CHICAGO, June 23, 2012 — Jerry Sandusky is a guilty man. He committed some of the most heinous crimes imaginable in the most awful ways imaginable, utilizing a children’s charity as a source of a fresh stream of innocent, defenseless young boys. He will spend the rest of his life in prison for his crimes, and he deserves to as much as any man ever has.
But Penn State should not have fired Joe Paterno.
Paterno was let go by the University for, to paraphrase, failing in his moral duty to call the police when told about Sandusky’s possible abuse of the children: a fair point to be sure. But is that in his contract with the school?
Is it really acceptable to terminate an employee for failing to sell out the man that he, at the time, saw as nothing more than a friend and colleague?
Paterno fulfilled his actual duty in reporting what he was told to a higher power at the school, but to expect him to call the police on a friend based on such an outrageous accusation aimed at a friend is just tough. It was a tough (and in hindsight, poorly handled) situation for Paterno, a tough expectation, and a tough ending for the most storied coach in history.
It just wasn’t the right ending.
Penn State overreacted in firing Joe Paterno so quickly. Here’s a man who contributed nothing but good, honest effort to the school for over 60 years of his life, changed so many young lives for the better, and was an incredibly positive influence in the school and campus in general.
Want proof? Still think that Paterno should be as disgraced as Sandusky for his failure to stop these monstrous crimes? Look at America’s reactions at the downfall of each. When Jerry Sandusky was announced to have been found guilty outside of his courthouse, the crowd interrupted the speaker with raucous applause, sheer relief. The monster was going to rot in jail. The monster was gone.
When it was announced that Paterno would no longer be serving Penn State as a football coach, riots started.
Thousands of Nittany Lions turned out to show the university how stupid it was, in a way similar to what all of America does every time its government’s being very stupid. The place was a mess, the public reaction showing the university its mistake, showing it that the man that they demonized had truthfully been an enormously beneficial part of the school.
So yes, Jerry Sandusky is a villain, an awful human being, but Penn State was wrong to take part of their shame and embarrassment out on Joe Paterno, and the public shouldn’t let them of the hook as easily as they have so far.
To contact Nick Goralka, see above to send him an e-mail containing a question, comment, or scathing insult. His work appears in Alley-oops for Touchdowns! and That Liberal Pinko in the Communities at the Washington Times Online.
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