Tag Archives: Penn State

Sexual Harassment Is Real

So, while news has been as flowing and ever-changing as the events in the world happen to make it, recently there were two stories that stuck around for a time and still have their effects affecting events today. These two stories deal with a subject that somehow can be both a subject of disregard and humor as well as a subject of immense disgust and near-horror.

That subject is sexual harassment, from its simplest, word-bound form to its extreme opposite, sexual assault.

As most should have heard at this point, GOP presidential hopeful Herman Cain was revealed to have had several allegations of sexual harassment brought against him while he was president of the National Restaurant Association. Those allegations resulted in settlements, essentially hush-money. At least five women by my count came out against Cain saying he sexually harassed them to varying degrees, from offering sexual activities verbally to attempting physical contact.

The other story, one that perhaps brings about more nausea in the reader, is the one involving Penn State’s former football assistant coach and defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky. As likely everyone has heard by now, Sandusky faces 40 charges due to accusations of his involvement sexually abusing eight young boys over 15 years. Mike McQueary testified to seeing Sandusky raping one of the children in the shower rooms.

As you may be able to guess, if you were in some sort of state of complete ignorance to the Penn State happenings, there was a massive public outcry when news broke over Sandusky. People have threatened Mike McQueary with death for his apparent inaction, former football head coach Joe Paterno and former Penn State President Graham Spanier were fired soon into the incident’s news cycle, and the general gut reaction was one of major disgust toward people involved in the scandal, particularly Sandusky.

Meanwhile, the reaction to Cain’s entry into the sexual shenanigans news cycle was… well, at worst a “tsk tsk,” at its lightest, laughter and joking.

Granted, humor in response to these situations is almost a necessary thing. It helps keep us from being stuck in a bad, negative area of thought. It helps keep us away from wanting to punch things and closer to a mental area that lets us stay calm and think rationally. So, thank goodness for “The Daily Show.”

That said, however… I found it odd and somewhat disturbing that several reactions I personally became aware of over the Cain story were simple dismissive jokes. Things like, “Is it okay to hug you? I don’t want to get charged with sexual harassment later in life!” Or, “I want to say you look pretty, but I’m afraid someone will tell me I’m harassing you!”

I’m trying to pinpoint the phenomenon in play here, and it’s quite difficult. With Sandusky, the mere suggestion of child rape makes people go into an apoplectic rage. Our children are a precious commodity, so long as we’re not trying to encourage healthier eating or anything. Child abuse in ANY form is frowned upon severely, as the outrage over the recent story of a Texan judge viciously beating his daughter showed (though discipline gets a little shady for some people). And while Newt Gingrich thinks child labor laws are “truly stupid,” the large majority of people in American society get very defensive when kids are involved. And if the situation involves both kids and sex? Thinks are about to get crazy.

Switch over to rape of adults. By and large, people tread very lightly around that subject. It’s disturbing and makes people uncomfortable. But even more awkward are the people that like to blame rape victims. “You shouldn’t have dressed that way.” Suddenly, with adults, we see ourselves slipping away from instant, unanimous outrage and slipping closer to disregard. Not that people view rape as anything less than heinous, by and large. They just sometimes feel like sharing blame with the victim for the carelessness they showed. Wearing a skirt and walking alone. Who does that?

And turning away from the middle, we land on the lighter, simpler sexual harassment Cain has been accused of. And the subject seems to be largely ignored by the common man. (And woman, too, oddly enough. Most of those jokes I heard came from women.) There are some jerks that disbelieve rape victims by and large, and there are unfortunately people that call rape falsely, “validating” those that ignore the issue. But, fortunately, those jerks on both sides of the equation are few.

Yet, when sexual harassment becomes an issue, the people that think that way seem to crawl out of the woodwork. On both sides. People falsely cry sexual harassment to further themselves in the workplace or to screw someone else they don’t like over. But, meanwhile, those that are actually being sexually harassed are largely ignored and found to be whiny. When I say “sexually harassed,” people instantly think of someone overreacting to a stray comment or gesture intended as platonic affection.

Plays like David Mamet’s “Oleanna” show how sticky the issue can be when all the doubt of honesty is thrown in the mix. And it is an excellent play. But it seems more and more like we, as a society, have sided with the idea that the victim is either at fault or not even truly a victim.

Personally, I find that unfortunate. I think that, in times of doubt, one should try to lean in favor of the person that was sexually abused.

Imagine, for a moment, how this Sandusky case would look without Mike McQueary’s testimony. Had he never seen it, we’d have eight young boys making allegations of sexual abuse against Sandusky. People would still generally be outraged, because why would kids lie about something like that? But what if they were grown men and women? Well, some of those people might just be trying to jump in on the blame train, but I bet something happened. Right? Probably. But what if, instead of rape, it was simple sexual harassment? Inappropriate fondling, unwanted sexual suggestions, et cetera. Suddenly, we’re less interested.

Play that in reverse. Often times, in these situations, the sexual harassment comes before the sexual activities. And the more we ignore the harassment and make glib, dismissive comments about it instead of deciding to check out the situation, the more complicit we become if words become actions. Sexual harassment is real and should be a real issue to people.

Am I saying Cain is as bad a person as Sandusky? No. Am I saying he should be held accountable for his actions and punished? Yes. As any unwanted sexual actions should be. But the change in society’s views has to start with the common people, like you and me. So instead of joking about the whiny women and whatnot, why not listen to what they have to say and consider what it would be like if you were in their shoes?

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Paterno, Bullying And Other Such Chit-Chat

Well, I finally got around to editing the posts I said I would. My post discussing the schools in Essex that have teachers telling student victims of bullying due to their sexuality to stop acting so gay has its content updated, and I’ve finished my discussion about the unfortunate case of Joe “JoePa” Paterno and how apathy is an ubiquitous sin everyone needs to free themselves from. Apologies to the many several people that came to look at my JoePa article and saw maybe 50 words and a link to Shepard Smith saying stuff. It’s better now. I even went back to talk more about Ludo and “The Boat Song,” which you should really check out.

