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Bring the JoePa fighting here, y'all
January 22, 2012 10:30 AM   Subscribe

"We're not going to tell people not to express negative feelings here, but if you must bicker about them, please do it in MeTa."

Fighting, dots, empathy/sympahy or lack therefore, active loathing, understanding of the human condition and the responsibilities of power: come one, come all.
posted by the man of twists and turns to Etiquette/Policy at 10:30 AM (198 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

Count no mod happy until the MeTa is closed.
posted by joe lisboa at 10:31 AM on January 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


Is this another Kim Jong Il thread!
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 10:34 AM on January 22, 2012


Anybody got a feather?
posted by the man of twists and turns at 10:35 AM on January 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Count no mod happy until the MeTa is closed.

Nah, that's really not true. I'd rather have the conversations happening here where they belong rather than in the blue - sometimes I think people are better off just getting over it, but this particular topic is high-tension enough that it will work better for everyone if there's a space they can hash this stuff out.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 10:35 AM on January 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oh, nevermind, I see who actually died shortly after a rumor of his death.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 10:35 AM on January 22, 2012


I can't decide whether it would have been prudent or stunt-posty to have created this thread before posting the obit.
posted by gauche at 10:35 AM on January 22, 2012


Deep down, no one really gives a shit about this.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:35 AM on January 22, 2012 [18 favorites]


Posting a MeTa without a link to the thread deserves bannination.
posted by no regrets, coyote at 10:37 AM on January 22, 2012 [25 favorites]


It's different than the KJI thread because in that thread we were debating whether speaking ill of the dead is never appropriate, where in this thread we will debate whether speaking well of the dead is ever appropriate.

Progress!
posted by gauche at 10:37 AM on January 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


Deep down, no one really gives a shit about this.

I do.
posted by zarq at 10:37 AM on January 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


Yeah, and just to try and touch on this early: it'd be great if this thread were used for actual like discussing-stuff-that-pertains-to-mefi stuff and not just an outlet for things folks think might get deleted if they said in the main thread or felt like saying twice, once here and once there.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:37 AM on January 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


It's helpful if you post a link to the thread you're talking about.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:38 AM on January 22, 2012


THE THREAD IN QUESTION
posted by the man of twists and turns at 10:38 AM on January 22, 2012


Oh no, I agree with you, restless_nomad.
posted by joe lisboa at 10:38 AM on January 22, 2012


Count no mod happy until the MeTa is closed.

Huh? No, people have to just not behave like assholes in the MeFi thread just because to them personally the death of this person is very very important in either a good way or a bad way. We understand that there are a lot of tough aspects to the death of this polarizing figure but that doesn't mean that the gloves are off and people can just holler at each other in the MeFi thread. I don't know why this is news to anyone, but we're here in case you have trouble understanding what the boundaries are.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 10:39 AM on January 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


I see nothing wrong with speaking ill of the dead. They can't hear us, and anyone living who feels hurt should realize it's the dead bastard who really hurt them, not the loose-lipped living.
posted by oneswellfoop at 10:41 AM on January 22, 2012 [5 favorites]


Burhanistan: Deep down, plenty of people give a very real shit about this. I'm sure the victims do. I'm sure the perpetrators and accessories and their families do. And yes, there are people on the internet and in the world at large that do.

Jon Stewart nailed it in this segment. It's the Catholic Church type scandal of American football. It's a sacred cow of culture that breeds power and greed. Unsurprisingly, many of the beneficiaries of that power and wealth abuse it. In this case, they abused children.

Many of us care about that. A lot. To say otherwise is demeaning and offensive, and the fact that some people feel the need to characterize the reaction to flippancy and ignorance w/r/t this issue as the old Someone is Wrong on the Internet canard is tone-deaf and ignorant, not to mention inappropriate for Metafilter. Which I guess is why we are here.
posted by lazaruslong at 10:43 AM on January 22, 2012 [12 favorites]


The scandal was pretty confusing to me. I spent at least a week initially thinking Joe Paterno was a pedophile. I'm still not clear on exactly what the witness said to Joe or the athletic director. Is there like a handy explanation floating out there?

I see nothing wrong with speaking ill of the dead. They can't hear us, and anyone living who feels hurt should realize it's the dead bastard who really hurt them, not the loose-lipped living.

