On Legacies

Hopefully this will put paid to endless jawing about the awful tragedy that is football douchebags being forced to think about what the world is like under its skin: [pdf link]

Four of the most powerful people at The Pennsylvania State University – President Graham B. Spanier, Senior Vice President‐Finance and Business Gary C. Schultz, Athletic Director Timothy M. Curley and Head Football Coach Joseph V. Paterno – failed to protect against a child sexual predator harming children for over a decade. These men concealed Sandusky’s activities from the Board of Trustees, the University community and authorities. They exhibited a striking lack of empathy for Sandusky’s victims by failing to inquire as to their safety and well‐being, especially by not attempting to determine the identity of the child who Sandusky assaulted in the Lasch Building in 2001. Further, they exposed this child to additional harm by alerting Sandusky, who was the only one who knew the child’s identity, of what McQueary saw in the shower on the night of February 9, 2001.

And Graham Spanier is a liar who should be in chains:

Spanier said, in his interview with the Special Investigative Counsel, that he never heard a report from anyone that Sandusky was engaged in any sexual abuse of children. He also said that if he had known or suspected that Sandusky was abusing children, he would have been the first to intervene.

Because until we start holding the people who knew and did nothing accountable, nothing’s going to change. Look. I’m not about obscuring who the actual criminal was here. Sandusky abused kids. People who are going to abuse kids are going to abuse kids and there is nothing we can do to prevent all sickness in the world. The only thing we can do, the only thing we have as human beings, is our ability to respond to that sickness, and how we do it determines who and what we are.

The report is long and horrifying on just how little of a shit the university gave about the victims, but what struck me as I read it was what used to strike me when I was reporting about the priest sexual abuse scandal: The lack of compassion in general. Sandusky was a sick man who needed to be stopped, and the people around him did nothing to stop him. They jawed about their concern for Sandusky, and that’s terrible enough in light of the children who were raped, but they weren’t even concerned about him. If they were, they would have given him the care we give to someone who’s cut his wrists or swallowed poison, who waves a gun around in a diner, who’s driving too fast late at night with the lights out.

If someone had been doing that on campus, they’d be locked up. Or in a hospital. Or both. Someone intent on harm would have been stopped, if he’d been doing anything but what interfered with Spanier and Paterno and the trustees’ views of themselves and their environment. If he’d been a rabid dog, menacing people on Main Street, he would have received more mercy than he did.

But since what he was doing was what we’ve convinced ourselves is a real thing on par with being raped, threatening the reputations of the powerful, Sandusky was allowed to go on his merry way, and rape more kids. And until some of the people who let him pass are frogmarched into maximum security, that will continue to be the default position of the powerful, because power protects itself, first and always.

If we haven’t learned it before, we’re learning it now from the Freeh report.

A.

11 thoughts on “On Legacies

  1. virgotex says:

    power protects itself.
    exactly. those who say it was about protection of the football program don’t understand this. Protecting the football program, protecting the church, protecting the department, protecting the white house, those are just scenarios.
    This is the physics of institutions.

  2. lex says:

    These people were horrible excuses for human beings. And where child rape is concerned, the last thing we should be seeking is a proportionate response. I want a response so horribly DISproportionate that a hundred years from now coaches and athletic administrators speak the name of Joe Paterno only in hushed voices behind closed doors (and do not speak the name of Jerry Sandusky at all). If it takes killing the Nittany Lions football program, firing all the current trustees and coaches and putting Spanier, Schultz and Curley in solitary confinement for the rest of their days — hell, if it takes gibbeting the exhumed corpse of JoePa in the middle of campus — then let’s get started.

  3. virgotex says:

    football trumps because it translates to money.

  4. ChuckleNuts says:

    A sports show was asking, what do you think this will do to Joe Paterno’s legacy? Here is what it should do, he shoudl go down in history as main person, who allowed a child molestor, to use the Penn State facilities to his advantage to ruin/destroy young lives. The words football and Joe Paterno should only used together as follow:
    JOE PATERNO, who let his best friend brutally rape young boys in the Penn State FOOTBALL locker room,…
    I love football, I hate this man, I hope that someday, the question of what will this do, or is it fair to, his legacy all go away, and we call it just as it is, he was a selfish, self absorb, piece of shit, not a coach, a piece of shit

  5. mass says:

    We really live in the age of the cult of celebrity. And football is just part of the entertainment industry.
    Hell, every reporter on the teevee will tell you Reagan never raised taxes, Iran-Contra was a misunderstanding, South American death squads just a nasty rumor, trading arms for hostages was Jimmy Carter’s fault, Reagan would never cut-n-ran after 242 Marines get slaughtered in Beruit. He’s was suffering from Alzheymer’s for at least his last two years in office! Put the motherfucker on Rushmore.
    Bill Clinton. Loved him as President, love him today. He’s an asshole for fucking with the office help and screwing around on his wife and kid.
    Arnold Swartzenegger was a tough guy in the movies, playing an American-made robot with an Austrian accent (?). Fucking Republitards at NRO wrote about changing the Constitution so he could run for President.
    George W. Bush? What-u-talkin-bout-Willis? Never heard of him.
    Alec Baldwin? Sure he’s politically liberal, therefore on my team. But he seems like a dick.
    Nick Saban’s daughter apparently kicked the shit out of a sorority sister at Alabama. That’s a shame, but Nick will rule Tuscaloosa and his state until he starts losing football games. Hell, until he fucks up on the field, could get away with kicking the shit out of the governor’s daughter.
    Fuck. Half of the country watches Reality TV and believes it’s reality.

  6. PWL says:

    Well, OF COURSE there’s a parallel here with the sex scandal involving Catholic priests: In America, both the Catholic Church and football are religions…

  7. Athenae says:

    exactly. those who say it was about protection of the football program don’t understand this. Protecting the football program, protecting the church, protecting the department, protecting the white house, those are just scenarios.
    Agreed. It would have been the same in the art history department, if the art history department was as wealthy and well-known as the football program. I don’t deny there’s something aggro about football particularly when these things happen, but I wonder how much of that is because of how we value sports, and not about anything inherent in sports itself. I mean, plenty of people play football and baseball and whatnot and manage to not be total fucking failures as humans.
    A.

  8. mass says:

    The old fraud should have retired many years before, but they kept him as head coach for years into his 80s so he could add to his legacy and surpass the record for total number of football victories held by the great and classy Eddie Robinson at Grambling.
    That Paterno record is a fraud.
    Children were raped on Paterno’s watch and with his knowledge. The man and his legacy built on legend was a fraud. Penn State organized a criminal conspiracy to protect the old fraud’s reputation.
    Fuck him and all of the other enablers of a child rapist.

  9. Mass says:

    Heck, he was just being an old Catholic, protecting his church’s reputation.

  10. Jay in Oregon says:

    OK, what is with this shit?
    http://www.philly.com/philly/news/breaking/20120712_Penn_State_trustees__We_take_responsibility_but_wont_resign.html
    Did the meaning of “responsibility” change when I wasn’t looking?

  11. MapleStreet says:

    Will it change Paterno’s legacy?
    On one side, a football powerhouse. And football trumps all in college including academic integrity.
    And then, think of how many hold the sacred image of the pure and simple Michael Jackson.

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