No One Famous Ever Came From Here: Joe Paterno in State College

Novem­ber 8, 2011. I was shoot­ing pool at State College’s best dive bar when the bounc­er came run­ning in, his face flushed with excite­ment. Accord­ing to TV news, he told us, the Penn State Board of Trustees had just fired foot­ball coach Joe Pater­no. Though Pater­no had already declared his inten­tion to retire at the end of the sea­son, after alle­ga­tions that he had con­doned an ongo­ing pat­tern of child molesta­tion by assis­tant coach Jer­ry San­dusky, the trustees decid­ed they couldn’t wait. Pater­no would not be coach­ing that Saturday’s home game.

My friends and I real­ized that Penn State kids would not be tak­ing this well. Joe Pater­no may have been a minor nation­al celebri­ty, but he was Pre­mier of State Col­lege, with sovi­et real­ist pro­pa­gan­da ded­i­cat­ed to him all over town—including a bronze stat­ue. The trustees had announced the beloved figurehead’s dis­missal at a time when many stu­dents were already drunk, a deci­sion inter­im Pres­i­dent Rod­ney Erick­son would have trou­ble defend­ing in days to come. Even though Penn State kids become com­plete­ly dif­fer­ent peo­ple every four years, they always seem to be more like­ly to riot than your aver­age col­lege stu­dents.

I don’t know whether sports are always what Noam Chom­sky has called “train­ing in irra­tional jin­go­ism,” but that night I became con­vinced that in State Col­lege, they are lit­tle more than that. In his land­mark study of ide­ol­o­gy, Louis Althusser point­ed out that “the role of sport in chau­vin­ism is of the first impor­tance.” But it isn’t only the sense of assumed region­al loy­alties and resent­ment for for­eign ene­mies that sports instill in par­tic­i­pants and spec­ta­tors alike. Althusser elab­o­rates:

The repro­duc­tion of labour pow­er requires not only a repro­duc­tion of its skills, but also, at the same time, a repro­duc­tion of its sub­mis­sion to the rules of the estab­lished order, i.e. a repro­duc­tion of sub­mis­sion to the rul­ing ide­ol­o­gy for the work­ers, and a repro­duc­tion of the abil­i­ty to manip­u­late the rul­ing ide­ol­o­gy cor­rect­ly for the agents of exploita­tion and repres­sion.

The imag­i­nary rela­tions rep­re­sent­ed by sports are high­ly effi­cient train­ing for life under cap­i­tal­ism. Play­ers are work­ers, their bod­ies instru­ments of labor, apply­ing a Protes­tant work ethic to an appar­ent com­pet­i­tive mer­i­toc­ra­cy. In the case of col­lege sports, as a damn­ing arti­cle in The Atlantic recent­ly addressed, the sur­plus val­ue extract­ed from their labor is at a max­i­mum: col­le­giate ath­letes are not finan­cial­ly com­pen­sat­ed for their many hours of work. Mean­while, the oli­garchic struc­ture of the indus­try pro­duces sym­bol­ic wealth for the admin­is­tra­tive rul­ing class in the form of wins, not to men­tion actu­al prof­it for the uni­ver­si­ty itself. To be sure, play­ers enjoy their brief moments of glo­ry. But there are no stat­ues of foot­ball play­ers in State Col­lege.

Paterno’s dis­missal threw Penn State into ide­o­log­i­cal cri­sis, as we saw that night after climb­ing the stairs out­side. Sure enough, the streets were flood­ed with young peo­ple dressed in blue and white. It was unclear at this point where they were head­ed. Some car­ried signs defend­ing Pater­no. Some cheered. Oth­ers fol­lowed with indig­nant resolve. Oth­ers fol­lowed just to fol­low, gid­dy with the thrill of being part of the crowd.

Nerds like us often play a dan­ger­ous game in sit­u­a­tions like this, the point of which is to find a guy big­ger than you and insult him as much as pos­si­ble with­out let­ting him real­ize he’s being insult­ed. Bonus points if he real­izes he’s being insult­ed but you talk him out of beat­ing you up. You lose if he beats you up. I’ve nev­er lost.

