Penn State and the lessons of power

In human hands, power tends to corrupt. Left alone and over time, the consequences of the corrupting situation(s) will certainly fail to improve.

As such, there is no better argument for political term limits and institutional transparency than the example from sports we see with Penn State football, the Jerry Sandusky sex crimes, and Joe Paterno.

From MSNBC regarding the just-released Freeh report:

The report says the main cause of the university’s failure was a desire to avoid bad publicity.

When power is threatened—in this case, in the form of potential bad publicity—either the reality of the situation is dismissed or a scapegoat must be found. Beneficial reform is waved-off until the weight of the crisis demands it.

Other institutional-level problems from the Freeh report:

            • A striking lack of empathy for child abuse victims.
            • Lack of oversight by the board of trustees.
            • “A president who discouraged discussion and dissent.”
            • Ignorance of child abuse issues and laws.
            • A football program that had opted out of university programs and training on reporting requirements.
            • “A culture of reverence for the football program that is ingrained at all levels of the campus community.”

No empathy, no oversight, no leadership, ignorance, lack of transparency, inappropriate hero worship/cult of personality. Not good. In fact, it reminds me of our current political situation—that is, the Obama Administration—in many ways. How ‘bout this?

  • A striking lack of empathy for tax payers, the young, and savers.
  • Lack of oversight within the Justice Department.
  • “A president who discouraged discussion and dissent.”
  • Ignorance of the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, Executive authority, and effective economic principles.
  • A Justice Department that hid behind Executive Privilege and ignored Congressional reporting requirements.
  • “A culture of reverence for the President that is ingrained at all levels of the Democrat party and across the main-stream media.”

The concern with legacy, with what others think, is more powerful than we realize. Many, Joe Pa and Penn State included, are likely more concerned with their legacy—that is, winning and/or looking like they’re doing the right thing—than they are with doing the right thing and competing with honor.

Penn State as an institution probably would have missed the decades-long signals if the football staff had established a Jerry Sandusky School of Massage and Locker Room Therapy.


About Professor Mockumental

I enjoy almost all forms of parody, buffoonery, and general high-jinks. Satire has shown itself to be an essential societal need; I therefore humbly offer my services in such a manner. I enjoy mocking the usual suspects at the New York Times (Charles Blows, Moron Dowd, and the earth is flat guy) and Washington Post (Dana Milkbag, E.D. Dijon, and David Ignoramus). There are many others as well, but sadly, there are always too many targets and too little time.

Posted on July 12, 2012, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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