Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Penn State Scandal: Why Joe Paterno Should Be Punished

It’s been a crazy few months for the United States. The Republican Presidential hopefuls are all debating for their party’s nomination, the Occupy Wall Street (and other Occupy movement itself) is in full swing and doesn’t seem to be going anywhere, and the Penn State scandal is all over our TV screens as Penn State students are protesting against the firing of Joe Paterno. The latter is what I will be writing about tonight.

Back in 2002 a man walked into the Penn State showers only to find one Jerry Sandusky raping a 10 year old boy. Instead of calling the police and/or stopping the rape himself he reported the incident to Joe Paterno, the Penn State head football coach. After hearing the news of this incident you would think he would have called the police or at least confronted Sandusky and fired him and/or forced him to retire. But no, apparently Paterno thought that the best punishment would be to revoke his locker room and shower privileges and never speak of the incident again.

Well at the beginning of the month Jerry Sandusky was finally arrested for sexually abusing multiple young boys from his charity “The Second Mile”. News got out to the public that not only has Sandusky been abusing children for almost a decade but that Joe Paterno and others on the Penn State football staff knew of the abuse and didn’t do anything about it. As a result the Penn State Board of Trustees fired Paterno for trying to cover up this horrible crime. The Penn State students did not like this idea.

After Paterno was fired many students took to the streets and protested (or rioted, rather) the firing of Paterno. They turned over a news van and even threw objects at police officers. The students said that they believe that the firing of Joe Paterno over this situation is horrible because he has done so much for Penn State’s football program and thus he should be allowed to keep his job.

The students are not the only ones who believe this, as just recently football hall of famer and Penn State great Franco Harris is releasing statements saying that he stands beside his former coach Joe Paterno and believes that his firing was unjust.

From the article:

"I feel that the board made a bad decision in letting Joe Paterno go," said Harris, a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. "I'm very disappointed in their decision. I thought they showed no courage, not to back someone who really needed it at the time. They were saying the football program under Joe was at fault.

"They really wouldn't give a reason. They're linking the football program to the scandal and, possibly, the cover up. That's very disturbing to me. ... I think there should be no connection to the football program, only in the case that it happened at the football building with an ex-coach.”

For one, the football program isn’t being linked to the scandal. It wasn’t the football program who raped and then tried to cover up the abuse of several young boys. But people that are a part of the football program (Sandusky, Paterno) are linked to the scandal because one of them raped young boys and the other one didn’t report it to the proper authorities.

Jon Stewart made the best point I think I have ever heard.

From the clip:

“I guess it’s pretty hard for you to believe that this guy you think is infallible and this program you think is sacred could hide such heinous activities, but there is some president for that (the catholic church). And just like with the Catholic Church no one is trying to take away your religion, in this case football, they’re just trying to bring some accountability to a pope and some of his cardinals who fucked up. So don’t worry, on Saturday you’ll still get to go to services against Nebraska, no one’s going to take that away because obviously you’re young, and that would be a traumatic experience. And we wouldn’t want that memory to scar you for life.”

The case for firing Paterno is simple. He technically did something illegal and he should be held accountable for it legally. He covered up a crime. He knew Sandusky was raping young boys (in the locker room showers of Penn State) and the only thing he did was try to stop it from happening on his turf by revoking Sandusky’s locker room and shower privileges. What he should have done was fired Sandusky, or forced him to retire, or (hey this is an interesting concept) reported Sandusky to the police for raping young boys.

The reason for this cathartic outcry for Paterno from Penn State students is simple. Penn State’s football program brings in millions of dollars for the school. As one student said on the news, “he’s done so much for this school.” But I’m sorry, just because you have done so much for the school and the football team should not exonerate you from covering up such a crime. Thank about it this way, if you knew that someone that worked under you was raping little boys would you just sweep it under the rug? And if you would, where the hell are your morals and ethics? If I caught someone I worked with raping young boys I would report them to the police immediately.

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