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.