I told a friend of mine from high school that there is a very special part of hell reserved for that man. For those of you who are Joss Whedon fans, yes I do mean “The Special Hell”. Paterno may not have been a child molester, but, in my eyes, he wasn’t much better.
In Dante’s Inferno, the lowest level of hell was reserved for for betrayers. Satan, Judas, Brutus, and Cassius were depicted as being some of the main people imprisoned here. Why do I bring this up? Because Paterno was guilty of treachery that is, or should be, on par with any of these. What did he betray? His duty, as an adult, to protect the children of the sports program that Sandusky was involved in. They were under his care and to betray the job of protecting children under your care is one of the most evil things a person can do, in my opinion.
Don’t get me wrong. Mike McQueary is guilty of this treachery just as much, but this post isn’t about McQueary. It’s about the ridiculous notion that we shouldn’t “speak ill of the dead” and the idea that we should say “rest in peace” to the memory of a man who, when knowledge of sexual molestation of children came to him, said (this is satire) “You know what, calling the cops in this situation just seems like overkill. I’ll just tell my boss and hope he does something about.”
A friend of the friend I mentioned earlier said that people “don’t know what they would’ve done in that situation”. Well in that exact situation, if I was McQueary who saw the abuse happening, I would only have a hard time deciding how much to “accidentally” hurt Sandusky as I was pulling him away from the boy. If I were in Paterno’s situation, I might be hard-pressed to decide whether to call the cops first or find Sandusky and kick him in a very sensitive place.
Some might say that Paterno only acted as he did because he didn’t have first hand knowledge of the abuse, he only had a second hand statement from McQueary and he didn’t want to preemptively cause a scandal.
Paterno (and McQueary, who should have made the report himself before talking to his boss) is in a field that is covered by the Pennsylvania Mandated Reporting law.
(a) General rule. Under 23 Pa.C.S. § 6311 (relating to persons required to report suspected child abuse), licensees who, in the course of the employment, occupation or practice of their profession, come into contact with children shall report or cause a report to be made to the Department of Public Welfare when they have reasonable cause to suspect on the basis of their professional or other training or experience, that a child coming before them in their professional or official capacity is a victim of child abuse.
Having another member of your staff report sexual child abuse to you, would seem to fall under the “reasonable cause to suspect” part of that, would it not?
And frankly, Pennsylvania state law shouldn’t even enter in to this argument at all. This is a matter of ethics and morality. If you have even the slightest suspicion that child abuse of any kind is occurring, it is your moral duty to report it to the cops, even if it may cause a scandal. It is your moral duty to hound the police and insure that something is being done. It is your moral duty to, if you are in a position to do so, keep the abuser in question away from children until the police have done their job and investigated the situation.
And so Paterno becomes one of those men who make me sincerely wish that I believed in Hell…or reincarnation. At least The Conservative New Ager has hope that Paterno will pay for his actions in his next life.
I think that makes this one of those times that I hope I’m actually wrong about something and that there is an afterlife (or just another life) waiting after this one.