We played this game for much of the night. To the ubiq­ui­tous call-and-respon­se chant, “We are?” “Penn State!” we answered “Pedophiles!” We informed cou­ples that some­day their own chil­dren would ask them why they defend­ed a child moles­ter. Some we just asked why they were there. We nev­er got much of an answer. When I shout­ed after one kid that his actions were an endorse­ment of child rape, he looked as though he was seri­ous­ly con­sid­er­ing turn­ing around and tak­ing the time to kick my ass. But after regard­ing me with con­tempt for a moment, he dis­missed me with log­i­cal rea­son­ing: “You’re not even Amer­i­can,” he scoffed, and walked on.

He had a point. What he meant, though, was not quite the same as what he said. What he meant was, “you’re not even white,” and he was right. I’m not white at all. In fact, at that moment I was prob­a­bly the only non­white per­son on the whole block. But when it comes to being Amer­i­can, my cre­den­tials are impec­ca­ble: I was born and raised in State Col­lege, PA.

“There’s only one good use for a small town,” goes a song by Lou Reed. “You hate it, and you know you’ll have to leave.” I hat­ed State Col­lege. Many accounts of the San­dusky affair by cur­rent and for­mer res­i­dents would have you believe that this scan­dal is a fall from grace. There was once a con­sen­sus, they say: we loved Penn State, and we loved foot­ball. Most of all, we loved Uncle Joe and his Blue and White Army.

I didn’t. To me and the kids I hung out with, Penn State foot­ball didn’t mean “suc­cess with hon­or,” as Paterno’s now-infa­mous slo­gan would have it. It didn’t mean we were part of a com­mu­ni­ty, or a tra­di­tion. What Penn State foot­ball meant was that in State Col­lege, there were no all-ages con­certs, no cin­e­mas that screened for­eign films, no radio sta­tions with any­thing but Top 40 hits or clas­sic rock. Like many lit­tle col­lege towns, State Col­lege is infused with a sub­mis­sive parochial­ism that finds its starkest expres­sion in team spir­it.

The sub­mis­sion to the rul­ing ide­ol­o­gy Althusser iden­ti­fied in the struc­ture of spec­ta­tor sports has been the defin­ing char­ac­ter­is­tic of the ugly state of affairs at Penn State. The sto­ry begins, at least in legal terms, with grad­u­ate stu­dent Mike McQueary alleged­ly dis­cov­er­ing San­dusky rap­ing a 10-year-old boy, after he heard a “rhyth­mic slap­ping sound” ema­nat­ing from the lock­er room show­ers. McQueary has had trou­ble keep­ing his sto­ry straight since then, but his Grand Jury tes­ti­mony is incrim­i­nat­ing. He made eye con­tact with both San­dusky and his vic­tim, but he didn’t stop the rape, and he didn’t call the cops. He told Uncle Joe.

The most dis­turbing thing about McQueary’s pas­siv­i­ty is not the con­duct of one man, but that his ide­o­log­i­cal con­di­tion­ing to walk away from an atroc­i­ty may not be so unique. For­mer NFL full­back Jon Ritchie, who was men­tored by San­dusky ear­ly in his career, spec­u­lat­ed on ESPN with dis­arm­ing hon­esty on how he would react to the scene Mike McQueary said he saw:

This is the guy who was sec­ond-in-com­mand to Joe Pater­no. In State Col­lege, where Mike was born and raised, Joe Pater­no is a deity. This man was sec­ond-in-com­mand dur­ing Mike’s stay in State Col­lege as a play­er. I hear guys say­ing, “Hey, I would have gone in and stopped it.” I don’t think I could have.

It’s no sur­prise; Amer­i­can sports repli­cate the cor­rup­tion char­ac­ter­is­tic of the rul­ing class­es, and leave its wit­ness­es pow­er­less. The Chicago Tri­bune points out that Penn State is not an iso­lat­ed inci­dent, cit­ing reports of sex crimes by coach­es of youth foot­ball teams in Tex­as, Rhode Island, Nebraska, Illi­nois, and Virginia—all episodes from this year alone. Even legal pro­ceed­ings sur­round­ing the Penn State case appear to be lit­tle more than an invo­ca­tion of blind faith in the ide­o­log­i­cal under­pin­nings of Amer­i­can sports cul­ture. “He’s a jock,” Sandusky’s lawyer told CNN, as though that explains every­thing. “The bot­tom line is jocks do that—they kid around, they horse around.” And they get away with it.

