Most people cheered when the statue was removed. Most people begged and pleaded for it to come down. Most people hate Joe Paterno. Most people don’t understand how Penn Staters still defend him.
I am not saying I still defend Joe Paterno, because I don’t. He made a gigantic mistake and his legacy is not the same. That is the bottom line. But when I watched the video of the statue being removed this morning, and I read tweets and reactions on the matter, I couldn’t help but feel something. I couldn’t help but wish it wasn’t happening. Not any ounce of me was glad the statue was coming down.
If you didn’t go to Penn State you don’t get it–and I am not trying to be “cult like” with that statement by any means, nor am I trying to “brag” about my school. Many close-minded people call that statement naive and immature. They said “Penn Staters” don’t get it. That we don’t see the entire picture. That we don’t care about the victims. That Joe Paterno became bigger than everything. That we blindly support Penn State over anything.
Trust me—that is dead wrong.
We get it. Penn State top officials, including Joe Paterno, made awful decisions to cover up child sex abuse. We’re not avoiding that and we’re definitely not defending that. We understand that.
But it is extremely difficult when something, or someone, that has helped you shape your life, your values, and mold you into the man or women you are today, lets you down. When that person, thing, or place contradicts the message that you believed in, and listened too, your world gets flipped upside down for a split second.
That’s what has happened to every single Penn Stater.
Joe Paterno served as a “father figure” to every Penn Stater. He was the ideal man, the perfect guy. If you went to Penn State, you loved Joe Paterno.
If your own loved one messed up, committed a crime, made a monumental mistake, would you defend him/her? If it was your husband, wife, brother, sister, best friend, mother, or father that you realized wasn’t the person you thought he or she was, how would you react? Would you still defend him or her? Would you go to battle for him or her? Would you beg, plead to see every single piece of evidence? Would you remember the good? Would you deny it? Would you disregard all the negative comments? Would you continue to fight for your loved one?
I don’t know what I would do; I have never been in that situation. Most people haven’t. You can’t really say what you would do, until you are put in the situation. I am not saying I love Joe Paterno like I love my father, but in some weird way, Penn State has put hundreds of thousands in that situation.
Again, I am not defending Penn State. I am not defending Joe Paterno or any of those officials. They were 100% wrong and Penn State should, and will (tomorrow at 9:00am), be penalized. I just wish the people that have no affiliation with Penn State can try to wear the hat of a Penn State student, alumni, mother, father, football player, etc. Just try to see our point of view and simply realize, this isn’t as cut and dry as you want it to be. We’re not naive, we’re not immature, we’re not blind, and we’re definitely not defending anyone. We care for the victims and we will fight as a university against child sex abuse—I guarantee it.
We believed in, and loved, Joe Paterno and Penn State. We also shaped our lives based on what Joe Paterno and Penn State taught us. Now, all that came crashing down and we have to readjust. Time for us to take a deep breath and take it all in. Be a little understanding—give us a second or two.