Aside from conversations with friends and the occasional comment on Facebook, I’ve stayed out of the whole Penn State mess. I did it out of respect for a great friend who’s an alumnus there and a very proud member of the cult of Papa Joe Paterno. I value her friendship and didn’t want to strain it.
I can’t remain silent any longer. I think it’s time to say something about it.
The Pilgrimage is built on the concept of action through social justice, or proving our faith through works as James talks about in the 2nd chapter of his book. In the realm of social justice and the various opportunities there, few are as important as the cause of child protection. There are a lot of needy people and causes out there, but children are a class of people that have limited chances to take care of themselves. In other words, they need our protection. They need good people to stand up for them.
So, after reading portions of Penn State Assistant Football Coach Mike McQueary’s testimony and bristling at how it made me feel an anger I cannot easily put into words, I thought it would be fitting to dive headlong into the fray on this, the 85th birthday of head coach Joe Paterno. He deserves this present from me.
McQueary testified that he heard running water and rhythmic, slapping sounds of skin on skin. He looked in a mirror and saw a naked Jerry Sandusky, the former assistant coach, holding a young boy by the waist from behind, up against the wall in the campus shower. He told Paterno the next morning, to which Paterno replied, “I’m sorry you had to see that.”
Now, I can’t answer for other people, but I know how I would have responded had I seen that or even something similar.
Let’s say I came across two adults engaging in consensual sexual activities in the locker room. It wouldn’t matter if it was two guys, two women, or a man and a woman. I would have cleared my throat really loud, slammed a stall door, or slammed the bathroom door really loud. Two normal people would have likely stopped what they were doing because they got caught.
What about non-consensual activity? If I came across non-consensual sexual activity of any kind, I would have felt duty bound to stop it, to rescue the person being hurt. A child, a woman, a man. It doesn’t matter at all. Non-consensual sexual activity goes by many names and can include a wide variety of victims. Rape and molestation are two of the most commonly used terms. The rape or molestation of a child is one of the darkest, most evil things a person can do.
What exactly would I have done to stop this? I don’t know. Pull the offender off of the kid and beat the crap out of him. Call the cops and let them do it. I don’t know. I might be more aggressive than some, but my natural instinct would be to rescue the child and make sure that the offender spends the night or possibly the week in the hospital, and then call the cops.
I can tell you what I wouldn’t do. I wouldn’t walk away. I wouldn’t tell Coach Joe the next morning over coffee and let it ride. I wouldn’t let a child molester continue doing that over and over. I wouldn’t condone it. I wouldn’t worry more about the public image of Penn State and their beloved football coach than I did about those poor boys.
I would do everything I could to make sure that Coach Sandusky and anyone else involved in the act or the cover up paid for it.
That’s my humble take on the whole Penn State fiasco. I just can’t understand how so many decent people are making excuses for these guys. Even today I saw a news release regarding a letter sent out by hundreds of former Penn State players in support of Coach Joe Paterno, a man who allowed the abuse and molestation of who knows how many boys by protecting a serial child rapist.
One of our jobs as Christians is to protect others from evil. You should never step aside and allow evil to continue if there is anything you can do to stop it. It is your calling. It is your responsibility. To do less is just not right.
My question to you is, what would you do if you saw a child being molested?