In the middle of all the sickening details that have come out during the Jerry Sandusky scandal, a smaller controversy is brewing. This one is over the bronze statue of Penn State's former football head coach Joe Paterno. Paterno is one of the many prominent people in the university's athletic department who for years apparently helped cover up Sandusky's horrifying molestation and rape of young boys he was supposed to be mentoring.
The debate is over whether Penn State should get rid of the Joe Paterno statue outside the football stadium on campus or keep it. The answer is that they're going to keep it -- at least for now. And for the umpteenth time throughout this whole mess, they've done the wrong thing.
While I understand that Paterno, who died in January, did a great service to Penn State's football program as its very successful head coach and donated millions of dollars to the team, he was also a hypocrite, plain and simple. Because while he was giving all that time and money and doing all that good, he was turning his back on impressionable young boys who had dreams of being Penn State athletes -- but were living in hell as Sandusky's victims.
There are few things more scarring than sexual abuse, and by hiding the truth and failing to report Sandusky's repulsive actions, Paterno is partly responsible for what happened. He shares the blame for the damage Sandusky did to those children -- damage they will suffer from for a long time to come.
Since Paterno himself has become a symbol of the Sandusky sex abuse scandal, the Paterno statue is also a symbol, and it needs to be torn down immediately. As in yesterday. Such a reminder of something so terrible and painful and corrupt has no place on Penn State's campus or anywhere else. Statues are meant to pay tribute to someone honorable. Paterno doesn't deserve that kind of accolade considering what he is accused of doing.
Penn State officials are kidding themselves if they think that anyone will ever be able to look at that statue again without thinking of Sandusky and all the evil he did -- with Paterno's help. The school is making even more of a mockery of itself by leaving the monument standing. Those in charge would be wise to listen to the many people who are pleading with them for the statue to be removed. Otherwise, they're just making the big black mark on their name and reputation even darker.
Do you think Penn State should take the Joe Paterno statue down?
Image via Getty