Thursday, November 10, 2011

This is Reality

Don't believe me? Pinch yourself.

Still here? Good.

In the past 30 days, Oakland police officers have caused the hospitalization of not one but two Iraq war veterans who did no more than exercise their First Amendment right to peaceably assemble. The first was hit in the head with a teargas canister; the second, Kayvan Sabeghi, was struck repeatedly with batons. By all accounts, these men were nonviolent demonstrators. At worst, they were engaged in acts of civil disobedience, refusing officers’ commands to move, vacate the streets or fall back.

To where do you fall back when you’re up against a wall?

Last night, another kind of protest occurred. After Penn State University officials announced the firing of head football coach, Joe Paterno, a raucous protest erupted in State College, Pa. A news van was tipped over, a lamppost was brought down; private and public property was destroyed because a man who failed to report an incident of child molestation to the police wouldn’t be able to finish out the season as head coach. I’ve got news for the Penn State student body and anyone else who takes offense to Paterno’s dismissal. The man shouldn’t have been allowed to finish any of the last 10 seasons.

The NY Times reports: “A grand jury said that Mr. Spanier, the university’s president since 1995, was made aware of a report of an incident involving Mr. Sandusky. Upon learning about a suspected 2002 assault by Mr. Sandusky on a young boy in the football building’s showers, Mr. Paterno redirected the graduate assistant who witnessed the incident to the athletic director, rather than notifying the police.”

What did Paterno have to say about all this, about his former colleague allegedly fucking eight boys, about his own failure to direct the graduate assistant to go to the police?

“It is one of the great sorrows of my life. With the benefit of hindsight, I wish I had done more.”

The benefit of hindsight? Are you fucking kidding me?

OK, so let’s give Mr. Paterno the benefit of the doubt. Let’s say all he heard was that something disturbing, possibly of a sexual nature, had been witnessed. What else could that be? Rape? Incest? Why would you have the witness go to another school official instead of the police?

Pinch yourself.

Opposing government corruption and a flawed socioeconomic system that feeds on the suffering of the poor and disenfranchised will land you in the ICU with a fractured skull or a lacerated spleen, or maybe just in jail if you’re lucky. Failing to report to the police that your colleague fucks children will cost you your job, nothing more. You won’t be arrested. Au contraire, your decades of service as a football coach will be honored with a support-rally-turned-riot. Better yet, you'll be made out to be the real victim in all this. How’s that for school spirit?

Still here? Good.

Graham B. Spanier, the other man who lost his lob over this incident, just so happened to be one of the longest-serving and highest-paid university presidents in the nation. Take that for what it’s worth.

This is reality.

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