In 2001 and 2006, two national disasters hit that caused quite a bit of obsession in me (and, most people, really). I remember in the days after the WTC collapse glued to C-Span, waiting for more news, for more outcomes of the investigation. During Katrina, I did nothing outside of work than watch Katrina coverage, and surf the internet for more information about what was going on with efforts. In both those instances, I didn’t have the resources to do anything about it, which was so frustrating. Although, one of the main reasons I ended up in Uzbekistan rather than say, Ukraine, was that I wanted to foster cross-cultural understanding in Muslim countries in the wake of 9/11.
The scandal at Penn State has rocked me to my core. What happened (and yes- this is my blog, so I’m going to say “happened” rather than “allegedly happened”) to those eight poor boys (and what I can only assume is countless others) has kept me up at night, unable to sleep, and on the verge of tears. I have so many varying emotions, and they seem to change on a daily basis. But what I cannot wrap my head around was that these powerful men who could have been heroes, who could have taken down a monster chose not to. That a mother saw her son with wet hair and went to police, participated in a wire tap and confronted an abuser (who was an institutionally powerful man in town). But men far more powerful did… the minimum or nothing when faced with an eyewitness account of a brutal attack. That there was never an attempt to find and help the victim of that attack. That the head of police actively minimized and covered it up. When people talk about “rape culture,” that’s what we’re talking about.
I cut the witness some slack. He saw a man he looked up to his whole life attacking a ten year old, and ran. He recovered the neext day, and spoke to the most powerful man in town about it, he spoke to the guy oveseeing the police department about it. Now, he’s come forward again and not only become a star witness, but an agent exposing a disgusting coverup that felled some of the most influential people at Penn State. I think he could have done more, although I’m unclear as to what. I know rape victims who reported their rape to police and were told after a couple weeks that there would be no investigation for lack of evidence. In rape culture, this happens all the time. Those victims dropped it after that. The mom with the wire tap? That case was dropped too, and there was little else she could do. That’s why I have some slack for him.
The other men who covered it up? The president of the University? I think they should bring back the pillory. For the monster himself, I hope he gets the Jeffrey Dahmer treatment. I don’t like the prison rape jokes, because there is never an “acceptable rape,” even for him. That’s rape culture too. But I want justice. I want a monster put away to a place where he can never hurt a child again. I want justice for all the victims, and I desperately hope they get it.Penn State, psyche