Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Why I am so furious about the firing of Joe Paterno

Unless you've been living under a rock for the last few weeks you have heard something about the child abuse case involving former Penn State football coach Gerry Sandusky.  When the story broke I posted a commentary about the attacks that immediately started against Joe Paterno.  Since then Paterno has been vilified, crucified and fired.  And, as the title of this post might indicate, I am (understatement alert) a bit peeved about it.  While I tried not to get sucked into the ranting and raving that exploded on the 'Net, but it was a losing battle[1].

The reason I am so upset about what happened to Paterno is not simply due to my being a fan of his.  You see, I have some experience trying to help a molested child.  I also know what can happen when a good man is railroaded, slandered and ripped to shreds by people who don't bother to get any of the facts before passing judgment.  If you investigate this whole mess and read the official reports/documents you will find this -
  1. Sandusky is seen by Person A possibly molesting a child
  2. Person A tells Person B what they saw
  3. Person B tells Joe Paterno what Person A said they saw
  4. Even though he has what amounts to unsubstantiated, secondhand hearsay, Paterno reports the indecent to the proper authority
  5. From here, the whole thing gets swept under the rug
As you can see, the only person in this chain who actually did the proper moral and ethical thing was Paterno.  And he gets destroyed for doing so.

Many people have railed that he should have followed up and also reported the incident to the police.  These people have likely never been on the outside-looking-in of a child molestation case.  Do you know what happens if you report an unsubstantiated, secondhand rumor of child abuse to the police that is proven to be false?  In most cases, you get your ass handed to you.  I have lived it.  You don't just yell "fire" in a crowded theater then say, "Oops! My bad." if it turns out to be untrue and receive no repercussions.

What happens if you report to the police that a child told you they were molested?  If you're lucky, they will do more than a cursory "investigation" and close the case without even talking to you.  I have lived that scenario, too.

I know that this post isn't likely to have any effect on those who've already made up their minds about Paterno.  Jesus, himself, could come down and proclaim him just and it wouldn't make a bit of difference.  And this is what makes me so upset.  When people are so bigoted, judgmental and closed minded that they attack and hate without knowing anything about the situation, or even try to get informed, it is infuriating.

And you know what the irony of it is?  These people will feel just as infuriated when confronted with the very same kind of prejudice and hate that the insane, fanatical, so-called Muslims of Al-Qaeda spew in their tirades.

[1] Just search for my name and "Joe Paterno" to see some of the fun.

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