I've also heard many people talk about what "good people" the Penn State coaches as a whole, and Joe Paterno in particular, are. They've talked about what a shame it is that Joe Paterno and the President of Penn State Graham Spanier were fired because they are good men and did what the law required, as did Mike McQueary.
I suppose they did do just the bare minimum the law required. Or at least Joe Paterno and Mike McQueary did. Of course, if you believe today's latest reports, Mike McQueary may have gone to the police and sort of stopped the rape. I don't believe this claim today, but again, that's not what this post is about, so I won't go into all the reasons I don't believe him.
Here's the thing that gets me and what this post is about: Good people don't ever do nothing. Good people do all that's necessary to protect children. They don't just do the bare minimum, especially if they've personally witnessed a defenseless 10-year-old child being raped - anally or otherwise. Good people don't have to think about what to do when they walk in on such an atrocity. They immediately jump to physically pull the attacker off the child. And they tell as many people, especially law enforcement, as they need to tell until the attacker is never able to harm another child.
I don't care what kind of career Joe Paterno had at Penn State. It's not a shame his stellar career will be marred by this scandal. Paterno brought this on himself. He had a choice. He could have been the hero when McQueary told him he'd witnessed Sandusky raping a child. He could have prevented who knows how many other children from having their lives ruined. Instead, he put his football program and his own interests ahead of the children's interests. That tells me all I need to know about him. Good people don't cover up the raping of children, pretend they never heard about it, bury it in a bureaucracy, or simply tell their boss and think it's over.
Paterno's lack of actions have taught at least a decade's worth of impressionable college students that it's okay to look the other way and ignore abuse and other injustices when it's in their best interests to do so. The best interests of the victim be damned. Those are not values that should be taught to anyone. Ever. Period.
Good people do something, especially when it's inconvenient.
For more on this matter, go read what my brilliant friend Susan has to say in her post "Doing Nothing Is A Choice."