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Penn State's Scandal: Too Big to Fail the Test of Moral Depravity?

Posted on November 10, 2011 at 8:35 PM

A living legend, Joe Paterno (a.k.a, JoePa), former head coach of Penn State University’s football program, and the architect of 409 victories, is learning the harsh lesson about loyalty for the wrong reason(s). Paterno’s former assistant coach, Jerry Sandusky, was arrested earlier this week in relation to child sex abuse charges leveled against him. According to reports, Paterno was aware of at least one of the criminal acts Sandusky committed against one of several young boys.


As a result of Paterno’s ousting students responded in protest, which lead to confrontations with law enforcement; they were outraged that “JoePa” was released as head football coach. 


Considering the circumstances, the question should not be why Coach Paterno was, rightfully, released by the university, but why it took so long for university officials, and those who had knowledge of Sandusky’s criminal offenses with regard to molesting young boys, to finally take action? Unfortunately, as in many cases, the life and spirit of Penn State University, and its legendary football program (a source of huge notoriety and revenue) was more worthy of protecting than [the] innocent young boys who were preyed upon by Sandusky.


Over the years, news organizations have been reporting, time and again, on sexual assault violations committed by so-called trusted personalities and representatives of large historical institutions. But no matter how many cases of sexual assault and abuse continues to be reported, investigated and found to be credible – institutions, and the violators they project, continue to sweep such horrible acts under the rug. So obviously one would logically wonder…”why?”


Why would anyone, or any organization, value established institutions and powerful figures over individuals and victims of human rights violations? The answer seems blatantly obvious: money, prestige, profits and historical significance simply matter more than so-called insignificant souls’. Thus, the larger question becomes, what type of world and society, which the majority of the population claims adherence, acknowledgment and worship of a higher [spiritual] entity, do we live in and continue to create by supporting people and institutions who behave to the contrary?


Of those who support institutions and larger-than-life figures who value prize over persons, how many of us continue to give allegiance to the spirit of dehumanization? For those that do, like the students of Penn State University, it would be wise to reconsider who and what we morally support. The spiritual consequences of choosing alliances with inappropriateness are certainly too much of a risk to gamble and test the waters of fate.

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Monday Morning Quarterbacking

This unfortunate case involved, as far as we know, so-called adult "men" and young boys. Men of authority, including janitors, coaches and law enforcement officials were aware of these despicable acts committed by Jerry Sandusky (read the Grand Jury Report). As a former high school football coach and a man of conscience...I am outraged!

This is not a case of rumors. Sandusky was actually caught in the act and the incident was simply reported up the chain of command. But the higher the crime was reported up to authorities, the lower "men" sank to cowardess. No doubt about it, age is really just a number. And not every male walking this earth is fit to be considered and respected as a "man".

As much as I respected coach Paterno and the Penn State football program (although I'm a huge fan of USC Trojan football), I can't say that this was his finest moment of exercising good and sound judgment. Neither can I say the same for the numerous males who had knowledge of these horrible animalistic acts. In some cases it may be hard to say what one would or would not have done faced with this situation.

But in this particular case, I am more than certain of what would have been my reaction, had I walked in the locker room and discovered Sandusky in the shower with a naked little boy; I would have responded like a "real" "man" of Godly-inspired consciousness and conviction. Immediately, I would have shouted, "Hey, what the hell...?" I would have pushed Sandusky away from the young boy and secured his safety and covered his naked body.

Next, I would have physically placed Jerry Sandusky under citizens arrest, hoping he would have resisted, and contacted law enforcement (not the campus police). Had I been disciplined or fired for acting appropriately, I would have been proud for acting in the spirit of 'GOoD' conscience.

The males, who consider themselves "men", who failed to act appropriately, behaved cowardly and they share [not] the honor of coach or officer or official, but the stinch of shame. These males may have done the "right" thing, legally, by reporting the matter to their superiors, but none of them behaved like righteous "men" would and exercised moral justice. It is only now, for the sake of the institution, not those young victimized boys, that the issue is finally being addressed - years after the fact.



T.F. Hodge, author of From Within I Rise

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