Obviously, the Paterno/Sandusky news from the Freeh report today was terrible. The victims can almost feel doubly hurt by the knowledge now that the sicko Sandusky was abetted and helped for so many years. I’m sure there are many people who will make the connection to the Ultra Orthodox communities and the systemic secrecy at PSU, and hope for a similar type of exposure to the harsh light of day of the many secrets and pedophiles we’ve harbored and helped over the years.
But my particular focus in this post is a little different. It seems that Nike, the same day as the report was made public, began to remove Joe Paterno’s name from one of it’s buildings (a child development center). For more, see SB Nation or Deadspin.
Paterno wasn’t tried or convicted, he was just exposed. And yet, his name is an embarrassment to Nike, so they removed it.
And yet…the names of criminals (tried and convicted and in jail) remain on countless buildings and institutions in our communities. A criminal is an embarrassment to the entire community, and shames the institutions that bear his or her name, regardless of the crime. And while people may make a moral relativism argument that Paterno’s crime is worse than some of the financial ones we are so well known for, I say that’s irrelevant. The financial crimes had victims, too, and are still a black eye on the community.
Our institutions should have the conviction of action that Nike does, and remove the names of convicted felons from their institutions and buildings. In an ideal world, our institutions could return the money that was ill-gotten, but that not really a possibility. But the basic step of disassociation from criminals is, and should be taken.