If you asked Penn State students how the last few weeks have been, I would imagine no two answers would be the same. While some would go on a scolding rant about how unfair it was for head football coach Joe Paterno to be fired, others might find optimism, “well at least we beat Ohio State.” However, I was shocked to find a lack of respect for the acts that took place within the football facilities.
Jerry Sandusky, the once heir-in-apparent to Joe Paterno, Defensive Coordinator, and proclaimed “professor of Linebacker U,” (As Penn State is known for its ability to develop linebackers to elite levels) was arrested on November 5th and charged with a laundry list of charges including seven counts of “involuntary deviate sexual intercourse and eight counts of both corruption of minors and endangering the welfare of a child. The grand jury report stated that coach Paterno was made aware of the allegations when they occurred yet did not alert authorities. Thus, the University’s Board of Trustee’s fired him on November 9th. As the Penn State community dealt with the earth-shattering allegations and subsequent dismissal of Paterno, many students took their anger to the streets in protest of in the firing. As the World Wide Leader (ESPN’s self-proclaimed nickname) always is, camera crews and reporters were on the streets interviewing scores of raucous and irrational students. However, in the hours upon hours of non-stop coverage, one student did Penn State proud. The video, shows the intelligent student stating his disappointment in the student body for worrying more about JoePa, than the victims of the crimes. He says, “It’s a terrible situation but he [Joe Paterno] could have down more. ” and “It [the feeling] is not common. I am in the strong minority. Look at what we are surrounded by; it’s disgusting…I am embarrassed for the University. ” Of course, this wouldn’t be a YouTube sensation if it weren’t for the inebriated, and idiotic student who interrupts the interview at: 0:38.
When it comes to the course content we have been studying, I think this situation best relates to the dirty hands. When altered that child molestation was taking place in his locker room by one of his coaches, Joe Paterno SHOULD have altered authorities and followed up to make sure it wasn’t taken lightly. However, as we know now, he did not do that. Why? Well for this question we can apply it to the theory of dirty hands. As we read in Martin Hollis’ Dirty Hands, The chain of command in government, military, and organizations ( In this case the football team and athletic department) are perfect examples of how morality is controlled and forced by a certain set of rules or institutional beliefs. Paterno’s hands are considered “dirty” because he didn’t follow through with “higher-ups” not only to protect his friend and colleague, but also to save his program (which he has coached for over 40 years) from embarrassment and the possible ramifications of a criminal investigation. While it is clear that Paterno’s hands are “dirty,” the University’s hands are also dirty. The cover-up of crime was done not only to save Sandusky, but also to save the University from the financial and reputation diminution. Consequently, when the University fired Joe Paterno it was not only because his morality had failed him, but also to improve how the public viewed the integrity of the University. On page 387, Hollis says, “the new allegiances, prompted by fear, were tactical and no government cares to rule through a reputation for savagery and dishonour.” In this situation, the Board of Trustees fired Joe Paterno to avoid the university’s reputation being one of “savagery and dishonour.”
My question is what does the rioting say about the students at Penn State? What does it say about society that more articles were written about Joe Paterno’s firing than about the crimes Jerry Sandusky allegedly committed? What does it say about the university and its institutional morality that they fired Joe Paterno partially to repair the holistic image of the school? In a school where their biggest fundraiser is FTK, or For The Kids, I have to ask. What about the kids?