Feeling the need to get my thoughts and frustrations written out on this whole Penn State tragedy. I did not attend the school, but know many who proudly did. In writing this I’m sure I will deeply offend some, if not many. That certainly is not my intention, but judging by the evidence of their opinions on the matter, it unfortunately seems inevitable.
This is purely my own opinion, which I have tried to keep to myself with the exception of close family. But, with all of the increasing articles and outrage, I find myself in a state of anxiety, frustration, and yes, anger. Every time I see another article, or opinion, I tell myself not to read it. I know it will only upset me. But then I can’t resist. I’m searching, waiting to read something that reflects my feelings on the matter…and it never happens. So now, I gotta let it out!
As I stated, I did not attend Penn State, so for some, that would be the first strike against me. I write this as a citizen, and mother. My thoughts on this are black and white, right and wrong. I know there is a huge “gray area”, as with any complicated situation. I don’t deny that, but here it goes.
What I do not understand is the constant complaining, and feelings of being persecuted, by many of the alumni. For me, here are the black and white facts; boys were RAPED, people either knew or suspected and they covered it up. I keep hearing that yes, hind-sight is twenty twenty, but it seems pretty clear to me that in this instance it was obvious there was more than one reason to be suspicious or concerned. The powers that be at that university dropped the ball, big time. And yes, unfortunately it seems that Joe Paterno did as well. I also keep hearing that “enough is enough”. And I say, yes enough is enough, with institutions, churches, and people in powerful positions trying to sweep these things under the rug. It happens all the time, not just at Penn State, and it is absolutely abhorrent. I’m not picking on Penn State just because it’s Penn State, I’m saying this because it HAPPENED. I feel the exact same way about the Catholic church, into which I was born and raised. There are no reasons that could be presented to me that would make me think what they did,is in any way, ok. There should be severe consequences for sexual abuse and cover up.
I feel nauseous when I see things like, “Chins up Penn Staters, we’ll survive!” To them I say, why do you feel these consequences are directed at you personally? Why are you so angry at the system trying to give some sort of justice? Be angry at the people who failed your university, and failed the real victims. How would you feel hearing a statement like that if you were one of those boys? Every time someone whines that statement, the victims are being minimized once again. They are the true survivors. There is no “back to normal” for victims of a crime such as this. They are forever changed. They were forced to look in the face of evil, and that type of wound on such an innocent soul will never heal completely.
Now, if you really think about that and let it sink in, how can you possibly say that the punishment handed out to the University is harsh. It’s like saying, “Yeah, I’m really sorry that happened to you, but this is football. This hurts school pride.”
And this is where I’d like go on a rant full of expletives…but I think you get the idea.
To those who defend Mr. Paterno to the end I say this, when it comes to football there is no doubt the man was a true genius, but I’m sorry, the man made a mistake. A huge one. Passing the buck, and saying that you reported something like this to your superiors just doesn’t cut it for me. I would like to think that in that situation, in his position ,if reporting to your superiors did not result in any action or investigation by authorities, you have the “moral obligation” to call 911. That’s it, end of story for me. Anything short of that is unacceptable. Do I feel bad for his family? Absolutely. There is no doubt that the good he did for the University is great, and I’m sure that is an understatement, but this is too serious. It is very sad that his legacy is tarnished forever by this, but it was his choice and actions, or I guess inaction in this case.
Let me be clear that I do not in any way think that the alumni are condoning pedophilia. I don’t. I know they are horrified by that just as I am. But please, stop acting the victim!
My son is very close to the age of some of those poor boys. I look at him and I can’t describe the feeling I get if I imagine it was him. I feel physically ill. Tears instantly well, my throat tightens, my heart literally aches. There really aren’t words. I feel angry, and want to scream! How many boys suffered unecessarily, during this cover up? They still suffer. And I ask, as a mother, if it was your child, would you be complaining that the punishment of the University is too harsh?! If your son was raped after the date that Paterno reported to his superiors, would you say the statue should remain? Would you be able to say that what he contributed to the school out weighs his negligence? I hope not. And if so, then the problem here is way bigger than the community of Penn State.
Society seems to have a backward view of priorities, placing the game of football and the reputations of “important people” and schools ahead of protecting our most innocent and defenseless.
I don’t know about anyone else, but I need to try and move on from this. I pray that out of this whole series of events, important lessons are learned. And that the powers that be, feel a little less “untouchable” after our legal system attempted to serve justice in this case.
To current Penn State students I say, be proud to be a Penn Stater in this new phase, carry on and do what all of the students before you have done in the past to make your University what it is…a great University. After all, “YOU are…Penn State!”
~I originally wrote this piece in July. I shared it first with family and friends, and truly appreciate their suggestions and input. I have to give a special thank you to my friend and very talented writer, Nicole Monaghan for her excellent advice. You can read her work right here on WordPress at, Writenic.wordpress.com~