The concept of civil discourse is dead…

I’m not even really sure where to start — I’ve gone through the gamut of emotions since the Penn State University scandal first broke and it’s unbelievably difficult to get a grip on where to begin. But let’s give this a try…

I’m single – check that – I’m divorced. I don’t have any kids, and that’s probably the biggest reason why I’m divorced. I have faced hardship in my life, but so have you, so have others and I work hard not to dwell on it. I have faced NOTHING that even approaches what Jerry Sandusky’s victims have faced – thankfully. I have made too many mistakes in my life to count but I work hard every day to become a better person. I struggle with my faith/spirituality on a daily basis — there are days that I don’t even know what those things are — and this past week has included a couple of those days.

Perhaps it’s because I work with students on a daily basis and I see as they struggle with so many issues that I’ve gained some perspective on this particular type of issue. Perhaps it’s because I’ve seen my friends who have kids transform into different people who think only of what’s most important for the life they brought into this world that I feel this way. Perhaps it’s because I know that somebody, somewhere always has it worse.

But these are the things I feel in my gut:

  • Everyone involved in this, from Mike McQueary to Joe Paterno to Tim Curley to Graham Spanier (and anybody else I may have missed) needed to be fired immediately upon finding out that they stood by and did nothing to help curtail this situation. All were complicit by their lack of action and this is inexcusable.
  • That Mike McQueary has not been fired yet as well is just incomprehensible to me – not only did he walk by and do nothing to stop what was going on in that shower, but after reporting this to Joe Paterno, he did nothing after seeing that it was not being handled as well.
  • “…in hindsight, I wish I had done more.” Those are Joe Paterno’s words – I said this on facebook as well as on twitter: I am appalled at this statement. So what you’re saying is that it took over nine years and getting CAUGHT for you to realize that a report of a 10 year old boy being raped (by anybody, let alone your former Defensive Coordinator) is wrong? I refuse to accept this, because if this is the case, then it means that Joe Paterno is completely hysterical. Yes, he reported this to Curley, his superior, but then nothing happened. At what point do you say to yourself, Hey, they said they would take care of this, but I haven’t seen anything done yet. I better double check this situation. Do you do that after a week? A month? A year? Nine?
  • Jerry Sandusky is hands down the greatest villain in this situation, and he will get his (I’m truly relying on prison justice to handle this).  But that doesn’t excuse the inaction of others.
  • The press conference held last night was just utterly despicable — all the way around. Concerning the Board of Trustees – I believe you made the hard, but correct decision. Having said that, handling this by phone call is reprehensible. As for the press conference itself, it was not a shining moment in the history of journalism, to say the least. Two tweets from last night stood out to me in this concern: @PittScript “With reporters like these in State College, it’s becoming easier to see how no one ever questioned what the athletic department was doing” and @colin_dunlap “How are these reporters going to type their stories wearing their big, foam Penn State No. 1 fingers on their hands?” The way that the reporters in that room handled that presser was embarrassing at best. I have a friend from high school who is a professional writer who wrote for The Daily Collegian. I admire and respect his work greatly – I know that he would have handled himself much better at that presser than what we saw and heard.
  • There is no way in the world it should have taken this long to reach these decisions – having said that, having a 10:00 pm press conference for something of this magnitude is just ludicrous – especially knowing that what happened in the streets afterwards was going to happen in the streets afterwards. This is nothing new on that campus, unfortunately.
  • Perhaps, as @colin_dunlap suggested last night, those students should have marched to the house of Jerry Sandusky to express their frustration — better yet, perhaps they should have taken part in the Candlelight Vigil that was being held at the same exact time in honor of the true victims in this case.
  • Twitter and Facebook both exploded last night (and to be fair, before then as well). There was some incredible insight from both sides of this debate and it happened quickly. Perhaps it happened too quickly. And this is quite possibly where I found the most disappointment. It’s also the reason I posted this as I have. Please understand this about me – I have absolutely no issues with you having a differing opinion than mine. By no means would I ever expect you to agree with everything I think. But, and this is a big BUT – if you unfollow me or delete a comment of mine, I will not permit you to re-follow me or I will unfriend you (depending on the social media site). By doing either of those things (unfollowing or deleting), you are telling me that my opinion doesn’t matter – and if you feel that, fine, but don’t think that we’re going to be friends on these sites. And if you’ve read this far, I doubt that will be the case. Civil discourse – with the emphasis on civil, please. I want you to challenge my thoughts. I want to take part in that conversation.
  • I understand the love affair with Joe Paterno that people in Happy Valley have. I grew up a Pitt fan, but spent my first year of college at Penn State. I fell in love with everything while there – the campus, the people, the football team, Joe Paterno, CC Peppers – everything. But I have noticed two major “camps,” if you will, in this argument: those who are younger and those who are older (and don’t get me wrong, there are absolutely exceptions to this). For the most part, those who are younger and have chimed in don’t have kids, and don’t necessarily have enough perspective to look at this objectively. Maybe I should make that four “camps,” because it seems to be pretty easy to also tell who has read the entire grand jury indictment and who has not. (As an aside, when I was at PSU I lived in East Halls — Geary Hall — and for a time I was doing some running. At the end of one run, after crossing through the old Lot 80, I came to the intersection and went to cross. I was hit by a car – or maybe I hit the car? – going over the hood and landing on the street. I was fine, but got up loaded for bear. Joe Paterno got out of the car and I immediately apologized to him. I don’t know why. I don’t know what came over me – but this was a person I didn’t know but grew to revere in a matter of months. I understand your idolatry and reverence, but it’s clouding your judgement. All of that being said, I still think he needed to be fired.
  • I was told yesterday that a sin is a sin and probably had the best conversation regarding religion with my brother that we’ve ever had. That being said, I struggle with people telling me that raping a 10 year old boy and stealing a loaf of bread are equivalent in God’s eyes. I really, truly struggle with that. I respect, but disagree with those who believe this and I’ll leave this bullet at that.
  • It sickens me to see the word prescient used in conjunction with Mark Madden, but it’s apt in this situation. Perhaps if people took him seriously, more would have listened to him calling all of this last April. This is precisely why people are taking seriously his claims that Sandusky was “pimping out” boys in Second Mile to wealthy donors.
  • It also sickens me to see some people jumping over all of PSU. While the football team is well-known and Joe Paterno is a household name for many, this is by no means all that PSU is about. Penn State students and alums have so much to be proud of. Beyond the school being a great one, I have but one word for those who are hating (as a student said today) – THON. Enough said.

