RSS
Should Penn State take down Joe Paterno's statue?
After a damning report leaves little doubt that JoePa helped cover for Sandusky, many question why Penn State is still honoring the late football coach
 
The fate of a bronze statue of the late Joe Paterno outside Penn State's Beaver Stadium remains in limbo following new revelations in the Jerry Sandusky child-sex abuse scandal.

The fate of a bronze statue of the late Joe Paterno outside Penn State's Beaver Stadium remains in limbo following new revelations in the Jerry Sandusky child-sex abuse scandal.

Rob Carr/Getty Images

The late Joe Paterno used to be a near-deity at Penn State. But after a seven-month investigation conducted by former FBI director Louis Freeh showed last week that Paterno and several school administrators repeatedly covered up child sex-abuse allegations made against former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky, the university is once again reassessing Paterno's already-stained legacy. (Sandusky, who was convicted last month of 45 counts of child sex abuse, is awaiting sentencing.) An artist has already painted over Paterno's halo on a campus mural, and many are calling for an iconic statue of the legendary head football coach to be pulled down, too. Some reports say that the university's board of trustees has decided to leave up the bronze statue, which sits outside Penn State's Beaver Stadium, but on Monday, the school denied that any decision had been made. For now, the statue still stands — with a security guard posted nearby. Is leaving it up a slap in the face to Sandusky's victims?

Yes. Leaving the statue up insults the victims: "What are they waiting for?" asks Canada's The Columbian in an editorial. Yes, Paterno did a lot of great things for the university during his decades leading the football program, but "those things are destined to be overshadowed by his culpability in this grotesque story." Leaving the statue up "would be a disservice to the victims and a blatant attempt to ignore the truth, something that Penn State apparently has perfected over the years."
"Take down Paterno's statue" 

Yes. Taking the statue down would help Penn State move on: "Every time somebody walks by and sees that statue, they're not going to remember [Paterno's] 80 good years," former Florida State football coach Bobby Bowden, who was a close friend of Paterno, says in a radio interview. When people look at that statue, "they're going to remember this thing with Sandusky." Imagine, "every time you go to a ballgame at Penn State and they shine a camera on that statue, that's going to be brought up again." The school has to "try to forget this thing," and that means pulling the statue down.
"Bobby Bowden says Joe Paterno's statue needs to be removed" 

No. The statue is an important teaching tool: That Joe Paterno's statue is on a college campus is "the best reason of all to keep it up," says Jack Marshall at Ethics Alarms. The bronze JoePa is a symbol around which several courses could be built. Imagine educators using the statue to teach students about the "responsibilities of leadership, the opiate of success, the temptations of greed, the mechanics of corruption, and organizational dynamics." Students "need to learn the lessons of Joe Paterno's rise and fall," so that nobody ever forgets what happened.
"The ethical fate for Joe Paterno's statue" 

 

THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER

Subscribe to the Week