Today The View aired a "hot topics" segment about the Sandusky scandal (PSU pt. 1; PSU pt. 2). The arguments and discussion on the topic ran the gamut from wondering where Sandusky's wife and The Second Mile administration was in all this (valid questions that I personally think have not been asked enough, along with others) to once again demonizing Joe and saying that our intentions with the moment of silence were misguided. Although I rarely take their opinions too seriously, it was informative to me as a cross-section of opinions on this topic (minus the opinion of PSU alums and students who are invariably dismissed as misguided and brainwashed...).
There are a couple of comments I found particularly infuriating that I would like to discuss after the jump.One comment was a comparison by Joy to the holocaust as a systemic/cultural endorsement of immoral behavior. I get the comparison from the standpoint of good men appearing unwilling to do something about unbelievably bad behavior. Where this comparison misses, is that the "authority" figure in this case (Joe Paterno, apparent ruler of PSU yet easily thrown out with the rest of the trash), properly reported to his SUPERIOR. The extent of whatever evil you can pin on Joe, even using the worst assumptions about his character to fill in the dearth of facts we have, is a drop in the bucket by comparison to Hitler and his regime. I'll repeat again, Joe did at least do something right and, as far as we know did not actively do anything wrong. Hitler on the other hand actively demonized an entire segment of the population and systematically murdered millions of them. Maybe that needs stressing: Hitler and thousands of others systematically MURDERED MILLIONS. The magnitude of that difference is insulting to the memories of everybody that died in the holocaust and the war. Not to mention I have to invoke...Godwin's law... she lost the argument by default.
If the conversation went from there to talking about why there continue to be instances of immoral actions by relatively moral people, then I may have forgiven the analogy. After all, isn't the hardest thing to grasp about this story the fact that so many people (including many people outside of PSU), did not act? The world is going to fail to learn everything it should from this scandal because everyone has chosen to focus on the individual actions of the people in this case rather than the bigger picture. Demonizing the individuals and assuming something like this can't happen at another school where the people have morals is exactly why things like this continue to happen (at the Citadel for example, which does not have a big and evil football empire or a coaching legacy to protect, and who apparently covered up for a person with much less of a reputation than Sandusky or Paterno).
As a person who has their Ph.D. in Psychology, I have one more observation related to institutional failures. Pay attention to the segments and the acknowledgments that these kinds of failures to act morally are happening everywhere. Then pay attention to the tone with which they speak about the individuals in this case as "bad people." The only conclusion a sane person could make from these two opinions is that MANY people everywhere are inherently bad and weak (including people that until last Saturday were considered very moral and strong people). If it is true that bad people are everywhere and we know it, then why is there so much outrage and misunderstanding when something like this happens? Calling everyone in this situation a bad person is the easy way out.
The Milgram study was brought up, and it is appropriate here, but the real point of that experiment was that authority can make any normal person do immoral things. Authority structures are built into every social interaction and organization on the planet. That is why these kinds of things are happening everywhere. It is not because this world is crawling with immoral bastards who think it is ok to commit crimes against children.
The other infuriating comment was by Elisabeth Hasselbeck. She basically said that all 107,000+ people in attendence, who observed a moment of silence, should be ashamed because it was the culture of silence that created this issue in the first place. Yup, I was silent at the game to help show my support for a pedophile and a culture that ignored him! It wasn't to allow myself and the other people around me to think about the victims of this case and others. Or for those religiously inclined to say a prayer for the victims. I can attest that there was hardly a dry eye among those 107,000+ people and it is the only time in my life where I've personally witnessed so complete an emotional outpouring, including among grown men who are normally "not allowed" to show it. I'm sure all of those crying faces were only thinking about how to re-establish the silence that allowed a slick and calculating monster to live in our midst. This was perhaps the most insulting thing I've heard anyone say since this news broke.
It would be easy to ignore these people's opinions, but as I said, these reactions seem to be a pretty accurate cross-section. I'm wondering how the world wanted us to react? Is complaining about a moment of silence the end game because alumni didn't come back on the weekend and behave badly? Were we supposed to beat the hell out of anyone wearing red (because it would have made perfect sense to blame Nebraska fans for something people in our community did or didn't do... yes, the ESPN folks were saying that Nebraska fans should stay away)? Should we have burnt Beaver Stadium to the ground in atonement for the sins of a few individuals at the University? If a moment of silence to allow reflection of this situation was the wrong thing to do, what was the right thing?
I was proud of the way our community responded. I was proud that the focus in the stadium wasn't on Joe that much (which is not something I can say about the on air coverage). I'm damn proud of what our community is doing with RAINN. And doing the "We are..." chant even though we had just lost a game, allowed me to leave that stadium with more pride than I've had since Sandusky's arrest. It allowed me to leave that stadium remembering what nobody outside of PSU seems to understand... our love of this University may appear to flow through the football program, but our pride in being Nittany Lions is rooted in being a part of something way more important than the final score on a scoreboard. We should never forget these victims and we should never forget that.