There are certain situations where people tell you, “This is something you HAVE to have an opinion about, one way or the other.” I hate it when people tell me that, because it just forces me to split my opinion right down the middle and give everyone the finger.
It’s safe to say that raping children is a bad thing because it’s true. Raping children IS a bad thing for you to do. I would advocate zip-tying the offender’s genitals and cutting them off with a dull switchblade, but I don’t want to come across as a sadist or something (besides, who’s to say the offender wouldn’t enjoy it?). Anyway, like I was saying, child rape: it’s bad. There’s just no argument necessary.
Moving on, there’s the whole factor of Who To Report Child Rape To. Well, now, you see, HERE you’re getting into a grayish area. Some people (maybe “many” people, I dunno) will tell you, “If you see child rape, you go RIGHT to the police! No question about it.” I’m willing to see that argument to a point, but what if the rapist is your dad? And what if, up until you saw him child raping for the first time, your dad has been the best ol’ dad in the world? He never touched you or any of your siblings (you know this for a fact, because, just go with me on this, all right?), he was sweet to your mom, he paid his taxes and provided for the family all his life … and then you saw him raping a 10 year old boy one day.
Are you REALLY going to turn around, walk out the door, and call the police right then and there? REALLY? You’re going to single-handedly put your dad away for the rest of his life that very INSTANT? Because, I’m not gonna lie to you, I might have a few thoughts to think through first.
In fact, my first move in this hypothetical scenario (which, in this hypothetical scenario, my parents would still be together for one thing) would PROBABLY be to go tell mom. I don’t know how old I am in this hypothetical scenario, but yeah, tellin’ mom. Whereupon mom will probably have a sit-down talk with dad, and after a tearful discussion, she’ll probably tell him, “Stop raping kids or you’re fired!”
We’re getting a little abstract at this point, so I’m gonna ask you, HOW is that scenario different than Penn State? Guy saw rape, told coach, coach told a higher up. Ultimately, at this point, Higher Up didn’t do his job. Ultimately, it’s Higher Up’s responsibility to report this to the police.
And THAT is where things get super dicey. People will yell and scream, “No! Coach should’ve gone straight to the police! Guy who saw rape: HE should have gone straight to the police! This is some fucked-up repugnant shit!” Ultimately, my comparison breaks down for these people because this wasn’t a scenario of son catching dad raping kids. This was co-worker catching a senior co-worker raping kids. When put in THAT perspective, yeah, I would rat out my raping co-worker to the police in about three seconds. But, just because me and my co-workers aren’t particularly close … that doesn’t mean that EVERY person who works with another person is just as ambivalent. Some people, like football coaches for instance, are REALLY close with their co-workers. They consider them like family. Which, in case you didn’t know, “like family” means “really really good friends.”
So, I’ll put it there: you’re walking around and you catch your really really good friend raping a 10 year old boy. Let’s take it a step further: your BEST friend; are you calling the cops? My very best friends can rape little boys to their heart’s content around me, because I probably wouldn’t go there. At least, not right away. I’d confront them, sure. I’d probably even force them to go to seek some serious psychological counseling. And, if I caught them again, or if I heard about it happening again, I’m sure at that time I’d be convinced enough that there was no hope.
It’s a naive way to go about things, sure. Let’s face it, the instant you rape your FIRST 10 year old boy, there’s probably no hope. So, why even let the opportunity for a second enter the equation? But, that’s why they call it a gray area. If I caught a stranger raping a child, boom, lock him up. But, my very best friend? Gray.
The bottom line in this whole thing is that it’s ugly as shit. It’s SHADY as shit! The timing of the whole thing is absolutely ridiculous. First, none of this goes public until AFTER Joe Pa wins his record-breaking college football game? What’s THAT about? Part of me thinks, with a guy like this, who’s one of the most important figures in all of college football, you should let him go out on his own terms. But, the other part of me says he dictated those terms the instant he went to Higher Up instead of going to the police.
I wonder, though. I wonder how I’d feel if, for the sake of argument, this whole situation had taken place at the University of Washington. Let’s pretend the sanctions never happened and Don James never retired. For the sake of argument, let’s say everything that happened at Penn State happened here, and he was on the cusp of some great college coaching record, attained it, and now THIS fell in our laps. And let’s also pretend for the sake of argument, that I’m 10 years younger and going to the UW right now. I have to imagine I’d be right there with those batshit rioters as people on Twitter called me an asshole.
Maybe this is what Joe Pa gets. Maybe this is what he deserves. He got his record, he lived with this cover-up for all these years, now his firing is the price he has to pay.
Maybe it’s not fair; as far as we all know HE didn’t rape any children. But, he was complicit. He should’ve known better. At some point, you have to figure out what’s more important: your legacy, or your friends. Joe Pa tried to choose both, but unfortunately it doesn’t work like that. These things ALWAYS come out. Now, his legacy is forever tarnished.
He made his bed; it’s full of lies and deceit and cover-ups. Now, that bed turned into a coffin and he’s got to sleep in it. You can’t have it all.