Friday, November 11, 2011

My Thoughts on the Penn State Scandal

There are so many themes at work here with the Penn State Scandal, I just don't know even know where to start. I could potentially go off on any one of them, but the more I started thinking, the more I realized how this blow-up is a perfect microcosm of a lot that's wrong in America. 

I'll dispense with the obvious:  

1)CHILD ABUSE: It happens. It happens every day. It used to be my job, so I know it happens. I've seen what it does to kids and what it does to those who work directly with those kids. Not pretty in either case.

If you are a grown up it is NOT OK to treat children as your personal blow-up doll. Ever. 


I'm not going to go into the nuances of defining "grown up," (I don't count a 19-year-old in a consensual relationship with a 15-year-old as the same thing) but if you're middle-aged and you're in the shower with a 10-year-old, you should have known better for at least 2.5 decades. 

And here's something to keep in mind: Over 90% of juvenile sexual abuse victims know their offender.  So for crying out loud, let your kid hang at the mall by herself with her friends. It's the proverbial minister at church you have to worry about. 

2)GOOD'OLE BOY NETWORK: Powerful men tend to take care of other powerful men, at the exclusion of anyone who isn't in their tight little circle. This podcast is a perfect parallel to the situation that went down at Penn State and contains nothing scandalous. Just commentary on political fund-raising. 

Never mind. I take that "nothing scandalous" remark back.   

3)FOOTBALL CULTURE: The reaction from the students at Penn State was appalling, there's no question. But I think it's indicative of a much more sinister problem we have here in our country. The man the students were up-in-arms about was a football coach for crying out loud. Had the university fired the dean of the arts and science department for the same reasons (read: protecting a sexual predator) there would have been no rioting. Hell, there would have been no national attention at all.

4)ENTERTAINMENT AND CELEBRITY CULTURE: a sub-theme of the above, I really don't need to expand on this one do I? 

5)CLASS WARFARE: Sandusky certainly wasn't poor.* And he had the perfect avenue for which to lure in his "underprivileged" victims: the foundation he started.  So the power structure was tipped in his favor twice over. Thrice over when you consider in tandem #7 and #8 on my list.


7)BIG BUSINESS: College football generates billions of dollars a year in revenues for everyone from the universities to Budweiser.  

8)RACE: White  

9)GENDER: men  

still have the upper hand in this country, no matter how much we would like to think things are changing.  

10)SEX: God, Americans The Pure are ever fascinated with it. 

11)SCANDALS: We love those too

12)SEX SCANDAL: Touchdown

Song of the week:

*I don't think this is an unreasonable assumption given his history with the Penn State football program. I couldn't find any articles that gave me numbers, but this one eludes to him leading an upper-middle class lifestyle. 


Deirdre said...

I agree with all of your above (won't point out your numbering is a bit off).

Now - a question - should the guy who reported it to paterno be just as morally responsible to have done more? He reported it to his supervisor (aka JoePa) and left it at that until questioned MUCH later. Now, he'll be the guy acting as head coach this weekend on the sidelines.


Tanya said...

I actually went off on Mike McQueary in my original post and it was so riddled with expletives I decided not to publish it. I wasn't even being rational.

In short, yes. He was morally responsible to do more. I do understand not stopping it when he saw it. We can all sit in judgment and say it was a reprehensible act for him to do nothing, but in the heat of the moment none of us can ever say for sure what we would do. Shock can do strange things to our psyche. But I damn sure stand by notion that he had a moral responsibility to notify the police. Not his boss, but the police. At the VERY least, he should have notified CPS. Immediately. That DAY. I've reported much, much less. Not only because it's my job to do so, but because as a society we are obligated to protect its vulnerable members at all times.

The newest headlines say he actually won't be on the sidelines this weekend because he's receiving death threats. But in my mind, he shouldn't be out there at all. Can his ass too. He was part of the cover-up.

And I fixed the numbering. ;)

Deirdre said...

Ok - glad we agree. I jumped all crazy when it started - that they were all responsible. Just reporting it to your supervisor keeps you LEGALLY in the clear - but ethically? morally? if it was YOUR kid? Not nearly doing enough.

And on other topics...
5. class warfare. 5. media and mob mentality

Christine said...

A point related to Mike McQueary and JoPa reporting internally and doing nothing else is that Sandusky continued to parade children around football games in front of them for years after. Is there any doubt that they both traded career advancement/celebrity for silence? Reprehensible.

Tanya said...

The whole affair is disgusting.

Deirdre said...

I didn't realize it wasn't a state law in every state that the police or child protective services must be notified. Guess in PA you just have to tell your supervisor. What a crock!