This sick sense of enti­tle­ment is inevitable any­where the­se sorts of hier­ar­chies flour­ish. Pier Paolo Pasolini’s noto­ri­ous film Salò, based on the Mar­quis de Sade’s nov­el 120 Days of Sodom, explores the­se libid­i­nal dimen­sions of polit­i­cal pow­er. A group of Ital­ian fas­cists in the last days of Mussolini’s regime kid­nap and tor­ture 18 teenagers, enact­ing their basest sex­u­al fan­tasies. Inter­na­tion­al impe­ri­al­ism is not enough; they crave an impe­ri­al­ist expan­sion into flesh. Pasolini shows sol­diers and house staff look­ing on indif­fer­ent­ly, some­thing like Europe’s com­pla­cent bystanders to the rise of fas­cism. Some­thing like the admin­is­tra­tive offi­cials at Penn State Uni­ver­si­ty, who let San­dusky live out his own days of Sodom.

We may nev­er know the full extent of Paterno’s involve­ment in cov­er­ing up Sandusky’s bad habit, but he is unques­tion­ably impli­cat­ed. For­mer Penn State assis­tant coach Mike Paknis has no patience for Paterno’s denials. “Joe knows every­thing,” he told NBC Sports, claim­ing that Pater­no abet­ted San­dusky from the begin­ning. This alle­ga­tion is con­sis­tent with Paterno’s long­stand­ing ten­den­cy to manip­u­late the uni­ver­si­ty sys­tem to his advan­tage. The Wall Street Jour­nal has report­ed that in 2007, after six Penn State foot­ball play­ers assault­ed stu­dents in an off-cam­pus inci­dent, the university’s Vice Pres­i­dent of Stu­dent Affairs called for an appli­ca­tion of the same dis­ci­pli­nary stan­dards that would apply to any oth­er stu­dents, instead of the cus­tom­ary brush­ing-under-the-rug Penn State foot­ball play­ers enjoyed. Pater­no used his finan­cial clout to force her to resign.

Why, then, did stu­dents take to the streets to oppose the top­pling of a dic­ta­tor? Their out­rage was blind, and it was bar­bar­ic. The Nation’s sports cor­re­spon­dent, Dave Zir­in, sum­ma­rized the antics of the kids I saw in down­town State Col­lege that night:

Stu­dents over­turned a media truck, hit an ESPN reporter in the head with a rock and made every effort at arson, attempt­ing to set aflame the very heart of their cam­pus. They raised their fists in defense of a man fired for alleged­ly cov­er­ing up the actions of a revered assis­tant who dou­bled as a seri­al child rapist. The almost entire­ly male stu­dent mob was given the space by police to seethe and destroy with­out restraint.

That same day, Zir­in point­ed out, stu­dents at Berke­ley were peace­ful­ly protest­ing as part of the nation­al Occu­py move­ment. Cops beat them bru­tal­ly with riot sticks. If Penn State stu­dents won’t join the nation­al protest again­st the eco­nom­ic cor­rup­tion plagu­ing their country—a cir­cum­stance that leads to relent­less tuition increas­es for them and their families—can’t they at least protest again­st the cor­rup­tion at their own uni­ver­si­ty that allows a vio­lent pedophile easy access to vic­tims? Appar­ent­ly not. Thou­sands of stu­dents ral­lied in sup­port of his spon­sor.

There was some dis­sent. The next day, stu­dents and com­mu­ni­ty mem­bers held a can­dle­light vig­il in hon­or of the vic­tims, a valu­able act that is nonethe­less no replace­ment for hold­ing the pow­er­ful account­able. Those attend­ing the fol­low­ing Saturday’s game orga­nized what they called a “Blue-Out.” In con­trast to the usu­al “White-Out,” in which fans show their sol­i­dar­i­ty at Penn State’s Beaver Sta­di­um by dress­ing in white, the Blue-Out called for game-goers to wear blue, a col­or that is asso­ci­at­ed with pro­mot­ing aware­ness of child abuse. Blue and white, of course, are coin­ci­den­tal­ly Penn State’s team col­ors. The result was an almost com­i­cal dis­play, with the stadium’s seats full of spec­ta­tors wear­ing the same old Penn State shirts. Noth­ing real­ly changed.

