After Jerry Sandusky was convicted a few short weeks ago, I can honestly say that I have not heard his name mentioned more than a few times. Someone else who I haven’t heard mentioned is Victim 2. Or Victim 3, 4, 5, or 6. Or any of the other victims of the child abuse committed by Sandusky.
What have I heard? I have heard Joe Paterno. I have heard Graham Spanier.I have heard Paternoville, football, and Penn State. After the release of the Freeh report last week, it became clear that this is, in fact, a “Penn State Scandal.” More people than just the abuser were involved in this horrible crime and it is time that everyone realized this. With this information (assuming it is accurate), we must take the necessary actions to punish the involved, and begin to move forward as a community.
However, this is not a perfect world. Instead of facing the facts and allowing the legal procedure to run its course, many people within the Penn State community have been taking extreme measures to express their disappointment. Spending hours and hours debating whether or not to keep the Paterno statue standing or whether or not to kill the football program simply proves to the rest of the world that, yes, all Penn Staters really do care about is football. The fact that students and alumni are viciously attacking each other concerning the statue - whether they believe it should be left alone or torn down - as well as the arguments for and against the death penalty for the football program simply show that the rest of the world is right. If the Penn State community truly cared and wanted to be able to move forward, they would be doing what a small minority of people are doing: donating money to child abuse foundations. Spreading the word about horrible crimes committed against children. Taking into consideration the lives of the innocent victims and how they can be made better.
As cliché and preacher-like as it sounds, the statue doesn’t matter. The football program doesn’t matter. The legacy of Joe Paterno doesn’t even matter. What does matter is the lives of young men who were abused as children because of a few awful people.
When people spend hundreds of dollars on helping child abuse victims instead of flying a plane with a threatening message over State College, or when students spend hours upon hours writing, debating, and discussing how to fix the lives of the victims rather than the legacy of Joe Paterno, we will be able to move forward as a community and let the rest of the issues be taken care of by the law. At this time, and at this time only, will the rest of the world be able to look at Penn State as human beings rather than monsters, and we will be able to move forward into the next era of Penn State.