After reading reviews of the Posnanski book, and following the fallout from the Spanier interviews and lawyers' presentation, I think we are making some progress. While it is certainly true that the majority of the reactions were negative, I think it is important to note how they were negative. It seems to me, for the most part, people attacked Paterno and Spanier for being out-of-touch, naive, incurious, and incompetent.
Sure there are still those out there that see them as evil geniuses that conspired to cover up, but they seem to be increasingly in the minority. Few "serious" journalists (if I can use that adjective here), however, are not strenuously defending the Freeh report, or claiming that Paterno and Spanier organized a cover up. This perception may gain strength through the perjury trial, as Curley and Schultz insist that they did not understand they were dealing with a pedophile, and so had nothing to cover up.
Maybe the believers in conspiracy theory have just moved on, but if indeed there is a changing perception that mistakes were made, not that there was an organized cover up, that gives me some hope. Certainly I hate to see our administration tagged as incompetent, but if that becomes the accepted view, the rationale for the NCAA sanctions and some of the law suits that could cripple the university is weakened significantly. Punishing people for conspiracy is one thing, punishing them for making mistakes quite another.
Most importantly, we could then use IT to teach the real lesson. Not the NCAA lesson "If you find a pedophile, don't cover for him," instead it is "These people walk among us, and only by real vigilance and asking the right questions can we stop them."
Am I overly optimistic, or are we changing the debate?
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