We Are Penn State: Victim-blamers and Apologists

In light of the horrible allegations of child sexual abuse against Jerry Sandusky and the implications of Joe Paterno, Penn State University president Graham Spanier and the county police in covering up/ignoring reports of the abuse, there’s been a great deal of talk on my campus (Penn State Abington, about 3 hours away from main campus) about sexual abuse, victims, athlete privilege and so on.

Quite frankly (and unsurprisingly) I’m pretty disgusted with a lot of what I’m hearing coming from my fellow Penn State students.

Let me lay out the allegations for those who may be unaware: Jerry Sandusky, a former Penn State football coach was arrested on 40 counts of child sexual abuse. According to the allegations, Sandusky used his status as a Penn State coach to take advantage of young boys; he founded the Second Mile program to help underprivileged boys from troubled backgrounds–these are the boys it’s alleged that he abused. This abuse has supposedly gone on for the past 15 years and there are all kinds of implications that Joe Paterno (head coach of Penn State) and  Graham Spanier may have had a hand in keeping his crimes on the down-low–after being notified by an incident of sexual abuse they barred him from bringing children on the Penn State property but still allowed him to operate a summer camp. More and more details leak out every day–today a mother of one of the alleged survivors claimed that Sandusky admitted to her that he touched her son inappropriately in the shower.

So basically, there’s a lot of fucked up shit going on here. And there are a lot of high profile people involved. This has become big news, not just in Pennsylvania but nationwide. Penn State is a big name school in the U.S.; people know what you’re talking about when you say Penn State and it’s considered a Public Ivy university. There’s been tons of discussion on my campus (and other Penn State campuses too, I’m sure) about all of this and, while some of it has been interesting in-depth discussion, a lot of it has been nothing more than disgusting victim-blaming, apologist bullshit. I’ve talked about rape-culture, rape-apology, victim-blaming and even athlete privilege (which is at play here in a big way) an astounding number of times. So I think, to keep myself sane and my blood-pressure normal, I’ll just list some of the more horrible and/or ignorant things I’ve heard said on this campus in regards to these crimes.

  • There’s no reason why this should reflect badly on the school/affect the Penn State name.
  • I don’t see why this is such a big deal/why it’s national news
  • This is just like the Duke Lacrosse team case and I think it’s being blown out of proportion
  • The parents are just looking for attention/money
  • I don’t think Joe Paterno/Graham Spanier should be blamed for their actions

And possibly the worst of all….

  • Children lie.

I really don’t know what else to say other than I don’t have much Penn State pride right now. I refuse to blame these children, who may have gone through immense trauma and abuse–children who came from troubled or lower income backgrounds and were taken advantage of by someone in a position of power. I refuse to make excuses for people who may–in any fucking way–have aided in hiding these crimes. And I refuse to participate in shaming, the blaming, and the bullshit. Penn State: get your shit together.

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