Reading this story about the Penn State scandal (doesn't it seem to diminish it by calling it that? Like Anthony Weiner's cock pics were a "scadal", this is a horror story) made me feel physically sick and stuck with me for a few days later. I still don't really know what to say about it.
A Penn State graduate assistant coach shows up at the football locker room unexpectedly, and hears slapping noises from the shower. Here’s what the report said:
“As the graduate assistant put the sneakers in his locker, he looked into the shower. He saw a naked boy, Victim 2, whose age he estimated to be ten years old, with his hands up against the wall, being subjected to anal intercourse by a naked Sandusky.”
The assistant fled in fear and confusion. Much the same way a janitor fled after allegedly witnessing Sandusky engaged in a sexual act in the showers with a “young boy” — Victim 8, later described in the report as being “between the ages of 11 and 13.”
Although this may seem to be the worst part, what's much worse in my mind is the following handling of the situation
If the report is right, Paterno, leader of men for the past half century, simply called his athletic director and passed on the information of the rape his graduate assistant described to him; like telling your boss on a co-worker who is stealing staples from the supply closet.
No, Paterno, and the other school officials, did nothing to help the boys, or to help any other boys in the future.
They actually told Sandusky that he couldn’t keep bringing boys from his charity onto the Penn State campus, into the football facilities, according to the grand jury findings.
Not that they told him to stop doing to those boys what is alleged.
Just stop doing it here.
Superficially, it may seem that someone who actually witnessed the attack is more culpable in this case, seeing as he was confronted with the shocking truth, while the bureocrat simply did what bureocrats do, pass the buck without fully acknowledging what it was that happened. I could not disagree more.
I am going to be completely honest here. If I had been the person in that locker room and witnessed such a horrific scene, I think the shock would have made me flee too, shortly followed by me throwing up. However, upon clearing my head in such a way, I would be so overwhelmed with guilt at such a cowardly escape on my part, when that little boy had no such means of escape, that I would have cast about for something heavy to hit that bastard over the head with and take that child straight to the hospital. If I had not made it back in time to stop what was happening I never would have forgiven myself.
You never know how your body will react to shock. Some people spring to action without thinking, others freeze up. I know I freeze up initially, because as a child I was a "punch first ask questions later" sort of bully-protection patrol kid (which is why my mother was never informed by my teachers of my frequent fights at school). However this also lead to my intervening in situations that I had misjudged, gotten yelled at by the kids I thought I was protecting, which lead to my doubting myself. I thus developed a new rule that I had to be asked to intervene before I would let myself go like that again. Years of this restraint became a freeze-response, which can only be unblocked by my mind overcoming the shock and looking at things clearly and rationally.
I know this about myself, but many people don't, couldn't possibly know, until they are confronted with something that shocks them to their core. This is why I cannot blame anyone's impulsive reaction to anything that they witness. However, once the dust has settled in your mind, you have absolutely no excuse.
I blame the people that did not call the police after the fact. I blame the administrators that shrugged their shoulders, and somehow figured this to be acceptable collateral damage in protecting this man's name, fame and charity. I can't call them outright evil, because that would almost be too easy. I don't think their intent was malicious, but rather the adult version of plugging their ears and hiding under the covers so that the monster in the closet, which they deep down don't believe exists anyway, will just disappear and leave them alone. It is the complete and utter incapability of relating to the pain and horror that this monster caused others. I am aware that I have a particularly overdeveloped sense of empathy, but the complete lack of it in these people upsets me more than I can describe.