I want to speak for a minute about the Freeh report. Not to defend or accuse Joe Paterno, or the BOT or even PSU really. But to talk about the Freeh report, what it was supposed to do, and the aftermath that we have seen. For the most part, I've stayed silent and simply observed the discussions so far. I know a lot of this may have been said already by various people, but I felt that it was important to make a post to focus on it all so that things don't get lost in the chaos of the past week. Also note that this is not a post to diminish anything negative that happened at PSU. There were many failings and I will not deny them. I do, however, want to talk about the impacts as a whole.
First off, let me state that I'm going to ignore the holes in the Freeh report for now. They have been discussed ad nausium, and I don't think they're worth repeating. Either you see problems with how the report was done or you don't it's likely that nothing I say will change your mind on that. Please also note that you cannot copy and paste from the Freeh report, so in many cases I may paraphrase rather than quote verbatim. Let's look at the Freeh report by answering a few questions.
1. What is the purpose of the Freeh report?
Well, if we listen to the Freeh report itself, it's to investigate; 1. The failure of PSU administrators to respond to and report and the actions of Sandusky, and 2. The circumstances under which such abuse could occur in University facilities, as well as 3. to recommend polices and procedures to prevent this from happening again.
2. Did the Freeh report achieve it's purpose?
Simple answer: yes and no. The Freeh report did identify deficiencies in PSU's processes that allowed this to happen. They also suggested ways to prevent it from happening again. However, there is one major thing that has bothered me - mostly in how the general public and media have reported this - the Freeh report (and to a greater extent the media) made this a PSU issue.
To expand, while the Freeh report did identify aspects of the PSU culture that made this possible, they failed to do any kind of comparison to other entities. Specifically, there is no comparison of PSU to other universities or large corporations. Furthermore, the general mentality since the Freeh report has been that this only happened because Paterno/ PSU allowed it to.
3. Is this a problem? And why?
Yes! For the love of all that is holy, yes. This is, by far, the worst thing that people could conclude. By determining that this is a Paterno/PSU problem people are ignoring the fact that this could happened anywhere. And in turn, ensuring that it will. 1/3 girls and 1/6 boys in this country will be sexually abused. That is a huge number, and it should be obvious that most of these events go unreported. As a country, we need to understand just how terribly common these events are and learn to react accordingly.
In short, by writing this off as a PSU problem, people are completely ignoring the bigger picture - that this could (and does) happen anywhere. No one will argue that this whole debacle was positive. However, there could have been a silver lining, The massive amount of media attention had the potential to help raise awareness of how common child sex abuse is. It could help us, as a country, as a society, to help prevent this from happening instead. Instead, everyone has written it off as being a Penn State culture problem that could never affect the. It could never possibly affect their community. And that, to me, is a tragedy.
4. Where does Paterno's legacy stand?
I don't give a damn. That's not to say I don't care about him. And it isn't to say that I have no opinion. But as far as this post goes, Paterno's legacy is irrelevant. There are much more important issues to deal with right now. We could have used this as an opportunity to raise awareness for an important issue, and instead people are worried about a damn statue. I'm sure that he he was still around he would be the first to tell us this.
5. The Death Penalty
There are a lot of people clamoring for the death penalty after seeing this report. A common opinion seems to be that the NCAA needs to act to prevent this from happening again. The thing is, there are already things in designed to prevent this from happening. First, there's the general idea that we should care about the welfare of children. Second, there is the threat of criminal prosecution. Third, there is civil liability.
Does the death penalty do anything to benefit the guitly parties? Or does it do anything to help he victims? And do people really feel that the punishment that will get people to take child abuse seriously is losing their favorite school's football program? If so then that makes me sad. If that is really the punishment that we as a society think is needed to protect children, then I don't want to live on this planet anymore.