To say the other shoe dropped on Penn State earlier today would be a slight understatement ; for those who continue to lionize the late Joe Paterno (or provide safe haven for former school president Graham Spanier), Thursday’s publication of ex-FBI director Louis Freeh’s findings regarding PSU’s mishandling of Jerry Sandusky are more akin to an anvil. While the likes of Matt Millen struggle with the enormity of the situation, the Jay Mariotti’s of the world call for Paterno’s statue to be “jackhammered to pieces”. While the words “death penalty” are being used elsewhere in reference to the Nittany Lions’ football program, not everyone hungry for retribution is nearly as focused on actually helping children in peril. There’s one evening radio host — let’s just call him The Yonkers Cowboy — who advocated exhuming Paterno’s body. This is the same satellite fraud, by the way, who recently said of Matthew Shepard’s slaying, “people die all the time”.
Every Day Should Be Saturday’s Spencer Hall has observed much of the furor, and suggests that some stage, this sort of thing is like “a tomato thrown at a prisoner on the gallows…demagoguery on the cheap, the snorting a line of an execution notice to get a buzz.”
There are ways to write about the long trail of the Sandusky case, but somewhere in this, you cross the Nancy Gracepoint. In the face of atrocity, you look for some rationale, some protocol, a straight, unbroken line in an exploded space. Take a statue down, or put one up, or suggest the insanity of foresight. Throw everything down the memory hole. Demand the NCAA, an organization with no legal or moral purview whatsoever, do insane, unjustifiable things to a team that received no on-field benefit whatsoever from this.
If you mean it, you’re just anger-binging, and are well past the Gracepoint. Nothing will ever be enough, and you’re half-right: nothing ever makes this better, not jail, not torture, not anything, and certainly not fury-mobbing about the mediocre, spineless evil of something so obviously spineless and evil that was still allowed to flourish thanks to the community’s leaders. Good reporting literally helps put these people in jail. Horrendous editorializing does not.