If planning to protest, be careful in choosing your cause

Published 12:03 am Sunday, November 13, 2011

America was built on a protest. Tired of the overreaching arm of the British crown, freedom-seeking Americans began the march to independence with a protest. The act of protest is one of the founding tenets of this nation and one that should be cherished.

Protests make a stand. Rosa Parks protested by not giving up her seat on a Montgomery bus in defiance of the politics of the times.

Protesters are seemingly everywhere today. They are protesting the federal government, greed on Wall Street, eating meat and the use of incandescent light bulbs. Some have merit, some are misguided.

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Some are disgraceful.

State College, Pa., is a fairly small city tucked in central Pennsylvania in the Alleghany Mountains. Historically, the school has been renowned for its prowess on the football field and its love affair with its football coach, Joe Paterno. He has been coaching at the school for 61 years, 46 of those as head coach, and has the most football wins of any Division I coach in history. He could have run for governor and won in a landslide. The people treated the man as a god.

He was only a football coach.

Late Wednesday night, the Penn State Board of Trustees sacked the iconic coach. Students, as is their right, protested the termination. They placed flowers of support at the front door of a man, it is alleged, who knew of the most heinous acts being perpetrated under his watchful eyes. The grand jury indictment against his former assistant coach, Jerry Sandusky, on charges of sexual abuse against children is an abomination to humankind. If the allegations are proved true, their is no hell fit for this man.

The indictment, which easily can be found online, is 23 pages of disgusting, hard-to-believe acts perpetrated against children as young as 10 years old stretching back as many as 15 years. The indictment alleges that Paterno was told by a graduate assistant of an episode of Sandusky in the shower performing horrible acts on a young boy. The graduate assistant told Paterno, who then passed the information up the chain of command in 2002. Nothing, it appears, was done. The indictment tells of eight victims being abused between 1996 and 2002.

Students protested violently — not against the coach and administration who allowed this to continue, but against the coach’s firing. A smattering of students gathered in protest for the children; most were for the coach. Morally bankrupt thinking at its worst.

Obviously few, if any, read the indictment. Twenty-three pages is not trying to sift through “War and Peace,” mind you. It’s 23 pages of pure hell against young boys. It’s 23 pages of a cover-up to keep the coffers overflowing for a football program and protecting the school’s “holier than though” persona.

In the annals of American protests — from the Boston Tea Party to the Tea Party Express — this one will go down with the worst of them: Protesting the firing of a coach who, although legally in the clear, failed morally. He could have done more. He should have done more. He was JoePa, an image crafted over 46 years of class and doing things right.

Read the indictment, then decide which protest you would have joined.

For the coach who knew? Or for the children?

For those who choose the former, it’s time for a bit of soul-searching.