The Penn State assistant coach ought to be a negative example to us all, says Paul Campos:
It appears that he in effect decided his nascent coaching career was more important than stopping Jerry Sandusky from not merely raping little boys, but from using the Penn State campus to gather his prey, and using Penn State football games and practices to “reward” his little victims. In other words, this is a case in which McQueary, in the years after he actually saw Sandusky raping a little boy, came face to face with Sandusky in the company of the little boys Sandusky was raping at the time – and he continued to nothing further about it. And not because his life or freedom or those of anyone close to him might be in danger, but because he knew that the coaching fraternity does not look well on taking things “outside the family.” (If this seems implausible, consider that Duke basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski
implicitlycriticized a Baylor assistant basketball coach for taping conversations with head coach Dave Bliss, after Bliss ordered the coach to participate in a scheme to falsely attribute a Baylor player’s murder to the player’s imaginary drug dealing, in order to conceal Bliss’s illicit payments to the player. The coach has since been blackballed from his former profession. Coach K, as he is worshipfully known in the sports media, recently hosted an ESPN special entitled Difference Makers: Life Lessons with Paterno and Krzyzewski).
The point of lingering over McQueary’s decision to value his potential for career advancement over stopping a serial child rapist from continuing to find and parade his victims in front of McQueary’s face isn’t that McQueary (along with the rest of the actors in this saga) is some sort of inexplicable moral monster. It would be nice to think so, but consider that his despicable behavior merely mirrors that of his head coach, his athletic director, and his university’s president, who all made, and continued for years to make, essentially the same decision to value their careers over stopping little boys from being raped by a man they had worked with for years, and who they allowed to continue to walk among them every day. The point of calling out McQueary’s physical and especially moral cowardice is to remind us how we are all capable of sinking so low, if we do not remind ourselves constantly, in whatever way is most useful for each of us, of the truth of Samuel Johnson’s remark that, “courage is reckoned the greatest of all virtues; because, unless a man has that virtue, he has no security for preserving any other.”
Read the whole thing. You want to know why stuff like this makes me so damn angry, and why I can’t drop the subject? Because I was, to a lesser degree, that kid in the locker room. When I was an adolescent, I was held down by bullies who threatened to sexually humiliate me. The two chaperones who saw this happening, and who heard me begging them for help, literally stepped over me to get out of the room where this was happening. This, with me pleading with them not to leave me there. But those were the cool kids, and these two moms wanted to preserve their relationship with the cool kids. Unlike the kid in the Sandusky story, I got away without the bullies doing anything more than scaring the hell out of me. But I have never felt so powerless and afraid, and have never, ever forgotten the lesson of the moral cowardice of those two women who had the power to stop what was going on, but refused to do so, even though it put them at no risk at all, except the risk that they might not be liked by the people whose favor they wanted to curry.
UPDATE: Alan Jacobs sees a military ethos in sports as explaining McQueary’s reaction.