Sad commentary, indeed

24 06 2012

It is possible that, without Facebook, I wouldn’t find any inspiration to write at all.  It’s amazing how many times a comment there will set me to thinking about larger issues.

This morning’s inspiration had to do with the Sandusky verdict.

“After watching the live coverage on CNN of the Sandusky verdict, I have to say this: I believe that the legal counsel they had commenting about the process is right. It is unfortunate commentary on not only the case and the defendant, but also our society when the crowd gathered outside the courthouse cheered as the verdict was revealed. Now sure, it is good that this man is being held accountable for his actions, but consider. Lives have been ruined and families have been torn apart because of this. Yes, I am thankful for the judicial process and for this conviction, but I don’t feel like cheering. All the pain, anger, and destruction he has caused. That doesn’t seem like a reason to cheer. I feel extreme sadness for all those involved, including Mr. Sandusky.”

(Bold added.)

Let’s see what I can unpack here.  The biggest one for me, obviously, is the part that I bolded.  “Lives have been ruined…”  Yes, let’s look at that.  I loathe the passive construction, the one where things just happen, but apparently nobody actually did them.  So let’s change that around to express what actually occurred here.  Jerry Sandusky ruined lives.  He raped children.  He set up a foundation for access to young boys and he groomed them so that he could rape them repeatedly.  There were those around him who knew what was happening and did nothing, or did the minimum that could let them tell themselves that they didn’t do nothing.  Jerry Sandusky raped children.  A lot of them.

So is it really an “unfortunate commentary on our society” for people to literally cheer the verdict?  I don’t think it is.  I don’t have a problem with people expressing their opinions vigorously.  To shake our heads sadly about This Sad Commentary On Society is a classic silencing technique… how very icky, how repulsive, how uncomfortable to hear people expressing their real feelings about a sexual predator.    And I know how I felt when I heard the verdict.  Relief that this pedophile rapist did NOT ultimately get away with it, in spite of the indifference of the all-powerful Penn State football program over decades.  Joy that the victims had been heard, and believed, that they knew they were not alone in what they had endured, and that it was Not. Their. Fault.

Yes.  I will cheer that.

I don’t feel sadness for Mr. Sandusky.  He’s a rapist who got caught.  He made his choices.  And I don’t care much what kind of pathology you have, there is no universe in which raping a child is okay.  I do feel a certain sadness for his family, particularly with the more recent revelations that Sandusky molested his own son.  I’m sure that Dottie Sandusky would literally rather die than face the storm that must be outside her front door every morning.  But for Sandusky himself?  He raped children.  And now he gets to spend the rest of his life in prison.

Yes.  I will cheer that.

“I feel extreme sadness for all those involved, including Mr. Sandusky.” This noble stance, of expressing sympathy to everyone involved, it seems so grown-up, doesn’t it?  You’re the mature, objective outsider, the one who can somehow magically see the entire situation, and wow, look how big you are for seeing the pain everywhere.  It’s insidious.  Look at all that pain!  Look at all those hurting people! We should feel sorry for all of them! When you do that, you can make all that pain equivalent.  It’s a real short step from there to saying that Sandusky (and his family) are just as hurt as the victims.

Yeah.  Fuck that noise.

I do not doubt that those who love Jerry Sandusky are hurting.  The kind of hurt that makes you want to curl on yourself and howl until it stops.  But I will never, in a thousand lifetimes, be able to make that equivalent to what Sandusky’s victims went through.  He groomed his victims, told them he loved them, and then he raped them.  Betrayal of an adult is one thing.  What Sandusky did to all those children is orders of magnitude worse.  His actions blew apart young lives – they can be rebuilt and made strong again, but imagine what those children could have done if they didn’t have to spend all that effort and energy on pulling their souls back together.  Imagine what the families could be feeling if Sandusky hadn’t raped their children.  What the focus of their lives might be, what they could be exploring or experiencing together, if there weren’t a giant smoking crater in the middle of their lives.

I’ve seen some writing about how we should hope that Sandusky somehow can find himself love and forgiveness through Jesus.  As a Christian, I should probably get on board.  I really can’t.  If he finds peace, forgiveness, joy, love… I don’t much care.  What happens to him after they toss him in prison doesn’t really concern me.  What does concern me is how all of those who were victimized by the choices he made try to pick up the pieces of their lives and move forward.   Sandusky doesn’t have another single thing to do except exist inside of a prison.  All those other people have to try to rebuild lives.  They’re the ones who deserve our real concern and our prayers.

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