Thursday, November 27, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Joe Paterno

Some thoughts

Joe Paterno

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The lions are weeping

I've pretty much made clear my opinion about what's been happening in Happy Valley.  And I've gotten over a hundred emails so far, to go with the, so far, 156 comments on philly.com.  So I won't spend a lot of time here rehashing the points I've already made.

I do want to respond to some of those who said I don't understand because I don't have children (of course, they also use this argument about my opposition to abortion, saying I can't understand the anguish of a woman pregnant with a child she doesn't want.)

I'm a little offended by that allegation, because I don't think that having a child makes you either more, or less, sympathetic to the suffering of an innocent victim.  I have a nephew who is my sunrise and sunset, so not actually being a parent doesn't make me less aware of how precious childhood is.  That's why I also resent those who question whether Paterno would have acted differently if the children who were allegedly being abused were his grandchildren.  Stupid, stupid question.

I also think it's important to point out something else, to those who say that even if you are not 'legally' obligated to report suspected child abuse, you are 'morally' obligated to do so.  Our society has made it both too difficult and too easy to report suspected abuse. It is too difficult from the standpoint that the person who is making the claim has to jump through a lot of legal hoops and is opening him or herself up to a lawsuit if the case cannot be proven.  This blogger makes that point extremely well.  And it's not just the victim that is potentially liable.

On the other hand, it is far too easy these days to accuse someone of having molested a child.  We saw what happened only a mere 24 hours after the Grand Jury released its report in the PSU case.  Most people who are already punch-drunk from what happened to the Catholic Church are willing to believe that where there's smoke, there's fire.  There is also a sort of McMartin Pre-school/Crucible sentiment that whips us up into a frenzy at the mere thought that a child has been harmed.  If you even question the wisdom of that, if you ask for caution, if you say that an accused's life could be destroyed, and wrongly, you are labeled an aider and abettor (words I've heard a lot, recently)

So I think that when we start stringing people up for not having done the 'moral' thing and called the police or taken some other official action, we need to look in the mirror and ask ourselves, what would we do in that same situation.  And let's not be too easy on ourselves, either.

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See Christine Flowers on Channel 6's "Inside Story" Sunday at 11:30 a.m.

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