For the first time in my life, I watched a foot­ball game. I was glued to the tele­vi­sion, hop­ing Penn State would lose. I was again­st my home team not out of any resent­ment for the play­ers or the fans. I feared that a win would incite a tri­umphal­ist fer­vor in the mis­guid­ed kids who riot­ed before, and they would destroy our town.

We lost. Of course we lost. It was the first game Penn State played with­out Coach Pater­no on the side­li­nes since Dylan went elec­tric. Uncle Joe still holds the record for win­ning more games than any col­le­giate foot­ball coach, a record he broke a week before the San­dusky alle­ga­tions sur­faced. But that isn’t going to be his lega­cy. At best, Joe Pater­no is guilty of doing too lit­tle in the face of evil. It’s dif­fi­cult not to con­clude that the stu­dents, the admin­is­tra­tion, and the local com­mu­ni­ty have been guilty of the same. I’ve wait­ed my whole life for this town to snap out of it.

I’m still wait­ing.

Author of the article

is a writer and musician based in Brooklyn.

28 Responses

  1. Hartley
    Hartley at |

    Well said, Shu­ja. As a sim­i­lar scan­dal unfolds at the SU, the near­est col­le­giate team to my home­town, I’m sim­i­lar­ly aston­ished by how many peo­ple blind­ly defend their team, even when the alle­ga­tions include one of the most hor­ri­fic crimes accord­ing the pub­lic opin­ion. Thanks for being a voice of rea­son.

  2. Jeremy
    Jeremy at |

    I wish you were on the bal­let for the 2012 Pres­i­den­tial race.

  3. Matt Cooper
    Matt Cooper at |

    We Are, Shu­ja.

  4. Jon
    Jon at |

    Check your facts, you loose all cred­i­bil­i­ty when you use false infor­ma­tion. The reporter him­self said he got hit in the pant leg with the rock. And if you lis­ten, you can hear his hes­i­ta­tion to admit this fact because of his want to embell­ish the sto­ry. And with that, you can under­stand how every­thing was embell­ished. Where is the 24/7 cov­er­age of the SU scan­dal? That’s right, you won’t see it because ESPN knew about this years ago and did not say any­thing. They play the role of Joe Pater­no in the SU scan­dal, they didn’t do any­thing when approached with alle­ga­tions, and don’t want the pub­lic to know of their guilt. Hypocrisy at it’s finest. Prayers go out to all the vic­tims.

  5. Katelyn Gill
    Katelyn Gill at |

    May­be you should read this. This will give you the facts about the whole sto­ry and real­ly who is at fault.
    http://tominpaine.blogspot.com/2011/11/upon-further-review-joe-paterno-rose-to.html

  6. Jill
    Jill at |

    My first thought after read­ing this arti­cle was “may­be it’s time for you to leave state col­lege, if you hate it that much.” But seri­ous­ly, if you’re con­tent to demean your town and your uni­ver­si­ty for crimes that most did not even know about (hey, most of us were shocked to hear the news, too), then you haven’t even read the grand jury report. You’d prob­a­bly be hat­in’ on the police too, and the rest of the admin­is­tra­tors who “knew about this” if you had all your facts. No, we don’t agree with what hap­pened. We don’t even agree with what was done with it. I’m not usu­al­ly one to stoop to the “shut up and go home” reply to an arti­cle, but you seem to think that you’re bet­ter than the aver­age per­son at PSU because you don’t believe. How­ev­er, you some­how believed enough to not get out and find some green­er pas­trues. So before you blame the entire uni­ver­si­ty, stu­dents, staff, and the gen­er­al pub­lic and call us all idiots, dont for­get to include your­self as part of the gen­er­al evil spawned by this pedophile-shel­ter­ing insti­tu­tion.

