I don’t want to beat the Penn State/Joe Paterno topic into the ground, but aside from finding out how you all felt about the situation a few days ago, it has really made me think about where we stand as a society. And I’m scared for us.
Those coming to Joe Paterno’s defense are saying that, because he didn’t actually see what happened, and because he reported the incident to his boss, that he fulfilled his duties. He did what was required of him, and should, therefore, be absolved of any wrongdoing. There are people who are outraged that he was fired, and there was even rioting at the school’s campus after news broke that he’d been let go.
He had knowledge (as he has admitted, UNDER OATH) that a little boy was (potentially, for the sake of argument) being sexually abused. He did nothing, NOTHING, to ensure that the little boy was okay. That the little boy was safe. That the little boy was protected from harm.
What he did do, was make sure that his football program remained free from scandal. What he did do was allow University officials to sweep the incident under the rug to save face. What he did do was put the University’s well being above that of a little boy’s. And, as we now know, of seven other little boys.
Telling higher ups, and sitting idly by as they ignored the situation is not, in any way “good enough.”
When did we, as a society, reach a point where it’s okay to turn a blind eye to child molestation? When did we reach a point where it is acceptable to sit back and effectively allow children to be abused because we don’t want to taint the treasured history of a college football team?
Being “devastated” about the situation, and wishing you had “done more,” is all well and good. But it’s not good enough. It doesn’t make up for the fact that seven little boys were abused at the hands of a man who could have easily been stopped.
As Americans, we pride ourselves on being “better” than other countries. We denounce human rights violations and point to oppressive treatment of women as an example of how we do things “right.” We see stories about children being left in the road after being hit by a car and we shake our heads and think to ourselves that that would never happen here.
But in a way Joe Paterno, and every single Penn State staff member and official who had knowledge about what was going on, left those boys in the middle of the road. They turned their backs on them and looked the other way.
And that simply isn’t good enough.
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