What a wrenching moment: Penn State has removed the statue of Joe Paterno from its campus. I generally dislike the idea of removing statuary of once-popular public figures once the public mood has changed; it strikes me as too close to the Stalinist practice of airbrushing photos to rewrite history.
That said, it feels like the right thing to do in this case, as a sign of repentance. Still, it’s incredibly poignant to consider this as the denouement of the tragedy (in the Greek sense) of Joe Paterno. Tomorrow morning, the NCAA will reportedly announce “unprecedented” sanctions against Penn State football over the child rape scandal.
On second thought, I have a better idea: the university should return the JoePa statue, but install next to it a millstone on a pedestal. (“It would be better to be thrown into the sea with a millstone hung around your neck than to cause one of these little ones to fall into sin.” — Luke 17:2). That would remind passersby of the glory of Joe Paterno and Penn State football under his leadership, but also of the fact of, and the weight of, his wrongdoing. Both things would always be in front of the community; the tension between the two pieces would be instructive.