Former Penn State head football coach Joe Paterno went public with his version of events surrounding his recent dismissal in the aftermath of the Jerry Sandusky sexual abuse scandal, The PostGame’s Patrick Hruby takes great exception to Paterno telling the Washington Post’s Sally Jenkins his inability to fully comprehend Mike McQueary’s eyewitness account had something to do with his lack of familiarity with this kind of assault. Or to be more specific, ” I never heard of, of, rape and a man.” Hey, when you’re living and breathing football, 24-7, you might not have time to watch this, either.
In other words: a grown man and father of four children living in a modern America of newspapers and televisions and afterschool specials and public service announcements and To Catch a Predator has never, ever heard of child sex abuse of a boy. A supposed classics scholar cannot mentally conceive of pederasty, never mind that it was a common, accepted practice in ancient Greece. A professed Catholic is shocked, just shocked to the point of total cognitive shutdown by the utterly incomprehensible notion of a man sexually assaulting a boy, despite an unending series of headline-generating scandals that continue to rock the Vatican, scandals involving — to use Paterno’s terms — boys and rape and a man.
Really, JoePa? That’s your excuse?
Happy Valley might be an isolated, provincial throwback to an era of pep rallies and malted shakes; it is not a land of leprechauns and unicorns.
Similarly, Paterno said that the reason he reported McQueary’s allegation but declined to follow up – thereby fulfilling his bare minimum legal obligations, if not his moral ones – was because he felt inadequate to the task. As he told the Post, “I didn’t know exactly how to handle it and I was afraid to do something that might jeopardize what the university procedure was.” That sounds perfectly reasonable – assuming you know nothing about Paterno’s track record, his considerable campus clout and his demonstrated willingness to use it.