Sailing the Seas of Cheese: May No Act of Ours Bring Shame
There are some times when what I do during the day intersects–albeit rarely–with my musings on the blogosphere. I wear many hats. Many of you know I am a wife, mom, purveyor of crap, brand spanking new beekeeper and back yard chicken aficionado. Some of you know about the day job. I’ve not kept that part of my life a secret.
But what a lot of people don’t realize is that one of the areas I specialize in is child abuse–physical, sexual as well as neglect. I’ve interviewed children after the unthinkable has happened to them. I have seen their injuries when an adult has treated them like a thing and not a human being. I have collected evidence and know how to use a rape kit. I have had to tell a child that I have to give her underwear to the police officer. I have given them stuffed animals in return for allowing me to check the most private of places that have been violated, knowing that it is such a crappy consolation for what they have already been through. And I have given children a voice by testifying in court, telling many a jury of twelve what those children have told me and what I have seen.
When it comes to the Penn State scandal, I cannot take off that hat and just be another blogger that likes to crack jokes on the internet. It angers and hurts me both as a mother of two precious little girls as well as child advocate that Penn State decided to place the $50 Million football machine over the safety and well being of many children that will be forever scarred with hidden wounds because a university had a monster in its midst and decided it that it would be “bad publicity” if they acknowledged that there was a sexual predator in its ranks.
Bad publicity is when one of your football coaches is nailed for an OWI offense . Bad publicity is when your star running back is issued a citation at the Mifflin Street Block party for some asinine reason or another.
Covering up the fact that more than one child has been sodomized in the football showers is not trying to prevent “bad publicity.” It is perpetuating an evil that rocks every parent to the core. It is reducing children to disposable pieces of meat that can be used and tossed aside. It is fueled by greed, by unbridled power that places fame and fortune over a very basic premise of humanity: protecting our children.
People are quick to condemn Mike McQueary for not doing enough that night he heard Sandusky raping a young boy in the shower. No, he did not do enough. Slamming a locker is not the same as pulling a grown man off a naked boy half his size. But I think people need to realize that just as Jerry Sandusky slowly groomed his victims to be receptive to his sexual advances, McQueary–first as a player, then as a graduate assistant and finally as a coach–was groomed by the Penn State machine to put their football program above all else.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that McQueary was a brainwashed victim. Like the old saying goes, if you throw a frog in a pot of boiling water it will try to immediately jump out. But if you put a frog in a pot of water and gradually bring that water up to a boil, the frog won’t even realize it is sitting in the instrument of its own death.
Thankfully the Freeh report finally casts the proper light on the true problems with the university. McQueary was a dutiful little soldier that thought he had fulfilled his end of the deal. He went to Paterno because of the Freeh report pointed out, the sun did not rise with out Joe Paterno’s permission. God forbid McQueary ever went over Paterno’s head on something that happened in his own locker room.
Quite frankly, this top down conspiracy to suppress the truth to keep the machine running is no different than the sex abuse scandal that has rocked the Roman Catholic Church. Plausible deniability, removal of the offender from one arena (in Sandusky’s case, let him retire, but say it was all his idea but still let him bring boys to the school’s facilities) but not complete removal of access to victims. But God forbid you actually admit that there are monsters among you!
Penn State didn’t stop Sandusky from bringing potential victims to its training facilities even after it knew about past improprieties. It didn’t try to identify who the terrified and violated child was that McQueary encountered in the locker room. It hardly tried to deter a predator for over a decade and let Sandusky prey on children with impunity. As Louis Freeh pointed out :
A decision by Spanier, Schultz, Paterno and Curley to allow Sandusky to retire in 1999, not as a suspected child predator, but as a valued member of the Penn State football legacy, with future ‘visibility’ at Penn State and ways ‘to continue to work with young people through Penn State,’ essentially granting him license to bring boys to campus facilities for ‘grooming’ as targets for his assaults. Sandusky retained unlimited access to University facilities until November 2011.
By turning a blind eye for over a decade, Spanier, Schultz, Paterno and Curley were silent accomplices demonstrating repeated depraved indifference as the cycle of victimization played out over and over again under their nose. But why should they care about a handful of poor, dysfunctional little boys? They weren’t buying football tickets or purchasing Penn State merchandise. Besides, who is the public going to believe…an esteemed coach who retired at the top of his career as a defensive coordinator or bunch of poor white trash?
I doubt the University will put an end to its football machine. They tried to generate good publicity by firing Paterno (that got off easy, if you ask me by passing away before this all came to light.) To some he will always be the martyr that took one for the team. But he isn’t that gentle grandpa that instilled values in his players. To those apologists that still want to defend him, I want nothing to do with you.
Louis Freeh cast a light where only darkness had been. Penn State can’t keep its head in the sand any longer. Perhaps the NCAA Death Penalty would be a good thing for such an evil machine as this to not only give Penn State true pause, but also to serve as an example for other institutions to place humanity before profit.
As much as we love football as a society, it is not worth the price of the irreparable damage this one university has inflicted on numerous unnamed children. No team is that important. No coach is a deity that should be above the law and the basic premises of what hold us together as a society. It’s one of the reasons I do what I do. Our children are precious and cherished. They deserve a voice.
The opinions expressed in this blog are solely those of the author. They in no way represent those of her unnamed employer.