Penn State football sex scandal, and the depraved response of the university
community at all levels, tells whatever you need to know about the spiritual
condition of this floundering, rudderless, republic and its ignoble culture.
nine years, head coach Joe Paterno covered up a
grad student's report of having witnessed former assistant coach Jerry
Sandusky anally raping a ten-year-old boy in the athletic department's shower
room. The grad student, Mike McQueary, didn't
bother to call the police. He was later hired as Paterno's
defensive coordinator. Two other Penn State administrators were informed
about the rape and let the incident slide, after which Sandusky went on to a
lively career in serial child homosexual rape. For many years after the
witnessed incident, he was permitted regular access to Penn State's gyms,
fields, and locker rooms, while cherry-picking victims from his own
foundation, Second Mile, for needy children.
intersection of America's fake warrior culture of football with the nation's
fake moral and ethical culture is instructive. It has many levels, like a
convoluted freeway intersection of on-ramps, off-ramps, and merge-ramps.
is the pretense that college football is a character-building endeavor. Rather
it's an odious money-grubbing racket that chews up and spits out
quasi-professional players who, with rare exceptions, only pretend to be
students. It corrupts everyone connected with it. College football is little
more than a giant conduit for vacuuming money out of alumni, hawking brand
merchandise, and generating TV revenues. At Penn State, the racket sucked in
about $70 million a year net profit. All over America, the old land-grant
diploma mills pay their coaches million-dollar salaries, while academic
adjunct professors can't even get health insurance. At SUNY-Albany, the
flagship campus of New York's system, they got rid of the department of
foreign languages, but the football team plays on. Meanwhile ordinary
students rack up tens of thousands of dollars in unpayable
college debt via a related racket in which free-flowing government-backed
Sallie Mae loan money prompts colleges to boost tuition rates way beyond
there is the merge-ramp between religion and football. Was I the only person
revolted by video of the phony "prayer" session held in the Penn
State stadium just before Saturday's "big game" with the University
of Nebraska? Players from both teams led by Jesus-shouting cheerleaders
affected to "pray" for Jerry Sandusky's rape victims, an exercise
that was joined and legitimized by the crowd with all the passion of a
Nuremberg rally. When that easy little ritual was out of the way they could
settle back and enjoy the game's ersatz heroics with a clear conscience, and
the tailgate barbeques that followed. A genuine sense of collective shame
would have produced a different course of events - for instance cancelling
the game, maybe the rest of the season, or perhaps even the entire football
program in plain recognition of how foul and corrupt it is. That decision
would have been up to the university's board of directors and tells you all
you need to know about corporate leadership in America today.
even more disgusting than the pre-game prayer show was the rash of demonstrations
the night the story broke. These weren't about shame and repentance, just
violent displays of sanctimonious "moral" support for an entire
system in disgrace. Do you suppose these people could not have endured a
night or two of uncomfortable silent reflection. And
why didn't the new president, or any other campus executive, make a pubic statement that all the prideful carrying-on was
indecent? I wonder how many of the same students will be ground down to dust
by the weight of their unpayable college loans.
disgusting was the cable news media's wall-to-wall coverage of the Penn State
story, as if there weren't other important events going on in the world - for
instance the resignation of two European prime ministers due to a political
crisis that could sink the global economic system. CNN turned the Penn State
story into an instant reality-TV show, with play-by-play action and spin-o-rama scenario-flogging aimed mainly, it seemed, at how
Coach Joe Paterno might manage to wiggle out of
culpability in the civil lawsuits that are sure to dog him now until the end
of his days.
the public doesn't know is how soon the sun will be setting on these giant
universities in their entirety - football, classrooms, alumni golden circles,
and all - as we enter the age of intense energy and capital scarcities.
Remember: institutions, just like living organisms, often reach their
greatest scale just before they go extinct. Resource constraints would be
enough to get the job done, but it's interesting to see how our programming
failures and internal moral contradictions have reached the last limits of
flamboyant grotesquerie in the same exact moment.
is a nation with psychological boundary problems in every realm - the family,
the school, the government, the corporation, the diocese, the police station,
you name it. Meanwhile the so-called fine arts branch of our culture
valorizes "transgressive" behavior - as
if there were any behavioral boundaries left to cross. Maybe Jerry Sandusky
should be sentenced to a one-man show at the Whitney Museum. Then just wait a
week or so: we'll get Jeffrey Dahmer, the
Musical on Broadway.
new day that dawns lately gives further proof that
we are a wicked people who deserve to be punished.