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A Press Release From America’s Venerated Institutions

It was confirmed today that the Catholic Church/Boy Scouts/Penn State Football Program spent decades engaging in abhorrent behavior aiding and abetting pedophilic and ephebophilic priests/scoutmasters/coach(es). Rather than turning suspected priests/scoutmasters/coach(es) over to local authorities in an attempt to protect vulnerable populations from aggressive predators, the Catholic Church/Boy Scounts/Penn State Football Program emphasized its own self-preservation first and foremost. It would almost appears as if the Catholic Church/Boy Scouts/Penn State Football Program genuinely believed that they could simply wait out the bad behavior. It would also appear as if it never dawned on the Catholic Church/Boy Scouts/Penn State Football Program to spend even a second worrying about what might occur in the intervening time period.

What did happen is incontrovertible: the Catholic Church/Boy Scouts/Penn State Football Program enabled predator(s) in coveted positions of power and authority to continue seeking victims. As a result, this/these predator(s) was/were able to find, groom, and assault additional children. Awaiting the end of the assaults took decades.

In most other contexts, this behavior would be described as an outright criminal conspiracy. Those who knew of the substantive allegations knowingly and willingly colluded to protect priests/scoutmasters/coach(es) from legal response. Additional criminal molestation occurred as a direct result of their entirely voluntarily actions.

But unlike other criminal conspiracies which are broken by thorough prosecution – see the drug trade, for example, or the mafia – those who actively and aggressively protected priests/scoutmasters/coach(es) will not be charged for having done so, even though their behavior created an environment in which criminal activity could not only occur, but was actively encouraged. Those involved will not be punished not because the victims they worked to create will have suffered any less than those victimized by drug trade or mafias, but rather because because the organizations that conspired to encourage the molestation of children have a favored place in society.

The Catholic Church/Boy Scouts/Penn State Football Program enjoys such a reverential and worshipful following that its indiscretions, no matter how heinous they might be, will ultimately be treated lightly and barely, if at all. Self-appointed defenders will return to the parapets in service of organizations whose internal goals were specifically designed to maximize the suffering of victims because to do anything else would risk the well-being of the Catholic Church/Boy Scouts/Penn State Football Program, an institution’s whose perceived importance outweighs the physical and sexual well-being of victimized children. These defenders will also insist that despite evidence and common-sense dictating otherwise, that all-powerful archbishops/presidents/head-coach(es) were ignorant of the crimes being committed and should suffer nothing of consequence as a result.

In the coming weeks, we can expect those who defended and defended and defended these entrenched organizations to insist that time has passed, that lessons have been learned, and that the next time the Catholic Church/Boy Scouts/Penn State Football Program discovers a predator in its midst, that the response will be far more substantive than it ever was during every previous occurrence. Those dubious of the claim will be asked to take the Catholic Church/Boy Scouts/Penn State Football Program at its word and to give the organization an opportunity to prove that it is capable of change.

Furthermore, there will be no re-evaluation of the Catholic Church/Boy Scouts/Penn State Football Program’s venerated place in society, nor any acknowledgement that those institutions have shown through (in)action that they cannot be trusted. Moreover, there will be no statements forthcoming that read in the following way, “As a result of our own egregious and systemic behavior, we are ceding our societal position to those who warned repeatedly of our own inherent immorality. We bow to those who have not engaged in the repeated coverup and subsequent encouragement of pedophilic and ephebophilic molestation. Those are people who are clearly more humane and upstanding that we are capable of being, and until we can achieve that level of decency, we have no business telling anybody anything about how best to behave in the world.”

Oh, and finally: no apologies will be forthcoming from those internal and external organizational defenders who blithely dismissed the institution’s critics. These apologies will not be issued despite those critics suspicions having been subsequently proven correct by the facts. It is not enough to have merely been correct on the issue and as such, those unwilling to offer the Catholic Church/Boy Scouts/Penn State Football Program the due deference it clearly has done nothing to deserve will remain ignored, distrusted, and castigated.


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43 thoughts on “A Press Release From America’s Venerated Institutions

  1. At least we read about this one. Sunlight may be the best disinfectant, but there’s half a dozen programs just like Penn State, or even worse. And that’s just the ones people know about. Darkness casts a long shadow, and in the shadow, children bleed.

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  2. I’m getting some theories on Twitter that actually make PSU look even worse than is presently being supposed. Paterno’s legacy is being thrown to the media in service of an even bigger cover-up.

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  3. One of the primary motivations of any given organization/institution is self preservation. Pretending otherwise is folly. Trusting that any given organization will actively seek out and expel powerful/valuable members who are exhibiting bad behavior is terribly naive. This is why investigations should always be conducted by outside organizations with no personal stake in the outcome.

