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The Patriot-News editorial board has issued a stinging condemnation of the moral and ethical responsibility of Penn State officials, including the university’s legendary head football coach, Joe Paterno. How are you thinking through this mess and the moral and ethical responsibilities of Paterno about these alleged crimes against children?

The Patriot-News calls for Joe Paterno's Removal


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9 Comments

I think we are jumping to enormous conclusions here, based on the news reports.  It has been reported that an assistant to Paterno witnessed the incident, but did not give details to Paterno.  Paterno, in turn and following Penn State procedure, reported the incident to his superiors and directed the assistant to give the details to them.  It seems that Paterno had no direct knowledge or specifics of the incident, only that it was "disturbing."  From that level of information and in light of the restrictions placed on him by the school human resources guidelines, there is not much more he could have done.

Even if we go only with what has been presented, Mr. Paterno chose to be ignorant. He could have asked what made the incident "disturbing". He did not. He could have become this child's advocate and defender, marching MMcQ to the Spanier's office and telling him, Penn State's HR and administration, "Report this now, or I will, and I will resign."  If he had done that, JoePA and Penn State would have set and example of all the virtues he exemplified during his career. He did not. He chose ignorance, and so chose Sandusky and football and child abuse.

Joe Pa is about moral responsibility, not legal culpability. He wants to be measured by the former  & now he is.  I don't think he's deliberately  lying to us; he's lying to himself. He's an old man a decade late for retirement. A lot of people around Happy Valley have been saying this for years. They were right.

I put the Penn State officials in the same category as the bishops or others in the Catholic Church who, knowledgeable of what was going on, sought to shore up their own interests over those of the alleged victims of the crimes. They've failed at the most basic human level, to protect those unable to protect themselves. Their actions are morally and ethically reprehensible. The law may hold they bear no legal culpability; if so, the law needs to be changed.

What especially sickens me about the Penn State story is that anyone could be so motivated to turn the cheek all in the name of sports and the money it engenders. 

hope you saw Frank Bruni's column in today's NYTIMES on this subject....also Vecsey's in NYTIMES sports pages...I have seen similar coverup in schools and boy scouts by administrators and school boards who should know better!  What's this about/

I cannot imagine anyone who would hear a story about a child being molested not wanting to ensure that the story was fully investigated by the proper authorities. I am sorry Joe, but telling the school about a potential crime fails the sniff test. Granted, we don’t have all the facts about this case, but it appears to me that Paterno looked the other way. Isn’t that what got us into this financial mess we’re in – people who made decisions that somehow seemed to meet the letter of the law, but not necessarily the spirit? It goes to show you how quickly humans can bury their conscience when we are too invested in a system that serves us too well.

Thank you for posting this.  I've seen a great deal of news coverage of the incident, and countless comments minimizing the ethical - above and beyond legal - ramifications of the situation.  As an abuse survivor, it was a much-needed balm to see this come up on my feed, and to be reminded of the kindness of strangers.

My litmus test... what would Jo Pa have done differently (if anything) if it were his own child pinned in the shower? I suspect his actions would have been less tepid.

All I can say is - some people must really like football.  And there must be many different realities - because I can only imagine the one where winning football games is in any way important when you let a grown man who works for you molest children.