Threats against Penn State coach make a sordid story even more shameful

The list of shameful and even horrific actions is long at Penn State University, where former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky faces numerous child-sex charges, and the apparent cover-up of his actions have led to the firings of the university president and legendary head football coach Joe Paterno. But we have to add a new entry for the Penn State fans who made threats against the assistant coach who reported one instance of abuse in 2002.

Mike McQueary, a former Nittany Lions quarterback who was a graduate assistant in 2002 and is now the wide receivers coach, originally was set to coach in tomorrow’s game against Nebraska. But the university released a brief statement last night saying that, due to threats against McQueary, it would be “in the best interest of all” if he stayed home.

Those threats reportedly were not made by fans upset that McQueary didn’t do more nine years ago to stop Sandusky or make sure he was brought to justice before now — although many people, myself included, believe he should have. Rather, they were made because of McQueary’s role in ending the career of Paterno, who was in his 46th year as head coach and holds the Division I record for all-time football wins. Before that, students rioted in response to Paterno’s firing, an action that will in future years, I hope, cause them much embarrassment.

The word “fan” of course stems from “fanatic,” and there has always been an element of irrationality to sports partisans. (Full disclosure: I hold season football tickets to my alma mater, the University of Georgia; I will be in Sanford Stadium tomorrow when the Bulldogs play Auburn; and I will not rule out the possibility that, while there, I will scream out something I normally wouldn’t say in polite company.) But for whatever reason — greater TV visibility, more money at stake, etc. — the fanaticism has transformed into something else.

If the example of threats against McQueary doesn’t persuade you, I recommend ESPN’s recent documentary about Steve Bartman, the Chicago Cubs fan who was treated mercilessly and threatened repeatedly by other fans after interfering with a Cubs player’s attempt to catch a crucial foul ball in a 2003 playoff game. Bartman’s life has been changed forever because he just happened to be the closest to the field out of a number of people who instinctively reached up for the ball in the same way at the same moment.

But the McQueary example is worse, because there is no ambiguity about the Sandusky situation. McQueary only should have done more, not less, and the same is absolutely true for Paterno. And yet, there are fans whose tribal loyalty to a football team has completely overrun any sense of morality.

And that is truly shameful.

– By Kyle Wingfield

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86 comments Add your comment

carlosgvv

November 11th, 2011
12:03 pm

The real shame and disgrace in this story is the complete forgetting, by the Media and others, of the basic principle of innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a Court of Law by a jury of your peers. In a case like this, where children were alleged to have been molested, it’s easy to understand the reluctance to follow this principle. But, as we get closer and closer to just throwing this basic tenet of our law out the window, we get closer and closer to an America I will guarantee none of us will like.

Jimmy62

November 11th, 2011
12:14 pm

The people rioting on campus and overturning news vans are messed up. Show some maturity and respect. I remember being in college, and going on a riotous rampage was a lot of fun, but this is just the wrong situation for it. On the other hand, it’s a perfect illustration of the pathetic education children get these days. Look at the Occupy protesters for another example.

Hillbilly D

November 11th, 2011
12:20 pm

Bartman’s life has been changed forever because he just happened to be the closest to the field out of a number of people who instinctively reached up for the ball in the same way at the same moment.

That is true but the interesting thing about that incident is that the one person who conducted himself with class and dignity through the whole thing was Steve Bartman.

I really am at a loss as to what to say about the Penn State situation; it’s just boggles my mind.

kitty

November 11th, 2011
12:29 pm

I am still shocked that McQueary did not immediately call the police after he rescued the boy. Football over all is disgusting.

Alby

November 11th, 2011
12:31 pm

“Alleged to have been molested”? What do carlosgvv and the moron headline writers for much of the media not understand about CHILD RAPE? These were eyewitnessed, first hand accounts, not unsubstantiated allegations.

Penn State, including its BOT, the State of PA, the schools, Second Mile, and the persons individually responsible, including the lawyers, will be brought to justice–hopefully–and pay hugely for their civil liability for allowing Sandusky continued access to these victims.

Alby

November 11th, 2011
12:35 pm

Threats made because of McQueary’s role in ending the career of Paterno. Un-be-lie-vable.

Alessandra

November 11th, 2011
12:36 pm

If there were any justice in the world, at least ten people would go to jail for this horrific cover-up which has been going on for more than 10 years. That includes McQueary, Paterno, Curley, and Schulz. Sandusky deserves the death penalty.

Child advocate Wendy Murphy talks with Sharpton about Penn State:

What kind of a person walks in a 10-year old child being raped by a full grown man and WALKS AWAY? After McQueary reported rape to Paterno and supervisors – all they did was to take away the KEYS from Sandusky. None contacted the police.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21134540/vp/45248713#45248713

And why is no one focusing on the top management of the Second Mile foundation? What did they know and what are they lying about?

