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January 22, 2012 8:38 AM   Subscribe

Paterno, Joseph Vincent (Joe Pa)
Born: December 21, 1926, in Brooklyn, New York.
Died: January, 22, 2012 in State College, Pennsylvania.
Vocation: Football Coach
Employer: Penn State, Retired.*
posted by Toekneesan (172 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

 
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posted by tonycpsu at 8:41 AM on January 22, 2012


We'll keep this one. Thanks for putting in the effort, Toekneesan.
posted by cortex at 8:41 AM on January 22, 2012 [8 favorites]


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posted by Sassyfras at 8:42 AM on January 22, 2012


I'm guessing the only reason Paterno lasted through the night, is that Satan himself didn't think Hell was quite hot enough for him yet, and wanted to turn up the burners for a few hours.
posted by timsteil at 8:43 AM on January 22, 2012 [22 favorites]


May God have mercy on his soul.


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posted by magstheaxe at 8:45 AM on January 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Good night, Joe. As a human being, thinking of another human being, I hope that in the end the medicine was strong enough to alleviate the pain. Wishing those who knew and loved him the strength to get through this difficult day, and those to follow.
posted by MonkeyToes at 8:46 AM on January 22, 2012


Maybe they'll play this song at his funeral.
posted by "Elbows" O'Donoghue at 8:47 AM on January 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


I didn't anything about who he was before the pedophile story hit the news, and I don't care to now. What he did--or, more accurately, didn't do--and continued not to do for years, engenders no sympathy for him in me.

However, I have sympathy for his family, both that they had to endure the blowback of his involvement in something so heinous, and that they have lost someone whom they loved, no matter what he did.

My . is for them, not for him.
posted by tzikeh at 8:47 AM on January 22, 2012 [20 favorites]


I knew I should have written this last night.

Here's what I'd started (with links removed)
After a four month span in which he was fired amid a shocking child abuse cover-up and diagnosed with lung cancer, Joe Paterno, winningest college football coach, has died at age 85.

Paterno started his collegiate football career as a quarterback for Brown in 1946-1949, and upon graduation, joined his Brown coach Rip Engle as an assistant coach at Penn State in 1950. When Brown retired in 1965, Paterno was named his successor, where he went on to bome the winningest coach in college football with a final record of 409–136–3, passing Amos Alanzo Stagg for most wins in 2009, his 44th season at Penn State. After Paterno was fired last year, it was the first time that either Stagg or Paterno wasn't on the sidelines of a college football game (as player or coach) since 1884.
-----


And here's my editorializing comment that I wrote for someone else's previously deleted post:


As details of the tragic, digusting Penn State scandal have come out, many people have spoken aloud their wish that Jerry Sandusky be killed. And though I understand the impulse, I've always thought 'No, that's too good for him. I want him to have to wake up every day of his life with the shame and guilt that he should. And if he's too sociopathic to have that guilt, I want him to stay alive until he has been shamed to the point where he finally does realize the extent of the damage he has done."

As for Paterno, while his sins are nowhere near equal, I've not heard anything that has convinced me that all the good he has done is vastly outweighed by his decision to at best, ignore the situation rather than use his outsized influence to get to the bottom of it, and at worst, take the course of (in)action to protect the football program and his legacy. However, the culture often has a short memory, and I did fear that as the details continued to come out, Paterno's role in the whole affair would end up inaccurately being downplayed or whitewashed and that he would somehow be able to be forgiven in a situation where no forgiveness seems applicable.

So, while my heart goes out to his family and those who cared about him separately of the mistakes he's made, I'm glad he died when he did. Because if, in the future, just one person is forced with a decision like he was and rather than making the wrong choice, that person stops and thinks "Do I want to be on my death bed with this on my conscience? Do I want the possibility that my family will be left behind with this kind of mess to deal with?" and, in that moment, makes the right choice rather than what feels like the easy one in the moment* , then, in at least dying before he's been forgiven, Joe Paterno has done one thing right throughout this whole mess.

* One hopes that someone could make this decision between right and wrong without that help or that the difference between 'easy' and 'hard' in this moment wouldn't something difficult to ascertain, but as we've seen in the last few months, that is sadly not a guarantee.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 8:48 AM on January 22, 2012 [13 favorites]


ugh ^ - didn't *know* anything about who he was.

And I add a . for the numerous victims he didn't protect.
posted by tzikeh at 8:48 AM on January 22, 2012 [4 favorites]


This was certainly an incredibly quick decline.
posted by josher71 at 8:48 AM on January 22, 2012


I'm so sorry for his family. Cancer sucks.

As for Paterno, he was either a fool or a goddamn liar, possibly both. "I never heard of, of, rape and a man"

I'm not sad that there's one less fool on this Earth today.
posted by HopperFan at 8:53 AM on January 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


I can't help but think of Aristotle's line (itself a riff on Solon?) that we should count no man truly happy until he's dead, since a good life can be marred by a bad end.

What a shockingly quick and bad end / reversal of fortune: from wildly and widely celebrated and respected to reviled and hapless (at best) and dead. In under a year.

Count no man happy until he is dead.

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posted by joe lisboa at 8:55 AM on January 22, 2012 [37 favorites]


His fall from grace over the last few months has been almost Shakespearian. It doesn't seem like a stretch to say that getting fired from Penn State killed him. Weirdly tragic.

He obviously made mistakes and probably never deserved his reputation as one of the unconditional good guys, but nonetheless: .
posted by dixiecupdrinking at 8:59 AM on January 22, 2012 [4 favorites]


Whether you found him to be a great man or an awful human being. Remember this:

"Death is a debt we all must pay." ~Euripides
posted by Fizz at 8:59 AM on January 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'm very sorry for the Paterno family's loss... it is awful to have to watch a loved one die of cancer.

Here's hoping this doesn't negatively effect the case against Sandusky in any way. I want justice for the victims, damn it.
posted by palomar at 9:01 AM on January 22, 2012 [2 favorites]



It says something that my immediate assumption was that he had killed himself out of shame about the scandal.
posted by Forktine at 9:01 AM on January 22, 2012 [8 favorites]


.
For the children he didn't protect
posted by double block and bleed at 9:03 AM on January 22, 2012 [5 favorites]


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posted by Busithoth at 9:09 AM on January 22, 2012


I knew I should have written this last night.

Thing is, last night there was one blog post that said that he had passed away, but no confirmation from any other news source, and many reports that he was still alive. So it's just as well.

RIP, Mr. Paterno.
posted by ZeusHumms at 9:12 AM on January 22, 2012


If he died a year ago, he'd be a football God.
Anyway, here's your period: .
posted by Renoroc at 9:14 AM on January 22, 2012


Good riddance, you child molester protecting bastard.
posted by lazaruslong at 9:16 AM on January 22, 2012 [18 favorites]


It doesn't seem like a stretch to say that getting fired from Penn State killed him.
It does seem like a stretch. He had lung cancer. Lung cancer isn't caused by being disgraced, and it's usually lethal.

I don't know. It's sad to see such a spectacular fall from grace. On the other hand, he deserved to fall from grace.
posted by craichead at 9:19 AM on January 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


A fucking dot? WTF is wrong w/you people?
posted by symbioid at 9:23 AM on January 22, 2012 [4 favorites]


He could have done the right thing.
posted by tommasz at 9:23 AM on January 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


Winningest coach dies with losing record. One thing I take away from this is the desire to protect my students more from those who would abuse them.
posted by daedsiluap at 9:25 AM on January 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


I've not heard anything that has convinced me that all the good he has done is vastly outweighed by his decision to at best, ignore the situation rather than use his outsized influence to get to the bottom of it, and at worst, take the course of (in)action to protect the football program and his legacy.

I think it's dangerous to think of it in this way -- that all the good one does can somehow cancel out a lapse into bad for a moment. Just how much good does a person have to do so that knowing that a colleague was having sex with children, and not doing anything/much about it, is perfectly fine? Everything isn't relative. Good deeds don't give you points which are protected against the tarnish of a couple of penalties.
posted by anothermug at 9:27 AM on January 22, 2012 [15 favorites]


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posted by schyler523 at 9:27 AM on January 22, 2012


I can't speak for others, symbioid, but my moment of silence is not out of respect for the man.
posted by joe lisboa at 9:29 AM on January 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


I don't care about this person's career. I mean, I don't really care about football at all. So I too would never have heard of him if not for the scandal. That said, nothing has been proven and no trial has taken place. It looks bad, but so did Michael Jackson, and we have generally decided that somehow all of that was trumped up and okay, I guess because we as a society really like "Thriller." I don't know. I just find a lot of this to be very Fox News and tacky.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 9:31 AM on January 22, 2012 [9 favorites]


. for his family,
. for State College and Penn State who have been reeling with the loss of something they thought was pure,
. for the man himself, and
. for those he failed to protect.
posted by hepta at 9:31 AM on January 22, 2012 [14 favorites]


This is a case where there's neither a shortage of well-deserved scorn to fling, nor a shortage of targets. Sandusky is a monster. McQueary, a spineless twit. And after a long career, Paterno fails at the one thing we all thought he excelled at.

And now he's dead. Sorry, JoePa. Seems like there should be some balance. But there isn't. That's how it is. You can win a ton of important games and still botch the only thing that actually matters.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 9:35 AM on January 22, 2012 [16 favorites]


So I'm not completely clear on what Paterno did. My understanding is that a graduate student told him that he witnessed Sandusky raping a boy in the shower, and that Paterno went to the college president with the information.

