Sunday, January 22, 2012
A point of personal privilege, re: Joe Paterno
First, let me say this: I did not watch this tribute video. My gag reflex is way too strong for that. I just thought that it was a good example of how twisted our values have become that hours after this wretched waste of a life died, there were SEVERAL of these video tributes available on YouTube.
Now, to the point of this post. Considering that for the better part of the last decade, Joe Paterno's contributions to Penn State Games consisted of sitting in a booth (the University President' box) behind darkened privacy glass while someone else did the job he was being paid to do and took credit for, it's not at all surprising to me that this guy died on the morning before the AFC and NFC title games, and before each network ran out its litany of current events (read: politics, politics and more politics) Sunday morning talk shows. His ability to insert himself into the spotlight was not, in the end, hampered by his illness, clearly.
Because he died when he did, I get to hear the hosts of CNN, Fox News Sunday, ABC's This Week, etc. etc. give their little speeches about what an iconic figure Paterno was- "he was known as 'JoePa' (only in the last few years, when dumbing down the names of people connected to sports became a fad) and was like a father to his players....he leaves a void which cannot be filled...." and similar treacle. And when the NFL championship games start, I can be sure that the broadcasters will fall all over themselves telling their audiences what a Giant of a Man this guy was, how he was One of the Kind (jesus, let's hope so) and how it's such a Tragedy that his name will always be connected to the term Child Molestation. Yes, that's the real tragedy- not the damage done to the kids, but the damage done to "JoePa's" reputation. Groan.
I'll be very clear about my opinion on this. Does the fact that Paterno did not take swift action to stop the molestation of children by his assistance erase a brilliant, title-winning, sixty years of scandal-free coaching?
You God Damned right it does.
Paterno saw a vicious crime of violence being committed against a child by a member of his staff. With his own eyes. His response was to mention it to a superior. And then drop it. And keep the man he SAW committing these acts of violence on his staff. And, apparently, never mention it again.
I don't care how many games this guy won. I don't care how many titles he won. I don't care how many young men he inspired to give their best on the field for six decades. And I don't care that Penn State will certainly, once it seems "safe," erect a freaking statue dedicated to this evil old man. An Evil Old Man is what he was, and as he ought to be remembered.
And I don't want to hear any more crap about what an icon this nasty, self-absorbed creep was. I only wish he had been twenty years younger and thirty years healthier, so he could have suffered the legal consequences that ought to come crashing down on ANYONE (yes, even Living Saints like "JoePa") who sees a child being assaulted- and looks the other way. So I guess I'll be watching at least part of today's games with the mute button on.
Ok, I'm done. Thanks for your indulgence. Back to commercials in the future, I promise.