Friday, November 11, 2011

Doing the bare minimum isn't good enough

I know everyone's talking about the Penn State riots over the firing of Paterno. And it's something that's hard to ignore, really if only because it is so very disturbing. Apart from the fact that I think it's good to know they're so pro-rape up at Penn State so I can stay way the hell away...

Here you have college students, supposedly some of the more intelligent people in the nation (I lean heavily on the 'supposedly' there. I am constantly reminded that being book smart doesn't give one the common sense to come in out of the rain.) *rioting* because a man who was in a position of authority and *failed* to do everything in his power to stop the rapes of children was fired. I don't even know what to say to that. My first reaction was: 'What the *fuck* is wrong with them?' And that's pretty much stayed.

Do they not understand what happened? Is their winning football more important than the pain that these children suffered and continue to suffer? Is it more important to protect the reputation of a man who failed the victims, failed anyone who ever had faith in him as a decent human being and failed to *be* a decent human being than to see some sort of justice done for the crimes that were committed?

No one is saying that Paterno raped anyone, but there is evidence that he knew what was going on and just kicked it up the chain of command. Did he, technically, do what he was required to do? Sure. He did the barest minimum that he had to do, legally. Technically. And he saw that nothing was ever done. And he did...nothing. No one did *anything*. Paterno is hardly alone in his failure here, but the fact that there are more people who failed to be human beings doesn't excuse Paterno. He deserved to be fired. So did the president of the university. And anyone else who knew and did nothing. And if there are criminal charges that can be brought against them, they should be.

I honestly don't know how any of these people can live with themselves. Knowing that they valued their...what? The schools reputation? More than the lives of other people. More than the lives of children.

These people all had a moral obligation to do everything that they could to see Sandusky stopped. That isn't the bare minimum, 'oh, I told my boss'. No. That's calling the police. That's, especially if you're a huge ex-football player, physically *stopping* the man you find raping a boy in the showers and calling the police then and there.

What they did is like...seeing someone being raped and knocking on the next house door you find. Telling the person there that there's someone being raped back thataway. Then standing there, watching them do nothing and eventually just...walking away. Doing nothing but telling yourself that you did all you could.

I had an argument with my parents about this, about whether or not Paterno should have been fired. They thought no because he had met his legal obligation in the matter and could have been fired himself if he had gone outside the university's investigative procedure. My argument was that he could *see* that nothing was being done. He knew that the people above him were doing nothing and he proceeded to do nothing as well. He became an accomplice to every single act of rape that followed by his silence. By his helping to allow this man to remain free with easy access to his preferred victims. He did the bare minimum and he did *not* do what he morally and ethically should have.

They asked me, trying to get me to see their point of view, what I would do if I found out that H (a co-worker) was beating her children. I told them I'd call child services and the police! I certainly wouldn't tell the company's HR department or her boss (who happens to be her sister-in-law in this case). It's not a business issue. It's a legal issue. It's a *crime* and it's a moral issue. I would not be able to live with myself if I knew something like that was going on and did nothing. I couldn't believe my mother even had the guts to ask me that question, really. She lived in an abusive marriage for *years*. I was raised in that home! I know how hard it is, from the inside, to stand up and admit to being abused. If someone on the outside knew, they should have gone to the police. I would willingly lose a friendship or anything else to stop someone from growing up the way I did, let alone ignore someone being raped.

I don't really know how to end this post. There isn't an end to it I guess. Rapes continue to happen. Abuse continues to happen. There are still people out there who think that the people who get raped 'deserved' it somehow. That they did something that invited it. This is bullshit. The idiots who rioted at Penn State should be ashamed of themselves. If it was their son that had been raped would they still be out there weeping for Paterno? I sure as hell hope not. And if not, then why are they forgetting that someone *was* raped? And he knew and did the bare minimum.

Maybe Paterno was a great coach. He might even have been a generally nice guy. It doesn't matter. This is what he'll be remembered for.

And it is what he should be remembered for. For a *huge* moral failure. For failing to be, not even a good human being, but just fucking human.

Meanwhile, the legal process grinds on behind all the media attention on Paterno and his drama. The victims and the crimes are nearly forgotten in all of this media hoopla because it's not as shiny as watching an 'icon' fall and watching his worshipers completely fail at having an ounce of sympathy, common sense or souls.


  1. Great post, Amber! I totally agree!

  2. I shared it on Facebook in case you didn't notice. Hope you don't mind, but I felt it was very well-said. Thanks for taking time to write this. I enjoy your commentary.

  3. Loved this post Amber, and I agree with you 100%. Thank you.


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