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On Joe Paterno’s death and the fact that dying doesn’t change facts

January 22, 2012

Those of you who follow this blog regularly (hi, Mom), will likely remember the strong feelings I expressed regarding the Penn State child rape and abuse scandal that led to what I still believe was the the rightful firing of Coach Joe Paterno. Sadly, Paterno died last night after a brief battle with cancer.

It’s sad for his family and friends because the experience of losing a loved one is always difficult to bear. But more importantly, I think that it’s sad for the victims of Jerry Sandusky – particularly those who Joe Paterno could have saved from child rape by simply reporting what he knew to the police repeatedly until something was done – because those poor boys will now never truly see the justice done for them that they deserve.

I feel compelled to point out a few things that I’m not yet seeing in the wake of the news of Paterno’s death. Namely, that Coach Paterno died a revered and famous millionaire football coach a the age of 85. He lived a long, productive life; and, to my knowledge, was never once raped as a child. So, though I’m not sorry that I find it hard to mourn a man who I never knew personally (would he have mourned me?), I must say that I can’t help but feel a little bit outraged at the outpouring of condolences I’m now seeing from all over America for him.

And harsh as this commentary may appear, let’s remember that it is very likely that through his selfish inaction Joe Paterno condemned numerous young boys to a life, at the very best, of prolonged therapy and constant anxiety. This is not a man we should be celebrating because he won some football games and “charitably” gave a few of his millions back to the school that paid him all that money in the first place. This is a man we should be shaking our heads at and wondering aloud how could he have done that?

While I respect the feelings of those who knew and loved him, I can feel no sorrow at the death of Joe Paterno. To me, he appears just a rich, old man who, when presented with the opportunity to do something hard but absolutely right, took the easy way out and got away with it for over a decade until someone else finally noticed and did something about it.

Sorry America, but Joe Paterno hadn’t deserved any of our praise since the day he decided not to do anything about a friend of his who was seen raping a young boy. And just because he’s gone now doesn’t cause him to deserve it any more.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. Joel permalink
    January 23, 2012 4:09 pm

    I feel the same way…his lack of action aided his friend. No different if he would have bought the candy, hit the parks, and brought them back for him.

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  2. January 24, 2012 4:47 pm

    I would agree with you. I feel he had the responsibility to report what he witnessed, as well as the respect from his fans. Look at all of these people who are hurt by his death; many of those people probably looked up to him as a role model. Thus, not only is he letting these boys down, but all of the people who honor him. Shall we celebrate his death? No. Rich old man, who was selfish and ignorant? Absolutely.

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  3. January 25, 2012 4:09 pm

    Great post. Death doesn’t automatically convey sainthood. “Evil prospers when good men do nothing.” Edmund Burke.

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