That is, this was a second-hand report of shameful and heinous misconduct by a longtime friend and colleague. And he still went to the university president with the information.

With no intent to excuse him, I have to admit that were I in his shoes, I couldn't be certain I would do differently than he. Even if the "right thing to do" is perfectly obvious in retrospect, it sounds like it would be quite moral dilemma to actually be in.
posted by phenylphenol at 9:36 AM on January 22, 2012 [10 favorites]


“Success without honor is an unseasoned dish; it will satisfy your hunger, but it won't taste good.”
Joe Paterno
posted by mazola at 9:38 AM on January 22, 2012 [10 favorites]




Phenylphenol: you are right, you are not clear / don't understand the issue. In the future I would suggest that you stop right there until you DO. Otherwise your statement that you aren't sure you would do any different is disgusting. Go read up.
posted by lazaruslong at 9:43 AM on January 22, 2012 [5 favorites]


A fucking dot? WTF is wrong w/you people?

Most likely this means that the dot should be withheld, because of what he's credibly alleged to have done or failed to do. Or perhaps it means that the dot from largely anonymous computer users is a pathetic symbol in the first place, little assisted by attempts to indicate precisely what sympathies it is supposed to express.

Either way, I marvel at our apparent capacity to judge whether a person's life or death merits respect and commemoration, and then to quarrel about conferring or withholding a dot. A nearly 90-year old man died, having apparently done some good things and some very bad things in his long life. Some people close to him are in mourning, other people directly affected by him and his decisions are also affected by his passing (as they were, positively or negatively, by his life), and the hoi polloi fling about some punctuation.
posted by Clyde Mnestra at 9:45 AM on January 22, 2012 [6 favorites]


My understanding is that a graduate student told him that he witnessed Sandusky raping a boy in the shower, and that Paterno went to the college president with the information.
The "graduate student" was a former star player on his team who was being groomed for a career in the football program. Paterno knew and trusted the "graduate student" and continued to work with him afterwards in a way that suggests he did not think that the "graduate student" fabricated accusations of child rape. Paterno didn't take any steps to find out whether this was the first allegation against Sandusky. He knew that Sandusky had tons of access to vulnerable kids and had done all sorts of things (by becoming a foster parent and setting up a foundation for underprivileged boys) to ensure access to vulnerable kids. Paterno took no steps to limit Sandusky's access to vulnerable little boys, including not notifying the organization that Sandusky seems to have started to allow himself to recruit victims. And all this despite the fact that Paterno was the highest paid employee of the university and probably the most powerful person in State College, certainly more powerful than the University's president.

You really don't understand what's wrong with that?
posted by craichead at 9:46 AM on January 22, 2012 [15 favorites]


lazaruslong - I did read up, and didn't post until I had. To the best of my informed knowledge, my account was accurate. What I am expressing is a brutally honest doubt of my own moral resolve in such a situation. And of course, I'm not entirely comfortable with that.
posted by phenylphenol at 9:47 AM on January 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


It says something that my immediate assumption was that he had killed himself out of shame about the scandal.

I bet it's hard for an 85 year old to fight to live when he's got such trouble hanging over him.
posted by gjc at 9:48 AM on January 22, 2012


Your account is inaccurate.
posted by lazaruslong at 9:48 AM on January 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


You went to sports illustrated to get a story on the truth about joe paterno. That's why.
posted by lazaruslong at 9:50 AM on January 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


What I am expressing is a brutally honest doubt of my own moral resolve in such a situation.
I think that's fair: none of us know what we would do in a similar situation, unless we've been in one. But I don't think the appropriate response to that is to excuse Paterno. It's to resolve to do better than he did if ever faced with a similar dilemma.
posted by craichead at 9:50 AM on January 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


So I'm not completely clear on what Paterno did. My understanding is that a graduate student told him that he witnessed Sandusky raping a boy in the shower, and that Paterno went to the college president with the information.

I'm kind of in this boat. I haven't been following this story particularly closely, but it's my understanding that Paterno made a report as required by law. If anybody has information that paints a fuller picture, I'd appreciate a link. I really would.

Phenylphenol: you are right, you are not clear / don't understand the issue. In the future I would suggest that you stop right there until you DO. Otherwise your statement that you aren't sure you would do any different is disgusting. Go read up.

Dial back the aggro a little. Telling people to "go read up" is great, and what's even better is helping them to actually find the facts in support of the conclusion that you think is so obvious. Try that.
posted by gauche at 9:51 AM on January 22, 2012 [21 favorites]


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posted by caddis at 9:52 AM on January 22, 2012


We'll keep this one. Thanks for putting in the effort, Toekneesan.

Yes, it is very important to have nine links that no one will click before commenting, rather than just one.
posted by flarbuse at 9:53 AM on January 22, 2012 [34 favorites]


My understanding is that a graduate student told him that he witnessed Sandusky raping a boy in the shower, and that Paterno went to the college president with the information.


What you're missing is the scale of Paterno's role on campus, which was akin to being an earthbound god. It's as if Superman saw a house burning down and asked someone else to call 911 for him. Dude, you're Superman.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 9:53 AM on January 22, 2012 [12 favorites]


Paterno took no steps to limit Sandusky's access to vulnerable little boys, including not notifying the organization that Sandusky seems to have started to allow himself to recruit victims. And all this despite the fact that Paterno was the highest paid employee of the university and probably the most powerful person in State College, certainly more powerful than the University's president.

He was also an 85 year old figurehead who never should have been allowed that kind of authority. I don't doubt for a second that he was confused and befuddled and didn't act right, but there aren't many 85 year olds who would have the facilities to handle such a situation. Certainly no 85 year old I've ever met.
posted by gjc at 9:53 AM on January 22, 2012 [4 favorites]


craichead - of course I understand what is wrong with that. As I said, "the right thing to do" seems perfectly obvious. It's just not always easy to do the right thing (see: every Full House episode).
posted by phenylphenol at 9:53 AM on January 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


Paterno did the procedural thing, and his interviews at the end showed that he felt sorrow and regret for not having done more. I'm sure if he could go back today, he'd do things differently.

He died painfully and publicly in shame. For that, I feel a little compassion. He was a father and a grandfather, a beloved coach to many and all of those people feel pain today. For that, I feel a little more compassion.

We all think, in the face of true evil, we'd act heroically, but in reality people often don't. Imperfection is another reason to be compassionate, because it's one thing to talk about moral resolve and another to actually act on it.

That's why I'll leave a . I feel compassion for his imperfection and for his remorse.
posted by Rodrigo Lamaitre at 9:54 AM on January 22, 2012 [46 favorites]


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posted by leesh at 9:54 AM on January 22, 2012


Expected amounts of finger-pointing, lots of judgment.

On the day of his passing, Joe Paterno and his family have my sympathy. We are all capable of great and terrible things. I hope some good comes out of this, and that we can all move forward to keep terrible things like this from happening to children, and to keep our leaders from having to hide this stuff out of fear. I have a lot of contempt for the institution, but today I'm going to try to be human and say that I'm sorry to hear about a person's death instead of acting like I'm better than them.
posted by phaedon at 9:54 AM on January 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


Gauche: no thanks. If someone drops in with a question seeking more info, I'm happy to help. If they drop in, say they aren't sure they understands, and still go on to make equivocating statements about the moral culpability of an issue they already admitted to not understanding, and then go on to say they would probably have acted similarly, it gets my goat. He's not the monster in the cave for those little boys. He's the guy that built the cave, shooed away the townspeople, and let the candy trail stay there. Anyone that wants to come equivocate on his behalf should be informed at the least, and preferably ashamed.
posted by lazaruslong at 9:54 AM on January 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


I also feel just awful for the family. These must be immensely horrible times for them.
posted by gjc at 9:55 AM on January 22, 2012


anothermug: "I think it's dangerous to think of it in this way -- that all the good one does can somehow cancel out a lapse into bad for a moment. "

I completely agree and am embarrassed that the part you quoted can, out of context from the rest of what I said, seem to mean the exact opposite of what I meant. There is nothing Paterno could have done in the rest of his life that could outweigh what he did (or more accurately -- didn't do.) Just because I was trying to write a full obit post that described his career in detail doesn't mean I think any of that matters if what we've been told he knew when he knew it led to the decisions he made. What I meant to say that everything I've heard about what he knew is unforgivable -- that I have heard nothing that makes it forgivable, no matter what other good he has done, but I can see how, especially that sentence alone, could seem to suggest the possibility of otherwise.

(As for my comment that I should have written the obit post last night, I meant that since I knew it was coming very soon, if I wanted to write said post, I should have had it in the bag rather than starting it when the word became official.)


What those who are saying they don't understand why Paterno is being blamed -- beyond it being clear that you are not familiar with the details of the case, you must also realize that Paterno, despite what other titles others may have held, was the most powerful person at Penn State by many magnitudes. Paterno doing the very least he could do as required by law is a gigantic moral failing for someone with his power from a person who made his reputation on claiming to be better than that.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 9:55 AM on January 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yes, it is very important to have nine links that no one will click before commenting, rather than just one.

