Moralists on Parade
by Melvyn_Fein
 Current Events
November 25, 2011 01:53 PM | 1060 views | 0 0 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink

Isn’t it amazing!  (Oops, my Andy Rooney persona is showing again.)  Why do some people insist on riding their own personal hobbyhorses whenever a tragedy occurs?  All of us sudden, they feel compelled to douse us with a bucketful of self-righteousness—in the name of reasoned analysis.

We have just been treated to this sort of moralistic posturing with regard to the Penn State/Sandusky scandal.  Pedophilia is a tragic, nasty business.  People have every right—indeed a duty—to be outraged when it is discovered.  But then some people redirect their indignation in inappropriate directions.

Among the responses to this disgrace have been predictable calls to either eliminate or reduce the attention paid to football.  Decried as a shockingly violent sport, its critics tell us that it is time to put the genie back in its bottle.

Meanwhile the media cover these howls of indignation because they are newsworthy and because they are controversial.  I do not object to this, so much as the seriousness with which these denunciations are greeted.

What if Sandusky was a tollbooth operator?  Would we demand that the toll highways be closed down?  This may seem like a silly analogy, both so is the proposition that there is a necessary connection between football and pedophilia.

Football, if we prize it, should stand and fall on its own merits, not on guilt by spurious association.  Nor shouldPennStatebe made a scapegoat for the actions of one of its former employees.  The school itself is far larger than one flawed individual.

And as to Joe Paterno, it is only the tragedy of a diagnosis of lung cancer that has kept the accusations within bounds.  I was, therefore, pleased to hear Franco Harris come to his one-time coach’s defense.  He rightly argued that Paterno had not ignored the offense; he had merely kicked it upstairs where it belonged.

It is easy to be holier-than-thou.  As long as one has not been tested by similar events, one can assume that one would surely have done the right thing.  Hence let us condemn the offender—not everyone or everything remotely connected to him.

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