    1. Jeremy
      Jeremy at |

      To Jill: Some of us have exten­u­at­ing cir­cum­stances which pre­vent us from ‘seek­ing green­er pas­tures’. I am from a col­lege town in Michi­gan and unfor­tu­nate­ly have too much debt between bills, stu­dent loans and sav­ing up for grad school. The point of the arti­cle wasn’t just to vent about hat­ing the place, it was about the soci­o­log­i­cal ten­den­cies for peo­ple to devel­op a herd-men­tal­i­ty and over­look sim­ple facts in the face of soci­etal con­structs such as sports. You could trans­pose the sit­u­a­tion sur­round­ing 9/11 and America’s respon­se to the threat of WMD’s in the Mid­dle East as blind fer­vor and patri­o­tism but the point then as now still wouldn’t be to get out of the Unit­ed States, (read: State Col­lege). I for one was impressed by insight. Some say reli­gion is the opi­ate of the mass­es - I say nowa­days it’s sports.

      1. Jill
        Jill at |

        I’m also from SC and stuck here with exten­u­at­ing cir­cum­stances, so I do have some expe­ri­ence with the frus­tra­tion of want­i­ng to get out. My dis­like of the authors com­ments is with the indis­crim­i­nate per­se­cu­tion of all that is penn state, like it’s our fault that he stuck here with the bour­geois mob. Sure, there is a cer­tain obses­sion with foot­ball, more than most uni­ver­si­ties. But the author takes it as a per­son­al insult and also seems to make it the town ver­sus him­self. Being a nerd, he prob­a­bly knows of plen­ty that the uni­ver­si­ty does for good, in terms of research, and I, for one, was insult­ed that he would point fin­gers at penn state and state col­lege as a whole instead of only at the drunk­en idiots who, by the way, only had one count of prop­er­ty dam­age, and we’re egged on by the news reporters. Penn State is not just foot­ball (I don’t watch the games) and its not just joe pater­no (I’ve nev­er seen the man up close) and its not just drunk­en idiots (2000 riot­ing ver­sus 10000 at the vig­il). Kind­ly stop help­ing the media in con­demn­ing the entire stu­dent body for the poor actions of a few that most of us have nev­er heard of.

        1. Jeremy
          Jeremy at |

          Fair enough and point tak­en. While I per­son­al­ly am still inter­est­ed in the soci­ol­o­gy of it all, I can agree with what you are say­ing.

          1. Jill
            Jill at |

            And yes, in re-read­ing the arti­cle, there are some very good soci­o­log­i­cal issues point­ed out, so out­rage aside, I do agree that there is a reli­gion built around foot­ball with joepa as it’s diety. Exact­ly why the media took him down, since fal­l­en gods sell papers, and try­ing to sell a paper about a man they have to first intro­duce the rest of the world to is hard. Penn state set him up, for bet­ter or worse, So touche, Jere­my, and thanks for point­ing it out.

        2. Shuja Haider
          Shuja Haider at |

          Your sug­ges­tion that I “go home” is para­dox­i­cal and prob­a­bly racist, but let’s focus on the sub­ject at hand. I see that you’re feel­ing defen­sive, and you’re right that it’s unfair to malign peo­ple based on where they’re from. I didn’t call any­one an idiot, and I’m proud to be from State Col­lege. But this town based its econ­o­my, its cul­ture, and its self-worth on Penn State foot­ball, and this inci­dent shows how dan­ger­ous that was. I’m not per­son­al­ly insult­ed. I’m sick­ened to my core that foot­ball and region­al pride are con­sid­ered more impor­tant than the lives of chil­dren, by both a vocal minor­i­ty and a silent major­i­ty.

