By Dan Bernstein
CBSChicago.com Senior Columnist
(CBS) — After more than a year and a half, the only person not still actively involved in the Jerry Sandusky scandal is Jerry Sandusky.
The man who used Joe Paterno’s careful protection to rape multiple children over years now rots in prison, where he will die.
What has occurred since his incarceration is exactly what so many have been quick to deny in their failed attempts to wash themselves clean, solidifying this as what it always has truly been – and what it will always be — the Penn State Scandal.
The Harrisburg Patriot-News yesterday called the ongoing indignity a “statewide nightmare.”
Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett reacted to his crumbling political standing by filing a frivolous federal lawsuit against the NCAA sanctions, attempting an inane argument on antitrust grounds that was tossed out of court Thursday for lacking legal reason. And he himself is under official review for his decision to stall the investigation of claims against Sandusky in 2009 when he was Attorney General, conveniently avoiding any mess as he ran for governor. It looks like he is going to lose, this time around.
Corbett tried a cynical appeal to what he knows is still a large portion of the electorate, there: the Pennsylvainian to whom college football remains sadly, sickly important. This voter cannot comprehend the evil of Paterno’s documented negligence, even when presented with his own, sworn testimony. This voter takes personally the punishments handed down to the program, not understanding that unprecedented horrors deserve unprecedented response.
Paterno’s desperate family and friends will not stop crying, either, showing no desire to let the wounds to their close community heal. Their ongoing propaganda campaign has yet to find traction outside of the insular environment in which they have always existed, instead revealing the effort as self-serving, unsuccessful scab-picking.
They too filed an absurd, egotistical lawsuit, one that will likely meet some similar fate as Corbett’s pointless gambit.
Keep looking at us! Keep looking at this! Look closer!
Ok. Ick. Still.
Credit should go to the school itself, which has accepted the sanctions, adopted the sensible reforms supplied by the Freeh Report, and has chosen not be party to any reactive litigation. That could change, though, as an insurrection is brewing even there. Paterno-crazed alums recently elected new trustees more keen on finding a way to restore the ruined name of their dead coach than actually running a proud university. Their influence should not be underestimated, supported by the same misguided instincts Corbett still wants to exploit. They want that statue back up, regardless of the defiant, cold-hearted statement it would make to the many victims and their families.
This same faction is determined to make life difficult on coach Bill O’Brien, who is one of the handful of important people on that campus with a working moral compass, and a sense of poise and perspective. It would be a shame if one of those truly wanting to help the school climb out of the morass is an eventual casualty of its twisted infighting.
Penn State officials accused of lying to authorities about their involvement in the cover-up continue to make headlines, as well. Former AD Tim Curley and senior vice president Gary Schultz had appeals denied Friday by the state’s Supreme Court, and even the preliminary hearing for them and former president Graham Spanier has not been scheduled, delayed by multiple defense motions.
They are allowed to make their case, of course. But each bit of news also serves to pull the awful feelings back to the fore, and provide new platforms for too many slithering, venomous cultists whose own self-worth seems to be only that of a crumbled program that long lived a great lie.
The worst sports story of our lifetimes carries on at a slow burn. It will simmer in public view for years, always reducing into a dark concentrate of monstrous crimes, unspeakably blind eyes, chanting crowds and false gods.
“It’s not the ‘Penn State scandal!’” we hear. “It’s not the ‘Penn State scandal!’”
With every passing day that anxious Penn State people feel compelled to say it, the more wrong they are.
Dan Bernstein joined the station as a reporter/anchor in 1995, and has been the co-host of Boers and Bernstein since 1999. Read more of Bernstein’s columns, or follow him on Twitter: @dan_bernstein.
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