Penn State's Joe Paterno Enabled Child Rape; PSU Must Deal with It

Josh FriedmanContributor IIIJuly 23, 2012

Joe Paterno put football ahead of humanity.
Joe Paterno put football ahead of humanity.Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

There’s a scene in Jaws where the mother of a shark attack victim confronts the Amity chief of police. “You knew there was a shark out there,” she says. “You knew it was dangerous but you let people go swimming anyway.”

That sums up my feelings on Joe Paterno. For all the great things he did, the man known affectionately as “JoePa” failed tragically in his biggest test.

Paterno covered up the allegations of his assistant coach’s child sexual abuse—a polite way of saying child rape—to preserve the Penn State and JoePa brands. Ironically, Paterno ultimately destroyed his name and that of his school in the process.

Imagine how saintly Paterno would have been looked upon had he done the right thing—the humane thing—and turned Jerry Sandusky in.

A lot of people bought into the myth of the Brown University-educated, classics-quoting man with the big glasses, black sneakers, tie and coat, but it just seems like a cruel joke now. Perhaps the same old-school way of thinking that gave us the basic white and blue uniforms did Paterno in.

It’s all in the Freeh report, which is why it’s so frustrating to be continuously reminded by the Paterno family that they cannot understand or appreciate the gravity and depravity of this story.

“Tearing down the statue of Joe Paterno does not serve the victims of Jerry Sandusky’s horrible crimes or help heal the Penn State community,” said the family in a statement released on Sunday.

Missing from this statement is any realization that there wouldn’t have been as many victims in the first place if Paterno hadn’t helped brush the story under the rug.

So spare us the tales about how Joe Paterno was a great man because he helped so many people. What about those who needed him the most? And if Joe Paterno didn’t know he did something wrong, he wouldn’t have issued an apology last November. 

Meanwhile, back on Amity Island, the police chief reaches his breaking point after another shark attack and insists that the mayor sign a contract to hire a shark killer. “The summer is over. You’re the mayor of shark city. These people think you want the beaches open.”

That sums up my feelings on Penn State. It’s over.

So put the Kool-Aid down, Stepford people, and quit crying because the school removed the statue of someone who tacitly approved child rape. If Paterno hadn’t died, he’d likely face jail time for what he did. Do you understand that?

Penn State and the horrible people who gave the green light to child rape—CHILD RAPE!—got what they deserved today. 

But those who worship football above all else will never forget Joe Paterno and his famous Coke bottle glasses. It seems they’ve already embraced his myopia.