Students have been known to riot over ridiculous grievances, but last night's melee in State College Pennsylvania must take the cake. Beloved football coach Joe Paterno, who, it now develops, tolerated a child rapist as his subordinate without informing the police (and implicitly allowing more children to be sexually abused) was fired, along with the president of Penn State University, over their failure to put a stop to the crimes as soon as they became aware that a pedophile was using university facilities to anally rape a boy.
Genaro C. Armas of AP reports on the student reaction:
The winningest coach in major college football history was fired Wednesday night, sending angry students into the streets where they shouted support for Paterno and tipped over a news van.
Also relieved of duty was Penn State president Graham Spanier. Both were ousted by a board of trustees fed up with the damage being done to the university's reputation by a child sex-abuse scandal involving Paterno's one-time heir apparent.
Paterno's skills as a coach and leader are worthy of support. We have praised him in the past for his emphasis on honor. However, his concept of honor did not extend far enough. But whatever the reason (personal loyalty to a subordinate? worry about damage to his football program?), allowing child rape to continue outweighs all the previous good accomplished. Coach Paterno now faces a reckoning, and loss of status, employment, and honor is nothing compared to the damage inflicted on the children who were the victims of Jerry Sandusky, the Defensive coordinator who worked for Paterno.
Penn State students ought to reflect on their destructive behavior in support of Paterno. It is one thing to be grateful for his past contributions, but quite another to riot and damage property in support of him.