Now that some of the hysteria has died down in the Penn State debacle (or as I like to call it, the “Sandusky Scandal” since the school doesn’t deserve to bear the Scarlet “A” for “Abuse”) people should be able to take a step back and look dispassionately at what’s been happening.
Right, in your dreams, Christine. There is nothing dispassionate in the way people feel about this mess. Judging from the reaction to the story, people are predisposed to judge the major characters in this sad tragedy as either (a) guilty; (b) probably guilty; (c) marginally guilty or (d) guilty by association.
Same goes for Bill Conlin, although his friends (who are now saying they weren’t really his friends) in the media were much more cautious about rendering the damning verdict. Or even writing about it.
But let’s pretend that the passage of time has calmed the nerves of those who have a knee-jerk reaction to allegations of abuse, and take a moment to appreciate the character of a man who was unfairly defamed (and yes, I know the definition of defamation, and truth is an absolute defense….but does anyone know the real truth here? And were the suspicions enough to destroy a man’s life?)
Joe Paterno is no longer Penn State, at least as far as the trustees are concerned. He is no longer the spirit of the place, the pride in the Lions, the champion whose stride was long and large enough to span the Valley. He’s an old man, suffering from cancer, recovering from a hip injury.
And for all of that, even in the face of the petty attacks and backstabbing from those who took cowardly cover, he showed his true colors. Not Blue and White. Just true blue.
A month after he was fired in the Wednesday night massacre, Joe Paterno and his wife donated one hundred thousand dollars to the school that he loved, and that he served so well for more years than I’ve been alive.
To those who say such generosity has nothing to do with his alleged omissions, and that no amount of money can make up for a shattered childhood, I’d say that actions speak louder than words. A man who is capable of loving a school the way Paterno loves his school is not a man who knowingly covers up sexual abuse. It isn’t in his character.
And no amount of Grand Juries with their technical “truths” and subtle inferences can convince me otherwise.