Big Time College Sport is a cesspool, and Big Time College Football is its bilge pump.
It is, among other tawdry depravations, legal child abuse, as “student athletes” earn millions for universities and state schools in exchange for a laughable modicum of “free education,” which a fair portion rarely absorb and many never receive. It is also indentured servitude masked as hero worship and character building and other American fallacies run as cash machines of mass media influence and television ratings. The entire system is the refuge of whores, criminals and bottom-feeding sycophants, whose sole purpose is to prostrate to the highest bidder.
But, hey, this self-immolation is what funds higher education; and thus the Institution is born. And if there is anything to be learned from civilization, it is that no matter the length and breadth of its most villainous trash, the Institution must be upheld.
Rampant malfeasance to outright crimes from the abuse of women, extortion, theft, drug dealing, gambling, property destruction and assorted mayhem are tolerated and/or covered up routinely year after year across enormous football factories from Miami through Columbus, all the way to Southern California.
None of this of course compares to the horror show that has gone on at Penn State these past 15 years, as its shamelessly self-promoted pristine Institution casually sanctioned an accused serial child rapist.
Former defensive co-coordinator and architect of the famed Linebacker U, Jerry Sandusky allegedly used his influence, power and Big Time College Sport pedigree to repeatedly commit his unconscionably violent crimes against innocent children. Despite several reports of his rancid activities from 1994 to 2006, no school official, coach, athlete, student, booster, nor the Living God of Happy Valley, the mythic and lauded head coach, Joe Paterno, did a thing to stop it.
According to a two-year Grand Jury investigation, several allegations and even admissions of guilt by Sandusky, garnering 40 counts (21 felonies) of sexual assault on minors were ignored by Penn State, which continued issuing him a parking permit and providing office space after his 1999 retirement. In 2002, a then 28-year-old assistant coach, Mike McQueary, told Paterno that he witnessed Sandusky “fondling” and “horsing around” with what looked to him to be a 10-year-old boy in the team’s shower.
Merely “fondling,” which remains the unconscionable defense of Penn State for its official’s muted concern, was apparently not enough of a crime to warrant further investigation or arrest.
Even now, as I write this, more grotesque details emerge about this heinous abuse of pre-teen boys; four or five reports filed and ignored, (nine alleged victims so far) witness accounts left uninvestigated or blithely shuffled up the academic latter by the all-knowing, micro-managing Paterno, as he hid behind his school board and bogus legal advice. It was with this attitude of complete denial that Paterno issued a statement this week that he would retire and spare the board of trustees the difficult task of sacking him.
This hackneyed attempt to save his ass brought hoards of students and backers to crowd around his home chanting his name in support, singing hymns though candlelight vigils. These people like any of the people over the years who blindly choose an Institution and its founders, caretakers, stalwarts over the odious crimes they cover-up, whether the Catholic Church or the Boy Scouts, can be excused. They prefer living in a fantasy. It helps them erase the bogeymen that patrol the corridors of their beloved nonsense. The rest of us have reality to deal with.
Of course, Paterno was eventually fired (although McQueary, who chose to leave the scene of a child rape, remains) inciting his beloved followers to riot—tipping over news vans, smashing cars and store windows and heaving rocks at whomever happened to be in front of the rocks—but prior to that, and maybe the ultimate cause of that, it was as if the press, fans and stunned onlookers had lost all sense of reality.
For days across the airwaves pointed questions abounded on the immediate future of the embattled 84-year-old Paterno, as his friend, confidant, and fellow Penn State “untouchable” was dragged off to prison a feebly aging degenerate. “Should he step down? Where will the once proud football program go from here? Can Penn State survive?”
To answer such preposterously imbecilic drivel, much less ask it, begs a hardcore review of what we’re actually talking about. To do this, one must recall the great George Carlin’s deconstruction of our culture’s pathetic inability to face cold, hard, ugly facts. “American English is loaded with euphemisms because Americans have a lot of trouble dealing with reality,” Carlin said. “Americans have trouble facing the truth, so they invent a kind of a soft language to protect themselves from it.” To illustrate this collective malady, Carlin listed 70 years of semantic sterilization in describing what happens when soldiers are mentally damaged by the horrors of war: In WWI it was “shell-shocked,” then lightened in WWII to ”battle fatigue,” further diluted during the Korean conflict as “operational exhaustion” and finally in the Vietnam era, watered down to the almost ambiguous “post-traumatic stress disorder.”
Whilst dissecting the very idea of child rape—not only an Institution’s silence but perpetuation of it—vanilla euphemisms like “inappropriate behavior,” “abuse” or “sexual misconduct,” not to mention the recycled “scandal” are thrown about, which, for reasons of decorum or social niceties tend to understate its cataclysmic level. And so in the interest of Saint George’s quest for facing the truth, and to provide those who curiously find themselves on the fence about what has transpired at Penn State, we go Shell-Shocked for a few painful paragraphs.
Let’s break this down: Assuming the allegations are true, a celebrated high-ranking football coach, a campus and state celebrity with unprecedented access to every privilege Penn State University can offer was routinely ass-fucking ten-year-old boys. He merrily and without threat of ceasing brought his child sperm-receptacles to football practices and school events, parading them around the luminaries before heading to the hotel room and threatening to send them home if they didn’t let him jam his wrinkled cock into every orifice. This was allowed to transpire without repercussion for 15 years—not 15 days or 15 weeks or 15 months, mind you, but 15 years of uninterrupted jacking, sucking and fucking of boys; scared, confused and bullied boys.
Still not stark enough a tableau for you? Still want to turn over cars and wonder about the legacy of football or a college’s reputation? How about picturing one of those damaged kids as your son or brother or yourself?
A known predator traded on his respected position within the Institution to procure tickets, press passes, attend practice facilities, frequent charity events, and, if one can believe, operate a wayward boys home; confidently using it all to get a hold of little, innocent, impressionable boys and jam their faces into his crotch.
Not so much as a peep for 15 years.
And unless the people who let it continue, from campus police to board members, athletic directors to the Big Time College Coach, were huge fans of screwing boys, then they were all protecting the Institution.
Institution survival over the safety and welfare of children—Or $6 million per home football game and a $10 million library trumps a few damaged lives.
Should the program continue?
Should Paterno be fired?
In the wake of this nauseating criminal extravaganza, here are the questions we should be asking: When should Penn State University be bulldozed and the property turned into a state facility for repeat sex offenders? What’s the fastest way Joe Paterno can be hauled away in an animal cage?
There are dozens of Jerry Sandusky clones crawling around the Earth, and some will get caught and some will keep on keeping on, but I think we can all agree that not one of them needs the support, protection and blessing of any goddamned Institution.
James Campion is the Managing Editor of The Reality Check News & Information Desk and the author of Deep Tank Jersey, Fear No Art, Trailing Jesus and Midnight For Cinderella.