Thursday, November 10, 2011

Coach Paterno’s Religious Play Book



I am not a big football fan. If someone asked me a week ago who Joe Paterno was, I wouldn’t have been able to tell them. But today, today I’m in awe of Coach Joe Paterno for he has done what I couldn’t do in two books of anti-theist writings.

Notice I said in awe - not respectful, in admiration, or supportive of him, for he is worthy of none of those accolades. I am in awe of Paterno’s chutzpah. Oh, for sure he ran a great team, developed it with hard fought persistence, dedication and leadership. If ones life’s worth were measured by sport or success in his life’s passion, Paterno would be a national hero.

But when it came down to real life, the last play on the goal line of an sterling career, he failed and failed miserably. He chose between a game and children’s wellbeing. He chose between complacency and indignation. He chose between right and wrong. He chose poorly. When it really mattered Paterno fumbled, and fumbled beyond forgiveness.

His termination by Penn State was right and proper, and that would have been the end of it save any legal actions that might befall him as a result of his inaction. I’d have had nothing to comment upon, no further ax to grind with him. But then he said this:

"As you know, the kids that were the victims, I think we ought to say a prayer for them,"

And there, in that one sentence is the very heart of the grotesqueness of religion, the very core of what I have raged about, fought against, and endeavored to put a face on for these many years all summed up nice and tidy by a disgraced coach.

PRAYER?? Say a PRAYER for the child victims? You self righteous sanctimonious jerk... some of those kids are victims partially because you failed as a man. You relinquished your responsibility as a human being. Your hubris and self interest over shadowed those victims interest. But, now, NOW you’ll implore us to mumble words to a nonexistent thing in the sky as though that will fix things? As though those kids’ lives will be repaired by words to a deity when your own misbehavior, self-serving actions, or apathy was a causal factor for their pain?

No Joe, the only thing that can help these kids now is years of therapy by trained child psychologists. Your call to prayer to millions of your fans and followers won’t do a damn thing for those kids, it never has and it never will. Thanks anyway. And as a Hail Mary play to repair your image- forget it, that’s been tried by fools, frauds, and tyrants for eons. It’s the hall mark of disgraced religionists to drop back into supernatural mode and punt, the better to distract from their failed humanity and inability to carry it across the line.

Sorry Joe, no supernatural platitudinous hackneyed “let us pray” is going to erase your penalty, remove the shame, shift blame, salve things over, or heal wounds. You dropped the ball big time. Invoking your imaginary god and supernaturalism may have worked for your half time locker room pep talks...it doesn’t work in the real world, it only makes it worse.

(Thanks to Rachel H. for the inspiration for this article)

21 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thank you for voicing this. All around me people are shocked *shocked* that this scummy filth was fired! At no time is there any mention of the children. In this "Won't *somebody* think of the children!" culture, as long as it's about football, well, to hell with the children, just say a prayer and it's all A-Okay!
Heads should roll for this, jail time should be on all those rolled heads, and there should be no excuses. But you know, and I know, that that won't happen. And now there's the slime of religion upon it.
And people wonder why I'm always so pissed off!
Strakh

Vic said...

Excellent post!

Helga said...

Hump, your post is spot on! I also have no interest in football on either side of the Atlantic, but I do have an interest in children's rights and as you say, those rights were eroded by this scumbag. I couldn't believe that so many people were protesting the correct decision to fire him....had to rub my eyes! Surely, there had to be a mistake! I only read about his 'call to prayer' for the victims in your post. What a sad prick! I hope when all those betrayed children and their families get to tell their stories in court, all those prats who protested yesterday, hang their heads in shame..

Mike Meyers said...

I am glad Paterno was fired, but what about Mike McQueary? He walked in on Sandusky and one of the victims! Why didn't he get involved on the spot? At the very least he could have confronted Sandusky then and there, but he chose to run to Paterno. McQueary needs to shoulder more blame than Paterno for not acting when he witnessed the abuse. Don't get me wrong, I am all for the Paterno firing, but I haven't read anywhere about what, if anything, will happen to McQueary.

