BY ELIZABETH BASTIAN, Opinions Editor
It is an established part of the Bastian household morning routine to watch ESPN while getting ready for school (don’t ask me why, it just is). Consequently, I do not feel prepared to face the day if I am not viewing the Top Ten Plays of the previous day, speculations on the upcoming weekend’s football matchups, or the latest update on the NBA lockout while munching on my preferred brand of cereal.
So imagine my surprise when, upon descending the stairs Monday morning and glancing at the TV over the kitchen counter, I see riot police and shattered car windows instead of touchdowns and college hoops. Although I had previously had no interest or knowledge in Pennsylvania State University’s athletic program drama, I was now glued to the screen as I watched the gruesome and disturbing story unfold.
It has been hard to escape the constant media onslaught of Penn State and Joe Paterno coverage this week, as what could possibly be the sexual abuse scandal of the decade is slowly uncovered from the university politics it was buried underneath. And as more and more of the details come to the surface, the country has become more and more sickened with not only what occurred within the football program, but also with how long it has taken for these acts to come to light.
Personally, I am just disgusted with the entire ordeal. Child molestation is one of the few culturally universal taboos. Consequently, it should never be shoved under the rug and forgotten about. If someone tells you that they walked in on a fifty-something year old man giving a ten year old a blow job, you do NOT keep silent, you TELL SOMEONE. And if you witnessed the act and no one is doing anything about it, you handle it yourself and call the police. How is this not common sense?!
I think the worst part of the whole thing is that when Penn State football head coach Joe Paterno was fired, students began to riot in the campus streets. Really, Penn State? You’re going to push over street lights and news vans because someone who covered up several cases of child molestation was understandably let go from his job? Where is your sense of decency and morality? Or were you just searching for an excuse to let out college angst? Because, to me, that’s scary. It’s frightening, truly harrowing, how fast and how easily a mob can be incited, especially a mob of people our own age who are supposed to be the leaders of the future.
I know that there are several students on this campus with younger siblings, or even children of their own. How would you feel if someone did something like this to your brother or your son? Or even your daughter or sister? What if you didn’t know it had happened until years later – would you still want justice brought against the perpetrator? Of course you would.
My hopes for what comes out of this case are that the general public rediscovers their sense of morality and inner strength. The PSU incident is not the only sexual abuse allegation that an American college has purposefully mishandled, and it certainly won’t be the last. This should spur society to report things that their gut tells them are wrong. Even if they face losing their job. Even if it makes them a social pariah.
Because at the end of the day, all you have to live with is yourself. And it is questionable whether Joe Paterno, Mike McQueary, or any other Penn State official involved in this unfortunate horror will ever truly be at peace with themselves again.