Cancel the damn football season. Hang your heads in shame.

St Simons - an island off the coast of New Somalia

November 11th, 2011
12:36 pm

And yet, there are fans whose tribal loyalty to a (Party) has completely overrun any sense of morality.

And that is truly shameful.

Out of the mouths of babes………
From your keyboard to God’s ear..

carlosgvv

November 11th, 2011
12:37 pm

Alby

So we should just throw Sandusky in jail and not bother to try him in a Court of Law because we know he’s guilty? And, should the Law just abandon the “innocent until proven guilty” way of thinking and replace it with “guilty until proven innocent”? Our founding fathers knew not to ever let fanatics like you get in power and wrote the Constitution accordingly.

Hillbilly D

November 11th, 2011
12:41 pm

And yet, there are fans whose tribal loyalty to a (Party)

I’ve often said that you could take any of the comments on this and other political blogs, change D/R and Left/Right to Georgia/Georgia Tech and the comments would fit just as well on Jeff Schultz’s or Mark Bradley’s blog. Neither side has a monopoly on that either.

ragnar danneskjold

November 11th, 2011
12:53 pm

Agree with the core argument, that there is no room for non-governmental threats in our culture (in fact, I am not wild about an intrusive government offering its ubiquitous threats either.) I partially understand the fans anger at Coach McQueary, as it looks like Joe Paterno is paying the penalty for McQueary’s failure to personally take action. Coach Paterno’s “crime” appears to be his failure to file a police report based on hearsay, and of course if one does that here in Dekalb County they will prosecute you for any error. Thus I give Mr. Paterno a pass on his judgment, i.e., reporting the rumors to the Athletic Director. Nevertheless, I recognize that in some well-run navies the Captain shoulders the blame for serious judgment errors by his underlings, thus Mr. Paterno is dismissed.

ragnar danneskjold

November 11th, 2011
12:57 pm

Joe Paterno, as friend and counselor, should have said to McQueary, “You need to call the police if you witnessed a crime.” Omerta has no place in America.

Politi Cal

November 11th, 2011
1:02 pm

Penn State should cancel the balance of its football season immediately, and consider seriously whether it ever wants to play football again. Personally I don’t see how a PSU team could ever run onto a field again in light of what the coaches and the university allowed to happen there. And by the way, the NCAA, which penalizes colleges and college athletes for such major infractions as selling a game jersey, has been very quiet on this case. Guess they don’t get overly concerned about child rape.

Kyle Wingfield

November 11th, 2011
1:24 pm

Politi Cal: I am no expert on NCAA rules, but I have heard it reported that the only NCAA rule that would apply here is a nebulous, cover-all ethics guideline. So, I am not surprised that the NCAA would let this play out, with additional facts coming out of the legal process, before opening any investigation of its own.

Siege

November 11th, 2011
1:36 pm

Sandusky doesn’t deserve the death penalty; he deserves to have his junk ripped off by a rabid pit bull! And everyone who even suspected they knew what was going on, including the person who witnessed the rape and the mother of the victim who confronted Sandusky but didn’t call the police, need to go to prison.

MarkV

November 11th, 2011
1:48 pm

carlosgvv @ 12:03 pm, 12:37 pm

You posts document the common misconception regarding the “principle of innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a Court of Law by a jury of your peers.”
Nobody is really innocent until proven guilty. He or she is either innocent, or guilty. If you were attacked and harmed by an individual you could identify, would you keep saying “he/she is innocent, because he/she has not been proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a Court of Law by a jury of his/her peers? After all, the mere fact that the accused person is being taken into custody documents the fact that he/she is not “innocent until proven guilty;” how could a person be considered innocent and still cuffed and locked up? Should the prosecutor consider the accused innocent?

The meaning of the above principle merely is that nobody can be legally punished until proven guilty. Naturally, if we do not know all the facts, we should reserve judgment. However, it would be irresponsible to avoid doing anything under any circumstances and wait for the judgment of the court.

Lil' Barry Bailout (Unexpectedly Revised Downward)

November 11th, 2011
2:04 pm

carlosgvv
12:03 pm
——————–

No truer words have ever been spoken. It’s quite frightening the extent that many are going to convict and sentence folks in the media recently. Just one example–I’ve heard on the news statements about Herman Cain and how he should be jailed for alleged sexual harassment. No allegations of illegal behaviro, no charges, no trial, just jail.

carlosgvv

November 11th, 2011
2:04 pm

MarkV

When did I say we should avoid doing anything under any circumstances? I said what you are saying, that we should reserve judgment untill we know all the facts, which I would hope will come out in the trial. This person is accused of serious crimes. It is obviously right he should be arrested and held for trial. But, he will not go to prison until convicted by a jury and sentenced by a judge. This is what I mean by “innocent until proven guilty”. It is the media and others who, despite not having all the facts, have already judged him guilty. If you were innocent of a crime but accused and arrested anyway, would you be satisfied if your treatment in the press was the same as Sandusky’s?

