Paterno stunned at firing, still doesn’t get it

Last night, years too late, Penn State finally did the right thing and fired Joe Paterno and Penn State President Graham Spanier. But CBS News is reporting that Paterno is stunned at his firing. He still doesn’t get it. The persistent disconnect was obvious in Paterno’s offensive and shocking retirement statement issued yesterday morning.

This is what I posted after reading it:

Joe Paterno’s retirement statement blows me away.

“I  have come to work every day for the last 61 years with one clear goal in mind: To serve the best interests of this university and the young men who have been entrusted to my care.”

Does that include sitting by while they’re being molested?

“At this moment the Board of Trustees should not spend a single minute discussing my status. They have far more important matters to address. I want to make this as easy for them as I possibly can.”

So he’s separating himself from the crime and acting like he’s being magnanimous in doing so.

“With the benefit of hindsight, I wish I had done more.”

A ten year old was raped in the shower. What does he know now that he didn’t know then except that he’d be exposed for his negligence?

“My goals now are to keep my commitments to my players and staff and finish the season with dignity and determination. And then I will spend the rest of my life doing everything I can to help this University.”

So he’s going to show up on the sidelines keeping his commitments? What about the dignity of all those boys who were molested? Clearly, still, all Paterno is doing is thinking about himself and the reputation of the University. This is the kind of twisted thinking that allows sex abuse to go on.

Not only are Paterno’s words appalling in all the ways listed above, but Paterno also arrogantly tells the trustees what they “should” do. Could his awful retirement statement have been the final push the Trustees needed to get rid of him immediately?

The events at Penn State– the hubris, the network “brotherhood” of powerful men who covered up, the vulnerable kids in the ‘charitable’ organization Sandusky founded– should be examined to deeply understand how conditions that allow sexual abuse are created, supported, and institutionalized. The Penn State bubble was finally punctured at least for the Trustees last night, but look what it took: an arrest, a public scandal, and the threat of losing millions. And still Paterno and the Penn State students who are rallying and rioting for him fail to prioritize the victims.

Statistics show that 1 in 6 men is sexually abused before age 18. Where do these “bubbles” exist right now that we’re not all talking about? If we don’t start working harder to stop the sexual abuse of kids, if we don’t make that a higher priority, it will continue at these high rates.

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