By Dan Bernstein-
CBSChicago.com Senior Columnist
A letter from 425 former Penn State football players was released Wednesday showing support for Joe Paterno. The former Penn State coach is currently battling lung cancer and turned 85 today.
Below is the letter in its entirety, with my comments in italics: (response is bolded and underlined)
The Penn State Football Family
We Stand in Support of Joe and Penn State
Apparently because you don’t mind child-rape. And because Paterno is almost dead, thankfully.
As members of the Penn State Community, we are deeply saddened by the allegations against Jerry Sandusky, and our thoughts and prayers go out to the victims and their families. Given the allegations against Sandusky, we understand the public’s outrage because we share it.
Not really. The mere existence of this letter is proof that your perspective regarding the victims is warped beyond recognition. And not one of you is surprised by the allegations, just saddened — because Sandusky’s predilections weren’t much of a secret. You share no outrage.
At the same time, however, it’s important to remember that all of the facts surrounding this troubling matter are not known. Until all of the facts are known and due process has run its course, we ask that the public reserve judgment about Joe Paterno and the Penn State community.
Enough facts are known to condemn Joe Paterno and damn him to hell. As soon as he said “I wish I had done more,” he admitted he chose to protect, abet and enable an alleged serial child-predator, and stood by that decision for years. This is not a courtroom. We will judge as we choose, based on what we see and hear. The fact that you would be compelled to write this is further evidence that the Penn State community is sick.
Having known Coach Paterno for many years, we can say with certainty that Joe Paterno is a remarkable man and that Penn State is a remarkable institution. Joe has had a profound effect on the lives of almost every member of the Penn
State family. Joe has taught Penn State faith, fairness, philanthropy and the importance of academic excellence – all values that make Penn State a great institution today.
I can say with certainty that Paterno is remarkable, indeed, especially in his ability to give an alleged child-rapist the run of the Penn State facilities, even as he knew he was using a charity to cultivate victims. He has also had a profound effect on any child abused by his trusted lieutenant after he understood what was happening on his watch. Does his faith teach anal rape of children in the shower? Did he display fairness by never once acting in the interest of victims? This kind of blind veneration feeds the whole problem. Similar things were assumed and said about Sandusky, remember, such as when Rick Santorum sponsored him for a congressional award.
Penn State’s new president recently said that he wants the university to be known as a great research institution. In fact, the institution that Joe helped build is much larger than a single coach or team. Penn State is 94,300 students on 24 campuses. We are Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, Dickinson School of Law and Smeal College of Business. We are the world’s largest dues-paying alumni association. We are home of the world’s largest student run philanthropic organization. We are the University that has raised over $500,000, to date, for victims of child abuse during its darkest hour.
And you are the university that embraced and empowered Jerry Sandusky, even after it became clear that he was a monster. You are the campus on which tone-deaf students rioted in the wake of the scandal, causing $190,000 in property damage. Penn State’s new president just wants the university to be known for anything other than the unspeakable horrors it allowed. This letter doesn’t exactly help him, you realize.
We are much more than just one man or one sport. We are a great research institution today and a university that prepares all of its graduates for success in many different fields.
You are a missing district attorney, a governor with conflicts of interest, lazy campus police, corrupt judges, and lying administrators. Many different fields.
Many in the Penn State community view the public’s rush to judgment of Joe as a rush to judgment of everything Penn State. We ask for due process for Joe Paterno and the Penn State community. Based on the immense quality of Joe’s character and the absence of all the facts, we stand in support of Joe and Penn State.
There is no rush to anything. Sandusky joined Penn State in 1966 and started the Second Mile in 1977. The quality of Paterno’s character is on display in the grand jury reports, the perjury-case testimony, and in his own words: “With the benefit of hindsight, I wish I had done more.”
The Penn State Football Family
Standing proudly for those who facilitate violent sex crimes against children, because your priorities and perceptions are dangerously skewed by your identities as players. Your entire lives have been defined in too large a part by association with a college football program. Now, you are cowards – unwilling or unable to confront the cold truth that your beloved father figure was a bad man, because it causes painful dissonance in your rapidly-decaying brains.