in droves in countries as diverse as Germany and Brazil. All this is directly traceable to mass disgust at the child-molestation cover-up.

The fact that some people in other places failed to do what they should have done doesn't make it any more acceptable in this case.

Paterno became aware of child molestation going on, and he did not call the police. Therefore he is not a good man. Period. The situation is not any more complicated than that. No amount of obfuscation and changing the subject can alter that simple reality. And the same is true -- even more so -- of the Catholic hierarchy that did the same thing on a global scale.

dmarks said...

"The Catholic Church is still going strong."

The largest and oldest organization in human history has a lot of inertia in it.