It's better to have less-kneejerk obit posts. I don't get the feeling that's really a controversial core idea, but in any case Metatalk is the place to hash this out for the nth time if you want to do so.
posted by cortex at 9:57 AM on January 22, 2012


He died painfully and publicly in shame.

You say that like it is bad thing.
posted by timsteil at 9:57 AM on January 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


me: If anybody has information that paints a fuller picture, I'd appreciate a link. I really would.

lazaruslong: no thanks. If someone drops in with a question seeking more info, I'm happy to help. If they drop in, say they aren't sure they understands, and still go on to make equivocating statements about the moral culpability of an issue they already admitted to not understanding, and then go on to say they would probably have acted similarly, it gets my goat.

Got it.
posted by gauche at 9:57 AM on January 22, 2012


.

for an accomplished life indelibly marred by chickenshit cowardice and bullshit priorities.
posted by Navelgazer at 9:58 AM on January 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


He was also an 85 year old figurehead who never should have been allowed that kind of authority. I don't doubt for a second that he was confused and befuddled and didn't act right, but there aren't many 85 year olds who would have the facilities to handle such a situation. Certainly no 85 year old I've ever met.

I was at Zeno's (a bar in State College) last night talking with a friend about Paterno. I mentioned the WaPo interview which basically said that he didn't really understand what was going on. The bartender interjected "that's why he should have retired at 65 like everyone else."

This whole affair has been an object lesson: doing what's legally required is not always the same as doing what's right.

And finally, while I express my condolences to his family, I'll also take this opportunity to quote the bard (perhaps Paterno, as an English major, would approve...)

"The evil that men do lives after them; the good is oft interred with their bones."
posted by dhens at 9:58 AM on January 22, 2012 [4 favorites]


Good.
posted by lazaruslong at 9:59 AM on January 22, 2012


Joe Paterno is a good example of the fact that in real life there's really no such thing as "good people" and "bad people". There's just people who do good and bad things.
posted by no regrets, coyote at 9:59 AM on January 22, 2012 [6 favorites]


JoePa and his staff can truly be said to have touched the lives of many young men in so many ways.
posted by delfin at 10:01 AM on January 22, 2012 [5 favorites]


Oh piss off with that, delfin.
posted by lazaruslong at 10:02 AM on January 22, 2012 [14 favorites]


Lest we forget:
“On March 1, 2002, a Penn State graduate assistant who was then 28 years old entered the locker room at the Lasch Football Building on the University Park Campus. As the graduate assistant entered the locker room doors, he was surprised to find the lights and showers on. He then heard rhythmic, slapping sounds. He saw a naked boy, Victim 2, whose age he estimated to be ten years old, with his hands up against the wall, being subjected to anal intercourse by a naked Sandusky. The graduate assistant was shocked but noticed that both Victim 2 and Sandusky saw him. The graduate assistant left immediately, distraught. … The graduate assistant went to his office and called his father, reporting to him what he had seen. His father told the graduate assistant to leave the building and come to his home.” - Grand jury report

“All I can think about is what that boy must have thought when he saw (then-graduate assistant, now-receivers coach Mike) McQueary. He must have thought ‘Salvation is here, a rescuer is here.’ And instead, the rape and the violation continued. That moment must be as damaging as the abuse itself. How do you look into the eyes of somebody who is suffering like that and walk away?”

- New York filmmaker Chris Gavagan, who is working on a documentary about sexual abuse in sports and the abuse he suffered at the hands of his roller hockey coach.

* * *

“The graduate assistant and his father decided that the graduate assistant had to promptly report what they had seen to Coach Joe Paterno, head football coach of Penn State. The next morning, a Saturday, the graduate assistant telephoned Paterno and went to Paterno’s home, where he reported what he had seen. Joseph V. Paterno testified to receiving the graduate assistant’s report at his home on a Saturday morning. Paterno testified that the graduate assistant was very upset. Paterno called Tim Curley, Penn State Athletic Director and Paterno’s immediate superior, to his home the very next day, a Sunday, and reported to him that the graduate assistant had seen Jerry Sandusky in the Lasch Building showers fondling or doing something of a sexual nature to a young boy.” - Grand jury report

People who are crying for Joe Paterno are saying ‘He did the right thing, he passed it along to his boss, it wasn’t described as a rape, it was described as something of a sexual nature.’ Well, isn’t that enough to go to the police? A guy you employ is doing something of a sexual nature with a 10-year-old boy in a shower on campus and you don’t go to the police? He was the most powerful man on that campus. The bottom line was Paterno was protecting one thing: Penn State and his legacy. That’s all he cared about. He didn’t care about the victims. The most insulting thing wasn’t the rioting. The most insulting thing for me was watching Joe Paterno after he was fired saying, ‘Let’s pray for the victims.’ Well, there wouldn’t so many victims if he had done something.”

- Anonymous, New York man who told the Massachusetts grand jury that indicted Oliva that the basketball coach had abused him, too.
He gets no respect from me. No moment of silence. No excuses. He failed to protect students under his care who were raped by a member of his staff. He knew what had happened. He chose not to act.

Rot in hell, Joe. Good riddance.
posted by zarq at 10:04 AM on January 22, 2012 [13 favorites]


Expected amounts of finger-pointing, lots of judgment.

This is not the sort of thing I reserve judgment on.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 10:05 AM on January 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Good. Hope it hurt.
posted by kafziel at 10:08 AM on January 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


"Success without honor is an unseasoned dish; it will satisfy your hunger, but it won't taste good."
- Joe Paterno
posted by markkraft at 10:11 AM on January 22, 2012


We all think, in the face of true evil, we'd act heroically, but in reality people often don't. Imperfection is another reason to be compassionate, because it's one thing to talk about moral resolve and another to actually act on it.

He turned a blind eye to children being raped.

The people to feel compassion for are Sandusky's victims. Who should have been fewer in number, but weren't because Paterno made a conscious choice not to stop him.
posted by zarq at 10:11 AM on January 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


Oh piss off with that, delfin.

Honestly, find something better to do with your day than play hall monitor.
posted by phaedon at 10:12 AM on January 22, 2012 [18 favorites]


Well, Delfin's comment is pretty gruesome considering, so I'm not minding LL's objection to it.
posted by Lord Chancellor at 10:14 AM on January 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


He knew what had happened. He chose not to act.

Rot in hell, Joe. Good riddance.


I understand this sentiment. But man, I hope that passivity in the face of suffering and wrongdoing is not enough to secure eternal torment. Every day we make them die with our cars.
posted by Clyde Mnestra at 10:15 AM on January 22, 2012 [5 favorites]


I'm just saying it's going to suck the life out of you if you're going to start arguing with everyone that drops in to shit on this thread.
posted by phaedon at 10:16 AM on January 22, 2012


[We're not going to tell people not to express negative feelings here, but if you must bicker about them, please do it in MeTa. ]
posted by restless_nomad at 10:18 AM on January 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


phaedon: Find something better to do with your day than speak up for someone else on the internet making a shitty, tasteless rape joke. Thanks.
posted by lazaruslong at 10:19 AM on January 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


"Hi Mrs Paterno...Can Joe come out and play?"

"No...he's dead. I told you that yesterday!!!"

"Yeah...I know....I just like hearing you say it."
posted by timsteil at 10:19 AM on January 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'm guessing the only reason Paterno lasted through the night, is that Satan himself didn't think Hell was quite hot enough for him yet, and wanted to turn up the burners for a few hours.
I understand why people want to say stuff like this, but it's completely contrary to Christian theology, which states that all you have to do is accept jesus, bla, bla. I mean the biggest child molesters out there were the catholic church. There's no theological basis for a Christian to conclude other Christians they don't like are in hell.

I mean I don't really care either way, but it just seems kind of odd to me.
posted by delmoi at 10:20 AM on January 22, 2012


It's too bad we aren't all public figures so that one big mistake we make can be the defining memory that others retain about us, negating if not ignoring, all the good things we did (or tried to do) for others in our 85 years.

Do you frame your sense of self with how you poorly handled a particular situation? Or are you just content to do that for those who you have the convenience of knowing and holding at arm's length?

I especially love some of the people posting who preface their "I have no sympathy for him" comment with the statement of not knowing about Paterno prior to the scandal. That tabloid mentality of "minimal information/maximum judgment" is just a personal congratulatory aside that says, "I don't need understanding to claim I understand."
posted by Angulimala at 10:21 AM on January 22, 2012 [10 favorites]


No regrets from me, other than that Paterno will never have to take the stand and fully lay out what he knew, when he knew, who else knew and why the most powerful man in central Pennsylvania couldn't make sure the RIGHT people knew. He is FAR from the only villain at Penn State, certainly well behind Sandusky in line for the Bullet Train To Hell, but people who've followed the story and read Sandusky's grand jury indictment ought to be horrified by Paterno's role in it.

He was also an 85 year old figurehead who never should have been allowed that kind of authority.

Point the first: he wasn't 85 when a lot of this was taking place.

Point the second: there are a lot of factors pointing to why Paterno was so beatified, but the cult of college football fandom is among the foremost. It's not like Penn State is the only university where a sports program, the money it brings in, its reputation and the fervor it inspires in students/alumni/their boosters have grown to be bigger than the rest of the campus combined; there are lots of other NCAA-level horror stories out there. But fence off Pittsburgh and Philadelphia and for the rest of Pennsylvania, Paterno wasn't just a sports hero; he was their ONLY hero, the visible symbol of the one non-wheeled sport people cared about.