UGA 1999

November 11th, 2011
2:06 pm

Sorry Kyle but I disagree with you. Had that been my son you can bet there would be threats.

UGA 1999

November 11th, 2011
2:06 pm

What these guys did is an abomination.

Kyle Wingfield

November 11th, 2011
2:09 pm

UGA 1999 — I think you misunderstood me. The threats against McQueary are apparently because they blame him for Paterno’s firing, not for failing to protect the child.

UGA 1999

November 11th, 2011
2:10 pm

Kyle, Good point.

UGA 1999

November 11th, 2011
2:13 pm

I simply have a hard time feeling sorry for anyone involved with this situation.

Dusty

November 11th, 2011
2:19 pm

Some of this is totally incredible. An assistant coach sees a child being raped and does not rescue the child and then call the police? What would he have done if he saw a woman being raped? Walk off and tell his supervisor?

I don’t see the fans threatening anyone but perhaps this is not too surprising. McQueary did not take full responsibility for what he saw. We all think we would do better. I would hope so. But McQueary did the leastest and we want the mostest. Like Ragnar so accurately posted: Call the police. That is the proper place to start when a crime occurs.

Streetracer

November 11th, 2011
2:21 pm

Mark V:

You make a good point except that our legal system does not have an “innocent” verdict. the choices are guilty or not guilty. And not guilty doesn’t mean innocent.

However, being Nebaska born and raised, I wanted a Husker victory tomorrow. After this I would like to see a 200 to zip game.

UGA 1999

November 11th, 2011
2:26 pm

Streetracer….ever hear of innocent until proven guilty?

Streetracer

November 11th, 2011
2:30 pm

“Innocent until proven guilty” is a proper philosophical proposition. However it is not one of the jury’s two choices.

UGA 1999

November 11th, 2011
2:33 pm

streetracer….agreed. You are making the notion that it is “guilty or not proven guilty”…..however the phrase “not guilty” implies innocence.

Dusty

November 11th, 2011
2:36 pm

Kyle,

Are you sure you aren’t short changing the fans a little bit? I’m sure they are angry about Paterno’s dismissal. Don’t you think there was at least some anger about his lackluster efforts for the child?

I’m not one to give credit to football fans (including those of UGA) but surely there is some breath of humanity in the ballpark believers. Then again these are from the northern state of Pennsylvania!! (smile)!

Streetracer

November 11th, 2011
2:40 pm

Maybe I should expand that some (I know I tend to be pretty terse). A jury cannot return a verdict of “Innocent”. Their two choices are “guilty” and “not guilty”. This, I think, is wrong because the wrongfully accused are essentially stained (if you will) for life.

MarkV

November 11th, 2011
2:51 pm

carlosgvv @2:04 pm

You original posts did not make very clear that all you were for was reserving judgment, when you insisted on considering the accused “innocent until proven guilty, etc.” In a general sense, that is an unrealistic demand. What I see is that the media are almost always keep using the word “allegedly.”

The opinions of everybody can and probably should be based on what facts have been reported (by facts meaning not necessarily the truth of the alleged act being committed, but the reality of the reports). As I showed by my example of a person being attacked, obviously the view of guilt or innocence depends on the reliability of the knowledge about what happened.

In the case of Sandusky, as someone knowing only what I have watched on TV or read in the papers, I think I am justified in thinking that he seems to be guilty of some serious crimes, while keeping an open mind in case more information will show otherwise. However, I think it would be unrealistic to refuse to have such a view because of the principle “innocent until proven guilty.”

MarkV

November 11th, 2011
3:02 pm

Streetracer @2:40 pm

Naturally, you are absolutely right about the choices for the jury, which are quite different from the conclusions people can make, which do not include “not guilty;” but can conclude “not proven to be guilty” in addition to “guilty” or ”innocent.” And while I agree with you regarding the unfortunate result for those wrongfully accused and found “not guilty” in the court of law, the reality is that the verdict of “innocent” cannot realistically be issued.

Dusty

November 11th, 2011
3:03 pm

Streetracer,

Our justice system is not perfect but it is so much better than any other kind.

If there is a “stain” because of a court case, then it is in the mind of the public from which the jury was chosen. A “stain” may be something that a court cannot avoid. It is not part of the justice system.

I’m not a lawyer but I think an appeal can be filed if one seriously doubts a verdict in a court case.

@@

November 11th, 2011
3:04 pm

Sad to say, I’m not surprised. We’re a society of misplaced priorities.

When it comes to the abuse of children, one should never abdicate their responsibility to someone else. It leaves open the opportunity for neglect.

