Saturday, November 12, 2011

JoePa and the Bad Old Boys Club

Every so often the media gets its hands on some juicy, outrageous, and titillating news, worthy of shutting out all other news.  This week, the focus is on Penn State, the raping, pimping, violating of young boys, by a man, a few men, and a timeline that is more than a little distressing. 

Without getting too sanctimonious, I have a few questions and comments.  It seems to me, that for all the questioning and public rhetoric and outcries over Joe Paterno’s firing, does it not seem a bit odd that he is now questioning whether he should have done more, and in the absence of hindsight, he admits he did not do enough.  My question is about the timing.  If you are sorry only after the results of a Grand Jury are admitted to the public, does that really mean a great deal?  Well, not to me, but what the hey- he wasn’t apologizing to me.  As for the fans and zealous "friends" that show their support by turning over vans, well with friends like that, I suppose you can believe that you are allowed to do anything (in Sandusky’s case), or do a whole lot of nothing (in Paterno’s case). 

The public swarming, or murmuration-type frenzy that occurs is disturbing to me.  With bits and pieces of information, the public, time and time again, swarms to the aide of some seemingly “innocent” bystander.  Are we that starved to be part of a group that we can’t take a little bit of time to truly understand a situation?  Do we not have enough meaning in our lives to step back and determine, calmly, that there are some large gaping holes in the information that we so readily react to? 

There were no swarms to aide the children that were victimized.  This seems to be the time that the public bows their heads, and determines they don’t know all the facts, or there isn’t anything they can do to help or stop.  This is the time that victims get victimized twice.  First, during the horrific acts of sexual violation, and next by the witnesses that look the other way or worse, cast aspersions. 

Penn State’s stance to actively decide that Sandusky was not allowed to bring boys on campus any longer is criminal.  This stance however, is not shocking or uncommon.  It seems to be the fabric of bureaucracy.   A well-established bylaw of the Good Old Boys Club.  The Catholic Church being notorious for moving known pedophile priests to different locations, rather than taking a direct stance and enforcing policy for the intolerance of pedophiles, rapists and criminals in their ranks, is not alone in this practice.  School districts quietly relocate offenders, or require “resignations” rather than directly and legally upholding policy for harassment and sexual misconduct.   A variation on policy response seems also at play, "Not In My Backyard" or "Not on My Watch".  Basically, the concepts appears to be: You can do it, just don't do it near me.

I wonder, if bureaucratic systems were to denounce the criminals in their ranks, is it possible that the public would feel comforted, and trusting of the leadership?  Are the bureaucracies so afraid of the public response that they feel it better to continue to hide, and bury and partake in criminal activity to avoid possibly losing public support?  Sadly, the public response seems to be “act first, think later” while the bureaucracies response seems to be “think of all the loopholes and respond after, and only if, the public reacts, by sacrificially throwing a few of their members under the bus or toward the rallying public in an attempt to, what, look as though they were caught with their pants down?

Of course there are other factors to ponder here as well.  Fortunately, I don’t recall any large thrill-seeking mob supporting any of Warren Jeffs’ friends or colleagues. Jeffs, is the Mormon sect leader who “married” twelve sixteen-year-old girls and twelve additional girls under the age of fifteen.   When we call Jeffs a husband, it is not quite as distressing as a rapist, or a pedophile. Minimal public outcry here, but no one rallying to help the perpetrators.  Why not?  Because it didn’t interfere with football season?  It was related to someone’s religious viewpoints that we don’t entirely understand or feel is our business to weigh in on?  Is it because they were girls, and girls are expected to get married and have sex with their "husbands" any old way? 

The policy of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” may have been lifted from the military ranks in regards to the sexual orientation of gay service people, but it seems the nation has a long way to go regarding viewpoints, beliefs and understanding of sexual behavior that encompasses all.  Don’t ask, don’t tell was alive and thriving in the boardrooms and locker rooms of Penn State.   This version of don’t ask, don’t tell is in place to protect the boy’s club from having to be accountable.  Don’t ask, because I don’t need to tell you.  Don’t ask, because I can do whatever I want.  Don’t ask, because you might not like what I am doing, but I don’t plan on stopping.   It is alive and prospering in many other sectors right now.  

We need to take a hard, close look at the sexual victimization of our youth, boys and girls equally. We need to have a clear understanding of “consent” and how that may fluctuate based upon age, role, and authority of the “consenting” participants.   We need to speak up against violent, abhorrent sexual crimes even when it interferes with game season.  We need to close shop on the boy’s club mentality that pervasively interferes with access to basic human rights for all.  We may even need to provide sexual education that is comprehensive and maybe we can throw in some course work on human rights and accountability.

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