By now you know the story: In 2002 a graduate student at Penn State witnessed an assistant coach sodomizing a young boy in the showers. He tried to report it to university authorities and was given the run-around. Now, nine years later, that assistant coach is finally facing charges of molesting several boys over a 15 year period. Also charged are a couple of the university officials who led the cover-up.
Two officials who were aware of the accusations and did nothing, but are not currently under arrest, include legendary football coach Joe Paterno and Penn State president Graham Spanier. Well, make that former coach Paterno and former president Spanier; the Board of Trustees canned them each last night for their failure to protect children from the sexual predator they knew was on their staff.
That should be the end of the story. Justice served. Far later than it should have been, but the right thing to do.
But no. In America we pretend to care about child abuse. But apparently we care about winning football games even more.
Shortly after the news of Peterno's firing was announced, riots broke out on the Penn State campus protesting the actions of the trustees. Preserving the legend of beloved "JoePa," it seems, is more important than any little boys who make have been robbed of their innocence and youth.
Paterno now says (in his prepared statement), "With the benefit of hindsight, I wish I had done more." Is that the hindsight that by protecting his former heir apparent many more children were abused, or the hindsight that it would end his career in disgrace? I fear it's only the second that motivated that minor bit of remorse.
The coaches and officials at Penn State are not alone in their quiet dismissal of societal condemnation of abusing and raping children. Another major story this last week was the release of a video showing a Texas judge brutally whipping his teenage daughter.
One would think that the judge would have no supporters, but up steps a former English Headmaster to reminisce about the good old days of beating children for a living. While he faults the judge for having acted out of anger, instead of calmly and dispassionately beating his child, this headmaster has no regrets and offers no apologies, "I was merely doing my job in upholding the discipline of the school."
Sure, protecting children is important. But not when it interferes with maintaining order or winning football games. We are Penn State. Go Team!