My fellow blogger here, Jordan, is a big PSU fan. So why am I writing this? Because if you hear stuff from a PSU fan, it's easy to ignore. So here it goes.
I'm putting this paragraph at both the top and bottom of this article. DO NOT accuse me of supporting Joe Paterno, or minimize his complicity in this horrible, horrible tragedy. There are victims, who are/were CHILDREN, and they deserve all the protection in the world. Ultimately, the rest of this nonsense, in which people yell at each other about statues and legacies and everything else is nonsense, and a waste of time, because what matters is that children were harmed in the most heinous possible way. It's disgusting, Joe Paterno was somewhat complicit, and Jerry Sandusky is a monster.
Now, after writing how talk about anything other than the children is nonsense, I'm going to talk about something other than the children. Why? Because I'm not talking about Joe Paterno's "legacy." I'm, in fact, not talking about Joe Paterno at all. You know why? Because I'm talking about the penalties levied against Penn State. Because I have a question: how does any one of these penalties help?
Okay, first, let's talk about colleges. Colleges and Universities do a really good job protecting rapists. That's true. Ask anybody who's ever been sexually harassed/assaulted on a college campus. Their attacker(s) still walk around campus with a slap on the wrist. Schools usually protect students from legal repercussions if they drink underage or to excess, if they vandalize a building, if they violate a curfew, if they traffic in illegal substances, etc., etc., etc. For those who make a stupid decision to smoke some weed, get caught, and avoid serious legal recourse, this is a wonderful thing, as those people often turn out to be productive members of society, glad they don't have a silly little black mark on their record for no reason. But for sexual criminals, it's a bit more serious. So there's a problem with the system in colleges and universities as it relates to sexual crime.
Second, let's talk about our system of criminal justice in this country. Part of what it's supposed to do is rehabilitate. Now, whether or not it does that is neither here nor there. But it performs another function (theoretically, mind you). It separates criminals from their would-be victims.
So let's look at PSU. Well, the dangerous people (Sandusky, Paterno, etc., etc.) are gone from the university. The second function of justice is served. But what does taking away football wins, removing scholarships and Bowl games, and the rest of it (money aside, for a moment) do?
In fact, it trivializes the victims. It says, "Here. This ought to make you feel better. Remember that 2003 Penn State team that went 3-9? Well guess what? Now, they went 0-12. Doesn't that make the nightmares and disgusting feelings and difficulty having a normal sexual relationship for the rest of your life feel better? Because it should. Oh, and now some kids who have a chance to get a college education won't be able to, because PSU can't give them scholarships. So that should help."
Uh... anyone else see the problem with that logic? It's demeaning. Now, taking down a statue so that no kid has to be reminded of a man who was complicit in (potentially) their own sexual assault as a child makes sense to me. But the rest of it? It's vengeance for vengeance's sake. It's pure lynch-mobbing. Societally, people feel better because PSU is punished. But the fact of the matter is, there could have been more (and better) things done.
What would be better, you ask? Well, give a bunch of money to the victims, first of all. Obviously, that's trivializing, too, but there's no real restitution you can give, and at least that's something. The second thing you do is PSU seriously converts major parts of its social sciences departments to studying victims, victimology, and helping develop new and helpful therapies for people. Then you publish the work, and you help get it out there. Then, PSU works with the NCAA to find out what the holes were in the Sandusky situation, and how they can be fixed when it comes to vetting college coaches. How often are the examined by a psychologist/psychiatrist? They'll be working with young adults. Sure, they're adults. But, as someone who's going to school to be a pastor, we learn that because there's a gross power imbalance (perceived or real) in our relationships with our parishoners, we have to be extra cautious, because they become a vulnerable population where our actions are concerned. Likewise coaches. Next, PSU works to find the other holes in reporting. How do we make sure that a report doesn't get lost in a pile of papers and bureaucracy? Automatic reminders to the complaintant? A dual-reporting system, so that two organizations follow up on everything? Whatever it is, ask PSU (and perhaps other Big Ten schools, or other Pennsylvania schools, or whoever) to research and implement a plan (or some plans) and test its/their efficacy. Finally, PSU works with its criminal justice department and education department on profiling and/or reporting. Workshops and curricula are developed to help kids talk about good-touch/bad-touch; they learn who to contact; they learn how to say "no," and that, when it comes to touch, no one is allowed to touch them (I don't mean this to sound like I'm blaming the kids for getting touched - what I'm saying is that kids are often really, really scared to report touching, and even if they can't say "no" in a moment, if they can tell a grown-up later, it can be a tremendous help). And if they already have programs that teach them that, we look into how we can do it better.
Those are positive, active changes that a University holding some of the nation's best and brightest minds should be able to do. Don't take away football wins, not because it's punishing for "sins of the fathers," but because it's insulting to victims. Do the right thing, and work to change things for the better. Make the world a better, safer place for kids everywhere. They're the victims, and they're the ones we should be focused on.
I'm putting this paragraph at both the top and bottom of this
article. DO NOT accuse me of supporting Joe Paterno, or minimize his
complicity in this horrible, horrible tragedy. There are victims, who
are/were CHILDREN, and they deserve all the protection in the world.
Ultimately, the rest of this nonsense, in which people yell at each
other about statues and legacies and everything else is nonsense, and a
waste of time, because what matters is that children were harmed in the
most heinous possible way. It's disgusting, Joe Paterno was somewhat
complicit, and Jerry Sandusky is a monster.