Campfire Blog

Some Brief Thoughts on Penn State

Never underestimate the importance of leadership

So the report from former FBI Director Louis Freeh came out today and it more or less just confirms that the once exalted Joe Paterno sacrificed the safety and basically the lives of children so he could keep up the precious reputation of his football program.

Freeh talks about how the knowledge of assistant coach Jerry Sandusky’s assaults was unbelievably widespread—with the cover-up ranging from top to bottom. He specifically mentioned a janitor who caught Sandusky in the act of raping a child and was too scared to tell anyone for fear of getting fired. Freeh quotes the man as saying it was “the worst thing he had ever seen in his life.” This janitor was a Korean War Vet…

Just to put that in perspective: a man who had most likely seen countless horrors and experienced a life or death fear that few ever will, was so scared of Joe Paterno that he didn’t report the sexual assault of an innocent kid.

That is an absolutely mind blowing statement about the culture that was created at PSU—a culture that was instituted by Paterno himself.

Ductus Exemplo. Leadership by example. There is a reason that is the motto of the United States Marine Corps’ Officer Candidate School—a 10 week life altering experience that is commonly referred to as the best leadership school in the country.

Those who do not set a positive example for others and demonstrate the backbone and “moral compass” needed of leadership are sent home instantly. They are not fit for command because Marines take their cues from the top.

The same holds true in every aspect of life. In families. In the work place. In government (looking at you Mr. President) and in schools.

The example that Paterno gave was that nothing on earth is more important than the name of Penn State. Nothing. That spread throughout the entire administration, the entire university, the entire community. So much so that people were still willing to defend the actions of Paterno—or lack thereof.

“He won X amount of football games.”

“Look how much his players love him.”

“Look how much he gave back to the school.”

Sorry but that dog won’t hunt. Those are rationalizations. When you start rationalizing on matters of morality you are on a slippery slope.

And integrity is best judged by the actions of men when they think no one is watching. So I am terribly sorry to tell the Paterno apologists that their beloved coach ended up on the bottom of that slope, up to his head with complicity in pure evil.

People in the media are asking, “Should Penn State take down their famous Joe Paterno statue?”

I honestly don’t even know how that is even a question. If another man—one who set an example of morality or at the very least decency—had been “the most powerful man” at Penn State, less children would have suffered.

Story on Freeh’s report from CNN.

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