• 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.

    • Jiminy is my hero. Unfortunately there aren’t enough of him in the world.
      You’re right about the cover up in families. I worked with teens in foster care, many of them were there for those very reasons. Their families rejected them for admitting sexual abuse, breaking the family code of silence. I’ve seen it happen in my own family.
      What is this insanity that takes over, where the myth is placed above morality? I wish I could understand.

    • Ironically, mynhusband tells me (he is a Penn State alumni) that the campus is predominantly Catholic. Great work, Kelvin.

    • Dang iPad. :/

    • I wish someone had stepped in but millions of school donor funds stopped most. I hope the victims sue the college and get more than the team and it players and coaches ever made.

      • Judy N

      • November 20, 2011 at 5:02 pm
      • Reply

      Nice column. There was a piece in the NYT today which talked about how fear of homosexuality had fed into the cover up of the fact that Sandusky was raping and other wise sexually assaulting boys.

      • Kelvin

      • November 21, 2011 at 1:31 pm
      • Reply

      Thank you. I realize there are pressures within institutions whether they be college or Congress or political parties or families to keep up the facade. It’s hard to shine a light on dysfunction. But child rape? You think we could all agree that child rape would be so appalling that we’d all draw a line at that. But sadly, not so. Sadly what happened at Penn State happens a lot in other venues. The one difference with Penn State is that there usually isn’t eyewitnesses to child rape. Other than the fact that Sandusky was (allegedly) doing this, that’s the real shocking thing here. Someone SAW this and didn’t put an end to it. Ugh.

      One positive thing is that I’ve seen multiple news anchors/media people speak for the first time of their own abuse histories. I wish I had their strength…

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