          1. Jill
            Jill at |

            No, the “go home” part was hypo­thet­i­cal, and I’m sor­ry that you must have faced so much dis­crim­i­na­tion in your life that you feel that every­one is racist. And you’re right, this town is based on Penn State and foot­ball - the town prob­a­bly wouldn’t exist today if the Penn­syl­va­nia State Farmer’s High School hadn’t been found­ed in 1855. And I dis­agree that foot­ball and region­al pride are more impor­tant than the lives of chil­dren to the major­i­ty of peo­ple here. I think that peo­ple are sim­ply upset that the uni­ver­si­ty name is tak­ing a blow when it should be the indi­vid­u­als them­selves - San­dusky, for one, and then the admin­is­tra­tors at the top who didn’t order an inves­ti­ga­tion when the word reached up the chain of com­mand. I have friends whose “non-penn state” friends and fam­i­ly are con­demn­ing them for going to school here, as if being a “penn-stater” auto­mat­i­cal­ly means you approve of child abuse and molesta­tion. That hard­ly is true, and I’m sure every sin­gle stu­dent at penn state would agree.

          2. Asad Haider
            Asad Haider at |

            If you are upset about “non-Penn State” peo­ple con­demn­ing your friends for going to school at Penn State, per­haps you should address your crit­i­cisms to them, rather than to some­one who has lived and worked in State Col­lege for most of his life.

          3. Jill
            Jill at |

            Then your broth­er, of all peo­ple, liv­ing in this com­mu­ni­ty for most of his life, should know that Sandusky’s crimes were not pub­lic or wide­spread knowl­edge, unless you had dug up that he was under inves­ti­ga­tion, and if “It’s dif­fi­cult not to con­clude that the stu­dents, the admin­is­tra­tion, and the local com­mu­ni­ty have been guilty of the same,” then he con­demns him­self for not doing any­thing to stop san­dusky. I’m try­ing to make the point that it’s a gross over­sim­pli­fi­ca­tion to say that State Col­lege did noth­ing, when the bread and but­ter of state col­lege - your broth­er, myself, the stu­dents, and the aver­age joe on the street - when we didn’t know there was any­thing wrong until the bomb went off. Lay the blame on the riot­ers, on the admin­is­tra­tion, and espe­cial­ly on san­dusky.

          4. Asad Haider
            Asad Haider at |

            It is becom­ing more and more dif­fi­cult to dis­cern an actu­al argu­ment in your com­ments. Since you’ve had ample oppor­tu­ni­ty to make your point here, I rec­om­mend invest­ing your time in some­thing more pro­duc­tive now. I’ll do the same.

          5. Frank
            Frank at |

            You didn’t call any­one an idiot, you called them pedophiles. I guess in your eyes that is bet­ter. You also told cou­ples they were defend­ing a child moles­ter. Jer­ry San­dusky is the alleged child moles­ter, not Joe Pater­no. I guess twist­ing the facts is okay in your lit­tle sanc­ta­mo­nous world. You quote Jon Ritchie as some­one who played for Jer­ry San­dusky. Jon Ritchie played for Michi­gan and Stan­ford, so unless San­dusky had a clone, this is also incor­rect. You state that it may nev­er been known about­the extent of Paterno’s par­tic­i­pa­tion in the “cov­er up. Yet Pater­no is the one who report­ed the alleged inci­dent to his superiv­ior. Per­haps you could explain how some­one is cov­er­ing up a crime if they report­ed it to their supe­ri­or. It is won­der­ful that you can quote all the­se obscure films and nov­els. Per­haps you should first work on fact check­ing before you look to smear a man’s rep­u­ta­tion and impugn the hon­or of an entire uni­ver­si­ty, its stu­dents and its alum­ni. .

          6. Shuja Haider
            Shuja Haider at |

            The arti­cle does not claim that Ritchie played for Penn State. It alludes to Ritchie being coached by San­dusky in an infor­mal rather than pro­fes­sion­al capac­i­ty, a rela­tion­ship he describes in the inter­view linked. Thanks for point­ing out the ambi­gu­i­ty; the word in ques­tion has been altered for clar­i­ty. The analy­sis remains the same. And though I make no claims to jour­nal­is­tic rig­or in late-night alter­ca­tions out­side of bars, ral­ly­ing to defend a man who har­bored a child rapist looks an awful lot like an endorse­ment of that crime. It’s only going to look worse as the years go by.

          7. Asad Haider
            Asad Haider at |

            “smear a man’s rep­u­ta­tion and impugn the hon­or of an entire uni­ver­si­ty, its stu­dents and its alum­ni.”