    Ergo, why did nobody take the complaints of sexual assault to the NCAA? Or did they, and the NCAA just couldn’t be bothered?

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    • “Ergo, why did nobody take the complaints of sexual assault to the NCAA? Or did they, and the NCAA just couldn’t be bothered?”

      Indeed, or if not the NCAA, then the states attorney or FBI etc. I am watching this slomo at the university that the wife works at. As sexual harassment claims come out of the woodwork and projects aren’t given funding (seemingly disparate ideas) it is clear that no one wants to take responsibility as there is no internal reward structure, but will jump in when institutional rewards become clear. Those rewards need to be increased in cases like these if we want to make progress on issues like this.

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        • Exactly.

          Although, as Kim kinda alludes to, local PD may have a pretty strong incentive to not look too hard at the allegations. That’s why I suggested the NCAA.

          Although, as such organizations get larger, I’m starting to think that victims of the members of those orgs, if they want justice in a timely manner, have to be very strategic. Talk to a lawyer, get the allegations out there in some manner, so an org can’t just sweep it under the rug.

          Which is, itself, a whole different level of injustice that victims & their families shouldn’t have to deal with.

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          • I wonder how much the legend of Joe and We are Penn State was established by 1976.

            The answer seems to be not far enough that people wouldn’t say things but far enough that it was swept under a rug.

            I think the institutional survival thing is right. Look at what happened when law school applications fell. Did schools close down? No, they radically lowered their admissions standards.

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          • The problem is most of these were kids from broken or struggling households. The kind of people that don’t know how to play the game. This is also how priests got away with the same thing (or the raping police officer in OK). Target vulnerable people that can’t fight back or don’t know how to,

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        • This is going to be a really dark argument but how much are you looking at things with a 2016 lens.

          Historically, a lot of people did not speak about sex abuse and it was just kept under wraps for the sake of decency. The 1970s also had some really weird ideas on sexual liberation which we know look at with “how the fuck did they believe those things?”

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          • The Sexual Revolution got rid of a lot of the bad things about the previous sex culture but it also through away a lot of the restraints that at least mitigated some of the more questionable aspects of human sexuality. Although even in more sexual prudish times, people tended to treat these things as elephants in the room and blame the victims more than the perpetrators.

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        • I don’t have the details at hand, but my recollection is that some people in the Sandusky case tried this. State College is pretty much a wholly owned subsidiary of Penn State, and Penn State is a football program with a university attached to it. At the time in question, the football program was Joe Paterno’s fiefdom. I’m pretty sure the cops knew who they worked for.

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            • College towns seem harder to prevent. We can make laws that say you can’t force your employees to live in company housing and pay them in scrip. We can’t make laws that prevent colleges from becoming the dominating employer and/or property owner in a certain area. Harvard and MIT own a lot of Cambridge but there is enough in Boston area to prevent them from being too dominant.

              Other areas like State College, PA (aka middle of nowhere) are going to be dominated by a local university if there is one. What other economy rests in State College, PA.

              So I don’t think the Company Town comparison is apt. This is a problem of mono-economy. Not that Penn State owns the houses that the police live in.

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                • Colorado has two big college towns. Fort Collins (CSU) and Boulder (CU).

                  If CSU flew away tonight, Fort Collins would be mostly okay tomorrow. A few blocks would have a number of storefronts close down (the bead stores) but the further you got away from campus, the fewer these storefronts would be. There are a lot of corporations in Fort Collins (HP, Kaiser Permanente, Anheuser Busch, there are a bunch) and these corporations don’t really have a symbiotic relationship with the college but they’re all just hanging out in the same ecosystem. Losing the college would be losing a big employer in the town… but it’d be losing one big employer among many other big employers who wouldn’t really feel much of a hit.

                  If CU flew away tonight, Boulder would be losing *THE* big employer. Boulder would, overnight, turn into Rifle.

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                  • Taking this along with ‘s point, the likelihood of CU flying away is very slim, but there is still the problem of CU being THE golden goose, as it were, for Boulder. Anything that could cause CU to suffer a financial hardship (be it a settlement, or significant hit to it’s reputation) or threaten the position of the key players is something a significant number of other players will work to prevent, so as to keep the goose healthy.

                    When your options are limited in one key dimension, you can often find them very limited in many other dimensions as well, which means it all plays out like a classic tragedy.

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                  • I’ll argue the other side of this. Boulder has the NIST/NCAR/NOAA government labs complex, Ball Aerospace, IBM’s relatively large presence, and some more. If CSU goes, it is unlikely that the HP/Intel/a bunch of other IC companies stay in the long term. My bet is that both cities survive, because Front Range but not Denver. One of the oddball things is that Boulder would become the place for tech employees who work in Broomfield or Longmont to live, much as SF is suddenly becoming a place that people who work in SV live.

