Friday, November 11, 2011

A Few Thoughts on the Penn State Sex Scandal

The evil that men do lives after them;
The good is oft interred with their bones.
                                               Shakespeare, Julius Caesar, Act 3, scene ii

I generally shy away from current events unless they have to do with publishing or in some way relate to heroic adventure when I'm choosing my blog topics.  For the most part, Adventures Fantastic and its sister site, Futures Past and Present, are current event and political free zones. 

However, for anyone who follows the news, like I try to do, there has been no escaping this week of the coverage of the still growing sex scandal at Penn State.  As a parent of a child in the age range of the ones in question, it's been hard not to put myself in the place of  the families of the victims.  It's not been a pleasant place to go mentally, and I'm not going to inflict that portion of my thoughts upon you.  I have found myself today thinking of the events in terms of the heroism, or mostly lack thereof, of the principal players in this drama.

So, if you'll indulge me in venting my spleen, I'm going to share some of my thoughts.  What follows beyond the "Read More" link might be offensive to some of you, so if you think you might be one of those people, please do us both a favor and don't read it.

I don't usually follow sports or related news stories unless they involve local teams, but like I said above, there's been no escaping this story short of going into isolation.  It's been like watching a train wreck.

And it's been pretty revolting.  The only bright spots are that it looks like justice is going to be done, at least to some degree, and the Penn State trustees have acted swiftly to do the right thing by firing the people responsible for the coverup.  Kudos to them for the terseness of their announcement the other night that the president and head coach were fired immediately, without any preamble or dissembling.  None were needed.

I heard the entirety of Joe Paterno's statement earlier that afternoon, not just the soundbites from it that some networks carried.  In essence, he said he was going to resign at the end of the season so the board of trustees didn't need to consider him, he was sorry he hadn't done more, and he would spend the rest of his life serving the university.  It was all a very self-serving and pathetic attempt to spare himself the humiliation of a public firing.  Fortunately the board didn't pay any attention to him and fired his sorry ass anyway.  As they correctly said, the university is bigger than any athletic program.  I wish more university personnel understood that.

I don't care how much so-called "good" he's done for young people over the years.  It can't make up for the fact that when children needed him the most, when he could have done more good than at any other time in his life, when he could have exhibited exemplary courage and leadership, he did nothing.  He turned a blind eye.  You can't make up for that.

And Mike McQueary should be in jail as an accessory.  A pretty boy like him will likely find himself as some lifer's wife if that's where he ends up.  Although from what I understand about the life expectancy of child molesters in lockup, the lifer would probably be a widow in fairly short order.  He has testified that he walked into the shower and saw Sandusky (I think I'm supposed to say "allegedly" here) sodomizing a ten year old boy, walked out, called his father, then talked to Paterno the next day.  WTF? 

He didn't try to call the police, and more importantly he didn't do anything to stop it.  He walked away.  You can make all the rationalizations and excuses for him you like, it doesn't change the fact that he didn't man up and do the right thing.  By his own admission, he let that child be ("allegedly") raped.  This was the defining moment of your life, Mike.  And you blew it.  You could have been a hero.  Yes, it would have been unpleasant, but how are things for you now, huh?  When you see something like this happening, walking away, calling Daddy, and then telling people who cover up the crime just doesn't cut it. 

And they apparently kept silent so they could avoid some bad publicity and win a few more f***ing football games.  These are the people who are heroes in our society?  The ones who can win games, never mind the rest?  I hope not.  I hope this is just an aberration.  Given the riots that followed Paterno's firing, I'm not sure it is. 

This is why my heroes are either historical or fictional and are rarely sports figures, career politicians, or celebrities.  My heroes protect children, not programs, not their own asses.

And as a final thought, I don't think the men responsible for pretending these horrible acts didn't happen should have been fired this way.  I think their firings should have involved a squad.  (If  the meaning of that last sentence isn't clear, think about it.)

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