Man, that is you putting your head in the sand. However, there is a difference between a thread on here and say, a Westboro baptist protest. A family has a right to grieve regardless of who the person was.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 10:45 AM on January 22, 2012


Pony request: Every time someone opens an obit thread, a MeTa thread is opened automatically. You know. As a time-saver. Because the dead guy ain't comin back to redeem himself with a live album, a cast-against-type indie movie, another run for election, or a hot new product.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 10:46 AM on January 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Pony request: Every time someone opens an obit thread, a MeTa thread is opened automatically. You know. As a time-saver.

I can just see the mods' reaction to this:

"HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! NO."
posted by zarq at 10:47 AM on January 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


A family has a right to grieve regardless of who the person was.

I agree. And unless the dead person's family are members of Metafilter, a Metafilter thread will not affect the family one way or another.
posted by scody at 10:48 AM on January 22, 2012 [8 favorites]


I work with a lot of old people and I've noticed that people who "let go" die very quickly. It's why if one spouse dies at old age, the other is very likely to follow shortly thereafter.

It's not always death. I see sharp eyed professors stop being involved then I see them 2 months later and they've gotten very old.

So yeah, this probably killed him in that he did not fight it as he would have previously.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 10:48 AM on January 22, 2012


For the record, I have no problem with lazaruslong calling out my cheap shot as a cheap shot. I am amused, though, that the guy who posted "Good riddance, you child molester protecting bastard." higher in the thread has a problem with my more oblique reference to the child molestation scandal.

So it goes.
posted by delfin at 10:48 AM on January 22, 2012


Jessamyn, I was being kinda flippant based on my comment in the original thread Or as I said above, I agree with restless_nomad and, now, you. Bowing out now.
posted by joe lisboa at 10:49 AM on January 22, 2012


Every time someone opens an obit thread, a MeTa thread is opened automatically.

I actually thought about opening a MeTa thread first when I heard about it last night knowing full well what was coming up, but thought the better of it.
posted by lampshade at 10:51 AM on January 22, 2012


It's the Catholic Church type scandal of American football. It's a sacred cow of culture that breeds power and greed.

That people have axe-grindy issues with football may be a good reason for all the vitriol, but it's not a great excuse. I think there's been a Nancy Grace-esque eagerness to literally damn someone to hell without any real evidence of much of anything, and it's kind of weird for me to watch because it's not coming from the places I usually see that coming from. To be honest, scandal aside, this guy is someone who could live forever or die right this second and it wouldn't make a lot of difference to me, but I am not crazy about seeing people who are normally...well...normal people suddenly transform into torch-and-pitchfork wielders, and largely (as far as I can tell) on the basis of a story they believe mostly because it confirms their cultural biases.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 10:51 AM on January 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


delfin: You really can't tell the difference between my comment and yours? Okay. We probably can't reach an understanding then.
posted by lazaruslong at 10:51 AM on January 22, 2012


kittens for breakfast: That people have axe-grindy issues with football may be a good reason for all the vitriol, but it's not a great excuse
After top Penn State officials announced that they had fired Joe Paterno on Wednesday night, thousands of students stormed the downtown area to display their anger and frustration, chanting the former coach’s name, tearing down light poles and overturning a television news van parked along College Avenue.
I don't have a problem with football. I have a problem with football culture.

Please see my comment in the original thread regarding your assertion that there's no "evidence of much of anything."
posted by tzikeh at 11:00 AM on January 22, 2012 [5 favorites]


I left an empty comment, and it was deleted. If people are leaving "." comments, I think we should be free to leave empty comments as well.
posted by grouse at 11:05 AM on January 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


Rather than a whole new MeTa? Question for the mods...

Would there be any sense/upside/downside to having a 24 HR embargo on obit posts on especially controversial figures, just to let people's feelings cool down a bit? It's not like the news won't be everywhere at once and this is the only place to get it.

IMHO

Pro: Better/fuller obit post...cooler heads prevail in comments

Con: Goddamit...I need to rant, and this is where I do it.

thoughts?
posted by timsteil at 11:06 AM on January 22, 2012


if people really are fired up, 24 hours may just let it fester.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 11:09 AM on January 22, 2012


I left an empty comment, and it was deleted. If people are leaving "." comments, I think we should be free to leave empty comments as well.

