Today, Penn State University is celebrating Joe Paterno Day – the first time the school is honoring the late football coach since he was fired for his role in enabling the systematic rape of children.
This here isn’t going to be a hot take – this take is room temperature at best – and you’ll likely read several versions of this from different writers throughout the day. But I’d just like to take this opportunity to say, once again:
Fuck Joe Paterno.
Fuck Penn State for continuing to celebrate this garbage human, fuck the students and alumni there still loyal to him, and fuck Franco Harris, Kirk Herbstreit, and any other morally-shallow lunkheads who continue to defend him.
In a ceremony celebrating the legendary football coach/rape enabler, retired fullback Harris said the school owes Paterno’s family an apology. This morning, on College GameDay, Herbstreit said, “I’m always so uncomfortable with this topic because I just don’t know at this point what Joe Paterno knew or what he didn’t know. But there’s one thing I always go back on at Penn State. When I meet a Penn State football player, whether they played in the 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s, they’re all the same to me. They all have the same kind of character and personality. The one thing they all have in common is they played for Joe Paterno…He must have done a lot of good because of the way he handled [his players].”
Imagine the fucking gall it would take to go on national television and say shit like this.
If you don’t remember, Joe Paterno was the coach of the Nittany Lions football team for more than 40 years, during which time he won an NCAA record 409 games. In 2011, his longtime assistant coach Jerry Sandusky was charged with 52 counts of child molestation – he groomed his victims through the charity organization he’d headed for decades. A report at the time concluded Paterno had been aware of the allegations since the mid-1990s, but recently unsealed court documents indicate that abuse allegations against Sandusky, who is now serving a 30-60 year prison sentence for 45 counts of sexual abuse, were reported to Paterno in 1976. “I never heard of rape and a man,” Paterno said at the time, acting like a naïve old man instead of someone who had played a role in the cover-up.
This all is indefensible, but there’s no shortage of idiots who’ll defend it. Last August, I happened to be in Pennsylvania, and at a liquor store there I was surprised to discover a beer called the Paterno Legacy Series from Duquesne Brewing (hey Duquesne Brewing – fuck you, too). But I shouldn’t have been shocked. Students protested his firing – some cause, huh? – and alumni and football fans continue to try and justify his actions.
Trump has called for the statue to be put back up, which makes sense: Trump is the posterchild for the post-fact age, an era when we all get to decide what reality is in a perverse cartoon-mockery of postmodernism. That Paterno was guilty of the sins alleged against him doesn’t matter to those who defend and celebrate him – all that matters, all that factors into their idea of the man, is how he made them feel – what he represented to them. But this is shallow, delusionally selfish, and – needless to say – an insult to those who suffered the atrocities he allowed.