Thursday, November 10, 2011

Three for Thursday: A Disheartening Week of News . . . Then a Few Laughs for Good Measure

Item #1: Horrors at Penn State

I cannot, for the life of me, understand how no one alerted the police after two people witnessed a member of the Penn State football coaching staff, Jerry Sandusky, on separate occasions, according to a grand jury report, allegedly molest/rape young boys. The man who was accused of committing these crimes was allowed to continue to have an affiliation with Penn State. Why did no one put a stop to this man’s alleged serial child molestation by reporting him to the cops?

I also cannot understand how a 28-year-old man, Mike McQueary, could allegedly see a grown man raping a young boy and then just walk away, instead of rushing to protect the child or, at the very least, immediately summoning the police as the crime was still in progress. This does not compute with me. At all.

I further cannot understand how students from Penn State, upon learning about the firing of head football coach Joe Paterno, Sandusky’s boss -- who a grand jury said was told by McQueary about the alleged rape of a child at the hands of his subordinate, but didn’t call police – took to the streets to protest and riot, not the molestation or rape, but Paterno's sacking. I want to go up to each one of those students and make them read the horrific grand jury report about how the Penn State football program and Penn State officials allegedly seemed to care more about themselves and keeping things under wraps – like the Catholic church did with its pedophile priests who preyed upon vulnerable children – than about children. Some of the alleged victims are now the same age as the college students who were doing the protesting. Which is more important in the long run, the Penn State football program or stopping a serial pedophile?

Some provocative columns on this subject:

Buzz Bissinger’s “Good Riddance, Joe Paterno” in The Daily Beast:

“I think the answer to the question of inaction is simple. It wasn’t a matter of university officials and football staffers in Happy Valley not wanting to deal with it (which they didn’t), or not following up (which they didn’t), or having better things to do like attending Friday-night football pep rallies. There is no great conspiracy theory at work.

. . . What happened, or more accurately did not happen, goes to the core of evil that major college sports programs in this country have become, equivalent to Mafia families in which the code of omerta rules and coaches and staff always close ranks around their own, even if it means letting someone who was first accused of inappropriate sexual conduct in 1998 continue to roam.”

Amy Davidson’s “Joe Paterno’s Tears" in the New Yorker:

In commenting on the debate over whether Paterno had been “robbed of his dignity” because of the way in which he was fired from his job (on the phone), Davidson asked:

"But what was the understanding of dignity that any of the adults in this situation had? It didn’t extend to even trying to find out the name of the child who Mike McQueary, a coaching assistant, said that he saw Sandusky rape in the football locker room shower in 2002 . . . That boy is simply called Victim 2 in the grand jury’s findings; McQueary guessed that he was about 10 years old. McQueary told Paterno; Paterno told the athletic director, who brought in a university vice president. And then Sandusky lost his locker room keys – but nothing else.

McQueary, who for now still works at Penn State . . . told the grand jury that he ‘noticed that both Victim 2 and Sandusky saw him.’ What did the boy think when he saw him walk away, and of the silence that followed? What did it say to him about his own dignity?”

Amy Wilson’s “What If a Mother Had Been in That Locker Room?” in the Huffington Post:

“I believe, a mother in that locker room would not have witnessed that act and walked away. A mother would have not left without that child. A mother would have asked him his name.”

Item #2: Allegations of Harassment on the Campaign Trail & in Middle, High Schools

While we were treated to saturation news coverage this week about allegations that GOP hopeful Herman Cain sexually harassed multiple women (and I got to explain what "sexual harassment" is to my kids), a depressing new report was released by the American Association of University Women which found that “sexual harassment pervades the lives of students in grades 7-12.” That's kids from middle through high school. Female students, the organization said, were “more likely than boys to say sexual harassment caused them to have trouble sleeping” and “not wanting to go to school.”

And in the current context of adult women being pilloried, called a variety of horrible names and having their motivations questioned after they dared to accuse Cain of sexual harassment (I've heard talk show hosts mock at least one accuser's appearance and body), girls in middle and high school are observing what happens to women who complain about harassment. And it's going to make a lasting impression.

Item #3: Two Shows to Make You Laugh

In the wake of all of that severely depressing news, I know that I was in sore need of a laugh, how 'bout you? And NBC’s Up All Night did the trick with its latest episode about new parents, Reagan and Chris Brinkley (Christina Applegate and Will Arnett), fretting about leaving their daughter overnight with a babysitter for the first time. The show was right on the money, sarcastic and touching and funny. (See my review of the episode here.)
Watching the episode brought me back to the first time I left The Eldest Boy and The Girl with a babysitter. When the twins were a little more than two months old, The Spouse and I left them with “Sporty Spice” (aka, my husband’s younger sister who was already dressed up for a Halloween costume party she’d be attending later in the night). The Spouse and I literally wolfed down a meal at a nice restaurant and were back at the house in under two hours because, well, because we felt as though we HAD to be back. You can watch the Up All Night version of this story online at the NBC web site.
Also worth checking out for a laugh, the recent episode of The Middle, where a confused elderly aunt gave the two younger kids her cell phone and they started abusing it by sending out a bazillion texts, while their mother Frankie tried to be the “best” mother she could be . . . and no one really noticed. You can also watch this episode online at the ABC site.

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