Again, as Joe Paterno would want, our sympathies and thoughts should most importantly be with the victims of Jerry Sandusky, the worst kind of person the human race has to offer. And I say that and hope that all readers pause and think about what he did, and how awful it must be, and to consider donating to charities that support abused children.
As for Joe Paterno, all weekend I listened to pundits and sportswriters and commentators on NPR, ESPN, the Sunday morning talk shows, and more. I read articles in the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, and Washington Post.
What did I learn? Here are a few things in no particular order:
1. People are rightly outraged at what happened to these children. It is unthinkable.
2. The press, primarily liberals and people who “write about people who do things”, vs. people “who actually do things”, are in a consensus opinion that Joe Paterno should have been fired.
3. Those who dissent (like me) are in the great minority. Most of those in dissent are not liberals and almost everyone who has played for, or who knows, Joe Paterno say there must be more to this story.
4. Commentators in all the media I mentioned have a clear lack of knowledge of the details of what happened. They don’t know what Joe Paterno was told, what Paterno told his boss, what actions Paterno took over time, what his boss did over time, etc. They have a huge hole in their facts, yet they are quick to judge. Just as the Board was.
5. Many (maybe not “most”) who agree with firing Paterno make the huge mistake of blending his role in this with the actual rape and abuse. They can’t separate “Paterno” from “Sandusky” or his acts.
6. I am an “accountability” person. We are all responsible for our own actions, and we must live with the consequences (good or bad) of our decisions and actions, even when the consequences happen very far downstream. Therefore if Paterno did something significantly wrong, I’m for having him fired as I would expect to be fired. But I haven’t seen enough evidence yet, I haven’t seen enough facts.
7. Most liberals in this country are the opposite. They fail to see the link between one’s actions and the consequences, and are quick to excuse behavior in ways such as “it’s not their fault, such and such led to such and such and then they did it” etc. They strongly support tort lawyers, lawsuits, blame government or others not themselves, etc. It is intriguing to see their reaction in this case. In fact, in the end I see some having more sympathy for Sandusky than they will for Paterno. They reject pursuit of “excellence” and make excuses for those who never pursue anything at all. “OJ is innocent until proven guilty!”. But Joe Paterno is “guilty until proven innocent, if we indeed give him a chance to prove himself innocent”.
8. Why is this? I think with many (not all, maybe not most, but “many”) it is because Paterno was (is) a great man, a role model, a person who did the right thing for 60 years of his career. And boy do many liberals hate people like this. They make them feel insecure, introspective, and they cling to a hope “something must be wrong with this man, or with me, and I hope it’s him”.
9. There was one “urgent” matter here, and that is to get Sandusky off the street, away from children. The Penn State Board saw a different “urgent” matter. Fire the President and one of the best human beings and leaders our society has known in this generation (Paterno). Both could have been fired a few weeks from now, a month from now, or later. This all could have been done in light of the facts, in light of complete perspective on the situation, and in the case of Paterno in the light of understanding in detail if/how a man as great as him may (or may not) have made such a huge mistake. But instead, the media exerted so much pressure on the Board that they felt for some reason they had to act immediately.
10. Lastly, for those who are blaming this on “college football” culture (as I heard several times today), please don’t waste your breath until you know more information. To do so right now is premature and shows a bias that makes any other statements about this situation non-credible.
We will have the facts soon, a few months from now perhaps. It could take a year. When we do, we will know what happened, what was done by the key characters in this tragedy, and likely what consequences should have befallen each. By then it will be too late to erase any mistakes that have been made, especially in the case of Joe Paterno.