                    Plus Boulder’s trustafarian population…

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  4. I’m am certainly not going to have time to do it, but it occurs to me that there will likely be an interesting post comparing people’s upcoming responses to this post and their responses my post on why I left the Democratic Party.

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    • One key difference: plenty more places to go to school, play football, invest in research, etc.

      Say I, like you, abhor child abuse and those who enable it and feel similarly about the Dems upon learning of those horrors. At the same time, I care about gay rights or income inequality or healthcare reform and generaly believe the Dems’ positions are the best on those areas. I don’t have to join or donate to the Dems (two things I’ve never done), but can I vote for their candidates (provided they were innocent of wrongdoing in the noted crimes)?

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      • “One key difference: plenty more places to go to school, play football, invest in research, etc.”

        And sadly, only an irreplaceable and very small number of party leaders and candidates.

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        • I suppose I misunderstood you then.

          Disavowing the entire Democrat party is what I was thinking you were referring to.

          Voting all the damn bums out and pushing for reform among the leadership is what you’re saying folks should have done if they are truly outraged about what the Dem leadership did… do I have that right?

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          • To elaborate…

            I can look at the Penn State situation and say, “You will not get a dollar from me… no tuition, no game tickets, no concessions, nothing from the book store, no donations… until you oust every last person who knew of this sordid affair and take steps to make sure things like this never happen again.” And I can do that because I can go to Ohio State or Rutgers or any number of other universities.

            But can I look at the Democratic party and say, “You will not get a dollar or a vote from me until you oust every last person who knew of this sordid affair and take steps to make sure things like this never happen again”? I don’t think I can. I can push to make that happen. I can vote for the people who I think will make that happen. But I can’t guarantee it. At which point I certainly can — and would — withhold my dollars. But would I stop voting for other Democrats if I felt like their policies were most aligned with my own? No. I don’t think I’d do that. I sure as hell wouldn’t vote for anyone involved in the crimes themselves or their cover up, no matter how strongly I agreed with them.

            Would you consider those to be different and inconsistent responses?

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            • Would you consider those to be different and inconsistent responses?

              It depends: Are you taking action to remove the people in power who allowed the abuse to continue because it was in their selfish best interests? Are you holding those leaders — still i power today — responsible in any way, shape, or form?

              If so, then yeah, I can probably see a bit of a difference.

              If no, then I’m not sure I see that one is different from the other in any way I find remotely meaningful. It’s all just, “They’re my team, so I’m going to look the other way” all the way down. It’s just that this one actually is your team, which makes it harder to do what needs to be done to hold them responsible than it does a team you weren’t really going to belong to anyway.

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              • I guess my point is that — sadly — it might be easier to hold a football team/college accountable than it is to hold elected leaders accountable.

                You’re more experience, more knowledgable, and more involved than I am, so I ask this genuinely: What can I, personally, do to hold these people accountable? How can I affect change?

                Along those same lines, is it okay if I shake my fists with equal vitriol at both Democratic leadership and Penn State administrators and do little else because frankly there are just only so many hours in the day? Because, to be honest, I don’t think I’ve done a damn thing to hold anyone accountable at Penn State. I mean, I didn’t go to any games last year… but that is the same as the 31 years prior so…

                I’m not saying I disagree with you. I’m also pretty sure I didn’t criticize your post on leaving the Democratic party (though if I did, please do correct me!).

                I guess what I’m asking is if I can vote for a local Democratic politician who was totally uninvolved in the crimes? Or if I have to disavow all Democrats? I was never in the Dem party so I can’t leave it. I never donated so I can’t withhold donations. I never campaigned or otherwise did anything to support them other than sometimes voting for their candidates.

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                • “Along those same lines, is it okay if I shake my fists with equal vitriol at both Democratic leadership and Penn State administrators and do little else because frankly there are just only so many hours in the day?”

                  Of course. To be sure, that’s what most of us do.

                  The point I was originally making above is that many of the people who tend to nod along to Sam’s sentiments in this post are the same people who explained to me when I wrote my earlier post that I, to paraphrase, “just wasn’t seeing the big picture” — or was anti-woman, or I wanted the Republicans to win, or whatever — by making similar sentiments in regards to near-identical circumstances with a team with whom they felt they had skin in the game.

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            • Or a very common one: Yes, the settlements are evil, and Netanyahu has no principles of any kind, and what used to be the peace faction is so marginalized it might as well not exist. But it’s not like I can give up on Israel and support the other Jewish state.

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