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November 10, 2011 / Political Fluency

You Can Ruin Everything in One Moment of Your Life

One day in my Human Sexuality class at community college, our professor arranged four chairs into a square in the middle of the room with all of the remaining chairs against the wall. The chairs against the wall were for the students who wanted to be in the audience while the four chairs in the center were labeled Absolutely Pro-Life, Absolutely Pro-Choice, Maybe Pro-Life, Maybe Pro-Choice. We were going to have a debate and everyone eventually had to sit in one of the chairs and make a case for the chair they were sitting in.

At one point, a guy in one of the Pro-Choice chairs blurts out, “My friend’s older sister was in medical school and she got pregnant. She shouldn’t have to put her life on hold. Why should she be judged on what happened one day of her life?”

Well the rebuttal to that is “Should OJ Simpson be judged on what he did one day of his life?”

It’s unbelievable the amount someone can accomplish and how quickly it can be erased by a grievous error and that is what has happened to Joe Paterno – the legendary Penn State coach who has now been disgraced.

This is developing into one of the biggest scandals in the history of sports. Paterno’s assistant coach, Jerry Sandusky, accused of child rape and use of Penn State’s facilities to attract more victims. The cover-up (it’s always the cover-up!) by Paterno, the athletic director and the school’s president when none took the responsibility to call the authorities when alerted to Sandusky’s abhorrent behavior. Now there is a possibility that Sandusky may have been pimping out young boys to major donors of the college.

At the gym yesterday, CNN had the headline “Paterno Resigns” and that made sense because he had to as the scandal was getting out of control. But on another TV the headline for ESPN read “Paterno to Retire at the End of Season.”

Wait, what?

Those are two very different things. Resignation implies an immediacy and it was bad reporting for CNN to mislead like that. Another reason that channel is struggling against Fox News and internet outlets for viewers.

The other question is what was Paterno thinking? How could he possibly coach this weekend or ever again? What made him think he could continue the rest of the season associated with the school? He was going to be fired if he didn’t resign. He had to be fired if he didn’t resign.

And what about the people that only watch CNN? They must have been awfully confused to read “Paterno Resigns” on Wednesday and then find out that night or today that Paterno was fired. How do you fire someone who resigns?

We’d all like to think we have the courage to do the right thing when faced with a moral question, but we don;t know until the time comes if it ever even does.

For those who do face the question and are tempted to look the other way, one thought of Joe Paterno should have them looking right back into the darkness they have to face before it envelops them.


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