Baffoe: Do’s And Don’ts Of Discussing Penn State
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By Tim Baffoe-
(CBS) This whole thing has become surreal. Unprecedented. The slime continues to ooze from cracks new and old in Creepy Valley, and it shows no signs of stopping any time soon.
What a scenario like this leads to is discussion—much of it healthy, cogent, and poignant, and inevitably some of it not so much. While I would certainly undo the heinous acts committed upon the abuse victims if I could and those of all abuse victims everywhere—past, present, and future—even these darkest, most vile moments of humanity do allow a productive flower to arise from the seamy cracks.
Getting issues like child abuse more out in the open — even if it requires the sledgehammer to the face that we have received these past few days in order to do so — is necessary if we wish to fight the good fight and eradicate the evil that lurks among society. Social networking has become a key tool in this operation, though with the ability to click a post button before really thinking, it can also help hinder the productivity as much as it furthers it.
I have been glued to Twitter the majority of these past few nights between pizza deliveries and seen some fantastic questions and statements from those I follow, but I have also seen words that are wrong, misguided, or just make no sense (mostly retweets from smart people looking to expose such ignorance).
The following are some Do’s and Don’ts that should be heeded when discussing this situation. Please adhere to them if you wish to help turn all this into something as positive and productive as it can be.
- Use this as a teaching moment if possible. If you have kids who are minors, please discuss with them what has happened at Penn St., and ensure to them that they must inform you should they fall victim to a predator or even merely feel unsafe or uncomfortable in their dealings with an adult. More importantly, make sure the children understand that they neither are bad people if they find themselves in such a scenario nor if they tell an authority figure about it. If you work with children in any way and are not a sick, detestable pederast, please be sure that necessary precautions and procedures are in place in that environment for such a scenario, and make sure you, any coworkers, and the children understand what needs to be done. If you work in education, discuss as much of this Penn St. situation as your superiors will allow with those you educate. If your audience is of an appropriate age, have them read the grand jury report. Seriously. That would be particularly helpful, as 670 The Score’s Matt Spiegel mentioned in his column earlier today, if you are a faculty member today in Creepy Valley after the parade of mental defectives that is much of the student body reared its drunken, cloistered head last night.
- Feel safe to mock every adult involved in this. Our most heinous parts of humanity demand satirical beatdowns, and this is certainly one of those. Being the butts of jokes and subject to ridicule is the least of punishments for anyone who committed the acts, the cover up, and the apathy. Nothing is sacred when it comes to such awful people.
- Mock Ashton Kutcher, too. Idiot.
- Understand that Joe Paterno had to be fired and now, even if you believe he did nothing wrong or not enough to lose his job. At the very least, a situation like this demands total decapitation if only for PR reasons, and Paterno is the face on that head. Know, too, that Paterno coaching this coming Saturday would do irreparable damage—more than currently exists—to the school. As Deadspin’s Barry Petchesky wrote this morning: “It is completely possible to love Joe Paterno and still believe he had to be punished.”
- Understand that Paterno forfeited any “dignity” of finishing out the season or not being fired over the phone not only via his lack of action over the years, but also his public actions over the past few days.
- Understand that what is going on with Penn State now is no longer about Jerry Sandusky. He will get a trial, and he will go to prison, save reasonable odds on his suicide before he can be put behind bars where a different, less public court will exact its own brand of fitting justice on him. What this is about now is getting all the answers to the difficult questions and holding each and every person responsible who deserves to be. That includes the (once-) beloved head coach, so stop diverting the anger toward him back to Sandusky. Not the same issue.
- Be angry at Mike McQueary as much as Paterno, as well as Paterno’s superiors. None of this exists if McQueary makes the proper phone call, and I do not mean to his father. None of this exists if those above Paterno did not put damage control ahead of molested children.
- Know that other members of Paterno’s staff and the Penn State administration whose names we are not hearing knew at least something suspicious if not the whole McQueary story and other stories, and they, too, did not take the proper action.
- Call this a “sex scandal.” Rape, molestation, and abuse of children are not sex. It is predatory, violent, and despicable. Sex is consensual between two adults.
- Make this about football. This is so beyond football and sports and school pride and tradition and anything else that is not the conspiracy to aid and abet child rape. That said, advocating the cancellation of the rest of the Nittany Lions’ season is not making this about football—it’s rational, and it’s a good moral and PR move. More of those moves need to start happening in Creepy Valley.
- Bring Dr. Phil into this to give his deep-fried two bits. Ditto Matt Millen and Stuart Scott.
- Take in ESPN’s coverage of this at all, actually, as they have covered up enough lewd acts that occurred behind the scenes of their network and employed enough on-air sexual scum that its credibility in this is void. The network also has also been known to take its financial interests in relation to college football into account when choosing news coverage.
- Call this a tragedy. Conspiracies to protect and cover up evil are not tragedies. I have struggled with a label to put on all this, and have yet to come up with a sufficient one; instead, I’ve been using “situation” and other bland catch-alls as I continue to wrap my head around all this. What happened to the victims may be tragic, but the ensuing actions of adults involved are not.
- Avoid any aspect of this due to your own inhibitions. No sane person is comfortable reading about, hearing, or discussion child molestation, but it exists. Ignoring or avoiding even parts of the discussion because you feel creeped out is a disservice to rational, educated discussion itself. I know it is not pleasant, but we must do an Andy Dufresne tunnel crawl when it comes to things like this—including reading the entire grand jury report and any subsequent reports that are released concerning the matter. Any less is sticking your head in the sand.
- Indict every employee that happens to wear a Pennsylvania State University ID, particularly those who do not work in the administration or athletic buildings. Academically, I am sure that it is a fine institution, and those who work hard in the classrooms to further higher education and have nothing to do with Jerry Sandusky, Joe Paterno, or any of the other names in the news do not deserve to be assumed as failures at their jobs or terrible people. Their tangential relation to this is unfortunate.
- Think I mean the students who rioted and protested the Paterno firing and embarrassed themselves on camera last night. Those people are completely useless, and I feel bad for intelligent students at the school.
- Take current or former Nittany Lion football players’ opinions on all this too seriously. Athletes tend to be blindly loyal to coaches, for better or for worse.
- Underestimate the severity of the situation and the impact this will have on academic institutions and sports at large forever. Multiple lines have been crossed here, and those that crossed them can never go back. All of the NCAA will be affected by this in some capacity, as will sports organizations above and below. Perhaps overall that will be a good thing—at least I hope so. I just really wish it did not take such means.
Tim Baffoe attended the University of Iowa and Governors State University and began blogging at The Score after winning the 2011 Pepsi Max Score Search. He enjoys writing things about stuff, but not so much stuff about things. When not writing for 670TheScore.com, Tim corrupts America’s youth as a high school English teacher and provides a great service to his South Side community delivering pizzas (please tip him and his colleagues well). You can follow Tim’s inappropriate brain droppings on Twitter @Ten_Foot_Midget , but please don’t follow him in real life. He grew up in Chicago’s Beverly To read more of Tim’s blogs click here.