Point the third: Paterno's legacy covers a lot of ground; lots of charity work, lots of molding the lives of young men, lots of contributing to the community. But if turning a blind eye to child molestation ends up overshadowing the rest combined, to the point where the name 'Paterno' conjures up shitty, tasteless rape jokes, it's hard to say that he didn't bring it on himself.
posted by delfin at 10:22 AM on January 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


He was also an 85 year old figurehead who never should have been allowed that kind of authority. I don't doubt for a second that he was confused and befuddled and didn't act right, but there aren't many 85 year olds who would have the facilities to handle such a situation. Certainly no 85 year old I've ever met.

But the incident reported to him was in March 2002, when he was 75. And Paterno coached for almost another decade. Hell, Reagan was 2 years older when he was president. At that time, Paterno was still quite the firebrand. Sandusky was first investigated in 1998, when Paterno was 71, though we can't know for sure that he knew about those allegations at the time.

He was both old enough to know better and young enough to do something about it.
posted by roquetuen at 10:23 AM on January 22, 2012 [6 favorites]


I'm having a lot of conflicted emotions about Joe Paterno's death. I grew up in State College, went to Penn State and Paterno was such a part of life in Happy Valley; it almost feels like a family member passed away. It deeply saddens me that he didn't do more, didn't step up for Sandusky's victims, that he destroyed his legacy with his inaction -- I believe he was a good man, flawed like all of us, who could have done more.

. for Sandusky's victims
. for JoePa
posted by backwords at 10:24 AM on January 22, 2012 [5 favorites]


It's too bad we aren't all public figures so that one big mistake we make can be the defining memory that others retain about us, negating if not ignoring, all the good things we did (or tried to do) for others in our 85 years.

Do you frame your sense of self with how you poorly handled a particular situation? Or are you just content to do that for those who you have the convenience of knowing and holding at arm's length?


When the "one big mistake" is actively covering up for a child rapist, allowing more children to be raped? Yeah, that should be the defining memory.
posted by kafziel at 10:27 AM on January 22, 2012 [8 favorites]


[Folks, please keep your comments on the loose topic of the thread and not how much your fellow MeFites may or may not be idiots. You have MeTa and we will corral you there if this gets out of hand.]
posted by jessamyn at 10:28 AM on January 22, 2012


MeTa
posted by the man of twists and turns at 10:30 AM on January 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Even if he nominally took the correct first step of notifying the Athletic Director, there's really no excuse for not doing anything else over the next seven years or however long the abuse continued.

I also think that it was appropriate for lazaruslong to call that out as a juvenile, offensive joke.
posted by snofoam at 10:32 AM on January 22, 2012


.
posted by UseyurBrain at 10:35 AM on January 22, 2012


As one who does not believe in the Hereafter and its Devine Judgement, I think JoePa was damned lucky for cancer to take him out so soon after his public disgrace. Sadly for all those living, this will make it so much easier for the horrendous crimes involved to be forgotten, which it absolutely must not. If it can happen at Penn State, it could happen in any collegiate athletic program... and I sadly suspect it has happened and been successfully covered up elsewhere. (I can't help but compare College Athletics to the Catholic Church... pedophilia is an obvious symptom of a generally corrupt institution)
posted by oneswellfoop at 10:37 AM on January 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


The vultures of the media killed him, the child-minded trustees caving to the media feeding frenzy killed him. Good job idiots. You kept your ad revenues up for another cycle.
posted by norabarnacl3 at 10:37 AM on January 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


Of course Joe Paterno cannot be exused. I still don't think we know how anybody else would have handled such a situation. We can hope we will do the right thing. But we can be so certain about ourselves? I'm not so sure. It's easy to overlook all sorts of evil, and we do so perpetually. His was more egregious.

Agreed he should have retired much earlier. At some point, it's easy to think the rules don't apply, especially when everyone else is breaking them for you.
posted by john wilkins at 10:39 AM on January 22, 2012


Three reports in three years, including a police investigation. And after all that, Sandusky got little more than a slap on the wrist. Sandusky turned in his keys but kept his office, ran youth football camps on Penn State property, volunteered as a trainer, and got bowl game box tickets where he brought at least one of the victims claimed in the indictment.

That's a tragic lapse of judgement that goes beyond "one big mistake." The football program could have said, "Thanks Jerry, goodbye, your pension will come at the first of the month." That wouldn't have been justice but it would have been understandable. Instead, Sandusky was repeatedly given both access and privilege that Sandusky used to groom other victims.

I have a moderate amount of sympathy for Paterno's plight. But the consequences of not taking a stronger stand against abusive relationships in my own family are something I have to live with.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 10:43 AM on January 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


How appropriate that people here commemorate Joe Paterno with a moment of silence, since that was his go-to play when told his subordinate was raping a child.

But he was good at telling the football mans how to make ball increment up the field, so all is forgiven. May God in his wisdom grant him eternal happiness in Heaventown, and no irritating reports of child abuse that distract from the Big Match-Up against Team From Other Geography. RIP Joe, no one deserves a place next to Jesus like you.
posted by a_girl_irl at 10:47 AM on January 22, 2012 [17 favorites]


I don't much cotton to the Penn State folk that lionize JoePa at a level that makes Alabama's fans' worship of Bear Bryant pale in comparison (seriously, I've been in Bama homes where they have pictures of Jesus and Bear hanging next to each other). At the same time, I've found the desire to hang JoePa from the highest tree for what he did not do distasteful. He did next to nothing, which still puts him ahead of the athletic director and the university president, who just ignored it while Sandusky just kept on grooming boys. And yet the AD hasn't been fired, only "put on paid leave," while the Board of Trustees threw Paterno out as a sacrificial lamb to save the university's bacon.

But Paterno isn't a martyr. Paterno built this empire, and in the end, the emperor must go. Penn State was rotten to the core because of football, to the point that football meant more than the fact they're one of the world's great research universities.

Paterno should be a reminder that heroes fall, truth is ignored in the name of a good story, and in every one of us is the capability to do evil just by being unwilling to do anything.

When we reach for the gallows lever, we should take a moment to ask ourselves, in our heart of hearts, if we really would do the right thing and protect the innocent when the time comes. And then, after we shudder with the horrifying realization that yes, we make these compromises every day in the name of money, power, and keeping up appearances, we pull the lever and walk away.

Have mercy on us all.
posted by dw at 10:49 AM on January 22, 2012 [8 favorites]


I still don't think we know how anybody else would have handled such a situation.

Nah. If someone at my company told me my Marketing Manager was raping interns in the conference room, I would tell the police.
posted by snofoam at 10:51 AM on January 22, 2012 [5 favorites]


kittens for breakfast: That said, nothing has been proven and no trial has taken place. It looks bad, but so did Michael Jackson,

Paterno confessed. I'd say that counts as proven. If what you're saying is that it's possible the graduate student lied about what he saw, and the victims who have come forward are all lying about being molested and raped....

Okay, let's pretend, for discussion, that the victims were lying and so was the grad student. Paterno still should have gone to the police. He did not. End of story.
posted by tzikeh at 10:53 AM on January 22, 2012 [4 favorites]


When we reach for the gallows lever, we should take a moment to ask ourselves, in our heart of hearts, if we really would do the right thing and protect the innocent when the time comes. And then, after we shudder with the horrifying realization that yes, we make these compromises every day in the name of money, power, and keeping up appearances, we pull the lever and walk away.
Right, except that he wasn't executed, and nobody here killed him.

What people are doing here is judging his actions. And if we can't judge his actions and find them wanting, then how will we know how to judge our own? If we practice saying "oh well, no biggie, anyone could have done that," then why should we think differently when it's our turn to act against injustice or turn a blind eye?
posted by craichead at 10:53 AM on January 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


. for his family and all who loved him.
. for the victims of Jerry Sandusky
posted by SisterHavana at 10:54 AM on January 22, 2012


The vultures of the media killed him, the child-minded trustees caving to the media feeding frenzy killed him. Good job idiots. You kept your ad revenues up for another cycle.
posted by norabarnacl3 at 10:37 AM on January 22 [+] [Flagged]

posted by timsteil at 10:58 AM on January 22, 2012


I can't say anything nice, so well... here we are.
posted by Space Kitty at 11:00 AM on January 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


he was representative
posted by telstar at 11:03 AM on January 22, 2012


billyfleetwood's "leader of men" comment.
posted by mlis at 11:06 AM on January 22, 2012


As usual, The Onion nails it.
posted by SisterHavana at 11:08 AM on January 22, 2012 [8 favorites]


I'll save my tears for Etta James.

Sucks to be Joe Paterno. But my feeling is he's lucky he got to check out before Sandusky came to trial.
posted by spitbull at 11:09 AM on January 22, 2012


[this comment intentionally left blank]
posted by grouse at 11:11 AM on January 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


Of course Joe Paterno cannot be exused. I still don't think we know how anybody else would have handled such a situation. We can hope we will do the right thing. But we can be so certain about ourselves? I'm not so sure.

