It’s not personal

Students riot Nov. 9, 2011 in State College, PA. (Patrick Smith/Getty Images

I think that must be what the rioting Penn State students and anyone else making excuses would say to the victims of child rapist Jerry Sandusky, if they felt the need to say anything to them at all. Sorry you were raped, but our team is winning national championships and that makes us feel good and we don’t want any interruptions. It’s not personal.

The whole sick, sad mess is both repellent and fascinating, but the part that I can’t stop turning over in my mind is this. How does a person walk in on a rape in progress, a rape of a ten year old child, and not, without even thinking about it, intervene to rescue that child? Short of physical intervention, they would at least instinctively yell “hey, stop that!” Wouldn’t they? What is broken inside this guy, and what happened to him that broke it? I can’t understand that absence of reaction. I. Just. Can’t.

All of those – Joe Paterno, the university athletic director, Assistant Coach McQueary – who knew that Sandusky was an active sexual predator, and facilitated his continued access to child victims with their silence, are guilty of a more calculated crime. The calculation was the safety and dignity of those children in exchange for status, position and money. You understand: This team has brought $52.3 million to the school. It’s business, it’s not personal.

Those children, as it turns out, are not the children of those with status, position and money. They are children who Sandusky “picked out” for himself from his mentoring program for “underprivileged boys from ‘dysfunctional’ families.” They were disposable. As one of the callers to Pacifica’s community comment this morning said, such things don’t matter “if it’s not happening to someone who looks like you.” Sorry about the indifference, boys. It’s not personal.

I can’t help but see the similarity to this pattern in those who don’t understand why we don’t just accept that making excuses for the activities of Eugene Delgaudio is not personal. There are over 90 comments on this post, most of them pertaining to the demand that we accept endorsement of a man who runs a hate group as a reasonable choice that is not personal. Actually, it is. And the irony is that during the entire time Rick Santorum-endorsed “family values” guy Mr. Sandusky was actually raping children, Mr. Delgaudio has been telling members of his mailing list that we – LGBT members of the community – are raping children. It ought to be evident now from the rage and death threats being directed at Sandusky – and even those who protected him – that those are fighting words. That is a claim that encourages hatred and violence.

But I’m sure it’s not personal.

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