Everyone dropped the ball in this instance. No pun intended.

Dusty

November 11th, 2011
3:06 pm

Mark V

Does “caught in the act” mean anything to you? The original case here was based on a man “caught in the act”.

UGA 1999

November 11th, 2011
3:08 pm

Dusty….good point.

Kyle Wingfield

November 11th, 2011
3:09 pm

UGA 1999 @ 2:10: It’s not that I feel sorry for McQueary; it’s more that these threats heap more disgust upon disgust.

Dusty @ 2:36: I wondered about that, then saw the column by the Pittsburgh writer (linked in the OP). He made that claim pretty authoritatively, but I suppose it’s possible he was simply speculating. It does, however, stand to reason: If you’re the kind of person who is angry McQueary didn’t stop an act of sexual violence, are you likely to be the kind of person who publicly threatens to commit a violent act of your own? I guess it’s possible, but it strikes me as unlikely. Given the track record of fanatics (e.g., Cubs fans vs. Bartman, and the Bama fan who poisoned the trees at Auburn’s Toomer’s Corner), I’d say the original explanation is by far the most likely.

MarkV

November 11th, 2011
3:09 pm

Dusty @3:06 pm

Can you explain your question?

Dusty

November 11th, 2011
3:11 pm

@@

I suggest Penn State shold drop football and go for a pingpong team. Wonder if they could mess that up.

Hillbilly D

November 11th, 2011
3:17 pm

Slightly on topic and slightly off……..

I know law enforcement has to take them seriously and treat each one like it’s for real but people who make death threats aren’t usually the ones you have to worry about. People who are actually mad enough to kill you, usually don’t talk about it, they just do it.

Brian

November 11th, 2011
3:17 pm

The furor over this case really highlights the initial problem. If your morality plays have to unfold in the arena of athletics, you have invested way too much in athletics. The US military will blow up more innocent children in the next month than Sandusky molested in a decade, and yet nary an article in any mainstream publication will lament that ugly and unacceptable fact. A terrible crime has been committed, but this story has been way over-reported, and frankly reveals the rank moral hypocrisy of a nation that can only feel such outrage over athletics.

UGA 1999

November 11th, 2011
3:18 pm

Hillbilly…that may be true but making threats is illegal and the cops have to enforce the law.

Dusty

November 11th, 2011
3:18 pm

Kyle,

I’d forgotten about the “tree killer of revenge”. That does not make me want to join a fan club of any kind. but maybe you are correct. Football fans are brainless brats! That’s what you meant I think. (Maybe not 100 %? 95%?)

jconservative

November 11th, 2011
3:19 pm

Innocent until proven guilty? I do not believe the phrase appears in law.

One cannot be punished for a crime until found guilty of said crime. But one can be locked up to await trial if the judge thinks there is sufficient evidence. Casey Anthony was locked for over 3 years. Yet the verdict was Not Guilty. The word innocent does not appear in the verdict.

No one is saying Sandusky is legally guilty. Sandusky has been locked up. Apparently the Grand Jury thought there was enough evidence to convict. He is not “innocent” until proven guilty. He is “not guilty” until proven guilty.

UGA 1999

November 11th, 2011
3:22 pm

jconservative….remember that bail is based on the threat to society and/or flight risk. While it is important to protect the rights of the defendant, it is the courts duty to protect the public.

@@

November 11th, 2011
3:23 pm

People who are actually mad enough to kill you, usually don’t talk about it, they just do it.

Which would have been me, had I caught Mr. Sandusky in the act that day. Might not of been able to kill him, but he’d be wishin’ he was dead.

UGA 1999

November 11th, 2011
3:26 pm

There is no way that they will be able to put Sandusky in the general population of the prison. He will not survive 48 hours.

@@

November 11th, 2011
3:27 pm

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R.-Ga.) has moved past former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and former Godfathers Pizza CEO Herman Cain to become the top choice for president among Republican primary voters who describe themselves as Tea Party supporters, according to a CBS News poll released today.

In the new poll, conducted Nov. 6-10, 21 percent of Republican primary voters who say they are Tea Party supporters said Gingrich was their choice. 19 percent said their choice was Cain, and 11 percent said their choice was Romney.

Alrighty din!

@@

November 11th, 2011
3:29 pm

There is no way that they will be able to put Sandusky in the general population of the prison. He will not survive 48 hours.

All the more reason to put him there….required to shower with every shift.

Dusty

November 11th, 2011
3:30 pm

Mark V

IN your 2:51 you felt that justice cannot be served unless there is the premise of “innocent until proven guilty”. So I asked how you felt when a criminal is observed and caught “in the act” . Could you not say in this case “guilty without a doubt”? I believe a witness to a crime almost obscures the need for an unneeded and untruthful pretense of “innocent until proven guilty”. In this case, it seems “beyond the pale”.