I'll save my moral relativism for questions like, If I were the housekeeper of a rich Jewish family in 1938, and didn't like them very much for their haughty ways and superior air, and my nephew was doing so well since he joined the Party, and then one day that family was evicted from their lovely apartmen and sent to the ghetto, and my nephew fixed it so that I could move in, would I do it? Would I hide the Jewish family who were my neighbours, who I didn't know that well but liked a great deal? That sort of thing. Hearing that a subordinate was comitting rape against a child? That's a about as clear a moral test as you'll find. You take action according to the seriousness of the offense, of you cover it up/let it go. Take your choice; one is wrong and one is right.
posted by jokeefe at 11:29 AM on January 22, 2012 [6 favorites]


I think it comes down to a personality issues. Some people are convinced that they would do the right thing, and some aren't sure of themselves. It's a confidence issue, mostly.
posted by josher71 at 11:31 AM on January 22, 2012


He turned the guy in. He said he regrets he did not pursue it. I take his statement on why at face value. He was a good football coach, but an even better educator.

. Joe-Pa
posted by JohnnyGunn at 11:38 AM on January 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


.
posted by JoeXIII007 at 11:39 AM on January 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


If we practice saying "oh well, no biggie, anyone could have done that,"

Not even close to what I said.

Judging is a self-satisfying way of dealing with someone else's misdeeds. We should reflect on what happened here and ask how we can make sure we will act differently when our time comes. Because we will be faced with the same pressures and the same hubris.

Knowing what is right and doing what is right are two very different things. We've had scandal after scandal occur because people failed to speak up, people just like any of us. We shouldn't be so quick to say we would act perfectly.
posted by dw at 11:40 AM on January 22, 2012


He turned the guy in to school authorities, not to the police. I'm reasonably certain the dozens of kids Sandusky raped regret Paterno's lack of pursuit even more than the man himself.
posted by shiu mai baby at 11:41 AM on January 22, 2012 [4 favorites]


I think people are not realizing that the only reason he has an obit post on Metafilter is because of the child molesting going on under his watch. No dot for you!
posted by falameufilho at 11:44 AM on January 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


The point I'm making is when that time comes, we will be expected to lay aside all those pressures in the name of doing the right thing -- reporting a pedophile even if they're in a position of power in an organization, blowing the whistle on your company cooking the books, speaking truth to power whatever that power may be. But it's not easy. It never is.

Paterno and Co. chose the easy route -- preserve the status quo. And that's the route we must not ever take.
posted by dw at 11:45 AM on January 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


falameufilho - he was the most successful guy ever at his job, which for better or worse is a really Big Deal job in the U.S. There would have been an obit thread about him no matter what. But yeah, his non-action in the Sandusky crimes is what is bringing so many eyes here, obviously.
posted by Navelgazer at 11:47 AM on January 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think people are not realizing that the only reason he has an obit post on Metafilter is because of the child molesting going on under his watch.

The thing is, if he had died a year ago he'd have likely had an obit post as well. He's not remotely a big deal in my personal world because I don't give a hoot about football, but he was indeed a big deal for a whole lot of people who do.

That this story has broken has changed fundamentally the overall feelings many people have about Paterno, and a lot of people who otherwise don't care about football have opinions here where they'd probably have skipped past a Paterno obit a year ago, but that's a lot different from the recent scandal stuff being "the only reason" there's a post here, and it seems pretty silly to try and suggest otherwise.
posted by cortex at 11:48 AM on January 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


I envy you all your ability to judge with such clarity the value of an 85-year-old man's entire life.

I guess my mixed emotions must come from some sort of sublimated pro-child rape sentiment, since Joe Paterno's death is apparently a referendum on whether reporting child rape is good or bad.
posted by dixiecupdrinking at 11:49 AM on January 22, 2012 [11 favorites]


reporting a pedophile even if they're in a position of power in an organization

At Penn State, hell more or less in all of Pennsylvania, Paterno had pretty much the highest position of power there is, de facto if not de jure.
posted by kmz at 12:13 PM on January 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Eh good riddance and fuck him. Over paid coach protecting a predator. Worthless.
posted by handbanana at 12:14 PM on January 22, 2012


dixiecupdrinking: I envy you all your ability to judge with such clarity the value of an 85-year-old man's entire life.

I have no problem believing that all of the boys who were molested/raped by Sandusky can judge Paterno's entire life with astonishing clarity, and I have no problem siding with them.
posted by tzikeh at 12:15 PM on January 22, 2012 [5 favorites]


I have to say I find it hard to grasp the views of those who suggest that Paterno was actively protecting Sandusky/Penn State Football/the Status Quo. After everything I've read and watched regarding the scandal, it seems mostly like Paterno was just out of his depth when it came to handling the situation. This is horrifying, but it's not horrifying because Paterno is twirling his moustache. It's horrifying because, like, how did such a dope end up being the guy who was responsible for handling this?

Someone upthread commented that he's like Superman in terms of his power in PA -- which is true, except he's more like Bizarro Superman. Superman without the overarching drive to do the right thing (and damn the torpedoes), and without seemingly the good sense to do more than make a report to the AD, shrug, and forget anything ever happened.

Football coaches often get an (undeserved, in some cases) reputation for being Good Men. You win a bunch of games, all these college kids look up to you, you make a ton of money and inevitably get involved in charity. It's not hard to see how that reputation gets built. However, I have a hard time reconciling how someone can get to his level of respect and somehow at the same time be so unworthy of any of it. Either he never deserved it, or he's worthy of something other than unconditional hatred. I find myself thinking it's probably the latter, but what do I know?
posted by axiom at 12:24 PM on January 22, 2012 [7 favorites]


Navelgazer: "There would have been an obit thread about him no matter what."

Yeah, there's an argument to be made but I honestly doubt it. Sports fans tend to misjudge how relevant sports celebrities are.
posted by falameufilho at 12:24 PM on January 22, 2012


Walk a mile in his shoes.

Walk a mile in Paterno's shoes.

Walk a mile in Sandusky's victim's shoes.

Walk a mile in Sandusky's shoes.

And you'll just be walking a mile in another person's shoes, with all the good and bad that comes with it, not doing any better or worse, than anyone else, walking a mile in those same shoes.

.
posted by Oh OK HA HA at 12:29 PM on January 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm guessing the only reason Paterno lasted through the night, is that Satan himself didn't think Hell was quite hot enough for him yet, and wanted to turn up the burners for a few hours.

I understand why people want to say stuff like this, but it's completely contrary to Christian theology, which states that all you have to do is accept jesus, bla, bla. I mean the biggest child molesters out there were the catholic church. There's no theological basis for a Christian to conclude other Christians they don't like are in hell.


Oh, I wouldn't say no basis. How about this message from Jesus in Matthew 25?
31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’

44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’

45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’

46 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”
posted by Pater Aletheias at 12:30 PM on January 22, 2012 [6 favorites]


So what you're saying is that Christian theology has its share of contradictions as to whether it's enough to be a good person who believes the right things, or if it's necessary to make the extra effort to shelter and protect those who cannot help themselves?

Hmmm. This all sounds so... familiar for some reason.
posted by delfin at 12:33 PM on January 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


falameufilho: "Navelgazer: "There would have been an obit thread about him no matter what."

Yeah, there's an argument to be made but I honestly doubt it. Sports fans tend to misjudge how relevant sports celebrities are.
"

If the scandal hadn't happened somebody would have made a thread about the life and times of Joe Paterno, king of Happy Valley, sooner or later. It's an interesting story on its own merits, even if Sandusky's crimes had stayed in the dark.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 12:35 PM on January 22, 2012


Oh OK HA HA: Walk a mile in his shoes.

Walk a mile in Paterno's shoes.

Walk a mile in Sandusky's victim's shoes.

Walk a mile in Sandusky's shoes.

And you'll just be walking a mile in another person's shoes, with all the good and bad that comes with it, not doing any better or worse, than anyone else, walking a mile in those same shoes.


You're joking, right?

You walk a mile in Sandusky's victims' shoes; then you get back to us on your little prose poem.

Jesus Christ.
posted by tzikeh at 12:38 PM on January 22, 2012 [26 favorites]


Oh OK HA HA, is this some kind of dark attempt at being eponysterical?
posted by dhens at 12:53 PM on January 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think people are not realizing that the only reason he has an obit post on Metafilter is because of the child molesting going on under his watch.

I'm no football fan, but I disagree. Perhaps the comments thread would have been much shorter. He was one of the best-known university football coaches in the U.S. I've certainly heard about him, Penn State, and the whole Nittany Lions thing over the years. Regardless of the degree of his actual complicity in perpetuating child abuse, which at this point we're never really know for sure, it really is shocking how quickly his health declined after he was fired - as if coaching football was literally the only thing he lived for.
posted by aught at 12:54 PM on January 22, 2012


Sports fans tend to misjudge how relevant sports celebrities are.

Well sure, but there are plenty of sports fans on MeFi.

Somewhere between the unconditional love (still) being expressed from some of the Penn State folks I know and the total condemnation for his failure to do all he could to stop something he knew was wrong is about where I land. Nobody is a hero, they just have a choice between making heroic choices and making cowardly ones at various points in their lives.

.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 1:03 PM on January 22, 2012


Regardless of the degree of his actual complicity in perpetuating child abuse, which at this point we're never really know for sure, it really is shocking how quickly his health declined after he was fired - as if coaching football was literally the only thing he lived for.

