Friday, July 20, 2012

The Debt to the Dead

"To the living we owe respect but the dead we owe only the truth." - Voltaire

It was slightly more than one week ago that the Freeh Report was released.  It is long.  It is detailed.  It is a decidedly unpleasant read.  If you are so inclined you can read excerpts from it here.

"Our most saddening and sobering finding is the total disregard for the safety and welfare of Sandusky's child victims by the most senior leaders at Penn State," said Louis Freeh, the former director of the FBI who was hired by university trustees to look into what has become one of sports' biggest scandals. "The most powerful men at Penn State failed to take any steps for 14 years to protect the children who Sandusky victimized."

As a person who has never set foot on the Penn State campus, who never met or spoke to Joe Paterno and who has never spoken with a single person directly affected by the evil that Jerry Sandusky personifies I cannot - and will not - pretend to speak with certainty as to whether all of Judge Freeh's conclusions are wholly accurate.  I cannot - and will not - pretend to speak with certainty as to whether the opinions he expressed about the hierarchy at Penn State - including the person who ruled the Valley that once was Happy for more than four decades - are entirely fair.  (At the press conference last week that was held to discuss the report, Judge Freeh called Joe Paterno "an intergral part of this active decision to conceal.") I know not whether Freeh judged Paterno unfairly or simply harshly. 

I do know however that I need to hear not one more f*cking word from Jay Paterno or any other member of the Paterno family about their crusade to rehabilitate the legacy of Joe Pa.  Not at this moment.  Their desire to try and repair that legacy, which is theirs now as much as it was his once, is understandable and most assuredly motivated by a complex and complicated melange of factors and considerations.  But here is the thing - and while I do not pretend to know what everyone else (or anyone else for that matter) thinks on the subject - this is most certainly not the goddamn time for it.  They are presently exhibiting a gift for being obtuse one rarely encounters outside of the walls of Shawshank Prison.

The family of Paterno should honor and abide by the words of Voltaire....unless they cannot.  Unless they cannot for they now realize that which others have come to realize, which is that mythology is not reality. 



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