The Not can sometimes be a silence louder than any shot.
All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.
–Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace
Who knows? Maybe that applies to shithead assholes, too.
What is The Not? It is pitiful inaction at the moment when one could make a difference. It is failure to correct a wrong. It is the refusal to put doing the right thing ahead of other factors like personal gain, power, and celebrity. It is choice of self over preventing the pain of others.
It seems Penn State had several practitioners of The Not in their midst. Apparently they were afflicted by the disease known as Collegiate Sports. This disease makes otherwise ordinary people do almost anything in the name of competition, power, profit, and prestige. Rather than the sport itself being about the beauty and capabilities of human beings, it becomes all about the money. Winning is everything.
You want to see the evil and corruption that dwells within us all? Look no further than college sports. The strong prey upon the weak and rules are made to be broken. Nothing is more important than the all-important win. And these are ostensibly organizations dedicated to higher learning. That is, quite possibly, the biggest irony of all time.
In case you don’t know the details of the Penn State controversy, I’m going to rehash some of them a bit so I can add my two cents. Some of details may be disturbing. I apologize for that, but if we’re going to make a difference and really do something to protect the innocent in our society, we must never look away. Otherwise nothing will ever change.
Way back in the year 2002 there was a man named Jerry Sandusky. He was very esteemed because he held one of the most important and influential positions across our great nation. Yes, he was the “defensive coordinator” for a college football team, Penn State. Additionally, in the past, he had founded a children’s charity called “Second Mile” in 1977.
President George. H.W. Bush had praised the group as a “shining example” of charity work in a 1990 letter. Citing Sandusky’s work with The Second Mile charity to provide care for foster children, then U.S. Senator Rick Santorum honored Sandusky with a “Congressional Angels in Adoption” award in 2002.
But in the year 2002 there was an incident. A young graduate student went to the Penn State locker room to put some shoes in his locker. While there, he says he saw Jerry Sandusky engaged in anal sex with what he estimated was a 10-year-old boy.
The student immediately informed his father. The very next morning he also told Joe Paterno, the Penn State coach at the time. Paterno alerted the school’s athletic director. Eventually, the people who knew about the incident included the graduate student, his father, Paterno, the athletic director, and the Senior Vice President for Finance and Business. These were all grown men.
Got that? The year: 2002. And at least five adult men who knew that Sandusky had been witnessed raping a 10-year-old child.
We all know what happened next, right? At least one of those men dared to speak up, went to the police and made sure that one of the (alleged) biggest assholes of all time was stopped before he could harm other children.
Except for The Not.
None of these men did the right thing. Not one of those five adult male human beings made sure the police were notified. Ever.
Think about that. Sandusky would have been about 58 years old in 2002. He was seen having anal sex with a 10-year-old boy. No one notified the police. Including Joe Paterno.
What were they thinking? What was it that they were putting ahead of the safety of the boy and potential other victims? Was it personal status? Greed? Or were they more concerned about the reputation of the school?
The Wikipedia page on Sandusky contains a rather ominous entry under the heading of “Family”:
Sandusky is married. He and his wife have six adopted children. The Sanduskys also took in foster children, and their house is next to an elementary school and playground.
Children were clearly a very important part of Sandusky’s life.
I have a few questions. The name of that graduate student is Mike McQueary. He’s the one who witnessed the anal intercourse and molestation in that locker room back in 2002. Why did he feel it was appropriate to report the matter only to Paterno and not immediately call the police? Did he actually feel this was an incident suitable for internal investigation? Even more troubling, why the hell didn’t he call for help, then pull the son of a bitch off the 10-year-old boy? What kind of man witnesses something like that and does nothing more than follow the chain of command?
Yes, he reported what he saw, but not to the police. Then he lived with that knowledge – for years. In fact, he was later promoted to “full-time assistant coach,” a position he holds to this day at Penn State, although he was pulled from coaching this weekend due to death threats.
Some time back on my blog I espoused the need for a simple new law. I called it a Bystander’s Law:
That lack of accountability is unacceptable. We need a solution with more teeth.
In short, a “do the right thing” law would hold witnesses and abettors fully accountable as if they committed the act themselves.
Come across a rape in progress? Immediately report the act or you will face the same penalty of law as if you were the one who committed the act. If the rapist gets eight years, the witness who did nothing should also get eight years.
Since I wrote that there have been more news reports about organizations like the Catholic Church and Boy Scouts who knew about alleged sexual abuse but did not inform the police. Somehow they feel they are up to the task of investigating from within. That is an utter atrocity and failure. The people and organizations involved are unable to overcome their own bias and the natural instinct for self-preservation at all costs. These sorts of investigations must be conducted by the police. Anything other than that should be criminal.
The need for a law like this clearly exists. I’m pleased to see the governor of Pennsylvania finally taking notice of my advice, although I’m sure whatever they come up with will be so-watered down that it will be remarkably ineffective. Whatever the hell it ends up being, we need to do something! We need it now. The innocent in our society are depending on us to protect them from psychotic assholes.
