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On Joe Paterno’s firing and the possibility of time travelling Board of Trustees from the future

November 10, 2011

Late last night Michele and I were flipping through channels on television after watching the latest episode of American Horror Story and came upon ESPN’s coverage of the firing of Penn State football coach Joe Paterno. For those who may not have heard about this, the relevant details are as follows:

  • In 2002, an assistant of Paterno’s came to him to report that he had witnessed a former Penn State coach (who still had offices on campus) having sex with a boy who looked to be about 10 in a locker room shower.
  • Paterno alerted his bosses, and then did essentially nothing else.
  • A wrist slap was handed out to the alleged rapist, and that was all.
  • Paterno again proceeded to do nothing about this for a decade, during which it turns out that the alleged rapist continued allegedly raping young boys.
  • A Grand Jury investigated this and brought charges against the alleged rapist, allowing all of these details into the open.
  • Paterno submitted his resignation to be effective at the end of this season, but the University decided that wasn’t good enough and fired both he and the University President outright.
  • Penn State students reacted to the news that, Jo Pa,  their beloved coach had been fired… by rioting.

There, I’m pretty sure I got everything.

Needless to say, all of this has gotten me pretty riled up. During the coverage last night I tweeted some harsh things, and in the light of day I’ve realized that, well, I didn’t go far enough.

First of all, fuck Joe Paterno. Here’s what you do when you hear about a possible rape on your watch by a former assistant coach of yours: you call the police. That’s it. After you’ve called the police, you call anyone else that may need to know about this – such as your boss, or your other coaches, or whoever. You probably also think about firing the guy who saw this and did nothing except tell you about it as well, but even that can be done much later on. What you first do, and I’ll say it again to be clear, is call the police.

Second, fuck those Penn State students who went out last night and tore up parts of their campus because the Penn State Board of Trustees had the gall to say, “Coach Paterno, what you did (or failed to do) was wrong; and now that we know all about it, you’re fired.” This is the appropriate response given the situation. How anyone can think differently is well beyond even my capacity to think deluded sports fan thoughts.

In fact, if you ask me (being the sci-fi geek that I am), the most appropriate response would be to bulid a time machine and go back to 2002 to fire Joe Paterno then. I get that this isn’t really feasible (or so we’re told…), but that would certainly be the best thing to do. Of course, if we had a time machine, we could go back and stop the alleged rapist from allegedly raping young boys; but even so, I think Joe Paterno should still be fired. It would be kind of like The Minority Report.

Coach Paterno?

Yes, who are you?

We’re the Penn State Board of Trustees from the future, and we’re here to say that you’re fired.

Fired? For what?

Well, we just stopped an alleged rapist from allegedly raping a 10 year old boy that you didn’t know about. But it turns out if you did know about it, you wouldn’t have acted appropriately.

What? That doesn’t seem fair.

It doesn’t matter, life’s not fair. And you’re an asshole, so pack you stuff and get out of here.

Yes, that, to me, would seem the best course of action; but since it isn’t going to happen, firing Paterno last night will have to do.

And to be slightly more serious, if I were the parent of one of these poor children who were raped and left in the clutches of a predator who could have been stopped with what would appear to be minimal effort of the part of just one or two people at Penn State University, than even Paterno’s firing isn’t enough. But then, what ever could be?

PS – A few weeks ago I wrote a short post about how achieving success ins’t an indicator that the successful person is very smart. Here’s more evidence of that.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. todd permalink
    November 10, 2011 6:44 pm

    I agree I agree I agree. It sadens me to hear people refer to Joe paterno as a legend. A legend? Really. Although his success on the field cannot be denied, the true measure of success is life and at life Joe paterno has failed. Hell reserves a special place for those types of individuals.


    • November 11, 2011 12:39 am

      Thanks for the comment. I’m with you (except for the hell part, as I don’t believe in it). We’re on the same page.


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