Honestly, the distinction between an intentionally empty comment and an accidentally empty comment is unclear and it looks like a posting error generally speaking and is likely to get flagged accordingly. Creates a bit of a pickle in modland. Like or dislike the dot, it's an established convention that doesn't have that same problem.
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:09 AM on January 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


thoughts?

It's impractical. We don't do any pre-filtering of posts [except that we see people's first posts as they're being posted (i.e. get them emailed to us) same for people on the watchlist] and starting to do that would be a big change in not just our workflow but the way the site runs. All because some people have poor impulse control. We're okay deleting off-the-cuff bad obits, but we're not going to place some arbitrary time restriction on when it's okay to make an obit post, no.

grouse: it's almost impossible for us to tell what's an intentionally blank comment and what's a mistake. Sorry about that, but yeah 99 times out of 100 something like that is an error so people flag accordingly.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 11:11 AM on January 22, 2012


thoughts?

I feel like it might raise the overall average quality of obit posts (but then it might just delay the race to make an obit post for 24 hours and still lead to a string of nobrainer one-linkers) but it'd definitely be a weird variation from how we handle all other posting.

Beyond which, I don't think generally speaking that the specific moment of initial reporting of death of a controversial figure is the primary source of resulting ire in threads. 24 hours wouldn't make a difference; if people were angry before the person died, they'll be angry after he died. Waiting a year? Ten years? That might cool things off more, but it's more obviously impractical.
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:13 AM on January 22, 2012


I don't have a problem with football. I have a problem with football culture.

I get it, but I'm not 100% sure that's relevant to whether someone was guilty of wrongdoing.

Please see my comment in the original thread regarding your assertion that there's no "evidence of much of anything."

My understanding is that he did report the incident to his superiors, but not to the police. If you're saying that he should have done more, maybe he should have and maybe he shouldn't have. I don't know that police reports are often filed on the basis of secondhand information.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 11:13 AM on January 22, 2012


Would there be any sense/upside/downside to having a 24 HR embargo on obit posts on especially controversial figures, just to let people's feelings cool down a bit?

You're four knee-jerk comments deep in the thread...before suggesting a policy change, perhaps you could show a little restraint yourself. Your first comment was clear enough about how you felt about him.

This place gets better when people police themselves.
posted by Rodrigo Lamaitre at 11:20 AM on January 22, 2012


Would there be any sense/upside/downside to having a 24 HR embargo on obit posts on especially controversial figures, just to let people's feelings cool down a bit?

Whether it's Joe Paterno or Kim Jong-Il or Margaret Thatcher, I don't think 24 hours is going to temper people's BURN IN HELL sentiment.
posted by scody at 11:20 AM on January 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


This is how I feel regardless of whether I like or dislike the person who died. I don't give a fuck if people talk positively or negatively about the deceased, so long as there's some thought that goes into their comment, and the FPP wasn't made in haste.
posted by gman at 11:24 AM on January 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


kittens for breakfast, "axe grindy"? Straw man alert. The billyfleetwood comment I linked to in the thread is one example from a knowledgeable football fan who has no axe to grind.
posted by mlis at 11:25 AM on January 22, 2012


Why does the dot piss some people off? Did a dot run over your dog? It's a moment of silence in text form.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 11:26 AM on January 22, 2012


Count me as a vote for upping the standards for ObitFilter and not having the expectation of an obit post immediately after someone famous dies. I know the mods are fighting against the current already to weed out the crappiest posts, but I think it's a shame that MetaFilter is weak on this point.

I generally avoid obit posts even though I'd be interested in talking about the person because the links are often just what you'd get from googling "$FAMOUSPERSON obituary", and the discussion is just knee-jerk arguments if the person was the least bit controversial. I can't imagine a strict waiting period would work, but it would be nice if we could do something. Obit posts about lesser known people where the poster takes time to put something really cool together are often some of the strongest posts out there, and it would be great if we could get something approaching that for famous people.

But I also think "."'s in obit posts are the most annoying thing in the world*, so maybe I just don't know what I talking about.

*Luckily, there is a greasmonkey script for that.
posted by no regrets, coyote at 11:30 AM on January 22, 2012


kittens for breakfast, "axe grindy"? Straw man alert.

That's fine, but I was actually responding to someone who directly cited the inherent evil of football and its ability to breed power and greed.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 11:31 AM on January 22, 2012


Why does the dot piss some people off? Did a dot run over your dog? It's a moment of silence in text form.

