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AI Wessex
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It's been 9 days since the story broke about pedophilia by a Penn State coach. I've tried to follow the story closely, but it's frankly hard to listen to and watch without cringing with a sense of reflected shame. College football has always been iconic on many levels, as a standard of individual athletic heroism, team sacrifice and achievement, and fan loyalty. It's also been troubled by frequent recruiting and player scandals, and the larger issue of schools' profiting on the efforts of amateur student-athletes who are neither paid during nor financially rewarded after their team involvement ends.

But this is different. The Penn State scandal cuts to the core of what it means to identify with a person (Paterno), institution or group activity in a vicarious way. The icon knew about the abuse and turned his attention away from it in order to protect his team and institution. In doing that he not only demeaned himself, the team and the institution, but he highlighted the shallow nature of the idolization and vicarious attachment we have to the institution of sport, itself.

We have already been dragged through this with the continually unfolding scandals of the Catholic Church. Religion itself suffered in the muckraking. We're now forced to watch our national sport made to look like nothing more than an infantile obsession practiced by privileged yet diseased men we chpose to look to for inspiration for no substantive reason.

It forces us to ask what it all means. I think it means that we are very willing to sacrifice our own judgment for companionship and shared attachments; that we would rather believe in something than understand it; that we want to feel like we are part of something that advances like a tide and cannot be thwarted by the inconveniences of contraindicating fact or poor judgment.

I like watching football as much as anybody, and I'll keep watching it. I'm just reminded that I'm indulging my own sense of whimsy and my own willingness to suspend critical thinking when I do. It's just a game played by late adolescent/early adult men living out extended childhoods, controlled by older fallible men with no more perfect lives than anyone elses', and perpetuated by our willingness to believe that tallying more points on the field somehow translates to fulfillment or happiness in our lives.

Joe Paterno deserves to lose everything he worked so hard to obtain. I hope his fall is chronicled in detail and watched in the same slow motion that his players exploits are documented.

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Pete at Home
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I'm impressed that you connected this to the Catholic church, Al. I've been saying for years that most tight-knit organizations would do the same thing that the Catholic church is accused of doing, in order to protect its poobahs in similar situations. Just as the great agnostic George Bernard Shaw pointed out that any powerful organization whose member challeged it as much as Joan of Arc challenged the inquisition, would have meted out the harshest penalty in its power.
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kmbboots
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Al makes a good point. When does loyalty to an institution cause us to abdicate our own moral judgment and defer to those higher up in the institution? Everyone on the outside of the institution - whether Penn State football or the Catholic Church or Boy Scouts - knows the right thing to do when you come across a man raping a 10 year old.* But within institutions we panic - and, for heaven's sake, call our daddies.

I wonder if it has to do with our discomfort in even thinking about child sex abuse. If something in us can't even look at it long enough to do the right thing. And whether that gets even more difficult in all male institutions or if it just seems that way because, "that's where the boys are".

*According to McQeary's testimony, Sandusky and the victim heard and saw him enter the room. Can you imagine that child, perhaps thinking that he was going to be rescued only to see McQeary leave?

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Grant
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Just some thoughts:

1. Distrust and fear of the press

2. Distrust and fear of the police

3. Fear of publicity

4. Promotion and emphasis on group loyalty as a value

5. Nobody wants to be the trigger puller. Let somebody else call the police to help Kitty. Let somebody else pull the fire alarm. Let somebody else serve in the infantry. This is compounded if the problem is considered "protected" from above. If everybody KNOWS that management KNOWS the problem exists.... Who wants to tell the fire chief that he is being unsafe?

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AI Wessex
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Really, would you hesitate to call *someone* who you felt was in authority if you saw a 10 year old boy being raped? McQeary did make the call, which was the minimum possible face-saving thing he could have done, and then did nothing more. That he reported it to someone with an agenda that didn't actually have the boy's welfare at the center of his attention doesn't make him a hero or goat, and since he had no accountability we can't blame him, only wonder if (and perhaps hope) he feels lifelong shame.

[ November 15, 2011, 03:10 PM: Message edited by: AI Wessex ]

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Brian
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Personally, I think McQueary and the athletic director should have been fired before Paterno.
Or all at the same time. But Paterno had the least moral culpability of the three, and he is the only one who got publicly booted.

I absolutely think Paterno dropped the ball and deserves to be fired for it. But McQueary and the AD should be charged with conspiracy after the fact or whatever it is called.
At the time, Sandusky was not in Paterno's chain of command, so what was he supposed to do when McQueary came to him with the story? (Going to Paterno instead of the cops is why McQ should be charged)
Paterno went to his superior, and also the guy who let Sandusky still use the facilities and dumped it in his lap. Paterno failed morally by going by the book.
The AD swept it under the rug, which is why he should be charged.