Well, he hung on for a couple of months after he was fired. But then they took away Megaupload, and, well...
posted by delfin at 1:06 PM on January 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


As I said elsewhere, I am profoundly disappointed that he didn't spontaneously combust. I don't care that he was "the winningest coach", that he had a "legacy". Can't be bothered to give a deep fried shit about that.

I feel for his family. It sucks that they not only lost someone they loved, they lost him amidst so much scandal and shame. But I feel worse for all those kids his friend raped. I am sad that none of them will ever have the chance to make him look them in the eye and explain why he covered it up, why he let it continue, why he didn't take his friend out back, beat him bloody, then drag him off to the cops by his ear and make sure he could never hurt another kid again. When he really needed to behave with honor, he failed miserably.
posted by MissySedai at 1:13 PM on January 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


Personally, I have little doubt that Sandusky likely manipulated Paterno and the other officials by appealing to their better nature. It's how he got out from the first police investigation, and it's what abusers generally do.

We know without real accountability, that's a recipe for further tragedy. Sandusky's indictment includes a minimum of three victims after he turned in his keys, but still had access to the team, was running youth camps for Penn State, got bowl tickets, and used his reputation to get access to kids.

Sure, it sucks that's now Paterno's legacy, but that's the point. If you give abusers the benefit of the doubt and second chances with minimal accountability, your legacy is what you risk.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 1:27 PM on January 22, 2012


I'm sure there would have been an obituary if this had never come to light: he was a record-setting big-time football coach who still had a salary way under 100K/year (maybe even under 50K/yr) and donated enough money back to PSU Library to have it named after him and his wife. He had a national reputation as a Coach who was doing it right. And now his reputation is 180 degrees in the other direction.

I am conflicted by this response to his death. That he washed his hands of his knowledge and took the easiest path (letting the responsibility rest solely with others; not questioning the fact that the guy was still lurking around - probably assuming it had been handled and resolved because that was the "nicest", "easiest" resolution) is clear and despicable and shameful. But he is the easiest target here and everyone from the University to Sandusky is perfectly happy for him to be the lightning rod. I can't help but see him as a convenient punching bag instead of the man who didn't physically intervene to stop it, and the men who learned of it and did almost nothing except cover their asses and ignore their legal responsibilities, much less the pond scum who oozed his way into a position where preying on children was easy for him. I worry that those three men will somehow escape the judgement being applied to Paterno.

This is not to say that this isn't an important part of the Paterno biography and a defining facet of the man, or that he should not be held to account for it. He should. His response was cowardly and wrong and ineffective and inadequate; even if he did all that he was "required" to do by the letter of the guidelines, the spirit of the law was trampled. I guess I'd like to mark his death by making sure those 3 other men who also failed to act get held to at least the same level of scorn and punitive reaction. In my mind, they are even more deserving of it.
posted by julen at 1:32 PM on January 22, 2012 [9 favorites]


he was a record-setting big-time football coach who still had a salary way under 100K/year (maybe even under 50K/yr)
What are you talking about? Last year his base salary was over $500,000 and his total compensation just over a million dollars.
posted by craichead at 1:42 PM on January 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


.
posted by shakespeherian at 1:43 PM on January 22, 2012


I was gonna say that I haven't seen this much animosity in an obit thread on MeFi since Kim Jong-il died, except there was a faction of people saying maybe it is unbecoming to "take a long, satisfying shit on his corpse" in that case.
posted by DoctorFedora at 1:47 PM on January 22, 2012


Yeah, but we generally don't see a lot of articles arguing that, Sandusky scandal aside, Schultz was a brilliant budgetary manager with an unprecedented record of properly delivered W2-forms, with a profound legacy on the financing of higher education.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 1:52 PM on January 22, 2012


Wow, Craichead, I was wrong. Sorry about that. I went back to my source on that and it was an "effective" salary after he donated money back to Penn State and other places. I misunderstood what I was told and I apologize for passing on bad information. But I do believe that the donation of money still (if weakly) supports my first point that there would have been a obituary on mefi even if this atrocity had still been hidden. His reputation had been pretty pretty before this came to light. It's one of the reasons why it is so shocking to people because it was generally considered that the biggest area of concern at Penn State was when he was going to retire in glory, not corruption or graft or illegal benefits or something so much more horrible.
posted by julen at 1:55 PM on January 22, 2012


Winning football games doesn't matter. Protecting children from rapists does. I feel badly for his family, but this man failed at the most important moment in his life.
posted by Dasein at 2:22 PM on January 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


Can't - won't - say Rest In Peace.

But may God have mercy on his soul. And my sympathies to his family.
posted by Lulu's Pink Converse at 2:27 PM on January 22, 2012


Like Polanski, didn't he win enough Fooootball games to let a few dozen kids get raped.

Off into the sunset you crazy kid.
posted by Napierzaza at 2:32 PM on January 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


As a member of the State College community, but not exactly a member of the Penn State community, I've found that my own opinion of Paterno has changed since the scandal broke. When I first read the Grand Jury presentment, I was appalled and disgusted. I think I might have even dropped the first comment in the initial thread regarding the scandal, something to the effect of "hey we should just nuke the entire PSU football program from space."

Since then, I've read a lot about the case, followed the various hearings, and studied the differences between McQueary's testimony as expressed in the Grand Jury presentment and testimony presented in court (at the Curley/Schultz perjury hearing). As I’ve learned more, my opinion of Paterno has changed to one that is more charitable now than it was when the scandal broke. There are a couple of reasons for that, and a couple of things to clarify about the timeline of events that some people seem to be confused about. First of all, it's not accurate to say that Paterno did nothing or aided in a cover-up. One could even say that Paterno did actually go to police, if you are willing to count the head of the Penn State Police as "police". I realize some don't, and that's totally understandable. But to say that Paterno contacted the police regarding a potentially criminal incident that was reported to him by an employee is actually a factual statement. And please don't interpret that as my own personal belief that Paterno did "enough" or that he acted with anything approaching an acceptable level of moral duty. There are very few people, I'd imagine, who would argue that Paterno did "enough" - hell, he had even admitted as much himself. However, it is simply incorrect to say that he did "nothing." In the eyes of the state of Pennsylvania, at least, he did what was required of a person in his position.

Secondly, Paterno was not made aware of the 1998 incident or any other incidents involving Sandusky. Sandusky and Paterno were not close and they did they not have a friendly relationship. In wondering why and how the events transpired as they did, I had naturally assumed that Paterno knew of at least the 1998 incident and possibly more, but it's simply not the case according to all available information. Why nobody told Paterno is a mystery. Unless, of course, it isn't. Somebody made a conscious decision not to tell Paterno, and in the months to come I'm sure we'll find out who that was and why. Did they not wish to offend him, or did they think he just didn't need to know? Any explanation one can imagine stinks. It is rotten. As others have mentioned, it points to a simple fact: for many reasons, Paterno had stayed on the job for too long. As a result, proper and responsible procedures were eschewed in favor of familiarity, routine. To maintain consistency.

And a final clarification. McQueary testified, under oath, that he gave different accounts to Paterno and to Curley and Schultz. He did not use the words rape, sodomy, penis, or any other graphic sexual terms in his conversation with Paterno. According to his testimony in the perjury trial, he told Paterno that he saw something inappropriate and seemingly sexual in the showers. Paterno sent him up the chain and when McQueary spoke with Curley and Schultz, he told them in explicit and graphic detail what he had seen. This is why, for example, Paterno was not indicted but Curley and Schultz were. Again, another reason why Paterno should not have been in the position he was in. If McQueary didn't tell Paterno in detail what he saw because he was respectful of an old man who would be upset and confused by such information, then Paterno shouldn't have been the head coach. Any other interpretation is equally if not more suspicious.

To me, the tragedy here is not simply in the personal failing of one man, or two, or three. It is in the failing of a group of men, an institution. How easy it is to do the right thing when the right thing is known and expected of you, and how hard it is to do the right thing when, even after doing what you considered to be the right thing, the problem lingers. When you simply assume that someone else will do it instead. McQueary didn't have to go Paterno, but he did. Paterno didn't have to go to his superiors, but he did. Why would they do that if not because they wished or thought they were doing the right thing? But then what? How did they let "the investigation" linger for 9 years? How did they not attack and confront Sandusky as he traveled with them to bowl games, used their facilities, and hosted golf tournaments? At the perjury hearing, McQueary was described as "seething with fury" as he spoke of his conversations with Curley and Schultz. Huh? How does that work? Where was his fury before?

I don't know the answers and I'm not satisfied with those provided by the "go to Hell" crowd or the "Paterno is the real victim here" crowd. I don't begrudge anyone for either of those opinions but honestly I just don't see how you get there. How to have such confidence in something about which, even after months of investigations and articles and editorials, so little is still actually known. By all accounts he lived an extraordinary life, a great part of which was a true devotion to others; at the same time, he failed his greatest moral test, did too little when faced with the acts of a true monster.

In this thread, I've read many variations of "He wasn't such a good guy, look at what horrible things he let happen." I look at it a little differently. I think, "He was such a good guy, and look at what horrible things he let happen." The first statement implies a separation between Paterno and one's self: Paterno was a bad person, and I'm not. Implicit in the second statement is, at least in my case, fear. Fear in my own fallibility, fear in not believing in my own ability to be the person I imagine myself to be. I will never be a "Great Man" like Joe Paterno. I won't help thousands of poor young men realize the dream of a college education, I won't donate millions of dollars to improve the facilities of an educational institution I love, and I won't spend my life working to build a community that strives to exercise principles of honor, service, and philanthropy. But, when faced when a difficult decision to do the right thing, will I? Or will I do what I think is simply the necessary thing, and let others finish the job?