Personally, I read the comments to hear what people have to say. If you want to have a moment of silence then by all means go ahead -- I'm just not sure what your moment of silence has to do with the comment section of a MeFi post.

Also, a dot ran over my dog.
posted by no regrets, coyote at 11:36 AM on January 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


Why does the dot piss some people off? Did a dot run over your dog? It's a moment of silence in text form.

No, a moment of silence would be not posting anything at all. I can't speak for anybody else who is irritated by the dot, but that's exactly what bothers me about it - that it's basically being "Look everybody, I am now not saying anything!"

In general, the culture here is that we don't make purely phatic comments - we don't comment just to say "LOL" or "Me too". Out of all the things to make an exception to, the moment of silence is a particularly bizarre.

Not that it's like keeping me up at night or anything, I just think it's silly.
posted by strangely stunted trees at 11:41 AM on January 22, 2012 [9 favorites]


People will have to make their peace with the dot. I get why people don't like it, but it's a long-standing site tradition that is unlikely to go away. People complaining in a MeFi thread [as opposed to here] about the dot are sort of pissing into the wind. But then it makes sense to me and I'm one of those "leave a rock at the tombstone" people so I'm sure it's some sort of cultural thing.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 11:43 AM on January 22, 2012


In general, the culture here is that we don't make purely phatic comments - we don't comment just to say "LOL" or "Me too". Out of all the things to make an exception to, the moment of silence is a particularly bizarre.

I thought the dot in obit threads was generally accepted here?
posted by patheral at 11:43 AM on January 22, 2012


I'm not really losing sleep over dot-culture, either, but I think this claim: No, a moment of silence would be not posting anything at all misses something important (I was going to risk a pun and say "misses the point," but) --

We aren't physically present in a thread (duh) so there is nothing to distinguish (socially) not contributing to a thread from noting its content with a de facto moment of silence.

The extent to which this matters to you likely hinges on the extent to which you think Metafilter is principally a community weblog or a community weblog.
posted by joe lisboa at 11:48 AM on January 22, 2012


It is. I wish it weren't, but accept it ain't gonna change. Doesn't mean I can't bitch about it in MeTa.
posted by strangely stunted trees at 11:48 AM on January 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


kittens for breakfast: My understanding is that he did report the incident to his superiors, but not to the police. If you're saying that he should have done more, maybe he should have and maybe he shouldn't have. I don't know that police reports are often filed on the basis of secondhand information.

Timeline.

There was a witness. The witness told Paterno. Paterno told his superiors. His superiors covered it up and "handled it internally." That was in 2002. Sandusky took subsequent victims.

When no action was taken, Paterno had the option of speaking to the graduate assistant and going with him directly to the police. Given what he had been told and the possibility that a ten year old boy may have been anally raped, he chose instead to participate in a coverup. The witness later gave grand jury testimony, insisting that he had told them all that he had seen a child being raped.

Paterno should have done more. He should not have let it go. To all appearances, Sandusky had sexually attacked a child to no consequences. Even if Paterno didn't believe the incident had happened, he had a moral and ethical obligation to make damned sure that a man with access to young children was not preying on them.

And to address something you said earlier... as an abuse survivor, and as the father of two young children as well, I stand by what I said in the thread. May Joe Paterno rot in hell for turning a blind eye to the rape of a child. He doesn't deserve my compassion. For that matter, neither does anyone else who protected Sandusky.

There are only two silver linings that I can see from this entire scandal. One: Hopefully, very soon Sandusky will be in jail and unable to hurt additional victims. Two: 'Calls to abuse hotlines have risen since news spread of the Penn State and Syracuse scandals' and 'big child sex abuse cases embolden victims'.
posted by zarq at 11:52 AM on January 22, 2012 [15 favorites]


Might I recommend a nice Chilean red with some African vintage cheddar in lieu of the usual hugs?
posted by infini at 11:53 AM on January 22, 2012


Without the dot, how are we going to know we think alike?
posted by found missing at 11:53 AM on January 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


Isn't that what favorites are for?
posted by strangely stunted trees at 11:57 AM on January 22, 2012


DOTS FOR THE DOT THREAD.