I’m sure that this has been all over the place — but so am I right now — just treading water as I attempt to wrap my head around this ocean of disgusting.

Incidentally, I’ve read a TON of great pieces about this whole situation so far — and I’ve also read a ton of not so great pieces. These are my two favorites:

Growing Up Penn State  — Michael Weinreb nailed this – and his writing style was good enough to convince me to order his book.

An Appeal to Joe Paterno — by Rachel Lenzi-Gallagher — know that we are not related — she knows her stuff, to say the least.

This was from ESPN’s First Take – please understand that I can’t stand Skip Bayless – but I do agree with many of the things he has to say. Not sure that I’m willing to absolve McQueary, though.

In addition, if you are on twitter, you need to be following @DarrenRovell — phenomenal, objective look at all things sports and business from CNBC’s primary Sports and  Business Reporter.

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8 thoughts on “The concept of civil discourse is dead…

  1. I think I have run the full gamut of emotions. From disgusted, angry, to furious at how the board handled things last night, to completed saddened by the whole entire situation today.
    I’m so sad for those kids, still disgusted by Sandusky, angry that McQueary is still there, and selfishly depressed by the demise of the PSU I grew up to know and love…all headed by JoePa. All good things come to an end, and it’s 100 times harder to accept when you find out so much of it was covering up such horrible and sinful acts. Acts that are MUCH MUCH worse than stealing a loaf of bread.

  2. Well put. I too have wrestled with many emotions on this situation. I am not a college football fan or a Penn Stater but I always respected Joe and the program. It was a visceral pain I felt as I read the GJ indictment and my anger at all involved was palpable.

    What has disgusted me the most has been the impartiality towards Joe. Our lives are made up of all the decisions we made or the decisions we didn’t make, and in this case that decision probably cost dozens of boys their innocence, their humanity, and their self-worth.

    If you want to see a great piece on the “homer”, impartial journalism see today’s Onion Sports satire on the reporting (http://mobile.onionsportsnetwork.com/articles/sports-media-asks-molestation-victims-what-this-me,26609/?mobile=true). This satire is too close to the truth

  3. Jeremy,
    Uncle Dave and I read your article. You are an excellent writer. We both agree with everything you said. As a nurse/therapist I have seen the wreckage and lifelong carnage that sexual predators leave long after they victimize. It too sickens me. The shower images alone without first hand witnessing make my stomach turn and I want to scream at the top of my lungs STOP!!! How could anyone keep quiet??? I also agree that this sin could not possibly be viewed the same by any Higher Power as stealing a loaf of bread.

  4. thanks for reading, Aunt Kathie and thanks for taking the time to comment – your opinions have always meant a lot to me and i couldn’t agree with your statements on this any more…

  5. You’re thoughtful, to say the least. And I definitely respect your opinion, which is why I didn’t unfollow you.

    I wonder if one can run the FULL gamut of emotions if they’re not from State College or haven’t gone to Penn State. It’s incredibly somber here in Central PA right now. For most locals, when you talk to them, they’ll very quickly, very sincerely tell it’s been one of the worst weeks of their lives. I’ve cried to and from work. I thought about going home to Delmont just to get away from it all, but I’ve got too much work to do. And I’ve got a football team to support.

    Thank you for mentioning THON. Penn State students have raised over $78 million dollars for the Four Diamonds Fund. 78 MILLION.

    Also, that Penn State has already raised $50,000 for victims of sexual abuse. AND there are (and were) vigils being held for the victims in this case.

    I just wished the media would have handled this whole situation differently. But I never expected anything less. They are truly the scum of the earth.

    • Just to clarify — $50,000 just since this whole “scandal” broke out into the news. They’re hoping to raise $500,000 by Sunday.

    • You are absolutely correct in the sense that people don’t get it if they haven’t experienced it. I would imagine that people from Notre Dame and USC and West Virginia for that matter could say the same thing. Unfortunately, people paint with a broad brush when things like this happen – and those are the thoughtful people. Others, who hate Penn State to begin with, unfortunately, look at this as a way to project their hatred. This is a terrible shame.

      Are some members of the media “scum”? Yes, I’m sure. All? Come on, Gina, you’re better than that. Keep in mind that that is what people said about many of the great journalists in our history as they turned up some of the biggest stories in your lifetime (as well as long before). Is their coverage excessive? Absolutely, but this is the way of the world at this point, one needs only to take a brief look at the Caylee Anthony or Amanda Knox to know that. In the scheme of what is newsworthy, though, neither of those had what this story has to begin with, which is celebrity. Sorry, but just don’t agree with you on this one and feel your wording is way too harsh.

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