I apologize that this is such a long comment.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 2:38 PM on January 22, 2012 [61 favorites]


All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.
posted by klangklangston at 2:59 PM on January 22, 2012 [4 favorites]


Last year his base salary was over $500,000 and his total compensation just over a million dollars.

And ironically, he was underpaid, compared to his peers.

Meet Ken Niumatalolo, the current football coach at the U.S. Naval Academy.

His $1.5 million salary is slightly above average. But it makes him the highest paid employee in the U.S. federal government, a stat that BLEW MY FUCKING MIND.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 3:07 PM on January 22, 2012 [8 favorites]


One could even say that Paterno did actually go to police, if you are willing to count the head of the Penn State Police as "police". I realize some don't, and that's totally understandable.

Paterno reported the incident to the Penn State Assistant Vice President for Police & Public Safety, after some delay, who, it is correct, does have administrative oversight responsibilities for the University Police as well as other University Departments (Penn State Org Chart pdf).

He is not a sworn police officer and has no authority to conduct criminal investigations.

So why didn't Paterno contact University Police Dispatch? Or a Detective? Why contact some administrator who is actually far removed from day-to-day operations of the police?
posted by mlis at 3:17 PM on January 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


> Lung cancer isn't caused by being disgraced, and it's usually lethal.

Stress is a contributing factor to most diseases.

When Christopher Reeve's wife was diagnosed with lung cancer (and herself a non-smoker) I couldn't help but think the stress of CR's situation, and his death, had resulted in her cancer.

I have been acquainted with people who went through painful experiences in their personal lives, which was followed by cancer or heart disease.

And yes, I know, just because A precedes B, it does not mean A causes B.
posted by thermonuclear.jive.turkey at 3:18 PM on January 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Ken Niumatalolo is paid by the Naval Academy Athletic Association, a 501c3, and not through federal funds. Similarly to how many colleges and universities rely on alumni donations to maintain their athletic programs.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 3:33 PM on January 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


norabarnacl3: "The vultures of the media killed him"

Hyperbole or dementia? YOU DECIDE.
posted by falameufilho at 3:34 PM on January 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


So why didn't Paterno contact University Police Dispatch? Or a Detective? Why contact some administrator who is actually far removed from day-to-day operations of the police?

Right. This is the university equivalent of contacting a politically-connected assistant deputy city manager instead of the actual police.
posted by grouse at 3:35 PM on January 22, 2012


Ken Niumatalolo is paid by the Naval Academy Athletic Association

I stand corrected. I blame the CBS announcers that told me otherwise. ;-)
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 3:37 PM on January 22, 2012


This entire situation has been really difficult for me understand my feelings about. Three generations of my family are involved in college football at the coaching level and my grandfather and uncle both worked under Paterno at Penn State. Mike McQueary's parents were my grandparents' neighbors, and Mike, while the Penn State quarterback, used to play catch in the yard with my brother and me when we were visiting as little kids. (And apparently Sandusky was at my grandfather's funeral a couple years ago)

So my point is, this is all hitting very close to home for me. And my struggle is that while I didn't directly know Paterno, I did know Mike, and Mike is a really fucking good guy. Paterno I'd been hearing about since I was born; he was a tremendous mentor to my grandfather and uncle, and his wife was a mentor to my aunt when she married my uncle and was learning to be A Good Coach's Wife. Paterno has always been their example for sportsmanship and professionalism and he was always held up as an example of how not to let the fucked-uppery of college athletics drive a coach into doing bad things.

So I guess this is why this is sad to me. This is why I would put my "." here. Because it should be a true ".", a true feeling of sadness, for JoePa's passing. He meant so much to so many people, including my own family, and they've modeled their own careers on what they thought to be one of the most upstanding people in athletics. Finding out that he made a completely dumbass and chicken-shit decision that harmed so many people is so angering, and frustrating, because of all the people to do this it shouldn't have been him. It was so contrary to everything he stood for and to the values that people like my grandfather would tell you Paterno taught. I'm disappointed in Paterno, in McQueary, in all the other adults who should have gone one more step and didn't. I'm sad at what should have been the celebration of a great career ending in shame, because he fucked up and fucked up hard. I'm sad that the values he tried to instill in so many other people aren't values he himself followed when he most needed to. I'm sad at the whole situation and I'm sad for the victims. None of this, absolutely none of this, should have happened. If I want to put a . it's because I want to just feel sad at Paterno's passing and the end of a great career, and I can't. I hate that I can't and I hate that he made it so.

We can argue all day about whether Paterno et all were good people who did a bad thing or bad people who also occasionally did good things, and whether the good or the bad outweigh the other. That doesn't get us anywhere useful. There are reasons some people are sad right now, and that some people are angry right now, and many of us are both sad and angry. So . for the victims first and foremost, and . for Paterno's family. And . for the people Paterno mentored, taught, and coached, who have been struggling with a loss of respect for an important figure and influence in their lives, and now struggle with the loss of the man himself. That's not an easy thing.
posted by olinerd at 4:05 PM on January 22, 2012 [23 favorites]


Paterno's Greatness Can't Erase a Bad Ending
Those who might suggest in the most strident terms that it is unfair to put so much emphasis on Joe Paterno’s connection to the Sandusky abomination when that was actually a tiny speck in a long and storied career probably acknowledge that it has to be done. He happened to be at the wheel when the program ran into a ditch. Even he admitted later to the Washington Post that “I didn’t know exactly how to handle it” and “I backed away” and turned it all over to others.

But the problem was that nobody was more powerful in State College, Pa., than Joe Paterno .... So when it came time for the most powerful man on campus to exercise that influence, he inexplicably delegated. It was no time for a hand-off, and as a result a proud career ended in controversy and exile.

.... Paterno suffered from the disease of imperiousness.

..... He was brusque, impatient and difficult. He was insulated and suspicious, as most people with great power eventually become.

In the end, when ugliness enshrouded Penn State, all of that worked against him. He was the wrong personality at the wrong moment. The entire horrible mess sideswiped him, left him dizzy and confused, then came back and hit him head on.
A true leader? A moral man? Hardly.
posted by ericb at 4:39 PM on January 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


Jerry Sandusky:
"He maintained a high standard in a very difficult profession. Joe preached toughness, hard work and clean competition. Most importantly, he had the courage to practice what he preached."
No, actually, he was a coward for not dealing with you and your despicable conduct when he should have. Many lives have been shattered as a result of the absence of his courage.

Christ, what assholes!
posted by ericb at 4:49 PM on January 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Nobody deserves cancer.

Nobody deserves to be raped, especially children.
posted by bardic at 5:05 PM on January 22, 2012 [1 favorite]




.
posted by jchaw at 5:54 PM on January 22, 2012


McQueary...did not use the words rape, sodomy, penis, or any other graphic sexual terms in his conversation with Paterno. According to his testimony in the perjury trial, he told Paterno that he saw something inappropriate and seemingly sexual in the showers.

I don't know about you guys, but if someone came to me with a vague story like that, I can't say with 100% certainty what all I would do about it, but I am pretty darn sure I would ask to hear the details.
posted by naoko at 6:54 PM on January 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


He reiterated that McQueary was unclear with him about the nature of what he saw—and added that even if McQueary had been more graphic, he's not sure he would have comprehended it.
"You know, he didn't want to get specific," Paterno said. "And to be frank with you I don't know that it would have done any good, because I never heard of, of, rape and a man."


Up until the end, he defended himself, and that last line sounds like an outright lie to me.

I feel bad for the people who believed he was a hero and a role model. But if there was ever a time in his life to come clean, it was then.
posted by anniecat at 7:06 PM on January 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


JohnnyGunn:
He turned the guy in. He said he regrets he did not pursue it. I take his statement on why at face value.

Face value, eh?

So, he regretted it every damn day, or even sporadically, for ten years, and couldn't be arsed to do a thing about it?
Maybe he regretted it when he heard about the first instance, and felt like he didn't want to know?
Or maybe he regretted it when it came out full blown, and his actions showed his lack of moral fiber?

I'll just bet he died regretting he didn't pursue it. If he'd have done the decent thing, he wouldn't have been exposed as an absolute jerk and had his wondrous reputation ruined.

The big question is did he regret what happened to those boys.


May no act of ours bring shame...
Ironic, ain't it?
posted by BlueHorse at 7:08 PM on January 22, 2012 [1 favorite]




I'm a sysadmin.

When I reach 85, if it turns out I turned a blind eye to child abuse, nobody's going to be conflicted about letting that overshadow my career as a sysadmin.

Nobody's going to say "but he got 6 9's of uptime with duct tape,baling twine and Python."

Nobody's going to say "but he even learned PHP and edited code in it for us."

I have a job. It's just a job. It doesn't awe anyone, nor should it. Paterno's job was a job. No more noble than mine.