So initially the Penn State students didn’t like the firing of Paterno. They chose to riot. If only someone on this planet had cared as much about that 10-year-old boy. The students overturned a news media van. They acted like animals. Then they got the rest of the story and came back with a candlelight vigil. Always a touching and moving scene. But that’s too little, too late, in my opinion. Personally I wouldn’t mind seeing some real justice and see Penn State cease to exist. Let other organizations chew on that the next time the shit hits the fan. What? You don’t want to report a heinous crime? Fine. Your entire fucking world will cease to exist.
That would require an airlock mentality, and unfortunately our society doesn’t have the stomach for that.
Even Ashton Kutcher got in on the act. When he first heard the news about Paterno he tweeted:
How do you fire Jo Pa? #insult #noclass as a hawkeye fan I find it in poor taste.
–Ashton Kutcher, Twitter
Poor taste, indeed. Viola! The master of understatement.
Then, a mere 30 minutes later due to the backlash and ire of 8 million Twitter followers:
As an advocate in the fight against child sexual exploitation, I could not be more remorseful for all involved in the Penn St. case.
–Ashton Kutcher, Twitter
As of immediately I will stop tweeting until I find a way to properly manage this feed. I feel awful about this error. Won’t happen again.
–Ashton Kutcher, Twitter
I feel bad for Ashton. He shot his mouth off without knowing all the facts. Never a wise move and something we’re all guilty of at one time or another. Now he’s announced that he’s no longer going to tweet on his own account and has hired a management company to handle that task on his behalf. Self control can be a wonderful thing. We just love to to be so quick jump to conclusions.
You know what else shouldn’t happen again? Sexual abuse and child molestation. It turns out we can do something about that if enough of us choose to do the right thing rather than remain practitioners of The Not.
I like this post very much. So much, I’m not going to take time (like I usually do) to find something humorous to tease you with.
Keep spreading the word. I chose NOT to support The Not.
Keep spreading the word. I chose NOT to support The Not.
Yeah, I don’t think I cracked a single joke in this piece. Pure evil isn’t always that funny. I do appreciate you for reading it, and for using my idea of “The Not” in a sentence. I wish that was something that would catch on.
I told my first grade teacher about some things that had been done to me for years (this was 1st grade). She did more than nothing. She told me to never breathe a word of it again to anybody and she explained why. I never spoke of it again til I’d been in therapy over a year. I started therapy around age 30.
I don’t have an explanation for why people do what they do. The people who seemed to profit through their decisions (action or inaction) certainly look guilty. In the real world shit like this happens everyday and people don’t even profit from it. I think giving it an excuse as sport or money/ jobs is well, an excuse. I understand your point is it’s greed and evil but my point it whether or not you get something from The Not, you sure as hell didn’t help that kid.
Then again, you never know. It sure seems like a steaming pile of shite, either way.
…and continuing to rake it over just freaks survivors out more. There’s nothing like the mofos who sit there during these discussions and say, “And why didn’t THE TEN YEAR OLD call the police, hmmm? There’s something wrong with him. He must’ve liked it or he’d have dialled 911 on his own. Kids know.”
If you don’t think I’ve had to endure that every time another scandal breaks you, you’re missing half of what people say. And no. I don’t pipe in with, “Well, why I didn’t…” cos I’ve already been convicted.
I don’t know how a child can live in that world. An adult has violated them and no other adults seem to give a shit, and then they watch that adult being treated like a hero. The enormity of it is just too chilling to even think about, yet for far too many kids they have no choice.
Wow. That’s harsh advice from a first grade teacher.
It is my theory that almost all child sexual abuse could be prevented if people were observant and always took action on what they saw. I think this is very much an activity that requires the silence of others to thrive. That may be the sickest part of all.
I believe you’re correct that shining the light is about the only thing that ends it — that’s also why I support registering offenders. Only by continuing an eagle-eye can a community be safe. People don’t want to think about it or talk about it. If you wait to talk to your kids about good/ bad touch til they’re 3, it’s too late. My earliest memory (18 months?) is of abuse. It’s a fucked up world. I couldn’t necessarily have been “avoided” but the more people out others, the better.
Really good post on a very tough subject. Kutcher got caught up in what too many people (and pundits) do these days — spouting off without enough facts or thoughtfulness.
When i heard about it, the Beloved asked me if I thought Paterno would be fired — and I said that I’d guess so, but it depended on what he knew about and what he did about it. As the facts came out, it’s seems pretty clear that he decided (and/or was advised) to do the legal minimum required.
But my God — how on earth could you look at yourself in the mirror for the rest of your life? In the end, I think the University Trustees did the right thing — though I wonder if they knew and are just taking the opportunity to stand on the other side of the line. Clearly, a giant house-cleaning is required.
The action taken by the trustees is the only part of this that actually surprised me. I did not know humans existed with such steel. Thank god.
Very well said. (Source: myself – loved that). I agree with the concept of Not, although hiding child predator-rapists is not exactly inaction. It is a willful act that has been willfully ignored as well by the justice system in both this case and that of priest rapists. How sickening is that, when the rest of us would be punished more for stealing a loaf of bread.
What sickens me further is that the media and the rest of America seem to have forgotten that Penn State is a *school* where college students are supposed to be *learning*. But don’t mind those athletes who cannot read or write, so long as they bring in the dollars. That should be illegal too, damn it.