All Penn Staters Should Still Be Disappointed in Joe Paterno

I’m not letting the coach off the hook.

While it may appear that people get away with a hell of a lot, they don’t—not cardinals, or priests, or football coaches, or self-canonized institutions. Something biblically ominous converged over our humble little Commonwealth as the Lynn and Sandusky verdicts unfolded. It’s like the Eye in the Sky is putting down an Almighty Foot for the world to be reminded that, verdicts aside, the scope of human justice is paltry when it comes to certain sins.

Like a lot of Philadelphians, I’m Catholic, a product of Catholic school, and I also went to Penn State. My generation is hard-pressed to defend the Church about anything, mostly because the Baby Boomers who raised us, taught us to question any and all authority, including and especially one that says it speaks for God.

As far as we’re all concerned, it was just a matter of time before that whole dog-and-pony show had its cover blown. The Church can throw all the hissy fits it wants about us, our birth control, our divorces, and our gay friends. Most of us are “cafeteria Catholics” anyway, and none of us is losing sleep over it. Even on more complex issues, like abortion, we rely on our own consciences more than the Church’s. For all of my strong opinions and big talk, I personally regret not walking out of a mass that I attended a few months ago when the homily turned into a diatribe about the abomination of gay marriage. What about the abomination of ALL of the marriages, christenings, communions, confirmations, and funerals presided over by priests who are/were child molesters?

Catholics are livid, appalled and sad, but one thing we aren’t is polarized. There are no “yeah, but” debaters trying to absolve anyone, not the perpetrators or the bystanders. So if Catholics aren’t polarized, why are Penn Staters?

I make this observation because I’ve had discussions with other Catholics, and we all land in the same place of contempt, disbelief and the general consensus that has to do with karma being her bitchy self. It doesn’t go this way with the Penn State crowd though, especially when the discussion turns to Joe Paterno.

No one’s selling posthumous t-shirts to memorialize Anthony Bevilacqua, with “Thanks, Tony” superimposed over a silhouette of him in his biretta, which is that pointy hat the Pope put on his head when he became a made man. But you can get a “Thanks, Joe” t-shirt with the iconic silhouette of him, in his floods and cleats, hands in pockets, ever the deep thinker. The sentiment, that what football and Joe Paterno have made mighty, let no man put asunder, is obnoxious.

Penn Staters are divided into those who are furious, who throw away their Penn State mail before they even open it, and those who will miss no opportunity to “yeah, but” themselves into righteousness. “Yeah, but he told his boss … Yeah, but the police didn’t do anything anyway … Yeah, but the parents should have told someone … Yeah, but the boys kept going back …”

Bring it on, other side. Tell me again to let the man rest in peace, or that I should turn in my degree, or that Paterno followed the chain of command, and he wasn’t the end of the chain, like Bevilacqua was. If you really are a Penn Stater, you would know that it’s absurd to suggest that anyone was Paterno’s boss except for him, and that includes the Board of Trustees and that smacked-ass puppet of a University President.

All Paterno had to do was tell the board that he would do no more of their glad-handing for dollars until someone did something about the child molester who had an office on the very same campus as he, himself, did, otherwise he would be taking a trip to see then-Attorney General, Tom Corbett. And if that didn’t work, he’d be going to the media.

Who wouldn’t listen once Paterno started publicly calling it out? No sappy t-shirt negates his role as a bystander among many in this tragedy that is nothing less than a holocaust for Sandusky’s victims, both known and unknown.

LaVar Arrington’s recent blog post made me angrier with myself for not walking out on that homily, but it also made me cry because maybe while I was taking a study break and laughing with my friends over stickies and hot chocolate on College Avenue, somewhere on our campus across the street, a boy, like the boy I now have, was being raped. It wouldn’t be accurate to say that no one did anything about it, because they did: They remained silent and looked the other way, for the glory of Old State.

Be respectful of our online community and contribute to an engaging conversation. We reserve the right to ban impersonators and remove comments that contain personal attacks, threats, or profanity, or are flat-out offensive. By posting here, you are permitting Philadelphia magazine and Metro Corp. to edit and republish your comment in all media.

  • smokeybandit1

    Here, I’ll translate the article for people who don’t want to read it:

    “No one reads my columns but if I print something about the superhero version of Joe Paterno and disregard all fact or reality, someone might read my column.”

    With that, you’ve succeeded, congrats.

  • http://www.facebook.com/joel.samitz Joel

    I guess you forget, that our present governor was the chief prosecutor for the state of Pa, and knew at least as much as Joe and did…NOTHING. He passed on it. He was the Attorney General, not a football coach.

  • alexbarbadoro5

    @Joel: I didn’t forget. It’s right up there in the blog. I’m right there with you in my confusion as to why the legal system totally failed. It seems intentional, doesn’t it, right on up to TC?

  • kurtek15

    Reading this makes me sick to my stomach. Paterno has done more good in one year of his life then Alexandria will do in 5 lifetimes. He did nothing wrong, he was an 80 year old football coach not a police officer. He went to the authorities that are professionally trained to handle the situation. Alexandria I would like to see what your grandparents would have done in the same situation. I bet they can’t even work a cell phone.

  • alexbarbadoro5

    @kurtek: My grandparents are all deceased & not a single one of them would stand by at 80, 90, or 100 (my paternal grandmother lived to be 103) & allow a single hair to be harmed on any child’s head. You’d better believe that if they knew about it, something would have been done about it. None of them could have used cell phones & could have cared less.

  • suburbdog1

    I love all the Paterno sycophants. Joe Pa heard of a kid being raped and did his civic duty BY REPORTING IT TO HIS BOSS! Here’s a hint, you hear of a kid being raped in your shower, CALL THE POLICE, not the fake, do nothing campus police, the real police with guns and jail. And let’s not pull punches here. Paterno didn’t contact the police because he saw that his reputation (for hiring a child rapist), legacy and cash cow ($10million/yr salary) would be in jeopardy. Dispicable!

  • joyce1278

    I went to Catholic school growing up and continue to go to church regularly. I am happy with my religion and have not had any negative experiences. Please do not generalize all Catholics and their beliefs and feelings based on your angry personal filter. If you do not like the church or religion you belong to then just join another one. Yes, there have been very horrible priests but you cannot paint the entire priest population in that same light. If you were in charge of the world you would probably shut down all the Catholic churches, Penn State and Syrucuse University.

  • remembervictims1

    I congratulate you for writing the most truthful and accurate article to date on what JoePoo could have done and didn’t. Commentors like those on this post need to take off the blinders. The Penn State Scandal will never go away until Penn Staters wake up and accept the reality about JoePoo, a short, sniveling , pedophile-enabling coward. Penn Staters just don’t get how reviled and repulsed the rest of the world outside The unHappy Valley is by the inactions of this individual who had probably more power than anyone else to have put a stop to Jerry Sandusky.

  • alexbarbadoro5

    @Joyce: You’re right; if I were in charge of the world, I would shut down any institution that used its perceived power to bully or exploit anyone else, least of all children. Since I’m only a writer, I can only use language to stand my ground.

  • mps4949@gmail.com

    Paterno conferenced with McQueary at the exact same time that little boy was being physically and emotionally terrorized. JoePa instantaneously and calculatingly chose the image of Sandusky over the image of the kid. Unconscinable!

  • remembervictims1

    Ms. Barbadoro has been vindicated! Today’s news reveals that Joe Paterno masterminded the entire Jerry Sandusky Cover-Up and the PSU Administration went along with his directives.