Life doesn’t seem very happy in Happy Valley these days.

Now that Sandusky was found guilty and is awaiting sentencing, the focus of the media and everyone else has shifted to the famed statue of Joe Paterno, and the NCAA’s sanctions on the university. The Pedobear has been spotted (and photographed) next to the statue of Paterno, and comments have been made and posted that perhaps the statue should have a yellow spine painted down its back, that his head should be turned the other way, or should just be completely removed. The university decided to have the statue removed and placed into storage. I think they did the right thing.

Oh, the Paterno family has put out their own statement about the removal of the statue, which to me screams they just don’t get it. Their statement begins, “Tearing down the statue of Joe Paterno does not serve the victims of Jerry Sandusky’s horrible crimes or help heal the Penn State Community.” The statement goes on to bemoan that Joe Paterno never had a hearing, the Freeh report amounted to nothing more than an indictment, and the complete truth hasn’t come out.

Clearly, none of the victims were one of their children.

Seriously, I can understand their shock over it all – Joe Paterno went from being a saintly angelic figure (there was actually a painting of him with a halo, in which the artist recently painted over the halo, opting to paint a blue ribbon on his lapel to show support for child abuse victims and their families) to being likened to a pedobear. What I can’t understand is their total inability to understand what this has done to the children who were abused and raped by Sandusky. The Paterno family appears to be more interested in Joe Paterno’s name and legacy (and money?) than they are about the safety of those children (now men) who endured that torture. True, Joe Paterno did not rape or abuse any of those victims himself; but the fact that he could have stopped it at any time and didn’t makes him just as guilty as if he would have done it himself. How many of your would have just reported something like that to your superiors and said, “Well, that’s done!” I would hope the majority of people wouldn’t even go to their superiors, but directly to the police in seeing or hearing about a child sex abuse – or both.

As for the statue coming down, quite to the contrary of what the Paterno family is alluding to in their statement, it does serve the victims because it is one less visual reminder thrust upon them of yet another man who could have stopped it and didn’t. As for healing the Penn State Community, the fact that the statue had to be “guarded” since the verdict is proof enough that removing it from the community will help the community to heal.

And then there are the NCAA Sanctions, and the ire from people who feel that they are unfair. The university accepted them with humility, and the amount of money they will be paying in fines will go to non-profit agencies that support victims of child abuse. I find this to be an excellent idea. By merely letting Sandusky take the entire fall (yes, it was all his fault and he is guilty of the crime), we must remember it was the university that knew about it and didn’t do anything about it. Had they acted on it the moment it was reported to them the first time, we wouldn’t be having this discussion.

Primarily, I hope and pray that the victims – all of them, including those we don’t know about yet – are able to get through this and find healing and closure. I also hope that the community of State College is able to get through this.

As a secondary thought, I also hope and pray that the university begins to focus more on its academics than on its football legacy and being labeled the #1 Party School, and that one day the alumni can once again look at their degree with a sense of pride – not because they made it through those 4 years without surfacing from their drunken stupor, but because they earned that degree from the top people in their field.

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