The initial shock of the child-abuse scandal at Penn State was disturbing enough — but what came later may have been even more so.
That Joe Paterno, other coaches, and members of the administration could have failed in a straightforward, utterly uncomplicated moral task — to protect defenseless children from rape — is almost mind-numbing. No weighing of competing interests or complex variables was required. On one hand, you had children being abused, and on the other, the reputation of a hugely profitable football program. They chose the football program. In a condign coda, they’ve done far more damage to the program’s reputation by choosing the immoral path than they would have by doing the right thing. If the alleged predator, Jerry Sandusky, had been arrested for child abuse in 2002 (or at any point in the previous decade as reports filtered up of his criminal conduct), it would have been a one-day story. Instead, the beloved Joe Paterno has been fired. The president of the university is out, and Penn State stands revealed (and reviled) as a corrupt institution.
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