Anonymous said...

I thought the same thing. He had the power to stop this years ago and chose not to. Then after all those years of more victims, he says, "Let's all say a prayer for the poor victims!" It's so very absurd and sickening.

Dusty Dog said...

I completely agree with your assessment that calling for prayer is beyond ridiculous, and nothing short of sanctimonious, self-serving bull. My favorite response to dirtbags like Paterno..... "Sorry don't walk the dog."

Lisa said...

Joe Paterno is probably Catholic, and at the time he reported Sandusky's behavior to his supervisor he might have been doing more than many coaches would have. Remember the time frame. No one was reporting those nasty Catholic priests then. Sex abuse of all kinds was not openly discussed. No one understood the long-term damage being done to young children everywhere. I approve of Paterno's firing. It's a new age, and the actions by Penn State trustees are shaming the Catholic church in a very public way.

Wigie said...

"Remember the time frame"?! Give me a freakin' break. We're talking about an incident that occurred in 2002, not in the Ozzie and Harriet days. People were most definitely reporting Catholic priests' sexual assaults by then. And gosh, I'm pretty sure we knew at the start of this century that child rape was a traumatic crime with long-term consequences.

Stop trying to make excuses for the behavior of those who failed to intervene. There is none.

madame zora said...

I stood in front of the mirror and cried last night. When I turned on the news and saw the rioting, I thought to myself, "goddamned right! I'd riot too if I were there, paedophilia is the most disgusting of ALL social ills we still face. Then I listened 10 seconds more, and realised the riot was by the apparently pro-paedophilia crowd, and I shook till I nearly vomited.

Clearly I'm the one who doesn't fit in here. Clearly morality and conscience are NOT worthwhile commodities.

Nate Phelps said...

Too often the victims are an after thought. Especially when it's a story about someone considered important. Would that we could quantify all the resources and energy that goes into the telling of this sordid tail and commit it to the repair of that damaged child. Would that all the energy and success of this man could restore one minute of peace to the wounded victim.

Anonymous said...

Good post, but this isn't the half of fit.
1. Joe Paterno is an extremely prominent Catholic. He and his wife have given millions of dollars to fund a strictly Catholic student student center at PSU. Once again, the Catholic Church is front and center in a child rape scandal that threatens to be much wider than Sandusky, Paterno, and the cover-up.
2. How much does the Catholic nature of this matter? A huge, determining factor, as to why there was a cover-up, why the rape of little boys was given the only the slightest weight.
3. How many Catholic priests still functioning in that area were told of these child rapes, either in secret or in confession? Remember, Sandusky "confessed" to the mother of one of his victims -
surely he must have done so before.

Shaw Kenawe said...

I don't like to talk about the child abuse, by trusted males, over many years I suffered as a child, but I do when horrendous stories like this are
uncovered.

This happened to me in an era when there was NO awareness or discussion anywhere by anyone on the matter; and even if there were, how would I have known? I was only 6 years old.

This criminal act destroys a child's sense of safety, trust, and worthiness that is part of her psyche for the rest of her life--even though years of therapy help to mitigate those feelings.

Each time I read about what the Catholic Church did not do to protect children, I relieved a bit of what happened to me. And here we are again, witnessing the history of ever more brutal acts committed against children by trusted adults.

The crime of child sexual abuse is committed in secrecy and kept that way by authoritarian figures like popes, cardinals, bishops, and revered football coaches, and trusted family memebers, so it is easiest to do the least to punish the worst. Looking the other way while priests, coaches, teachers, or counselors sexually abuse those under their authority is probably more sickeningly common than we want to know.

Until we face these crimes and severely punish those who commit them AND who protect the felons, we will continue to read sordid stories like the ones coming out of State College.

I am sorry for the children who suffered, because the child that still lives somewhere in me understands.

Dromedary Hump said...

Shaw,
Thanks for sharing that with us. well said.
You have my respect and admiration for having faced and overcome such mistreatment and abuse.

tiNstAg said...