He seriously failed people in the most bland and crap way possible, but, hey SPORTS. I'd say he wouldn't get a pass for anything else, like if he was a teacher or a preist or a banker or something, but this is Metafilter, if there's an argument to have about who is the most smugly superior someone will have it.
posted by Artw at 11:58 AM on January 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


SST, you haven't really addressed the idea that the "dot as a textual performance of silence" is a work-around devised to address the fact that we're not all physically present in a room and can not, thus, "read" body language as a moment of silence.

I understand if you don't care one way or another, but you've now said repeatedly you wish the practice would end. I guess I want to know why, if not your disdain for people agreeing with one another on something?
posted by joe lisboa at 12:01 PM on January 22, 2012


We probably can't reach an understanding then.

You give every impression of "reaching an understanding" with anyone being the last thing on your mind.
posted by adamdschneider at 12:01 PM on January 22, 2012 [4 favorites]


* "... if not for your disdain ..."
posted by joe lisboa at 12:01 PM on January 22, 2012


Is this thread practicing for the Syracuse scandal of Jim Boeheim's assistant basket ball Bernie Fine? What all these abusers- Scout leaders, coaches, priests, foster fathers, uncles, mom' new boyfriends - have in common is testosterone, selfishness, and access to unprotected children. In other words, violation of trust; proof that they cannot handle man's traditional role as protector.
posted by Cranberry at 12:08 PM on January 22, 2012


Man that's a nasty thread.

I'm not at all defending the man, and I'm wont to be on the side of the mob with pitchforks because I don't care at all about football, but it is true that bringing judgement down on an entire life is simply more complex, at least philosophically, than a lot are making it. It reminds me of the recent Radiolab episode about Fritz Haber, who synthesized ammonia, effectively solving a lot of the world's hunger problems while at the same time creating a powerful explosive (and, somewhat tangentially, Zyklon B).

The point being, it sometimes seems that the same crowd so quick to decry the seeming black and white morality of many of the world's religions are the same who want to bring a blanket good or bad judgement down on the lives of controversial figures like Joe Paterno. Again, not to excuse in any way many of the atrocities he was guilty of, but simply to say that sorting the dead into two columns is perhaps not the most sound, or even interesting, way to go about things.
posted by Lutoslawski at 12:13 PM on January 22, 2012 [8 favorites]


...but simply to say that sorting the dead into two columns is perhaps not the most sound, or even interesting, way to go about things.

Off to the Lake of Fire with you!
posted by joe lisboa at 12:17 PM on January 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


When no action was taken, Paterno had the option of speaking to the graduate assistant and going with him directly to the police. Given what he had been told and the possibility that a ten year old boy may have been anally raped, he chose instead to participate in a coverup.

I don't think the facts as presented in the timeline tell us that. We can speculate that from the facts. It's possible.

No one could excuse what Sandusky did. What Paterno did seems much fuzzier. I am uncomfortable leveling judgment on that basis. I am made uncomfortable by others' comfort with it. That's really all I have to say about this.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 12:18 PM on January 22, 2012 [7 favorites]


It reminds me of the recent Radiolab episode about Fritz Haber, who synthesized ammonia, effectively solving a lot of the world's hunger problems while at the same time creating a powerful explosive (and, somewhat tangentially, Zyklon B).

I think it wasn't the explosives part (or the Zyklon part which was more a sad coincidence type thing) but rather the personally overseeing using chlorine at Ypres and seemingly relishing in it. Was thinking about doing an FPP on Haber actually, based on the Radiolab segment, but I don't know if I can do justice to it.
posted by kmz at 12:19 PM on January 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yeah, and just to try and touch on this early: it'd be great if this thread were used for actual like discussing-stuff-that-pertains-to-mefi stuff

Oh you optimist, you.
posted by Justinian at 12:23 PM on January 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Mods and users: Not that anyone will remember or likely care, but I'm just letting you know in the future that if you ever see a blank comment from me, it's not an html, display, or posting error. If I do happen to post a blank comment in error, I'll use the contact form to ask the mods to delete it. It's not like you can just hit enter and post a blank comment. However trivial, you have to know how to do it, and I reserve the (instantly revokable) right to post a blank comment when I think it may (or may not) be appropriate in the future, which you may of course then flag and/or delete as you think appropriate.
posted by Edogy at 12:24 PM on January 22, 2012


I reserve the right to create a blank FPP.
posted by found missing at 12:27 PM on January 22, 2012


I think in a case like this, on a website where people post dots for dead people, to post a blank comment in an obit thread. I don't think a blank FPP has any merit at all.
posted by Edogy at 12:30 PM on January 22, 2012


to post a blank comment in an obit thread.

