Joe Paterno Died

[Content Note: This post includes discussion of rape apologia.]

This weekend, former Penn State football coach, Joe Paterno, who recently vacated his long-time position after allegations he did nothing to stop assistant coach Jerry Sandusky's rape of children, died.

There are literally hundreds of obits wringing their hands about his complicated legacy. And those of us who don't feel inclined to mitigate his role in perpetuating sexual abuse of children by remembering his great career in college football are being accused of disallowing his loved ones from being able to mourn in peace.


I have only this to say: If Joe Paterno's family finds it difficult to have to hear about how he abetted child rape, they have no one to blame but Joe Paterno for the terrible decisions he made.

Jerry Sandusky's victims haven't had the luxury of peace while thinking about any of the men who ran the Penn State football program, where institutional sexual violence was allowed to continue after its discovery.

Nothing's fair about sexual violence.

But let us be honest about the fact that Joe Paterno's family, friends, and colleagues could, today, be recalling among his other successes the time he was a hero who stopped a child predator in his tracks. The reason they're not is because Joe Paterno made the choice to value football over the safety of children.

Forgive me if I don't find it in me to acknowledge his love of the game, his dedication to the sport, his legendary relationship with the Penn State football program, when it was these very things that he privileged over doing what's right.

I do wish my condolences to those who loved him, even as I argue for the right to acknowledge that which may be hard for them.

And I wish Jerry Sandusky's victims some measure of peace.

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