It’s hard to avoid writing about hot button issues these days. Each morning seems to bring with it a new rash of hot buttons. I wonder if there really are more things that are tearing us apart now or if we are simply shifting in our spirits. As a country it seems as though we’re in a kind of emotional and political dichotomy. We’re keen to argue, quick to react on one hand and reluctant to get involved on the other hand.
My approach here at Mrs Metaphor has always been to look for middle ground, to put it “another way,” to see if I could find those places where we all overlap, no matter how far apart our opinions might seem. This is how I intended to address the issues arising this week at Penn State. This is where I hoped to land as it pertains the charges, the grand jury report, the role of Joe Paterno (JoPa) and the reactions of fans and students at Penn State. I think I may have failed in this attempt. I will admit this before I begin.
Today I read the first 10 pages of the 23 page Grand Jury report concerning Jerry Sandusky. I could only read the first 10 pages before my resolve failed. After 1 page I was heartsick. I don’t know how I got through the next 9 pages. I don’t know why I felt compelled to continue. I do know why I stopped. It was enough.
In truth, one page, one victim was enough. One victim was too much.
I’m not a football fan but I suppose I can understand on some basic level how students at Penn State would be disheartened and shocked to hear that Joe Paterno had been fired. I suppose it came as quite a shock. He does appear to be a fixture at Penn State. The stuff of legends. Living history. All of these revelations, the awful scope of the charges against Jerry Sandusky. It is a lot to take in. It is 23 pages of too much.
What I don’t understand is this- I don’t know what has to shift in a person, legendary or otherwise, to keep him from reporting abuse, no matter how “serious” it seems to said legend. It was in the report of Victim 2, the first few pages, that I read of head football coach Joe Paterno’s involvement in this. It was reported to him by someone who witnessed the abuse first hand.I don’t know what was going through the mind of Joe Paterno…disbelief, shock, abject fear? The report details the chain of command, the report, the consequent discussions, the lack of reporting to state agencies in place to protect the children of the state of Pennsylvania.
There was no report made to the state agencies on the behalf of this boy. Abuse was noted and then subsequently brushed aside. The abuse did not stop with this boy or this event. It continued.
The bottom line here is simple, no matter how complicated someone may tell you it is where history, traditions, legends, legacy and honor are concerned. The bottom line is that these boys were not protected. For anyone to know of this abuse and not follow up, not speak loudly, not do every single thing in his or her power to put a stop to it is absolutely and unequivocably wrong.
The adults in this picture protected each other, the institution, the legacy, their livelihoods but not these children. Their actions in no way protected these children and that is beyond tragic. There is no middle ground here. I cannot see the overlap between people who shout about the firing of Joe Paterno and those who cry for justice on behalf of these boys.
John Scalzi put it perfectly on his blog today-
At Pennsylvania State University, a grown man found a blameless child being put through hell. Other grown men learned of it. Each of them had to make their choice, and decide, fundamentally, whether the continuation of their utopia — or at very least the illusion of their utopia — was worth the pain and suffering of that one child. Through their actions, and their inactions, we know the choice they made.
For those of you who still shout about the firing of Joe Paterno I would ask only that you take the time to read 23 pages before you continue your shouting. Read these 23 pages and then tell me where the middle ground falls because I simply do not know what to make of it all.