My family has been a Penn State family for four generations. The side of the big garage at the farm is a mural dedicated to Penn State with all the family graduates and years painted on it. My kids love Penn State and are more familiar with the campus than with their mom’s alma mater, Michigan State. The last week has been hard for us. JMumbo refuses to watch TV if they are talking about Joe Paterno because he listens to his mom who is angry and doesn’t think JoePa should have been fired. He keeps trying to figure out a way for JoePa to come back. My mom cries when she talks about it. And I just get angry.
So here they are, my last words on the PSU fiasco, for that is what it has become.
Blame can be assigned where people see fit, that is one of the prerogatives of living here, we have the ability to speak our minds and have our own opinions. Until the dust clears and the other people who were culpable are questioned, we will not know who did or didn’t do what.
I will say, being a mandated reporter is not easy nor do I think Paterno did anything without thinking about it. But I’ve been there. Not on this scale, but in situations where my choices were going to change a kid’s life. And I reported it. And that was it. I was told my part was done and they would take it from there. I could have chosen not to believe what I was told, but then what’s the point of the system? Did I see any tangible evidence that something was done? Not always, and if I did it was a result of a personal relationship or news through the grapevine.
Should someone have banned Sandusky from campus? Absolutely. Is that person Paterno? I don’t know. I would guess he doesn’t have that power, because no matter his stature, he still is part of a hierarchy. As much as people would like to make him omnipotent, he is not. Could he have gone to the police? Yes, but he trusted that the people in charge had done so already. So maybe the real crime is that Joe Paterno trusted the system to do the right thing. And the system failed him and Sandusky’s victims. Defending Paterno doesn’t mean I condone what happened. It means that I believe we are targeting the wrong guy. The link in the chain broke, but not at Paterno. It broke when the AD and VP did not do their jobs. Why is no one calling them out for not doing what was morally correct? Is it because most people in the US couldn’t tell you who they were? Or pick them out of a line up? Those people aren’t going to sell newspapers. Isn’t it sad that it’s not about bringing justice to the victims or putting the perpetrators behind bars, but about selling media.
I can’t talk about it anymore. The Joe Paterno who is being demonized bears no resemblance to the man I grew up hearing about, the one who lived a simple life and taught his players morals and values were the most important thing. I’m sorry, but a man who dedicates his life to teaching kids about how to be a good citizen and person is not the person they are depicting in the media and I refuse to believe them.