A Huge Loss and (Maybe) a Small Win
Growing up I was never a huge Penn St. or Joe Paterno fan. I would root for them to win if they were playing one of my lesser liked teams, or if they were huge underdogs. I remember the game when they were playing the University of Miami and everyone said Miami would just steamroll the Nittany Lions. Well, Penn St. put together a whale of a ballgame and won. I respected Paterno and felt like he was a good man.
Then, a couple of years ago the school tried to get Paterno to retire. He basically told them that he would leave when he was ready, and they could not force him out. The regents just basically rolled over and played dead. I lost a lot of respect for Paterno at that point. No coach, no professor, no president, is bigger than a school. Paterno clearly thought that he was.
Then, when the whole Jerry Sandusky affair broke out and a lot of fingers started pointing at Paterno, instead of immediately stepping down he simply said he would “retire” at the end of the season. He was summarily fired. He was given a diamond studded golden parachute. He has been referred to as a god on the campus of Penn St. He did not just run the football program, he ran the school. The president was simply a figure-head who answered to Paterno. All respect I had for Paterno had long since evaporated.
So, the news today that all of Penn St.’s victories since 1998 had been vacated, and that the school was being fined 60 million dollars and that scholarships would be cut was a very small victory for decency in the corrupt world of college sports, and college football in particular. Maybe, just maybe, all of this has sunk in to a few administrations and maybe, just maybe, they will stop treating football coaches and players as demigods. I pray the money is put to good uses, that victims of sexual crimes are helped, and that perpetrators are reported to law enforcement agencies so that more young children will not become victims.
I was also encouraged to read that the administration of Penn St. is accepting the penalties without contest. Maybe, just maybe, we can put this whole sordid story behind us and move forward, whatever that means. To the young men that Sandusky abused I hope that means closure, and I hope that means a huge financial settlement, both from the school and the Paterno and Sandusky families.
I would have preferred to have the NCAA give the “death penalty” to Penn St., because I believe that only the loss of the football program for a year or two would have communicated the right message. But everyone in the business seems to think that these punishments are equal to, or possibly more severe, than the “death penalty” so I will hope they are correct. But I hope that Penn St. is on a very short leash, and that any other violation that occurs will bring a swift and very public end to their football program.
But as encouraging as this news was, it was dwarfed by the huge loss that humanity suffered in the massacre in Aurora, CO. In another case that absolutely screams for the death penalty to be used, and used quickly, America was once again shocked by the brutality and evil that one person can inflict on others. Sadly, I seriously doubt the death penalty will be used here either. Or, even if it is suggested by the prosecutor, the perpetrator will not be executed until a person will have to go to the history books to find out for what crime he is being executed.
This killer should be the first to be buried. Period. There is no question as to his guilt. The “two or three” witnesses required by God in the Old Testament are multiplied. He rigged his apartment to kill or injure many others. He planned the event for weeks, if not months. Every day that he lives is a blight on a justice system that is bent on favoring the guilty and punishing the victim.
A culture that legally protects the process of murdering an unborn child, while at the same time nurturing and protecting a mass murderer is doomed to collapse, and collapse it should. We have lost all respect for human life. We live in a “throw away” society and the lives of innocent human beings are just the latest in a long list of things we have decided it is okay to discard.
Even before the shooting in Aurora, I was pondering why it is that Christians, and Jews as well, can cope so well in a bent and broken world. The answer, it occurred to me, is because Christians understand the concept of evil. Christians know that evil exists, that humans can be evil, and can perpetrate evil. Jews know this fact times ten. It is the secular humanists, the atheists who believe that mankind is in the process of evolving toward perfection that cannot handle the question of “why do bad things happen.” I know that bad things happen because there are evil people in this world who make meticulous plans to inflict their evil deeds on others. Although it sickens me, and angers me, and disturbs me at the core of who I am, events like Columbine and Aurora do not surprise me. Mass murders committed by someone wielding a pistol and an assault rifle are no different from mass murders committed by men and women wielding scalpels. When you lose the concept of the sanctity of human life, you end up exactly where we are.
I applaud the decision of the NCAA to hammer Penn St. I think the death penalty was deserved, but I will hope that the football program never fully recovers. We might say the NCAA’s harshness was a small victory for humanity. The way we are treating the mass murderer at Aurora is a huge loss for humanity. Innocent human life is worth more than treating a cold-blooded killer to a warm, safe, and protected existence for the rest of his life.