Sunday, June 24, 2012

Closure & Other Tall Tales

Friday night in a courtroom in Pennsylvania the other shoe dropped on former Penn State University Assistant Football Coach Jerry Sandusky.  The jury empanelled to hear the evidence at his trial found him guilty on forty-five counts of child sexual molestation that he perpetrated on ten victims.  Sandusky, 68, faces up to 442 years in prison when sentenced, which seems to be just about enough time for him to appreciate that from this point forward the words "Mount Nittany" no longer refer to a point on a map.  If offered odds on whether he will live out his term of incarceration, play it safe and bet the under. 

As early as Friday night, talking heads on various networks started speaking in that made up, psychobabble bullshit that real people despise - throwing around terms such as "closure" - when speaking of the effect that Sandusky's conviction will have upon his victims.  Such discussion is offensive to my ear because it yet again diminishes these individuals.  They are not a group or a collective.  They are ten separate and distinct persons whose "forever link" was one forced upon them by a pedophile.  They have been given lifetime membership in a club they did not ask to join. 

How dare the rest of us presuppose that for these ten disparate personalities "one size fits all" in terms of their feelings about what one can only hope is the most horrific thing they have ever endured or shall ever have to endure.  Each has suffered an incalculable harm.  One - or all - may continue to suffer for the rest of his life.  There is no neat bow to placed atop the box here.  There is no shiny paper for those of us who were not victimized by Sandusky to wrap this result in, present it to these ten individuals as we would a Christmas or birthday gift and declare "All Better!".   

We did not own their pain at the time they were victimized.  We have not owned it in the years since.  We do not own it now.  It is theirs to express, to feel and to deal with in the manner and way in which they choose.  After all, it is their lives that Sandusky took from them.   The verdict - and more pointedly their reaction to it - belongs to them and to them alone. 

Are they not at least owed this much?

-AK

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