The Paterno family is asking the American public to not let this one bad act undo a lifetime of good Joe Paterno did. Surely, Paterno should be judged on the accumulated good he did rather than this one bad act. Surely, Paterno’s good far outweighs his bad.
In many instances I would agree with this line of argument. Generally, we should not judge people by the last thing they did. We should judge them on their accumulated work. We all fail, we all make mistakes, we all, at some time or the other, have done something that would be considered bad. We don’t deserve to have our lives judged by that one bad act.
However, there are some bad acts that so taint a person’s legacy that it is impossible to see the person in a good light. What Joe Paterno did is no run of the mill bad act. His actions concealed the fact that there was a sexual predator in their midst. Worse yet, his actions protected a man who was sexually molesting and raping young boys.
Some people want to give Jo Pa a pass by suggesting he was a product of his age, an age where such things were hidden rather than reported. Perhaps this is so, though I highly question whether it really is, nonetheless, Jerry Sandusky was preying on children. Let’s make sure we not, in the midst of all the Jo Pa justifying, forget that Sandusky was preying on CHILDREN!
Years ago I saw a sign on the wall in a gas station. It said something like this:
One aw-shit wipes out fifty atta-boys.
And this is exactly what has happened to Joe Paterno and his legacy. The shit of his actions has so fouled his life that we can no longer see the good that he did. Perhaps in the future we will view Jo Pa in a better light. But, for now, I see him in the same light as I see the pastors and denominational leaders who protected their own at the expense of the children they molested. There is not enough good acts that can be done to cleanse the stain of such evil acts.