People who are so "conflicted" about the Penn State situation are waay too invested in college football.
posted by ocschwar at 8:08 PM on January 22, 2012 [15 favorites]


I think how Paterno should be judged largely depends on what exactly Mike McQueary told him. And I don't think we'll ever know that now. McQueary is the same guy who witnessed a ten year old boy being raped and didn't intervene, didn't call the police, and decided the best course of action was to go to Paterno with this, even though Paterno had by this point no oversight over Sandusky.

Chances are that McQueary told Paterno something much less than what he actually witnessed. But I don't think we can trust McQueary to truthfully tell us what he said in that conversation.

Yes Paterno could have done more. But bear in mind that someone came to him with could only have been jarring and inconceivable news about a trusted colleague and longtime friend. So, when he heard this information secondhand, despite not having any legal responsibility to take any action on it, he called a meeting with his superiors and informed them of it anyway.

(Personally I find it considerably more troubling that McQueary thought even for a second that the appropriate person in this situation to call was the fucking FOOTBALL coach, and not the police, and that says something truly awful about the status of college athletics, but I think we should take a deep breath before we villify Paterno to the extent that we seem to be so happy to do).
posted by MoonOrb at 8:22 PM on January 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


Dan Bernstein (of WSCR AM in Chicago) wrote an excellent column about Joe Paterno today. Spot on, I think.
posted by SisterHavana at 8:28 PM on January 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


He reiterated that McQueary was unclear with him about the nature of what he saw—and added that even if McQueary had been more graphic, he's not sure he would have comprehended it. "You know, he didn't want to get specific," Paterno said. "And to be frank with you I don't know that it would have done any good, because I never heard of, of, rape and a man."

Up until the end, he defended himself, and that last line sounds like an outright lie to me.
posted by anniecat


Me, too. He never heard of pedophilia, even as a Catholic watching the Church's child abuse scandals erupt around him? Never saw "The Shawshank Redemption?" Or "America's Most Wanted?" A lifelong student of the classics, and he never came across Laius or Ganymede or pederasty? The concept of male-on-male rape never came up during 50+ years in locker rooms and on buses with college-aged football players? Never heard of Jeffery Dahmer? Never read a single memo on Penn State's policies toward sexual assault, even after the "cute girl" remarks he made about this incident? Never heard of "FMITA" prison? Never thought that ANY sexual contact, whatever words you struggle to come up with to define it, between 50 year-old man and a 10 year-old boy amounts to criminal abuse?
posted by argonauta at 10:19 PM on January 22, 2012 [6 favorites]


It was McQueary's responsibility, as an eyewitness to a horrible crime, to report it to the police. He didn't. Instead, he told Paterno an incomplete account of what he saw. The accounts suggest Paterno took it to the College administration and the Head of campus police, both of whom didn't follow through properly.
There are a lot of people in the chain who failed their responsibility, from Sandusky (obviously) to Sandusky's wife, to McCreary, to Paterno, to College officials, to people in Sandusky's charities. Of all of them, Paterno seems to have done the most about it by reporting it, and he didn't do nearly enough.
Paterno failed to do enough, and yeah the football culture had something to do with that, but it's not unique in that regard. Similar cultures exist in corporate, government, and academic worlds.
I get the sense that the most hate-filled voices in this thread are clouded by a pre-existing disdain for college football, and that's understandable, but no different than football fans excusing what Paterno did, or failed to do.
This is a man who made a lot of people's lives better and helped make others' much much worse. I said what I needed to say about Paterno's failures when the Sandusky story broke. This isn't the place to say it again.
My thoughts are with those who loved Joe Paterno and were loved by him. May they find peace.
posted by rocket88 at 6:28 AM on January 23, 2012 [4 favorites]


Similar cultures exist in corporate, government, and academic worlds.

I don't think they do. I don't remember any prominent examples of a culture in corporate, government, or academic worlds where child rape goes unreported and substantially unaddressed. The only place there seems to be a similar culture is the Catholic Church.
posted by grouse at 9:21 AM on January 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


I don't remember any prominent examples of a culture in corporate, government, or academic worlds where child rape goes unreported and substantially unaddressed.

Partly true. The reason this doesn't happen in corporate America is that the mercenary ethic of the private sector is a double edged sword. If my boss told me to hush up on child abuse I would immediately disobey his order and be out the door, resume in hand, en route to a competitor 5 minutes later. You just don't get that emotional investment in a for-profit corporation. I could be a total psychopath and still take that course of action, because in the private sector, that's where my interests lie.

Government is a different story, and it does happen there. School districts hush up cases of abuse all the damn time.

The only place there seems to be a similar culture is the Catholic Church.


Or Penn State Football. Or OccupyBoston.

When people are emotionally invested in an institution, they run the risk of being compromised by it.

Idolatry is bad, folks.
posted by ocschwar at 9:52 AM on January 23, 2012


Dude was wronged and went to an unnecessary ignominious end. RIP.
posted by Lynsey at 10:00 AM on January 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


At Penn State, hell more or less in all of Pennsylvania, Paterno had pretty much the highest position of power there is, de facto if not de jure.

Which explains, kmz, why it was so damned difficult and time-consuming for the so-called authorities at Penn State to fire him, and why the law was unable to enact warrants until after his departure...

Give me a break.
posted by IAmBroom at 11:13 AM on January 23, 2012


At Penn State, hell more or less in all of Pennsylvania, Paterno had pretty much the highest position of power there is....

Pennsylvania also has a governor. Joe PA Takes the Fall says, "As governor, Corbett then attempted to distract public attention away from his own mounting failures, political machinations and dishonesties by making a fall guy of Joe Paterno.”
posted by LeLiLo at 12:27 PM on January 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


...Or OccupyBoston.

Maybe a better "tend the mote in your own (progressive) eye" example would be Julian Assange and the way so many anti-establishment activists assumed he was set up by The Man without actually bothering to look into the evidence. It was often not clear whether they thought, because of their admiration, that Assange was too great a man to have sexually abused a woman, or whether they thought persecuting such a transgression was not as important as the cause of political change and free information. It seems like there was -- or even still is -- a similar range of feelings about Paterno not doing more when given evidence of Sandusky's alleged crimes.
posted by aught at 1:39 PM on January 23, 2012


That WAPO article is enlightening for me. Like many other sports fans, I admired JoPa for years. He was an extraordinary coach who really seemed to care for his players, who was modest in his personal life, and who made a big, positive difference in the lives of a lot of young men. I could not understand how he could ignore the Sandusky situation, which to put it mildly seemed to me to have been clearly presented to him no matter how vaguely the "sexual encounter" was described. I couldn't understand how he could let the victimization go on. Paterno certainly had the power to make it stop.

But, here's one thing he said to Quinn:

“I should have said ‘Hey where are we with this thing?’ ” Paterno said. He described himself as paralyzed by the unthinkable subject matter. He had “backed away,” he said, and trusted his bosses to handle it.

“I didn’t know which way to go,” he said. “And rather than get in there and make a mistake . . .”


This comment resonates with me -- not that I agree with it, but because it is so familiar. I have dealt for much of my life with sexual assault cases, and frankly though people condemn rape and child molestation, they have an incredibly hard time believing it. When I used to be involved in prosecution of these cases, I thought of this attitude as a "presumption of disbelief," an unwillingness to accept what had happened which was far more than the presumption of innocence every defendant should receive. This is so common, unbelievably common. My husband is still burning with the injustice of having heard a date rape victim scream for help, seeing her torn clothing, helping to run down the fleeing rapist, turned him over to police, testifying at trial about what he witnessed -- and seeing the rapist acquitted.

Paterno was like a lot of people. He didn't want to believe it. He wanted to think that no such thing could happen in his locker room, from the abuse of power and trust by his assistant coach.

This failure to act is unforgivable, particularly from someone who had all the power he needed to do so, but the thinking that prompted it is very, very familiar to me and should be to every MeFi who has read a thread here on the subject of sexual assault. Questions about whether rapes and molestations really happened are common, because people don't want to believe it. They just don't.
posted by bearwife at 2:28 PM on January 23, 2012 [11 favorites]


A halo has now been painted on Joe Paterno's portrait on the "Inspiration" mural in State College.

I really hope that the boy whose assault McQueary reported to Paterno doesn't have to see that.
posted by argonauta at 2:45 PM on January 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


New York Times, "Strong Words Resound at Tribute to Paterno":
Penn State concluded its weeklong goodbye to the former football coach Joe Paterno with a memorial Thursday at a packed arena that featured remembrances from a player from each of the six decades in which he coached, videos of him with the team and an emotional closing eulogy from his son Jay… The speakers mostly avoided the child sexual-abuse scandal that led to Paterno’s firing Nov. 9.

The exception was the speech given by Phil Knight, the chairman of Nike, who was a close friend of Paterno’s. In the memorial’s most riveting moment, Knight lambasted Penn State’s board of trustees for firing Paterno…

“It turns out he gave full disclosure to his superiors, information that went up the chain to the head of the campus police and the president of the school,” Knight said. “The matter was in the hands of a world-class university and a president with an outstanding national reputation. Whatever the details of the investigation are, this much is clear to me: if there is a villain in this tragedy, it lies in that investigation, not in Joe Paterno.”

Knight’s comments drew an explosion from the crowd of about 12,000, followed by a sustained standing ovation, with Paterno’s widow, Sue, and his family members rising to their feet.
posted by grouse at 8:20 AM on January 28, 2012


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