I'm sitting here on an eight-hour plane ride from Fukuoka to Honolulu, too bleary-eyed to read the English subtitles on the distant monitor showing the third or fourth Japanese rogue cop movie in a row (they promised Marigold Hotel \ where the heck is it?!), so I'm looking through the last save my iPad made of the NYT.
Inevitably, the Penn State disgrace comes up. The NCAA has dealt the school and it's famed football program \ which systemically ignored obvious sex abuse of children because it didn't want to derail the money train \ a brutal blow.
Given the punishingly harsh publicity Penn State and the once saintly Paterno have received, it's not all that surprising that the hammer would come down so hard on the program and the university. Nor all that disappointing. While it's inherently unfair to those who had absolutely nothing to do with this case that they are (indirectly) being punished, a message has to be sent that such egregious behavior (and not just the child molester Sandusky's) should never be tolerated, especially when protecting profits is the primary motivation for ignoring or burying the horrendous abuse.
Sex assault, whether child molestation or rape of an adult or some other similar assault, leaves its victims so scarred, and often truly effed-up... there's just no way to overstate the seriousness with which these cases should be taken (and prevented in the first place). If you have no idea what I'm talking about, I pray you never do.
Those were my thoughts since the Sandusky case and the subsequent coverup came to light, a nearly identical reaction as when the systemic abuse within the Catholic clergy was exposed layer by layer. But as I read the NYT piece just hours after leaving Seoul, I couldn't help but think of similar coverups and the general habit of looking the other way when sex abuse occurs in institutions that fear their image will be damaged if those cases become publicly known.
I think it is easy to see loose parallels between Penn State and, say, regional communities in south Korea where serial sexual assault had occurred and the police bullied the victims and their parents into silence. In some cases the parents were chided for ruining the reputation of their towns, a familiar refrain.
But local communities don't have the equivalent of the NCAA. Sadly, there is no real incentive to make sure those cases of systemic abuse are pursued with due diligence, except for the remote possibility of even worse publicity when the coverup itself is exposed.
If I can track it down, I will write something up on the editorial cartoon that appeared in Wednesday's Korea Herald, which suggested equivalency between what Jerry Sandusky did to his child victims and what Bill Clinton did with Monica Lewinsky.
From The New York Times:
NEWS ANALYSIS: Real N.C.A.A. Penalty for Penn State, but No Cheers Yet
Although the punishment was harsh, the outsize role of money in college sports may be a bigger factor in the degree to which the Penn State scandal will resonate at universities.
This succinct email was sent from my iPad.
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