Joe Paterno, Penn State, and the Hypocrisy of the Stop Snitching Mentality
The Penn State scandal has been the talk of the nation and the sports world. We can all agree that the situation is pretty f*cked up. What Jerry Sandusky did to those poor kids, and the entire nature of the cover up, has no type of relatability to me or any other decent human being. It’s disgusting, alarming, saddening, and atrocious! No one wants to see kids suffer and feels like they would have stepped up if they were in Paterno’s position. I feel like Joe Pa should’ve done more, especially since he created the facade that Penn State does things the right way all the time. You have to practice what you preach. A man with great power neglected an even greater responsibility to the University, to those boys who got raped, and to every parent that trusted in him to be the role model and leader that their children should have in their lives as they committed to playing football for them.Unfortunately, those who remain silent in the face of obvious illegal and moral crimes are not alone.
Every day in neighborhoods across America, people are murdered at an alarming rate. Chicago is only one example of how the gunplay in our inner cities has become ridiculous. Growing up in New York City, I had the good fortune of living in a cool neighborhood, while still having a foot in those “rough areas.” I went to school with people who lived in and around the PJs and other hoods where real shit went down. We had our fair share too, but it was few and far between (plus I kept my non-built-for-jail ass away from trouble). Although I wasn’t a drug dealer or criminal, we knew who the d-boys were and we were cool with them. We also knew the law of “no snitching.” If something went down, you didn’t say anything. Period. Even as kids we were shunned for being tattle tellers (sidebar: I definitely thought the phrase was “tattle tail” because of the NYC accent. When I found out the correct phrase it blew my mind). This is the mentality we grow up with, especially in the black community. Honestly we rarely thought different about it, unless the affected parties were our family or close friends.
So, why do we chastise people in our communities for keeping their mouths closed after witnessing a murder when that’s the code they were taught since birth? To come from a culture that shuns one another for cooperating with police, but destroy another’s character for “not using his authority to save young children” is hypocritical. We love to police the lives of celebrities but we fail to apply this same morality to our own daily lives. What’s the difference?
To give you a brief recap of the situation at hand: On June 22, 2012, Sandusky was found guilty on 45 of 48 counts of sexual abuse. Sandusky faces a minimum sentence of at least 60 years – at his age, effectively a life sentence. The discovery of Sandusky’s crimes triggered a criminal investigation by the local United States Attorney, as well as a Department of Education probe into Penn State’s response. As of July 2012, both investigations are ongoing. However, the report of an independent investigation conducted by former FBI director Louis Freeh and his firm stated that Spanier and Paterno, along with athletic director Tim Curley and school vice president Gary Schultz, knew about allegations of child abuse on Sandusky’s part as early as 1998, and they were complicit in failing to disclose them. In so doing, Freeh said, the four men “failed to protect against a child sexual predator harming children for over a decade.”
Paterno did inform his superiors of Sandusky’s discretions but he didn’t divulge all knowledge of the information. Instead, they all swept it under the rug and tried to wish these problems away to the cornfield. Many more rapes could’ve been prevented and the monster Sandusky could’ve been dealt with 14 years ago, but that didn’t occur. Sandusky is the true villain in this story, yet his accomplices (mainly Paterno) are the ones we place our focus and aim our venom. The ones who turned a blind eye to young boys who would be forever scarred by these acts. Acts that are so sickening and appalling that every parent, sibling, and human being with decency wanted to see justice served. The harsh reality is that “this type of sh*t happens every day.”
We hear about the “evils” of wall street and greedy corporations who ball out – In 2010, Goldman Sachs bankers received $15.3 billion in bonuses alone – while the American people remain jobless. Dominique Strauss Kahn getting his Hue Heffner bond impersonation poppin off. We hear of bounty scandals and spygate in the NFL. Why do you think that on some job applications, they ask if you’ve ever stolen from a company “other than office supplies”? They account for it because everyone does it, and it’s accepted in the culture. All these examples have one thing in common: people in positions of power who abuse their authority and/or keep quiet while these actions go down. There is outrage from the general public but in some cases we don’t seem to care as much. We don’t care as much because, truthfully, we can relate to the actions. It doesn’t make you a horrible person to admit if there was a way to make side money that bent certain rules, you would consider it, and wouldn’t be too mad at those who did. It doesn’t mean that you would do it, but in our desensitized society, certain transgressions are typically received with a kanye shrug.
It’s the same way our culture considers it taboo to snitch. We hold talks and campaign about black on black crime, the murder rate, and other detrimental factors that drag our community down, but as a people we are inherently flawed by the hypocrisy of “stop snitching.” It goes beyond the schoolyard. It’s deeper than just keeping your mouth shut against all odds. We pick and choose in our own lives when it’s right to speak up, yet chastise others when we believe that the choice is clear. Why isn’t it clearer when Ricky gets gunned down in the alley? Why isn’t it clearer when Big John is pushing crack into our hoods, and getting the lil kids to do his footwork? In NYC the MTA has a saying “if you see something, say something”. To me, we only say something when it involves the “famous” & doesn’t impact our daily lives.
I just wish we had the same energy and vitriol dedicated to those who keep their mouths shut as our communities kill itself off.
Admin Note: Just a heads up that the next SBM NYC event is scheduled for Friday, July 27th at Empire Room in Manhattan. More details to come later this week.