Total Pageviews

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Fringeville Edition #75, July 22 2012

To most of America, Penn State is a football program gone very, very, very bad.

The wreckage of the Jerry Sandusky scandal and the coddling of a child molester by the most powerful people at the University is a stinking sewer of a scandal not likely to be matched again in our lifetimes.

But to folks like me, Penn State football was far more than just a game. It was emblematic of the right way to do things. It was proof that you didn't have to cheat to win. It meant that excellence could be achieved both on the football field and in the classroom.

And the man who made that all possible was Joseph Vincent Paterno. We stuck by him in the good years and the bad, because this was Joe and he was special. He was different. Miami coach Jimmy Johnson once called him "Saint Joe," and went on to say, "...everyone respects Joe's image. No one would dare say anything about it." (From the January 2, 1987 Gainesville Sun)

But all of it ...the program, Paterno's legacy, the university's reputation and integrity ...was built on quicksand.

I took a cautious stance when the scandal first broke. I wanted to see how the process played out before passing judgement on Paterno and the university. There was never a question in my mind that Sandusky was a monster. I hoped he was the only one. He wasn't. 

This is a very difficult post for me to write. This post signifies the acceptance on my part that the football coach I admired so much protected a great monster and became one himself.

So what happens now?

There are calls for the NCAA to impose the "death penalty" for football at Penn State. I think that will likely happen (even though it may not be covered by NCAA bylaws) unless Penn State imposes self-penalties so severe that it stays the executioner.

I would prefer the latter over the former.

There is a public thirst for vengeance right now, and I understand why. Children were abused by a serial pedophile. It doesn't get worse than that.

But the death penalty so many clamor for would punish an entire region of the state. As an article on Penn Live points out, it would be a "nuclear winter" for central Pennsylvania. Indeed the article states that Penn State football has an impact of more than $165 million dollars on Pennsylvania's economy.

The "death penalty" would mean Jerry Sandusky and the lesser monsters who enabled him would add regional economic destruction to the damage tally for this scandal.

How many more lives will the monsters be allowed to destroy?

If Penn State doesn't take drastic action and throw themselves on the mercy of the NCAA, the answer is too many lives to count. We are in some manner of economic depression. Crush the economy in central Pennsylvania, and it won't recover for years. It may never fully recover at all.

Killing Penn State's program would undoubtedly hurt the Big Ten conference, as well, extending the damage of these monsters to other parts of the country.

There are many things Penn State can do on its own to possibly ward off the death penalty. Here are just a few ideas:

1)  Take down the Paterno statue. Yesterday, if not sooner. While some would call that merely a symbolic gesture, leaving it up could well signal that Penn State isn't sincere about changing a culture that allowed such a monstrous evil to thrive on campus.

2)  Self-limit by half the athletic scholarships for the football program. According to the Freeh report, the football program's staff was not trained in Clery Act compliance and most "...had never heard of the Clery Act." (The Act requires institutions that participate in federal financial aid programs to report crimes that occur on or near their campuses).

3)  A self-ban on bowls and any championship consideration for a number of seasons.

4)  A significant chunk of ticket sales ...a painfully significant chunk ...should be dedicated to victims of sexual abuse for at least five years.

5)  Anyone on the Board of Trustees when the abuse happened needs to go, kicking and screaming if necessary. Phase them out over the course of a year or so if there are concerns about the institution's stability should all go at once ...but they all need to leave. They may not have known what was going on, but they were part of the culture and that culture needs to be excised completely.

That's just a start. The football program would be severely punished without damaging the region's economy as severely as the aptly named "death penalty." (There would still be economic pain. Penn State football might not be competive for a decade or more, and there would be a dropoff in attendance due to the scandal itself and, later, because the teams fielded would likely stink. But I could care less about that aspect. I just don't think the monsters who destroyed children should be allowed to destroy any other lives.)

And for the sake of decency, Penn State should give new Coach Bill O'Brien the opportunity to leave without financial penalty. (I frankly would be surprised if he's not looking for an exit door right now.)

Will I watch Penn State football going forward? I don't know. For now, I'm closing the book on that chapter of my life. Whether I attend or watch games someday in the future depends on what the university does in the weeks ahead.

But if I do watch, it will never be the same. A man I greatly admired looked the other way and kids were damaged. Lives were destroyed and there is likely more damage to come. 

The Penn State I thought I knew was a mirage. I'd rather play with my grandson on a Saturday afternoon than chase mirages. And I'll keep him close and have a wary eye because, you see, monsters walk among us. That's one terrible lesson we've all learned from this nightmare.

...Wait a second, wait a second... I left New England for this?
 * * *

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Fringeville Edition #74, July 04 2012

Happy 4th of July. DON'T GET BLOWED UP!! (My usual fireworks warning)

The snow-covered shoreline, the color of bleu cheese dressing, beckoned them onward.
This is another "keep alive" post.  I am chomping at the bit to post more, and especially post about my political adventures on the campaign trail with Laureen Cummings, but I've sworn off political posting until after the election. (If you don't have time to do it right, don't do it all!)

What I can say is that the divisions in the electorate are sharp, deep and growing more extreme by the day. I pray for the future of America, and until after the election, in the words of Forrest Gump: "...that's all I've got say about that."

In close, if you haven't read the Declaration of Independence for a while, get a chicken wing and a brewski (or other cold beverage to beat a hot summer day) and read it again. The words are as powerful today as when they were written.

And they still give me hope for our great, divided Nation...