            Bril­liant point, exer­cis­ing your right to free speech on the inter­net and respond­ing quick­ly to cor­rect ambi­gu­i­ties in phras­ing impugns the hon­or of an entire uni­ver­si­ty, while giv­ing a free gym mem­ber­ship to some­one who used a char­i­ty to rape my class­mates for an entire decade is “suc­cess with hon­or”! So nice to have peo­ple like this “defend­ing” my home­town. I tru­ly hope that Penn State stu­dents will fol­low the lead of stu­dents around the coun­try and save their uni­ver­si­ty from its defend­ers.

            I remem­ber PSU hav­ing the biggest walk­out in the coun­try to protest the Iraq War. I remem­ber an occu­pa­tion of the HUB an ENTIRE DECADE before Occu­py Wall Street in defense of the rights of African-Amer­i­can stu­dents (“The Vil­lage”). The HUB is named for the great African-Amer­i­can activist Paul Robeson. There is much at Penn State to be proud of, and when the stu­dents step up to reclaim this lega­cy, the defense of Joe Pater­no will be revealed for what it tru­ly is: an insult to every sin­gle per­son who works, stud­ies, or plays foot­ball at Penn State Uni­ver­si­ty.

          8. Asad Haider
            Asad Haider at |

            Abu­sive com­ments refer­ring to the author’s fam­i­ly and his “cul­tur­al her­itage” were delet­ed. Com­ments that crit­i­cized the sub­stance of the arti­cle have been pre­served. We have also tol­er­at­ed com­ments insult­ing the author, but big­otry and attacks on oth­ers who are not involved here are unac­cept­able.

            I am turn­ing off com­ments. If you want alter­nate per­spec­tives, they can be eas­i­ly found with your favorite search engine. If you feel the need to engage in abuse, start your own web­site or go to 4chan. Don’t waste your time trolling a small inter­net mag­a­zine. I’m sure you have bet­ter things to do.

  7. Jeremy
    Jeremy at |

    The arti­cle up there is also a very inter­est­ing read. Thanks for shar­ing.

  8. Asad Haider
    Asad Haider at |

    I also grew up in State Col­lege, and I actu­al­ly like the place. I often miss it. That’s why I think it’s out­ra­geous for peo­ple to come to this arti­cle and attack the author (full dis­clo­sure: my broth­er), a city gov­ern­ment work­er who spends his days patient­ly show­ing State Col­lege res­i­dents how to search for books and use the print­er. If you care about State Col­lege, I would think you’d sup­port him 100% in crit­i­ciz­ing the riot­ers who tried to destroy our home­town. If his tone comes across as angry, that’s because it was our class­mates who were being raped.

    Dis­agree­ment and argu­ment are fine, but please keep it civil and respect­ful.

  9. Jill
    Jill at |

    I don’t dis­agree… the riot­ers were in the wrong. How­ev­er, I do dis­agree with con­demn­ing the rest of the town, uni­ver­si­ty and stu­dent body (minus riot­ers) for the actions of the few (exact­ly what the rest of the media is doing).

    For those who have not read it, here’s the grand jury report. Remark­ably lit­tle is said about any­one but the vic­tims and San­dusky…
    http://www.freep.com/assets/freep/pdf/C4181508116.PDF
    And anoth­er arti­cle con­demn­ing the media. Inter­est­ing, obvi­ous­ly skewed in the oppo­site opin­ion but good to read the oth­er side.
    http://aworldofprogress.com/blog/2011/the-sanctimonious-scavengers-of-the-penn-state-scandal/

  10. Yahzi
    Yahzi at |

    Very well writ­ten and insight­ful.