... is within a range of acceptable commentary, I mean to say.
posted by Edogy at 12:31 PM on January 22, 2012


blankist
posted by found missing at 12:32 PM on January 22, 2012


It's not so much people agreeing with each other I hold in disdain as a whole thread where 75% of the content is people who are doing nothing except performing the act of agreeing with each other. At least when a person like JoePa or Kim Jong Il dies there's some kind of discussion taking place in the obit thread.
posted by strangely stunted trees at 12:33 PM on January 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Obituaries need to indicate whether the deceased was a good or bad person, and any comments vilifying good people or not vilifying bad people could then be deleted as noise and a derail.
posted by planet at 12:35 PM on January 22, 2012 [8 favorites]


We're not going to tell people not to express negative feelings here

Perhaps, but that doesn't mean the "good" and "rot in hell" comments need to remain. Not the best of the web.
posted by gjc at 12:39 PM on January 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


It's been said before, but obit threads are a scourge on metafilter. There will not be one obit thread of a controversial figure that does not end up as a MeTa thread.
posted by found missing at 12:45 PM on January 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


Maybe all of the expressions of anger could be replaced with little ASCII Hello Kitty drawings, or perhaps with a tombstone that says "Here lies JoePa, peperony and chease."

Seriously, it's a thread about a guy who is under suspicion (however circumstantially) for knowing about horrific crimes and shoving them under the rug. Are harsh expressions of emotion either unexpected or uncalled for?
posted by delfin at 12:47 PM on January 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm always heartened to see so many strict utilitarians.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 12:48 PM on January 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm really happy that both mean-spirited comments and solemn-kind comments are allowed to stand in obit threads. Just wanted to register that.
posted by Greg Nog at 12:57 PM on January 22, 2012 [8 favorites]


I agree, Greg Nog. It's what I like to call "conversation."
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 12:59 PM on January 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


Might I recommend a nice Chilean red with some African vintage cheddar in lieu of the usual hugs?

Would you settle for some horseradish pub cheese and a can of Natty Ice?
posted by jonmc at 1:03 PM on January 22, 2012 [1 favorite]



posted by mazola at 1:03 PM on January 22, 2012


*d'oh!*

ditto meant for ThatCanadianGirl
posted by mazola at 1:04 PM on January 22, 2012


(also, 'football culture?' I enjoy football, so do many of my coworkers, drinking buddies etc, and they were all disgusted by what happened.)
posted by jonmc at 1:06 PM on January 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


jocks vs. nerds, again.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 1:08 PM on January 22, 2012


Would you settle for some horseradish pub cheese and a can of Natty Ice?

Beer me, dude.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 1:09 PM on January 22, 2012


jocks vs. nerds, again.

I've said it before and I'll say it again. Sports fans are the nerdiest people I know (and I mean that in the best way): they pore over stats, (some even creat new forms of stats as a hobby), they wear mercghandise constantly, collect trading cards the whole megilla. Jeez
posted by jonmc at 1:12 PM on January 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


delfin, what does this mean?
posted by the man of twists and turns at 1:12 PM on January 22, 2012


Go Giants!
posted by jonmc at 1:12 PM on January 22, 2012


ummm...
posted by jonmc at 1:13 PM on January 22, 2012


delfin, what does this mean?

Well I don't speak Troll, but I've got a hunch.
posted by joe lisboa at 1:17 PM on January 22, 2012


Go Ravens!!!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:18 PM on January 22, 2012


aren't we supposed to be arguing?
posted by facetious at 1:20 PM on January 22, 2012


As the old saying goes, "if you have to explain the joke..."
posted by delfin at 1:21 PM on January 22, 2012


...you suck at making jokes?"

...it wasn't funny in the first place?"

...you may have misjudged your 'audience'?"