Firing JoePa was the right thing to do, but by not firing McQ and the AD, the board of trustees gave the impression that it was all Paterno's fault when he was arguably the least responsible of the three.

[ November 15, 2011, 03:27 PM: Message edited by: Brian ]

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AI Wessex
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Since it was a crime, any and all who learned of it should have reported it to the police.
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kmbboots
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Indeed. Do we really think that Joe Paterno was concerned about the "chain of command" here? Is he known for following the company line? Or do we think that Joe Paterno had enough clout at Penn State that, had the protection of children been a priority, he could have made that happen?

Can you imagine the riots had he been fired for doing the right thing?

[ November 15, 2011, 03:50 PM: Message edited by: kmbboots ]

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Grant
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I wish it was that easy, but just think of all the rapes or molestations of women that go unreported because the victim is afraid of publicity or trial.

In order to stop from going insane, I believe that a good portion of Americans divide the world into
a. stuff they have control over
b. stuff they do not have control over

They focus on things they do believe they have control over, and push things they do not have control over from their mind. Most people only want to take responsibility for the things they feel are within their realm to change, and are not in someone else's realm. It's hard to train people differently.

If someone sees a neighbor beating their wife, they will possibly call the police. If the police come but do nothing about it, then most people will stop there. They are not motivated to go to the press, or exact vigilante justice, simply because they believe it is the responsibility of the police to handle the matter, not them, and they are trained from adolesense to think this way.

I'm not positive, but I believe that most anger management therapy deals with teaching people to accept the things they cannot change. Most people are not angry people, they don't have that problem. They take action where they feel they have authority and responsibilty, no more. Experiments bear this out. Kitty Genovese, the prison guard experiment, the fire extinguisher experiment, the fire alarm experiment.

Alot of managers and leaders are control nuts. They don't accept that there is anything that they cannot change or effect. If something stands in their way, then it is simply an obstacle. This is why lots of managers and leaders have temper or anger management problems, but it also makes them effective in positions of responsibility because they take responsibilty for EVERYTHING that goes on around them. But that's not the majority of people.

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kmbboots
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Here are some thoughts on the psychology of this:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/melanie-gorman/penn-state-scandal-reactions-_b_1088946.html

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kmbboots
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You think that Joe Paterno was one of those people who believe that there are things he has no control over? And that among those things were the actions of his former assistant coach? Or what went on in his locker room?
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Grant
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quote:
Originally posted by kmbboots:
Here are some thoughts on the psychology of this:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/melanie-gorman/penn-state-scandal-reactions-_b_1088946.html

I think it's pretty disgusting that people are that wrapped in a college football program. I'm a baseball fan, and Boston had something similar like this happen during the Yawkey years.

I don't know, the things the article talks about is nothing like I talked about. This is all stupidity. I imagine that this is what is meant by "idolatry". A sports team has been raised above "good", or "justice". I know those are hard terms for some people but I know we all agree that children should be protected from predators. For whatever reason you believe that is the case, these people believed that Penn State football was more important.

If their motivations were thus, then I believe they are worthy of my contempt and disdain.

@#$% Penn State
and
@#$% Penn State Football

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Grant
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quote:
Originally posted by kmbboots:
You think that Joe Paterno was one of those people who believe that there are things he has no control over? And that among those things were the actions of his former assistant coach? Or what went on in his locker room?

No, but I bet he went to sleep at night thinking that it wasn't in his control, and that it wasn't his responsibility.
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JWatts
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quote:
Originally posted by Grant:
In order to stop from going insane, I believe that a good portion of Americans divide the world into
a. stuff they have control over
b. stuff they do not have control over

They focus on things they do believe they have control over, and push things they do not have control over from their mind. Most people only want to take responsibility for the things they feel are within their realm to change, and are not in someone else's realm. It's hard to train people differently.

Of course. It's ridiculous to internalize emotions about events you can't control or change.

quote:
Originally posted by Grant:
If someone sees a neighbor beating their wife, they will possibly call the police. If the police come but do nothing about it, then most people will stop there.

And this is BS. You absolutely can exercise control in this case. If you see it happening you have a moral obligation to stop it. I don't have any sympathy for those too lazy or too uncaring and who look the other way.
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kmbboots
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Grant, I could grant you the second but not the first.

I can see (sadly) people putting Penn State football first. Look at all those bishops who put what they thought of as the Church first. When, really, the victims they were throwing to the wolves were the Church.

