Penn State University has a mess on its hands and many heads rolled as a result – as they should have – but many people on the Internet either falsely claimed that Coach Joe Paterno was accused of molesting the children or that his lack of action upon finding out made him as guilty as the former staff member who is actually accused. Make no mistake, Paterno was fired on Wednesday so the school could protect their brand and get ahead of the massive negative story.
Child abuse, especially of a sexual nature, is, as it should be, a heinous crime. People tend to lose their mind when it becomes public. The downside of that freak out is that due process and the concept of “innocent until proved guilty” seems to fly out the window. Incidents that become news explodes all over the people involved and indirectly seeps down to people not directly involved.
When I was a kid, the brother of a school mate I was friends with was accused and later convicted of rape. My friend and his family received death threats, the mom was kicked out as Den mother of a local Cub Scout pack, and my friend was ostracized by the other kids at school. His only crime was the rapist was his older brother. The family eventually was evicted from their rented home and forced to move to another town where no one knew them. The reason the family was evicted was the landlord got several phone calls from community members wanting the family out of the area. This all happened back in the early 80’s before the Internet and social media.
Coach Joe Paterno probably did need to lose his job because he should have done more about the incident he reported. I don’t think he should have been fired immediately. The Board of Trustees even said they acted without all the facts. But Paterno was in charge of and the face of the program. The pressure, due to the way people freak out about child sex abuse, was immense.
I understand the student reaction to the firing. If Paterno had been the one implicated in the abuse then the student riot was stupid, but since he was in trouble because of perceived indifference on one hand and that his boss is accused of a cover up on the other, the student reaction shouldn’t be belittled. The pain from the coaches firing will subside and they will come to accept the decision. They have to. But it does look like it was ass covering of the highest order.
The Board of Trustees had to go big to try and protect their school and brand. I think at this time they made a mistake but they made the decision and we all have to move on.
Just as sports people said Paterno will have an asterisk next to his name, the alleged victims of the accused will have to live with the result of the crime for the rest of their lives. No one wins here.
I just could do without people freaking out. I think that accusations shouldn’t taint people like that. I prefer to wait for due process and our legal system to do its job. I thought mob rule went out of fashion after the civil rights battles of the 1960’s