Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Penn State

Seems like I've heard more about college football this week than I have in the last decade.  Well, not college football in general; Penn State. What an incredibly horrible and shocking story.  SNL did a sketch on Saturday in which Satan himself was portrayed as so horrified by the situation that he quit his job as prince of darkness and went back to his old life as a customer service agent at Time Warner Cable.  (Apparently if you have Time Warner, you know how true this seems).

And while sordid details are emotionally devastating enough, a major part of the story in the last week has been the revelation that revered long time coach Joe Paterno knew about incidents but took the matter only to the school authorities. To be fair to him, he did do something (and it's not entirely clear how much he knew); but he didn't pursue it beyond school administration. And more children were harmed as a result.

It seems like everyone that's ever worked with Paterno views him as one of the most decent and competent individuals they've ever met, akin to UCLA's longtime coach John Wooden.  But today much of that knowledge of Paterno is getting lost in the rage fog of the situation.  How could he possibly not done more?

I don't have any answer to that question. But I do find the situation instructive. Some people will believe from now on that Paterno was never what we thought he was, that his character was deeply flawed in a subtle way. But what sounds more likely is that he was the man of character we thought him to be, a man deeply concerned with ethics and decency. And he also had clay feet.

It's the mystery of evil.



  

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