I could go on, but I'm confused. Is it a joke? Are you saying something about the short-attention span of teh internetz?
posted by the man of twists and turns at 1:23 PM on January 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


I just check into MetaFilter occasionally to defend anyone making rape jokes.
posted by phaedon at 1:25 PM on January 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


I just check into MetaFilter occasionally to give phaedon something to do.
posted by delfin at 1:31 PM on January 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


This is what they call horse play, right?
posted by Artw at 1:34 PM on January 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


*
posted by phaedon at 1:41 PM on January 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Wow, phaedon and delfin, you two are a laugh riot. Really the Abbot and Costello of human tragedy. The Fry and Laurie of rape jokes. Well done.
posted by lazaruslong at 1:46 PM on January 22, 2012 [4 favorites]


I'm just playing into your superiority complex.
posted by phaedon at 1:50 PM on January 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


kittens with breakfast: If you're going to obliquely criticize and mischaracterize my arguments to someone else, you can have the decency to link them so others may not be as inane with their interpretation.
posted by lazaruslong at 1:51 PM on January 22, 2012


By the way, as a committed fan of scatological humor, I object to you calling something both shitty and tasteless.
posted by phaedon at 1:51 PM on January 22, 2012


phaedon: you're out of your fuckin mind, pal. if you think the reason i'm participating in a rape discussion is due to a superiority complex, check my commenting history. i've been very clear about my reasons for participating in rape-related threads. i've been though the same valley that the penn state victims have. this isn't about some ego-pissing contest between you and me, so if you want to make it that it's gonna be a 1 person conversation.
posted by lazaruslong at 1:52 PM on January 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Are you familiar with the concept of righteous indignation? God Forbid Anyone Show Remorse at the Passing of Joe Paterno in his Obituary Thread. Way to show up with a blow torch at the funeral parlor. I'll check your commenting history when I get around to giving a fuck about your justification for acting like a douche to a lot of people in that thread. Don't get all sad when it gets shoved back in your face.
posted by phaedon at 1:58 PM on January 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


OK, you two need to knock it off, stat.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 2:01 PM on January 22, 2012


Yes, I am familiar. I never took issue with individuals showing remorse at the passing of Joe Paterno. I also didn't show up with a blow torch at a funeral parlour, I showed up with an opinion in a MetaFilter thread that you don't like. You are welcome to characterize my behaviour as douche-like, but without some evidence or argument to assert that opinion, it rings as false as your drive-by defense of a shitty rape joke. Shove anything you like in my face, but all you have so far is hot air.
posted by lazaruslong at 2:02 PM on January 22, 2012


Seconded. Stat, please.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 2:03 PM on January 22, 2012


Roger that, mod. I'm out.
posted by lazaruslong at 2:03 PM on January 22, 2012


well, this is going along nicely, eh?

You know folks, someone died, he was someone's son, someone's father, someone's husband... Did he do something terrible? It sure looks like he did.

However, I would like to think that the kind manner in which to handle this, for the sake of those that loved him because he was a father or a husband, would be to wait until the body is cold and the dirt has been thrown back in the grave before you shit on it. And then, instead of doing it where his grandkids might come across it when they google his name, how about considering having this conversation in your corner bar? And, try not to feel obligated to carve the conversation into the table for posterity.

Just an opinion folks, it wasn't intended as a conversation starter...don't feel any need to argue with me, I'm not coming back to this thread to read the responses....
posted by HuronBob at 2:12 PM on January 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


kittens with breakfast: If you're going to obliquely criticize and mischaracterize my arguments to someone else, you can have the decency to link them so others may not be as inane with their interpretation.

I'm not obligated to link you. I don't even remember if I was talking about you, without bothering to scroll up. If someone really cares, though, they too have the scrolling power.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 2:14 PM on January 22, 2012


HuronBob: And then, instead of doing it where his grandkids might come across it when they google his name,

I'll bet cash money that none of his relatives or friends are going to be looking for what The Internet has to say about him anytime soon, if ever.

don't feel any need to argue with me, I'm not coming back to this thread to read the responses....

Holy cow. There has to be a name for this childish act of having your say, then announcing that you're not interested in any responses, and leaving the discussion. Anyone got it?
posted by tzikeh at 2:22 PM on January 22, 2012


I generally call it a flounce.
posted by miss-lapin at 2:30 PM on January 22, 2012 [5 favorites]


Who cares, the Ravens are kicking Patriot ass!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:31 PM on January 22, 2012


Well, they were.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:33 PM on January 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


The who? The what? Eh?

