Thursday, July 12, 2012

The Conspiracy of Silence

"The most saddening finding is the total disregard by the most senior leaders at Penn State for the safety and welfare of Sandusky's child victims. ... Four of the most powerful people at ... Penn State ... failed to protect against a child sexual predator harming children for over a decade."

Freeh Report

I have a friend who has been a Penn State fan for — well — his whole life.

And I have thought of him every time the tragic story of Penn State and Jerry Sandusky has been in the news.

Each time, I hoped it would be the last time I would hear about Sandusky. But each time I have been wrong.

And now, I think, the shame that he brought to the university will live in infamy. It might have, anyway, but now I am certain of it.

See, my observation in my life has been that, once something has a commission or a committee assigned to investigate it — and that investigating body issues a report — that is what happens.

The Warren Commission, the Ervin Committee, the Tower Commission, the 9–11 Report. You can find 'em in any history book.

And now you'll be able to find one in the story of Penn State.

So, with the knowledge that Sandusky was convicted several months ago on nearly four dozen counts of sexual abuse and related crimes and with today's release of the Freeh Report that implicated Sandusky's former boss, late coach Joe Paterno, Penn State ex–President Graham Spanier, former athletic director Tim Curley and former vice president Gary Schultz, I wonder if this is really the end for this story.

There will be a report on the library shelves of every college and university — including, I presume, Penn State — that will testify to Penn State's shame.

Sandusky will spend the rest of his life in prison. Of his high–ranking enablers, Paterno — the respected and beloved coach whose high standards were legendary — was an "integral part" of an active effort to avoid negative publicity, today's report said.

And that is a tragic blow to the legacy of a man who was held in such high regard even by his foes.

For, you see, that is a revelation that rips at the very fabric of America. In what may be a mindless (and dangerous) automatic reflex, Americans have always placed great faith — blind faith — in authority figures — teachers, pastors, coaches — and I think most people could tell you of at least one authority figure who influenced the course of their lives.

So deeply ingrained is this faith in authority figures that the mind recoils from the thought that someone in whom such trust has been placed could so callously toss it aside — and that others, the highest–ranking officials at a major university, could engage in a conspiracy to prevent his crimes from becoming known to the public.

They were more than simply enablers. They held positions of trust, and they violated that trust.

And now there is a report — under the name of none other than the former director of the FBI — that bears witness to the "total disregard" they showed for the children who looked to them for guidance.

People have been known to get over many things. They are resilient beyond anything that can be imagined.

But one thing people almost never seem to get over is betrayal.

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