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This has been a profoundly disturbing week for all members of the Penn State community, of which I consider myself part. I put in two tours of duty at the university, where I earned a Bachelor of Science and a Master of Fine Arts Degree. I also worked as a Graduate Assistant for a couple years, penning press releases and feature stories for publications produced by the College of Art and Architeture. Never the kind of Penn Stater who bleeds blue and white, I still found myself deep in the dumps over the terrible revelations of crimes and negligence that seemed to multiply daily after the Sandusky scandal broke.

But I didn’t know just how bad things had become for me. You see, throughout the week I had the benefit of a long parade of local intellects all more than eager to educate me about the nature of my own culpability in this sordid mess, the finest minds in the Pittsburgh sports radio community and the callers that enrich their programs with a seemingly infinite reserve of wisdom. It turns out there’s a lot I don’t know about myself.

So, what follows are actual insights about me and my fellow Penn Staters offered up by the hosts and callers. The assertions were made on the following programs:

  • Vinnie and Cook (93.7 The Fan)
  • The Fan Morning Show (93.7 The Fan)
  • Seibel and Starkey (93.7 the Fan)
  • The Mark Madden Show (105.9 The X)

I report them here in the interests of science and self knowledge.

  • I Uphold The PSU Omertà – When I was accepted for admission by Penn State, I swore an oath to honor the Penn State Omertà. You see, all members of the Penn State community–coaches, administrators, employees, and students–maintain a code of silence tighter than that of the Mafia and Whitey Bulger’s Winter Hill Gang. We are all instructed, right from the start, that we must preserve the image of the university at all costs and so must never discuss any transgression outside “the family.” Because I recall no overt instruction on this matter, much less swearing an oath, I can only surmise the university applies brainwashing techniques and subliminal suggestion.
  • I Need to Learn the Miracle of Compound Histrionics – Because my response to the Sandusky scandal was emotional, but also reasoned and short of hysterical, I am just as guilty as Jerry Sandusky of child sexual abuse. It seems the only appropriate and acceptable way to elude this kind of guilt by association is, paradoxically, to first admit this guilt by association and then to daily compound the hyperbole I apply to the harshest condemnations of Sandusky, Penn State, its administration, and Joe Paterno (but mostly Joe Paterno).
  • I Must Accept that Joe Paterno’s Inaction is Another 9/11 – Because I don’t think Joe Paterno’s sins of omission should overshadow Jerry Sandusky’s sins of commission, I am just another Penn State enabler of child sexual abuse. I must remember that Joe Paterno is the source of all things evil in this life, and his moral failings in running MIke McQueary’s report up the Penn State chain of command created a situation as devastating as the 9/11 attacks. I suppose it speaks volumes about my own ignorance to not intuitively know this, which might explain why I was so thunderstruck to hear this this equation with 9/11 made over the Pittsburgh airwaves.
  • I Belong to a Nazi-Like Cult – As a degree-holder from Penn State who refuses to disown all connection to his alma mater and deny it holds any value as an institution, I belong to a Nazi-like cult. This bit of enlightenment came, not surprisingly, from a scholar of human nature who goes by the sobriquet “Hebrew Hammer,” a regular caller, it seems, to Mark Madden’s brief-but-lyrical sports chats on “The X.” And to think I never believed Godwin’s Law could be applied to me.
  • I Wear the Scarlet PSU – As a degree-holder from Penn State, I am now forever professionally tainted and my career prospects have been severely limited because of this now-dark and inescapable item on my résumé. All employers everywhere will now equate “Penn State graduate” with “child rapist” (this also from Madden’s program).

So enlightened, I’m not sure what to do next. As a start, I’m heading over to eBay to see if there are any deals on hair shirts and cats o’ nine tails with which to flagellate myself. And no, Pittsburgh sports talkers, that’s not what you think it means.

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