Letters to Me Defending Joe Paterno and Attacking
the 'Unfair' Board of Trustees
by Gary North: Compound
Economic Growth and Atlas
sent as soon as my article
on Paterno appeared on Rockwell's site.
I am a current
Penn State student and long-time reader of LewRockwell.com. I
have always looked forward to reading your articles whenever they
appear on LRC or Mises.org, as they are consistently well-written
and thought provoking. Today was no exception: I read your article
"The Paterno Affair and Western Liberty", and I believe
that it is an incredible analysis of the Sandusky scandal and
the lessons that the free-thinking world can draw from it.
I was disturbed by one of the conclusions drawn in the article:
that the Board of Trustees, in their decision to fire Paterno,
did what many in the PSU system had failed to do up to that point
and "went the second mile". I respectfully disagree
with this idea. "Going the second mile" implies that
the "second mile" action is an action indicative of
the "excellence" that you were referring to earlier
in the article. I do not see how such a hasty, poorly-thought-out
decision on the part of the Board of Trustees could possibly be
construed as an action indicative of a group of people who have
"adopted excellence as a way of life" in their chosen
of Trustees fired a man who has arguably given more to the university
than any other individual in history. They fired a man whom the
students essentially look upon as their second father. They claim
that they made the decision "in the best interests of the
university" in other words, to avoid falling revenue from
alumni and benefactors due to negative media attention yet they
failed to realize that the decision to fire the most loved man
on campus might attract more negative media attention than they
could ever have imagined. At the very least, they should have
realized that announcing Joe Pa's removal at 10:30 pm on a Wednesday
night would inevitably lead to a massive student protest and probable
riots (after all, this is the school that riots out of happiness
when the motivation is anger, the damage will be that much worse).
Riots are not the way for a university to avoid negative media
the Board of Trustees handled this situation horribly. If "going
the second mile" is equivalent to practicing excellence in
one's chosen endeavors, the Board backtracked at least a few hundred
yards from the first mile mark. It is apparent that Joe Paterno
did not take the steps that he should have all of those years
ago (he said it himself), but it is also apparent that the Board
of Trustees also took some very misjudged steps along their path
Then I got
me make clear to you that I have no connection to PSU or to Joe
Paterno, and I have no interest in defending pedophiles. My own
alma mater has, to my knowledge, never competed against PSU in
any athletic contest.
career athletes and coaches, Joe Paterno is obviously not a mental
giant. His claim to fame, and the reason the for the loyalty of
PSU students and alumni, is that he brought recognition and renown
to an institution that would otherwise have had none. Why does
the world know about PSU? Only because of its football team. Paterno's
personal fame is due as much to longevity in his job as to his
is the fame of the football team and Paterno's public profile
that motivates a voyeurist press to aggrandize itself by blowing
a third-page story into front-page headlines. If a high-school
football coach in Dubuque had done what Paterno allegedly did,
the story wouldn't survive one 24-hour news cycle. The real story
here has nothing to do with Joe Paterno.
a distinguished Nobel laureate, leading a department claiming
a chain of scientific achievements, bringing academic kudos to
PSU, registering patents that brought million$ to PSU coffers,
would he have been fired over having reported to his dean that
one of his subordinates allegedly observed sexual abuse in one
of the department's laboratories? Would it matter? Does the fault
lie with the second-hand reteller of the facially-unlikely story,
or does it lie with the perpetrator of the offense?
Is it possible
that the PSU trustees were looking for an opportunity to dump
Paterno under cover of some offense, so they could pretend to
the legions of Paterno's supporters (and likely contributors to
PSU trust funds), that the dump were justified and necessary?
Could JoePa have been the victim of a sub rosa scheme to replace
him with a nepotist candidate? Might the trustees, in these times
of budgetary challenges, have been looking for a way to deny Paterno
what must surely be some considerable retirement benefits? Do
you trust the popular media to provide unbiased, complete coverage
of "newsworthy" events?
disagree with your condemnation of Paterno's response to the uncorroborated
claim by an employee that a former employee had committed a crime.
How could Paterno possibly know whether the reporting employee
were telling the truth or had an axe to grind with the alleged
perpetrator? Your assertion, that it was Paterno's responsibility
to ascertain the credibility of the employee's story, is pure
nonsense. Paterno didn't see the offense being committed; he had
no direct knowledge of the alleged act; he had every reason to
believe that Sandusky's reputation made the employee's story suspect;
he may have had other reasons for doubting the story; and, he
had no authority to investigate a person not under his purview
for an alleged event that was equally not under his purview. If
the PSU football coach is responsible for everything that happens
in the locker room showers, then every "dropped-soap"
adventure would make him an accessory. Good luck hiring JoePa's
replacement under such circumstances.
the rest of the article
North [send him mail]
is the author of Mises
on Money. Visit http://www.garynorth.com.
He is also the author of a free 20-volume series, An
Economic Commentary on the Bible.
2011 Gary North
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