(I do contend with no proof whatever that the Declaration of Independence was written after a round of extra-spicy chicken wings.)

In CONGRESS, July 4, 1776
The unanimous Declaration of the Thirteen United States of AMERICA.

WHEN, in the Course of human Events, it becomes necessary for one People to dissolve the Political Bands which have connected them with another; and to assume, among the Powers Of The Earth, the separate and equal Station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the Opinions of Mankind requires that they should declare the Causes which impel them to the Separation.

We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their CREATOR with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these Rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the Consent of the Governed, that whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these Ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such Principles, and organizing its Powers in such Form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established, should not be changed for light and transient Causes; and accordingly all Experience hath shewn, that Mankind are more disposed to suffer, while Evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the Forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long Train of Abuses and Usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object, evinces a Design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their Right, it is their Duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future Security. Such has been the patient Sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The History of the present King of Great-Britain is a History of repeated Injuries and Usurpations, all having in direct Object the Establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

HE has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public Good.

HE has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing Importance, unless suspended in their Operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

HE has refused to pass other Laws for the Accommodation of large Districts of People, unless those People would relinquish the Right of Representation in the Legislature, a Right inestimable to them and formidable to Tyranny only.

HE has called together Legislative Bodies at Places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the Depository of their public Records, for the sole Purpose of fatiguing them into Compliance with his Measures.

HE has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly Firmness his Invasions on the Rights of the people.

HE has refused for a long Time, after such Dissolutions, to cause others to be elected, whereby the Legislative Powers, Incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining, in the mean Time, exposed to all the Dangers of Invasion from without, and Convulsions within.

HE has endeavoured to prevent the Population of these States; for that Purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their Migrations hither, and raising the Conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

HE has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.

HE has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the Tenure of their Offices, and the Amount and Payment of their Salaries.

HE has erected a Multitude of new Offices, and sent hither Swarms of Officers to harass our People, and eat out their Substance.

HE has kept among us, in times of Peace, Standing Armies, without the Consent of our Legislatures.

HE has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.

HE has combined with others to subject us to a Jurisdiction foreign to our Constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

FOR quartering large Bodies of Armed Troops among us:

FOR protecting them, by a mock Trial, from Punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

FOR cutting off our Trade with all Parts of the World:

FOR imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

FOR depriving us in many Cases, of the Benefits of Trial by Jury:

FOR transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended Offences:

FOR abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an arbitrary Government, and enlarging its Boundaries, so as to render it at once an Example and fit Instrument for introducing the same absolute Rule into these Colonies:

FOR taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

FOR suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with Power to legislate for us in all Cases whatsoever.

HE has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection, and waging War against us.

HE has plundered our Seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our Towns, and destroyed the Lives of our People.

HE is, at this Time, transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to complete the Works of Death, Desolation, and Tyranny, already begun with Circumstances of Cruelty and Perfidy, scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous Ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized Nation.

HE has constrained our fellow Citizens, taken Captive on the high Seas, to bear Arms against their Country, to become the Executioners of their Friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

HE has excited domestic Insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the Inhabitants of our Frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known Rule of Warfare, is an undistinguished Destruction of all Ages, Sexes and Conditions.

IN every Stage of these Oppressions we have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble Terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated Injury. A Prince, whose Character is thus marked by every Act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the Ruler of a free People.

NOR have we been wanting in Attentions to our British Brethren. We have warned them, from Time to Time, of Attempts by their Legislature to extend an unwarrantable Jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the Circumstances of our Emigration and Settlement here. We have appealed to their native Justice and Magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the Ties of our common Kindred to disavow these Usurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our Connexions and Correspondence. They too have been deaf to the Voice of Justice and of Consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the Necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the Rest of Mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

WE, therefore, the Representatives of the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, in GENERAL CONGRESS, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the World for the Rectitude of our Intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly Publish and Declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be,FREE AND INDEPENDENT STATES; that they are absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political Connexion between them and the State of Great-Britain, is, and ought to be, totally dissolved; and that as FREE AND INDEPENDENT STATES, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which INDEPENDENT STATES may of Right do. And for the Support of this Declaration, with a firm Reliance on the Protection of DIVINE PROVIDENCE, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honour.

— John Hancock

New Hampshire: Josiah Bartlett, William Whipple, Matthew Thornton

Massachusetts: John Hancock, Samuel Adams, John Adams, Robert Treat Paine, Elbridge Gerry

Rhode Island: Stephen Hopkins, William Ellery

Connecticut: Roger Sherman, Samuel Huntington, William Williams, Oliver Wolcott

New York: William Floyd, Philip Livingston, Francis Lewis, Lewis Morris

New Jersey: Richard Stockton, John Witherspoon, Francis Hopkinson, John Hart, Abraham Clark

Pennsylvania: Robert Morris, Benjamin Rush, Benjamin Franklin, John Morton, George Clymer, James Smith, George Taylor, James Wilson, George Ross

Delaware: Caesar Rodney, George Read, Thomas McKean

Maryland: Samuel Chase, William Paca, Thomas Stone, Charles Carroll of Carrollton

Virginia: George Wythe, Richard Henry Lee, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Harrison, Thomas Nelson, Jr., Francis Lightfoot Lee, Carter Braxton

North Carolina: William Hooper, Joseph Hewes, John Penn

South Carolina: Edward Rutledge, Thomas Heyward, Thomas Lynch, Jr., Arthur Middleton

Georgia: Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, George Walton

* * *