13 Nov 2011
They would have said grand things about you, Joe. You would have been written about as nothing but a legend, a god among men. A good man.
But that’s all changed. And it changed in one instant, in one singular moment in 2002 when circumstances called for you to fulfill a moral obligation to not only a ten year old boy but society at large and you failed to fulfill that obligation.
Every one of us has an obligation to protect those unable to protect themselves. It is this promise that binds our society together. We are all responsibile for each other and we cannot shy away from that duty simply because it would be difficult or inconvenient. To do so is to declare our personal well-being a greater priority than that of the group; to say that our interest in following the law and morality of society extends only so far as it does not hinder us as individuals.
And even if that were not the case, it would still be wrong to ignore the suffering of a child, to do nothing – football, media, and politics aside. Joe Paterno already knows this and will have to live with his choices for the rest of his life.1 Unfortunately, he is not the only one.