Joe Paterno Doesn't Deserve Your Sympathy, Penn State—Shame on You

Kelly Scaletta@@KellyScalettaFeatured ColumnistNovember 10, 2011

STATE COLLEGE, PA - NOVEMBER 9: Students and those in the community fill the streets and react after football head coach Joe Paterno was fired during the Penn State Board of Trustees Press Conference, in downtown Penn State, November 9, 2011 in State College, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Patrick Smith/Getty Images

The Joe Paterno story to me is deeply personal. I never told anyone in my life until about an hour ago, when I told my wife before I wrote this article. The reason it's so, so personal to me is that I was molested when I was 11.

It wasn't to the point of Jerry Sandusky's charges, but it was serious enough that if I'd said anything, the man who did it would have been in jail. There were a host of reasons I never told anyone. I felt guilt, shame, responsibility and fear.

When you're 11, you don't know how to respond to these types of things. Even if it is the case, as the Paterno camp argues, that he thought it was "only" fondling, touching or horseplay, that's still more than enough that Paterno should have done more than he did.

I simply held that within me for 33 years until tonight. It's a hard thing to talk about. Nothing I have ever done has left me feeling more precarious. It is a frightening thing.

The people who were victimized are a thousand times more delicate than you can possibly imagine. Every action you take in defense of Paterno is an action against them. How dare you? How DARE you show more sympathy for the man who, through his minimal action, covered it up than the victims?

Don't tell me that your "heart goes out to the victims." If it did you wouldn't be rioting in the streets of State College , turning over TV vans or throwing rocks at the police.

Your heart goes out to the victims? Where is their vigil? Where is their demonstration?

These two positions are diametrically opposed. You either support "JoePa," the man who tacitly enabled these rapes to continue to occur, even if just by his lack of more than minimally required action, or you support the victims, the boys who were raped. There is simply no reasonable way to take both positions at the same time.

STATE COLLEGE, PA - NOVEMBER 08:  Penn State University head football coach Joe Paterno (C) is greeted by a large group of students after arriving at his home, November 8, 2011 in State College, Pennsylvania. Behind Paterno is his son Scott Paterno  (Phot
Rob Carr/Getty Images

Does Paterno need to go to jail? No. Does he deserve this kind of hero worship for protecting an alleged child rapist? Hardly.

Any sympathy, any good will I had for Paterno went out the window when he released that deplorable statement, "I am grateful beyond words to all the coaches...who have been a part of this program."

Really Joe? All of them? Even Sandusky?

Sandusky is accused of raping children. Do you get that? At the very least, Paterno had an obligation to at least have some curiosity based on what he knew. Whether it was a legal obligation is semantics. He had a moral obligation as a grown man, a man in leadership and as a human being.

Did he deserve more than getting fired over the phone? I honestly couldn't care less. Did he meet the minimum legal requirement? Yes. Does that mean he didn't do anything wrong? No. It most certainly does not.

The man's minimal actions enabled more children than we know to continue to be raped, and you want to make him out to be some sort of martyr?

Was he treated "fairly?" You know what's not fair? Getting raped as a child is not fair!

This isn't the media's fault. This isn't one-sided reporting.

This is well beyond "alleged" actions or distorted reporting here. There was a three-year investigation. There was a grand jury which found there was enough evidence for a trial. Sandusky has not been found guilty yet, but that doesn't mean he's not guilty. It just means he got away with it for longer.

This isn't a case of he said vs. he said. It's a case of he said, he said, he said, he said, he said, he said, he said, he said, he said, he said, he said, he said, he said, he said, he said and he said vs. he said. There's more than just "allegations" here. There's been an actual three-year investigation.

If Paterno was wronged, it was a smidgen compared to what happened to those children who were raped over the years that would not have been had Paterno fulfilled his responsibilities as a human being to show the slightest concern for the victims.

Your response to this is to flip TV trucks and damage private property? Throwing rocks at reporters and police? Spraying them with pepper spray? In the interest of what? Having a coach who did the minimum upon learning of child molestation, tacitly enabling more to be victimized, to coach a football game? Disgusting!

Where is your sense of perspective, Penn State? Shame on you! Do you realize what it does to a child? I do. There are things in life bigger and more important than college football. There are tragedies so far beyond that of getting fired over the phone.

Take yourself out of being a Penn State student or fan right now. Consider that you're addressing the victims themselves or their families. Imagine you're in their living room. Do this because you are. Your rioting, your protesting, your "support" for Paterno is being broadcast into their living rooms.

If your hearts really go out to the victims, then let their hearts come back to you. Feel what they feel. And not just them, all the victims of child rape (molestation is far too nice a word) who see those who protect the culprits receive such support.

Imagine yourself an 11-year-old child who has been groped or fondled, or perhaps even raped, and you're wondering whether you should tell someone. Your actions right now are speaking to them, and they are telling them that your heart goes out to the ones who would defend the man they accuse.

That's why I bring up my own history in this. I don't have to imagine. I know what it's like. I am ashamed for you, Penn State, since so many of you (though there have been a few who have shown considerable courage and class in stating a contrary opinion in the face of the rioting) do not have the class to feel shame for yourselves.


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