Penn State – the Jiminy Cricket rule
by Kelvin Wade
We’re all rightly shocked by what transpired at Penn State. The Grand Jury report is horrific. An assistant coach allegedly walks in on Jerry Sandusky raping a ten-year-old boy in the shower. In another case, a janitor alleges he walked in on Sandusky orally raping a small boy. The janitor said the sight was more shocking than anything he’d witnessed during the Korean War. In retelling the story to coworkers and his superior, they say he seemed like he was going to have a heart attack he was so shaken.
And Jerry Sandusky was left to continue being around young boys through his Second Mile children’s charity.
If what’s alleged is true, how could men look the other way with the knowledge that there was a monster in their midst? How does loyalty to an organization so skew your moral compass that you could allow for child rape?
As has been pointed out by many, the similarities are to the Catholic Church and its shameful handling of pedophile priests.
We’d like to think we would’ve behaved differently. If I saw a man raping a child in a shower, either the molester or I would be going to jail. Either him for child rape or me for murder. There’s a visceral reaction to something like this.
So why would and how could people suppress that urge to protect children and swap it for protecting an institution?
The recent sexual harassment/assault allegations against Republican Presidential candidate Herman Cain are instructive. When the scandal broke, Cain saw his support grow in the polls and the campaign raked in millions of dollars. One of Cain’s accusers, Sharon Bialek, was dismissed as “troubled” by the campaign. Right wing media went after her finances. They played the race card.
Instead of a serious attempt to try to ascertain if the candidate had actually attempted to sexually assault Ms. Bialek or having the National Restaurant Association release all documents involving the two complaints and payoffs, Cain supporters closed ranks.
This isn’t a partisan issue. Both parties do it. We see this over and over whenever a politician gets in trouble. The inclination is to close ranks and protect the politician.
We’ve seen police departments close ranks after one of their own is accused of brutality or an alleged unjustified shooting of a suspect.
The inclination is to protect the organization first and find out the truth, second, if finding out the truth is ever really the goal.
One might say a political sex scandal is different from child rape. Of course it is. It’s monstrous. But we’re talking about matters of degree involving a similar mindset.
Sadly, many mothers do this to their own children. When confronted with a child’s allegations of abuse from the mother’s boyfriend, we too often see mothers side with their boyfriends and either deny or try to mitigate what happened. The relationship is elevated above the alleged assault.
You fight this twisted inclination by having strong personal values. You act on what’s right or wrong.
MSNBC host Chris Matthews put it well on a recent edition of HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher: “When you grow up…and join an organization whether it’s the U.S. Congress or the Penn State cult, as you call it, you got to have your values before you walk in the door ’cause they ain’t gonna teach you there….You never ask the system to teach you values because the values of the system is always cover-up.”
A cartoon cricket taught us this as kids.