Athens Review, Athens, Texas


July 5, 2012

Penn State an example of Americans worshipping false idols

Art Lawler — Little that I've seen in my lifetime has so enraged the human race in this country like the constant revelations coming out about one of our “most respected institutions of higher learning.”

That would be, or used to be, Penn State.

No amount of punishment seems sufficient. And I have to admit that when I think about what the coaches and administrators did in turning a pedophile loose on small boys, it continues to sicken me, as I'm sure it does you.

But when is enough, enough?

Now we're hearing that Joe Paterno and the administration knew much more than originally thought about the Sandusky situation.

It's starting to look like a long, massive coverup – an institution over the lives of small, innocent, hero-worshipping boys.


You know what's really making us so angry, beyond the horrible truth here? It's that most of us just got it so wrong about the Penn State football reality over a period that covers the bulk of all our lives.

Seldom have we ever bought into such sterling reputations for so long, pointing these people out as our examples of honor and decency, and what we're all about in this country.

I think in the Bible, they call this worshipping false idols. We know better, but we're not going to stop doing it.

Even so, when we deceive ourselves, we don't like idols, false as they may be, going behind our backs, and making fools out of the masses.

I've been reading on the Internet from die-hard, lifelong Penn State fans wanting Joe Paterno to “rot in hell.”  He can't get away with just dying in humiliation. We've got to send down the buzzards.

They want Jerry Sandusky to rot in his prison cell first, then rot in hell. They want the NCAA to give Penn State “the death penalty,” as they did SMU back in the seventies.

Others want the death penalty to be 10 years, instead of just two years. After all, the Ponies were just paying players, and having the Governor of Texas cover up for them.

Silly stuff, when compared to Penn State.

The hate just keeps hanging there, getting worse, eating up an institution, and creating a cancer in the land. Some people want to take a torch to Penn State, as if it never existed.

Fact of the matter is, it did and does exist, and the monster called football that critics are decrying with so much hate now, wasn't always a monster.

Some of those same monsters really did teach strong moral values. Penn State players really were, for a while, among the best behaved in the nation.

They did teach discipline and manners and sportsmanship. I never had reason to be a Penn State fan, but I always admired what they tried to be

Heroes are created by the people, and always have been. When they crumble, we roll them up into a ball of clay, and mold another fake hero.

Nothing will ever change the facts of what happened at this school. Every last one of these “professional” hillbillies in expensive suits and ties, should be imprisoned in a blue-collar facility for many long years to come.

The hubris sunk them, just as it did the Titanic. The last thing they should do is escape punishment. Still, this has the feel of something getting out of hand.

My former stepfather once said something  that took me by surprise at the time. Wouldn't so much, anymore.

This bright, World War II veteran, commenting quietly on what could have happened to create a monster like Hitler and the nationalism he incited, had this offering.

“I believe the German people developed too much respect for authority,” he said.

He was dead on.  We develop too much respect for coaches with winning records, then fire the rest of them.

It's so hard to get “respect”  right. We either don't have enough of it — as in most cases, I'd guess – or we go overboard with our few false idols, whom we bestow God-like qualities on, that don't exist.

For every fallen general or politician or preacher, it was the masses who ushered them onto lofty shoulders. There's enough guilt on this stuff to indict a nation.

It's not like, we shouldn't be reasonably deferential to those around us for their accomplishments. But don't fall down, and start slobbering over somebody we made up.

In the end, we're all just people that have to eat, drink, go the bathroom and scratch.

Keep it  respectful, but keep it human, too, for Penn State.

Art Lawler is a Staff Writer for the Athens Daily Review.

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