    Sor­ry that so many peo­ple can’t see past the specifics to the gen­er­al point you were try­ing to make; but then, that kind of val­i­dates your gen­er­al point…

  11. David
    David at |

    I just dont under­stand this “small town” men­tal­i­ty. As some­one who lives here and actu­al­ly knows Joe--believe me he is not the warm and fuzzy every­one thinks he is. He’s a can­tan­ker­ous (sp?) arro­gant full of him­self old man. This was JoePa’s house and please dont think for a min­ute that he did­nt know all about the 1998 inves­ti­ga­tion involv­ing his then cur­rent defen­sive coor­di­na­tor. Uni­ver­si­ty Police, State Col­lege Police, Chil­dren and Youth, all the way up to Ray Gri­car knew but some­body “for­got” to tell Joe? Real­ly? He’s not your sweet old grand­fa­ther, if it was his grand­son (who’s in ele­men­tary school here in the SCASD) that San­dusky was “show­er­ing” with, I won­der what he would have done then? Yes, he’s done a lot for PSU (as evi­denced by his name on the library, bronze stat­ues, etc) but not a whole lot for lit­tle boys whom he’s not relat­ed to.
    And yes, there are many oth­ers who did noth­ing but JoePa is the one who’s every­bod­ies hero/god, is he not? He’s the “Suc­cess With Hon­or” guy right?
    THATS why he had to go. He did­nt put his mon­ey where he mouth was. He put it in the bank and, his wifes name.

  12. David
    David at |

    sor­ry for the spelling and gram­mat­i­cal errors. I real­ly should use spell check.

  13. TJ
    TJ at |

    The handy­man called, there’s a tool miss­ing from the shed, although after read­ing this steam­ing heap of crap, I think I’ve found it.

  14. Alan
    Alan at |

    I don’t think that the big pic­ture issue is the cul­ture of the “small town” or not. It seems child abuse (and the respon­se to it) can hap­pen wherever there is a pow­er struc­ture that the per­pe­tra­tor can use to prey on rel­a­tive­ly defense­less vic­tims. To me this seems an orga­ni­za­tion­al type of issue, where there were not ade­quate safe­guards to ensure appro­pri­ate report­ing of the events.

    But this could hap­pen any­where-schools, church­es, any num­ber of oth­er sports orga­ni­za­tions, etc. It hap­pens in big cities and small towns alike. It just hap­pened to be in State Col­lege this time around-with a fig­ure­head to direct our scorn onto. Also, if I recall cur­rect­ly, Penn State stu­dents are 40% from Pitts­burgh and 40% from Philly-so the stu­dent body as a whole isn’t real­ly “small town” men­tal­i­ty.

    To clar­i­fy your asser­tion that PSU stu­dents are “more like­ly to riot” than your aver­age col­lege stu­dent. Per­haps col­lege stu­dents in cities, who go home on week­ends, but “sports riots” can hap­pen at many uni­ver­si­ties with big sports fol­low­ings - Notre Dame, OSU, Michi­gan, Duke, etc. I have yet to read about any­thing inher­ent about the PSU com­mu­ni­ty that leads to riots. Per­haps then you might then also say that in an event like this that it would also be eas­ier to have a can­dle­light vig­il? (which did far out­num­ber the riot­ers, by the way). And I won­der if the riot wasn’t also sparked as much by the method of the fir­ing rather than the fir­ing itself.

    Regard­ing Pater­no, there was clear­ly a major orga­ni­za­tion­al fail­ure and the tragedy of many vic­tims here. Pater­no not­ed in ret­ro­spect he should have done more. I’m not sure that “In ret­ro­spect” implies-that he could have done more and didn’t try to do more, or that he tried to do more but couldn’t (for legal rea­sons, per­haps?). After all the police did inves­ti­gate San­dusky in 1998, and both Gri­car and Cor­bett as Attor­ney Gen­er­als of PA knew about the case but didn’t pur­sue it.

    If he didn’t do enough to fol­low up moral­ly then he will have to face his con­science and per­haps the law. But what he exact­ly did to fol­low up is yet unknown-although many assumed that he didn’t from a doc­u­ment that wouldn’t nec­es­sar­i­ly include that info (as a pros­e­cu­tion argu­ment). To bor­row from anoth­er phrase - in this speci­fic issue absence of evi­dence is not yet nec­es­sar­i­ly evi­dence of absence. When his side of the sto­ry emerges then that will be the time to judge.

  15. Bill
    Bill at |

    This is one of the worst arti­cles I’ve ever read. This guy is tru­ly clue­less.

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