As I sit here at 11pm watching TV in PA, all I can really see is the local fear that the commercial activity Penn State University Football Team Inc. may be affected by this "scandal".
To your earlier point Hump, they even uttered pointless prayers at the match (see http://blog.pennlive.com/patriotnewssports/2011/11/pregame_prayer_puts_things_int.html) in an attempt to "come to terms" with what has happened. I note that at no point did anyone ever suggest that today's game be cancelled as a protest to this outrageous abuse of children by people in power.

flyz4free said...

Now that is not only well thought out but the subject is such that it may make many who would have never considered your world view as viable take a really hard look at their own. Nothing here is questionable or debatable in terms or Paterno's actions, inactions or reactions and the relationship to religion. Everyone who has ever said a prayer for someone else or urged others to do so (especially publicly) is called to account here on a real world, real time basis concerning their real motives in doing or urging such an action. At the very least your article should cause serious introspection of those hiding behind religion for any reason. It may be involuntary on their part but I do not see how a reasonable theist (oxymoron?) could avoid this disconcerting looking glass.

tiNstAg said...

flyz4free, you hit the nail on the head - a "reasonable theist" cannot exist, since theism does not hold up to any reasoned scrutiny.

Anonymous said...

Finally SOMEBODY gets it right. This dispicable act will not be treated with the gravity it should because a) it's football and b) meh, they're just kids.

Why is it if a person does harm to another adult they are tried to the fullest extent of the law, but if someone harms a child they get a slap on the wrist (comparitively speaking)?

Anonymous said...

Very, very good post.

DanO said...

I am a football fan, and have long had to wince in disgust at the glaring (and galling) prevalence of religious tripe spewing from athletes, coaches and commentators, particularly the wildly insane notion that a supreme being helped them make a good play or helped their team win. I rarely listen to commentary anymore, because it's getting worse. As a longtime Denver Broncos fan, you can imagine my utter horror that it Tim Tebow, the living embodiment of being off the mark. However, the Penn State tragedy is bigger than football. It's just another indicator of our descent into a corporate culture, a belief that great institutions and ideals are more important than individuals, and must be protected at all costs. Remember the tee shirts from decades ago that said "Question Authority"? Seen anyone wearing one of those lately? At least JoePa stopped at recommending prayer. I was afraid they were going to call in some catholic priests as counselors for the kids.

Anonymous said...

JOE PATERNO WAS A GOOD MAN WHO DID COUNTLES KIND DEEDS FOR PENN ST AND TOTAL STRANGERS I SAW THIS AND EXPEIENCED THIS PERSONALLY BUT WHAT JERRY SANDUSKY HAS DONE AND THE WAY ALL WAS HANDLED BROUGHT THE WRATH DOWN ON PENN ST I HAVE ALWAYS SUPPORTED PENN ST AND WILL CONTINUE TOO BUT THE CHILDREN SHOULD BE HELPED IN ANYWAY POSSIBLE THAT THEY NEED...BUT TO ALL CASTING JUDEMENT YOU BETTER GO READ YOU BIBLE WHAT DOES GOD SAY? YES GOD WHO IS THE FINAL JUDGE OF US ALL....HE SAYS IF YOU DO NOT FORGIVE YOU WILL NOT BE FORGIVEN EITHER.....AND YOU MAY FIND YOURSELF RIGHT NEXT TO THE PERSON YOU ARE CONDEMING ONE DAY IN A VERY DARK PLACE...PLEASE THINK ABOUT THIS...

Dromedary Hump said...

Dear Anon..
Thank you for your belated defense of a pedophile enabling icon.

I allowed it to be posted here to demonstrate the depth of your laughable and pathetic mentality. The religious babble, all cap type, defense of the indefensible, irrational worship of a sports figure, and assumption anyone gives a fidder's fuck about your imaginary god speaks volumes of your gross rejection of reality.

I'd ask you to think about this, but I doubt thinking is in your repetoire.