Moral responsibility worth more than football

As the recent Penn State child sexual abuse scandal reveals, the chain of command isn’t always enough. Simply reporting a crime to your boss and letting the rest unfold without your involvement makes you almost as-if not equally as-culpable as the perpetrator.

Such is the case with Joe Paterno and Mike McQueary. McQueary witnessed Jerry Sandusky sexually assaulting a young boy in the shower and reported it to Paterno, his superior. Paterno reported the event (an allegedly watered down and hazy retelling) to his superiors and left it at that.

And what did the all-knowing, all-powerful higher ups do? They took away Sandusky’s locker room keys.

Aside from Paterno’s moral responsibility to make sure Sandusky was reported to the authorities who could actually stop him, how did he live all these years with the knowledge that Sandusky was taking the innocence of young children? Somehow, he managed, and, in the opinion of The Flor-Ala editorial board, that makes him a monster as well.

Yet, many football fans seem to mourn Paterno’s recent firing. Photos on The Washington Post website show students rallying in his favor with picket signs displaying such witty mantras as “Don’t Go Joe” and “God bless Paterno.”

So he should stay? Maybe knowing Sandusky had allegedly raped and was continually raping children and saying nothing qualifies him to continue to coach a football team. Or maybe his amazing coaching abilities lift him above all responsibility. He did say the children who had been abused as a direct result of his complacency and Sandusky’s evil were in his prayers, after all.

Yes, Paterno reported to his higher ups, but he also knew that they did next to nothing in response to his report. The next step should have been easy. Dial 9-1-1. It’s pretty simple.

It appears that Paterno did what he thought would save his job and the legendary football program he worked for. Now, he is paying for that decision, if he hasn’t paid already with years of guilt, which The Flor-Ala editorial board hopes he has experienced.

Aside from the lesson that sexual predators are not always the hooded strangers behind the bushes, another lesson remains to be learned for students.

Sometimes the chain of command has to be broken to save others and, in Paterno’s case, yourself.

McQueary was a graduate assistant when he witnessed Sandusky raping a child. He did not make the right decision when he decided to allow his higher ups to cover such a horrific crime. As students, we are only a few years away from entering the professional world, where we will inevitably witness wrongdoing-hopefully nowhere near the disgusting nature of the Penn State scandal.

Will we be ready to do the right thing? No job is worth the loss of a child’s innocence.

The opinions expressed are the collective opinion of The Flor-Ala editorial board.