Friday, July 13, 2012

Digging up the dead to throw more dirt on them

There are no conclusions in the Freeh Report on the Penn State scandal that the media and public didn't already jump to several months ago. Otherwise responsible journalists led the rush to judgement by abandoning their professional code of ethics and declaring Jerry Sandusky guilty of child sex abuse before Sandusky even went to trial, and demonizing the late Joe Paterno for participating in a cover-up that still hadn't been proven.

So, now that Sandusky's in jail for the rest of his life and Paterno's complicity is documented, we're going through the same exercise in holier-than-thou condemnation that we went through before it was actually justified. I guess people wanted to get their shots in on Paterno while he was still alive and weren't going to let a minor detail like due process stand in the way.

What's equal parts fascinating and predictable is that despite being a peripheral figure whose worst crime was exercising poor judgement in an impossible situation that was not of his own making, Paterno has become an even bigger villain than the actual child rapist. We are a celebrity-obsessed culture, and as the highest-profile name in the case, Paterno is the natural magnet for vilification, because if there's one thing our culture enjoys more than building someone up to demigod status, it's tearing them down again, whether it's for their own good or to make us feel better about ourselves. Well, no amount of abasement, mortification or even forgiveness is going to make any difference now, because Joe Paterno is dead, and his reputation and legacy were destroyed before he died.

Apparently, though, there's nothing like pissing on a dead man's grave for that smug feeling of moral superiority.


  1. Paterno brought this on himself and for his legacy to be stomped on again I say sure. It's the damn legacy that turned the blind eye from 1998 on and some 10 or more boys being raped. It's that good old boys club that took direction from Paterno and did absolutely nothing. So if the legacy is tarnished so be it. Think of all the boys who are alive and living this tragic and horrific part of their lives everyday.

  2. For the first time in eons, I disagree with you Ted.

    People are - and were - really pissed. Pissed about the horrendous acts that Sandusky committed for so long, pissed at Penn State's lame response, and pissed at Paterno's complicity in the whole thing. His hero status was a big fraud in this respect, and even though he didn't commit the acts, he allowed a lot of kids to be scarred for life.

    The fact that many are doubling down on the condemnation is a reflection of the depth of all this anger. Sure some people rushed to judgment, but now that the facts are out it's clear JoePa could have done a lot more than he did to stop Sandusky, and he doesn't deserve any respect - dead or alive - for the cowardly way he acted.

  3. If all you had talked about was the embarrassment and shame this is now bringing on Paterno’s family, who are innocent of all of this, I might have been inclined to agree. The concern for “pissing on a dead man's grave” is really little to be concerned about. I can pretty much guarantee it doesn’t bother him.

  4. It is because of our "celebrity obsessed culture" that these violations of vulnerable children were allowed to continue. Joe Pa was bigger than life, and he was the last word on how this matter was handled. Had he acted appropriately, morally, and ethically, his true legacy would transcend any football titles. Now, when I see any footage of him on the sidelines I can't help but wonder how much he was hiding at that particular moment-shudder.

  5. Is this Ted ? Really ? Sticking up for this excuse of a human being ? Have you no children ?, You really dropped the ball on this one Ted !!

  6. First you piss off the Italians, now this.
    You are having a bad month.