[ November 15, 2011, 04:32 PM: Message edited by: kmbboots ]

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Grant
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quote:
Originally posted by JWatts:
And this is BS. You absolutely can exercise control in this case. If you see it happening you have a moral obligation to stop it. I don't have any sympathy for those too lazy or too uncaring and who look the other way.

I think that's a great, commendable attitude. I wish most people were like that, but they arn't.
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Grant
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quote:
Originally posted by kmbboots:
Look at all those bishops who put what they thought of as the Church first. When, really, the victims they were throwing to the wolves were the Church.

Exactly. They were wrong in their assumptions and thought process. I can't excuse a bishop for that. I expect more from a bishop, or an archbishop, or a cardinal, or a pope.

I understand loyalty. I feel loyalty to the Army, to my church, and to my country. But I have a higher loyalty to something else, and I can't equate loyalty to a flippin football team to my loyalty to brothers/sisters in arms. I guess if football is all you got then that's all you will have loyalty to.

[ November 15, 2011, 04:43 PM: Message edited by: Grant ]

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TheOne
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Standard procedure for many organizations when such an incident is witnessed is to tell your superior. Paterno went through the proper channels as did McQueary. Of course, who in good conscience could have left it that when nothing was apparently done with Sandusky. Seeing that, they should have done more.
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DonaldD
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quote:
Standard procedure for many organizations when such an incident is witnessed is to tell your superior.
This may be true, but it is NOT standard procedure for any 'law abiding' organization to counsel its members or even suggest to its members that they should not report the illegal activities to legal authorities first. Not saying that this was done in this case, but there seems to be an underlying acceptance that reporting to a supervisor is a sufficient action if the supervisor ends up doing the right thing, that reporting illegal activity within an organization should take precedence over reporting the activity to the accepted legal authorities.

Reporting the activity to Paterno should have been a secondary or even tertiary consideration and should not be accepted as the default and even acceptably only action, regardless of what Paterno did in the end.

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kmbboots
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quote:
Originally posted by TheOne:
Standard procedure for many organizations when such an incident is witnessed is to tell your superior. Paterno went through the proper channels as did McQueary. Of course, who in good conscience could have left it that when nothing was apparently done with Sandusky. Seeing that, they should have done more.

Exactly. And it isn't like Joe Paterno was some meek Bob Crachit who was shy about bucking university authority.
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DonaldD
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Actually, this is on CNN:
quote:
State College, Pennsylvania (CNN) -- A Penn State assistant football coach, who has been criticized for not doing more in an alleged rape of a boy by former coach Jerry Sandusky, said in an e-mail that he helped stop the assault and talked with police about it, The Morning Call newspaper reported.

"I did stop it, not physically, but made sure it was stopped when I left that locker room," assistant coach Mike McQueary wrote in the November 8 e-mail to a former classmate. The e-mail was obtained by the Allentown, Pennsylvania, newspaper.

"No one can imagine my thoughts or wants to be in my shoes for those 30-45 seconds," McQueary said. "Trust me."

McQueary also wrote that he "did have discussions with police and with the official at the university in charge of police" after the alleged incident involving Sandusky.

This seems not just more correct but is frankly more believable.
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kmbboots
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I wonder why he did not testify to that before the grand jury. According to that, he, "left immediately, distraught".

You can read the grand jury report here. http://www.wgal.com/pdf/29737452/detail.html

The part with McQeary starts on page 6. Victim 2.

I am not sure I need to include a warning that this report is often graphic.

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G3
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You know, I always wonder what a guy can do after he's been connected with the sexual abuse of young boys. Where can he go that people will tolerate him? Who would hire such a foul human being (and just barely that) after he participated in the multi-year cover up of child molestation? It seems we have a answer! The Obama administration ...
quote:
In yet another shocking development in the Penn State story, ousted president Graham Spanier will soon begin working with the federal government on projects related to national security, The Patriot-News of Harrisburg, Pa., first reported.

In an email written to the paper, Spanier said: “For the next several months, as I transition to my post-presidential plans, I will be working on a special project for the U.S. government relating (to) national security. This builds on my prior positions working with federal agencies to foster improved cooperation between our nation’s national security agencies and other entities.”

The harshest critics would argue that Spanier was part of a miserable failure to keep young boys safe right on the Penn State campus.

He was fired on Nov. 9 amid the charges and arrest of convicted serial pedophile, Jerry Sandusky.

The Freeh Report, conducted by former FBI director Louis Freeh, concluded that Spanier, along with vice president Gary Schultz, athletic director Tim Curley and late football coach Joe Paterno, conspired to cover-up the sexual abuse allegations against Sandusky.

Well, at least we know the guy can for damn sure keep a secret so maybe he's a step up for Barry's national intelligence teams.

[ July 27, 2012, 12:39 PM: Message edited by: G3 ]

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