There has been a whole heck of a lot of revelations about sexual inappropriateness happening lately, hasn’t there? Herman Cain is up to, what, five women now? And apparently students at Penn State have been rioting over the decision to fire JoePa.

It’s a crazy world we live in sometimes.

Anyway, I think instead of my more recent regrettable practice of frantically posting a link to something random at 5 ’til midnight with the promise of going back and editing it to a better quality, I’m going to start putting up my “Second First Time Viewer”-esque blog posts that have been featuring in that other blog I’ve told you I do (Currently about “The Muppets” movies. So awesome.). You would be better to go read the blogs on that website, since I include humorous pictures and videos in that blog… but I’ll start leaking them over here as well when things get hairy.

…so, apparently, there was a Republican debate. …I think the JoePa thing stole a LOT of thunder from that. Not to mention, watching the twelfth debate or so gets really tiring…

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Joe Paterno: The Sin Of Apathy

As many people should know by now, college football’s winningest coach, Penn State’s Joe Paterno, has been fired.

After coaching for 61 years, and just last week finally getting the last win he needed to have the most wins in college football, even more than football legend Paul “Bear” Bryant, JoePa has been fired for a singular, heinous sin: Apathy.

See, for a period of about 15 years, one of JoePa’s former assistants Jerry Sandusky was apparently engaging in sexual activities of various levels with no less than eight boys, some of whom were rather young, and sometimes performing these acts on the campus. In 2002, then-graduate assistant coach Mike McQueary came to JoePa, reporting that he had seen Sandusky engaged in sex with a young boy in the showering area. JoePa then reported the incident to Athletic Director Tim Curley and Vice President Gary Schultz.

“FOX News”‘s Shepard Smith sums up the general dismay about JoePa’s actions when he says Paterno did nothing illegal, but was morally at fault for not doing more, such as getting the police involved in the case immediately. Even JoePa has said “It is one of the great sorrows of my life. With the benefit of hindsight, I wish I had done more.”

So, what was JoePa’s crime? As Smith said, he did everything he was legally required to do. Where Paterno fell short, however, was in his inaction. So many people feel he should have done something more. He should have confronted Sandusky, he should have started a police investigation, something.

And they’d probably be right. As fond of JoePa as I am (my sister attended Penn State and has nothing but good things to say about him), he perhaps should have done something more. But in these situations, people are so very capable of talking themselves out of stuff, especially if they’ve never run into it before. They say to themselves, “No way. That can’t be right, can it?” Heck, some people may not have even reported it to their superiors out of disbelief.

Apathy and inaction are cruel, unfortunate sins that grip everyone. And in this case, we cannot solely blame Paterno for inaction.

Why did McQueary not stop Sandusky when he saw the act taking place? Call for help? Where is the call for his resignation? He SAW the act taking place and waited until the next DAY to report it. Yes, he was likely shocked, but if we’re sacking JoePa for his lack of moral action, McQueary should fall under the same stroke. Others have suggested similar things. (You can read the Grand Jury presentment here, should you be curious about all the details of what happened.)

The Penn State president has also been ousted, and Curley and Schultz are being charged with failure to report the incident to authorities… so I can’t help but wonder why everyone is so upset at Paterno alone. There was failure from people all along the entirety of the ladder. In my mind, Paterno is actually the least morally culpable of any of them. Not that he shouldn’t or couldn’t have done something… but so many others should have taken actions before Paterno.

It’s unfortunate. A great man, a great asset to Penn State, is to be tainted in his memory by one simple crime almost all people are guilty of: apathy.

Apathy is a sin that grips so many people in so many ways, and it is even encouraged by many. Take, for instance, the Occupy Wall Street movements. So many people laugh such movements off, saying that nothing will change, such actions are pointless. You can read some of those sentiments in this opinion printed in The Crimson White. So many are content to keep plugging away and silently complain to themselves and people close to them that things suck and something should change, but so often when change is offered, they stay out of it.

Another instance would be the American Revolution. Our American history books make it sound like our entire nation rose up together in righteous anger and moral fury, and that we grabbed the shackles of oppression and threw them into the face of our British oppressors.

But in reality, it’s more like maybe 1/3 of the nation did anything to make a change. Another third actually supported the crown outright. And then the final third did what seems to be getting more and more popular these days: Stayed the hell out of it.

Inaction and apathy can lead to so many problems. Injustice thrives in apathy. I could bring up so many other examples. The case of Kitty Genovese is popularly used, though the specifics people like to talk of have been generally disproved: A woman stabbed and raped to death while neighbors took little or no action. Every day, domestic abuse can be heard by neighbors who just plug up their ears and stay out of it. Child rapists can even continue their actions while others simply pass the buck to people that are more in charge than they.

All that is required for evil to succeed is for good people to do nothing. I’m going off of memory on the specific words of that quote, but I believe I’ve got the basic meaning down. Inaction and apathy are the silent velvet glove evil and injustice wears. It isn’t an iron fist we need to worry about. It is that small voice in the corner of our mind saying, “Let someone else worry about it” that we need to be vigilant to watch against.

Do I think JoePa should have been fired? …I don’t know. I know that he was a source of good for that community in many ways beyond football, and that he shouldn’t be hung by a rope made of one terrible mistake. I know that his absence from the school will be missed. I can’t say whether or not I think he should’ve been fired, because I’m not sure. But if you’re going to fire him, McQueary all the way to the top should be fired, too. The great thing about inaction is that so many people can do it. And all of those people should be held responsible when a reckoning comes.

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