Joe Paterno Statue Removed; Penn State University Disaster Continues
Joe Paterno’s statue outside the Penn State University football stadium was removed on Sunday, furthering the misery surrounding Penn State, Joe Paterno, and the sexual assault victims of Jerry Sandusky.
Penn State University was in a difficult situation regarding the famous, and now infamous, statue of Joe Paterno outside of Beaver Stadium. To leave the statue standing could have made the university that allowed a sexual predator to wander its campus for years appear inconsiderate and detached. The statue could be the source of vandalism were it left up, and the security team that failed to stop countless incidents of molestation and assault would be charged with the responsibility of guarding the 900-pound statue of the man who may have silenced investigation efforts. Tearing down the statue means making assumptions about Joe Paterno’s actual role in the sexual assault crimes of Jerry Sandusky and potentially slandering a football legend. Ultimately, the Joe Paterno statue was removed after a lengthy decision process and the Penn State University disaster continues.
The hollowed out cement shrine once dedicated to Joe Paterno, the man who built Penn State football and in many ways the university itself, is nothing short of gruesome. A hole in the ground where the legendary figure once led shadow-players to battle mirrors the empty feelings surrounding all those close to Penn State. The players on the back wall of the monument, who for years represented the ethics, goodness, and football knowledge they received from Joe Paterno, are now dirty outlines of the figures that once represented everything that was good about college athletics. Penn State University no longer has a controversial Joe Paterno statue, instead constructing a hollow grave for the man they’ve posthumously destroyed.
The removal of the Joe Paterno statue, tactically enacted on the eve of NCAA penalties being announced, does very little to heal the gaping wounds that Jerry Sandusky created. The maneuver is another deliberate gesture to manipulate the public and the tarnished image of the university. Behind blue-screen fences, the Joe Paterno statue was removed in the same secretive-yet-public fashion that Penn State has come to operate under. Ultimately, the removal of the Joe Paterno statue is unimportant, the investigation still feels incomplete, and the grieving will continue.
Jerry Sandusky is a monster. He raped little boys, was convicted of numerous sex crimes, and will likely die in prison. Beyond the facts as they pertain to Jerry Sandusky, a gap in credible information may exist. Joe Paterno certainly could have done more regardless of his ultimate role in the sexual abuse of children, but he is accused of acting deliberately and maliciously to intervene with an investigation into the sex crimes of Sandusky. The Paterno family protests that Joe Paterno was simply the quiet witness to the horrifying crimes that Jerry Sandusky committed. Even if the allegations that Paterno used his unbridled power to deliberately sheath the worst sex scandal in American history prove untrue, Paterno’s legacy is still tarnished and defined by his silence.
Joe Paterno, even if only the most basic accusations prove factual, failed to protect the victims of a child molester. Paterno was told of an apparent sexual act with a child and did not ensure the safety of that child. He knowingly allowed a man alleged of a most egregious crime to continue to roam the campus where he could scoop up more innocent victims. He didn’t go to the police, and if he did, he didn’t care enough to find out what happened once the police got involved. If Paterno was the man who deserved a statue, he would have never stood silent as so much evil continued on around him. For that, he deserves to lose his statue. The statue represents cultivating young minds into righteous and good men. Joe Paterno proved to fall well short of the gigantic legacy his statue embodied.
I’m not bothered by the decision to remove the Joe Paterno statue from outside Beaver Stadium. It makes sense – Joe Paterno, even in the smallest capacity, has some role in a terrible series of sexual crimes that disgraced Penn State University and ruined lives. What seems untrue is that the statue was removed solely to help aid in the healing process. On the six-month anniversary of Joe Paterno’s death, the statue’s removal will be a major story for roughly 24 hours, at which point the punishments handed down on Penn State University athletics will steal the show.
This event will be an afterthought in the terrible saga of the Jerry Sandusky sex crimes. Penn State is being opportunistic and conniving with the timing of their decision, proving they still don’t have the best interest of the victims at heart. Penn State lacks accountability, but it appears accountability will be thrust upon them shortly. The Penn State University disaster continues, and the tainted legend of Joe Paterno blurs further towards a lasting status as the scapegoat for a horrible tragedy – a title he may or may not deserve.
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