There's a weird kind of cognitive dissonance in the Penn State community, where the world outside Happy Valley is vilifying a man they've been trained to never think an unkind thought about. So they've circled the wagons, drunk the blue Kool-Aid, and have made the Board of Trustees and the media into the bad guys. How deep does it go? An attorney working with some of the victims thinks Paterno should stay. A sister of one of the victims attends Penn State and doesn't love her school any less.
"The board of trustees got it wrong," said Ben Andreozzi. "They should have consulted the victims before making a decision on Mr. Paterno. They should have considered these victims watch TV and are aware of the students' reaction and may not want to be associated with the downfall of Mr. Paterno."
That sounds faulty. As passionate as fans and students are, I don't think anyone is going to turn on the victims of sexual abuse and blame them for being sexually abused. But my mind is even more blown by the Patriot-News catching up with the sister of
victim No. 2
one of Sandusky's "shower" victims. She's now a junior at PSU.
How on earth do you attend the school where that happened to a loved one? She says she was drawn by the school's annual contributions to cancer research, but more than that: she doesn't parcel out blame to everyone.
"Joe, I think, did what he was supposed to do and was focused on his team," she says. "I never blamed him...Penn State isn't Sandusky. He's a very small part. Penn State did enable him, and I am ashamed of that. But I don't blame people that didn't know about it, and I certainly don't blame the student body. Penn State's getting a bad rap, when it was really just the mistakes of a few men."
I can't know what it's like to be in her shoes, or in the shoes of anyone else at Penn State. I know it's tough. But you don't have to be an apologist. F. Scott Fitzgerald said "the test of a first rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function." It is completely possible to love Joe Paterno and still believe he had to be punished.