Thursday, November 10, 2011

Paterno's Firing Was Simply Stupid (Not)

Joe Paterno was treated unfairly
(UPDATE: The outpouring of reasoned and reasonable response to this snap judgement by me has convinced me that the following is simply wrong. I take it back and am convinced now that Paterno bears a great deal of responsibility here. I do wish that those seeing the reference to the blog post on Facebook would respond on the blog where readership is a great deal higher than with FB. Thank all of you for your arguments.)

When the Penn State Board of Visitors announced today that Joe Paterno had been fired--one day after retiring--students rioted, alumni buttoned up their checkbooks and an entire chorus of boos went up from people all over the country. Paterno was and is the sole stable face of honesty and integrity in a game that is dishonest at its core.

His response to the rape of a young boy--the one incident he heard about--was properly reported in both a legal and moral sense. Government employees are stacked in a chain of command and that chain is in place for a reason. Paterno properly reported the incident to his superior, who then reported it to his. Paterno's responsibility at that point, both legally and morally, was met. It was up to the superiors to call the police. If Paterno is guilty of anything, then the graduate assistant who reported to him is equally guilty and the janitors who saw the criminal coach sodomizing victims are culpable.

This crime is awful. It marks children for their entire lives. But like so many things that involve children, our reaction is almost always over the top and it brings down people with no responsibility. I stopped coaching children years ago when a parent complained that her daughter hugged me after practice one day. She all but accused me of being a pedophile. I don't need that shit and I won't take it.

Paterno was not accused to anything having to do with the crimes, but he was accused of not smashing procedure and tradition and going over his superiors' heads to the police. He is punished for not breaking the rules. No wonder the students rioted last night. They were right to do so.


  1. Dan, I respect your opinion, but have you read the Grand Jury's Presentation? I find it very difficult to agree with you that Joe did the right thing in this instance.

  2. Ah, I take it back, Dan, I was operating from the pre-"NOT" posting.

    Glad you changed your position on this one! You rock.

  3. Todd:

    I recanted my testimony. I was wrong. See Update.