Monday, November 14, 2011

Penn State and the Blame Game

Turn on the news you quickly will learn--the world is in a sad state of affairs. The way we treat one another and the resolve we have to stand up and do what is right seems to be shaky.  When money and politics enter the picture, the issues become more confused and twisted. The buck gets passed and it becomes a question of who is going to take the fall.

I haven’t read the grand jury report in the Penn State situation. All I know is what I’ve seen and heard in the news reports. This may involve a sports team, but there are no winners here.  Despite the cries over destroyed coaching legacies and other sad tales, the boys who were victims of this tragedy must not be forgotten.

Let’s backtrack nine years. An assistant football coach at Penn State witnesses disturbing and criminal behavior in the locker room between a former coach who still used the facilities for his outreach program and an under-aged boy. Some information reached the head coach. He reported it to higher-ups at the institution. I can only imagine what happened from there.

There was probably a discussion. The institution did not want the embarrassment of the incident being dragged into the media. A cover-up was most likely discussed. A hush went through the building. An attempt to silence the situation was put in motion.

Now jump ahead nine years. The heat returns. The media gets wind of the incident and the report from the grand jury leaks to the press. The secret is exposed. Uh-oh. What now? It’s time for the blame game. I’ll repeat – there are no winners. The ones with the greatest amount of political clout either have the most to lose or the ability to pass the buck.

Enter the most successful coach in the history of major college football. He’s caught in the middle and wants to maintain his dignity. He suggests a resignation. But the university thinks otherwise. They dismiss him immediately with a phone call! Isn’t that absurd treatment to a faithful employee of nearly fifty years? Tough luck! That’s the way it works in business. Students revolt. A riot commences.

Now the “he-saids and the she-saids” begin. Who saw what? When? How? What were the circumstances? Everyone gets to hire a lawyer and the legal process is set in motion. Even with indictments and oaths, we may never know the whole truth.

The fact remains that at least one little boy was seen being molested, and there are other alleged victims out there. Penn State wants to save face so the powers-to-be made an attempt to quiet the throngs.

When it’s all said and done--maybe a decade from now--how will the university and the head coach and the victim and the child abuser be viewed? Your guess is as good as mine but the situation is really a reflection of our deteriorating society and the attempt to buy reputations. Stop and think. Where is the twisted person that started it all? I bet he’s hiding under a blanket of lawyers. It all disgusts me.


E. Smith said...

I read your posting today. All I have to say is who cares about the reputation of some school or the dignity of some old man. The moment of hesitation on the part of the Grad assistant (later assistant coach) demonstrated lack of moral character and compassion. They all were representatives of PENN State and educators. Educators of children. As for the "old man" he probably lost his dignity when he chose to look the other way. Hello! 911!

Ciara Ballintyne said...

I'm a commercial contracts lawyer. I don't deal in criminal issues general, but what I do see is a lot of corporations playing the blame game (or an attempt to mitigate the blame game in the future) on an almost daily basis. Often this consists of making someone else (usually the smallest subcontractor in a massive building project) responsible and liable for the actions of all other parties, up to and including the builder and the developer. Why should the little guy be liable for the results of their mistakes? Hello, take responsibility for your own actions! Not only is it an attempt to pass the buck, it's a STUPID attempt, because the little guy does not have the money to pay the amounts someone like a developer would become liable for - nor can he insure them. Yes, not only do I expoect companies to be moral, but intelligent as well. I don't think that's too much to ask... at least it shouldn't be.

It frustrates me no end that these big corporates refuse to accept liability for their own actions. It's a fairly simple principle. You break it, you bought it.

The problem is, we need to remember that 'big corporates' decisions are actually made by individual people behind the scenes.

It's not the company that is morally bankrupt. It has no morals to speak of. It's the individuals making those decisions for the corporte.

Anonymous said...

You should read the indictment...or, well, maybe you shouldn't. It made the hair on my arms stand up and I haven't let my 3 little boys out of my sight since. If any of that indictment is true, then so many lives were twisted in their formative years, and there was also a conspiracy of silence that Paterno participated in. Not enough was done, by a longshot. I'm sorry, but when you hear that your assistant coach was raping a ten year old boy in a shower in the locker room of the football team you shepherd, you need to do more than just tell him he can't use the showers anymore. Paterno knew what was going on, and he did little or nothing. Sandusky was allowed to stay on, he molested more boys, and Paterno did nothing. I am also livid that the witness did nothing more than just go home and then tell his supervisor the next day--if it had been me, I would have been screaming bloody murder right that moment! Because this isn't supposed to happen: sex between a child and an old man is NEVER consensual. It's not like the witness surprised an adult couple having consensual sex. Plain and simple, it was rape. Period. And someone should have said something, done something, the moment it was discovered. I am amazed that anyone associated with the Penn club can sleep at night. You're right, there are no winners, but the biggest losers are the abused children...and the Penn State students, athletes, and fans. Oh, and Sandusky, he's free on bail. Everyone lock up your sons.

Unknown said...

This situation has me so upset I can't even respond to this. It takes a lot to make a writer wordless.