Sometimes I just have no idea what the fuck is going on here. Actually, that's most of the time, come to think of it. What the hell is a JoePa? Dots? Human condition? Is this something I'd have to be American and sober to understand? Did somebody die and then somebody wasn't infinitely hypocritical, I mean respectful, about it? Or is it just that time when we all prance around being offended about what the fuck ever?
posted by Decani at 2:37 PM on January 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


MetaTalk: all prance around being offended
posted by the man of twists and turns at 2:39 PM on January 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Looks like Decani's has another night out at the pub. Cheers!
posted by HopperFan at 2:40 PM on January 22, 2012


Go Ravens!!!

Did you know the Ravens' radio announcer is named Gerry Sandusky?
posted by peeedro at 3:04 PM on January 22, 2012


I guess what i don't understand is: why Paterno seems to be taking the brunt for all this when it sounds like there is a whole list of people other than him who saw, or heard, about it; and either said something and then washed their hands of it, or shrugged their shoulders and did fuckall about it? Is he a stand in for all the scumbags in this thing? Or is this one of those "oh, I hate those other guys too, but I only know Paterno's name" things?

On another note, a helpful tip for everyone! When you see a little child being sexually assaulted you don't need take that info and "run it upstairs", you can go straight to the police!
posted by P.o.B. at 3:15 PM on January 22, 2012 [5 favorites]


Go Ravens!!!

Oh they're going....home!
posted by Rodrigo Lamaitre at 3:17 PM on January 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


flounce is accurate but not as well known as plain old 'leaving in a huff'. (That is what my momma used to call it).

Very bad form if you are taking your ball with you and it ends the game for the rest of the kids but really not a biggie, otherwise.
posted by bukvich at 3:19 PM on January 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


And then, instead of doing it where his grandkids might come across it when they google his name, how about considering having this conversation in your corner bar? And, try not to feel obligated to carve the conversation into the table for posterity.


I don't get this at all. I think a public condemnation for posterity is a good thing, and does at least as much service to Sandusky's victims, and all other child victims of this kind of abuse and cover-up, as it might do harm to Paterno's grandkids' feelings. If at some point down the line people have good things to say about him or some kind of redemption is possible (and I'm not really seeing how, since he is now dead) that speech can be written down for posterity too.

This seems like one of those 'the answer to speech you don't like is more speech, not erasing speech (or preventing it from ever being written down' kind of situations.
posted by Salamandrous at 3:24 PM on January 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Billy Cundiff. Don't go back to Baltimore. Omar's there.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 3:24 PM on January 22, 2012 [4 favorites]


Seriously, wtf Billy? The ball was supposed to go between the posts.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:30 PM on January 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Thanks to this thread, I just watched the game on delay - eagerly anticipating a Ravens win - and was thoroughly disappointed.
posted by phaedon at 3:37 PM on January 22, 2012


All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing

Some men, who probably thought of themselves as good, and who probably did some good sometimes, did nothing when some bad men did some very bad things. Is that about right? The end result is still the same. Children got hurt and someone got to carry on hurting them because no-one wanted to do the obvious right thing. How sad for those kids.

And yes, like P.o.B I really can't understand why a call to the police AFTER a swift slap upside the rapist's head wasn't the preferred course of action.
posted by Martha My Dear Prudence at 3:40 PM on January 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing

Or miss a fucking field goal.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:42 PM on January 22, 2012 [12 favorites]


That kicker is gonna have a long busride home.
posted by hellojed at 3:55 PM on January 22, 2012


I think he's going to have to walk home.
posted by sciencegeek at 4:13 PM on January 22, 2012


oh, some grateful Pats fan will give him a lift.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 4:20 PM on January 22, 2012


Aw, lookie, lazarus got the last word and left. Feel free to get pissed on via mefimail. You know where to reach me.

But seriously, I understand righteous anger. Been there. Maybe next time I ask you to stop playing hall monitor you won't be so deeeeeply offennnded at the drivvvvvve-by defense of raaaaaaape jokes that I am so deeeeeeply guilty of. You are clearly looking for an argument. Because you know, you and me, we go way back. And your first impression of me is sooo profound, really thank you for reaching out to me with it.

A lot of people don't take what happened at PSU lightly. But I do think it's funny you spend your energy, on the day of Paterno's death, shaming people on da internetz for drinking the Sports Illustrated Kool-Aid. No one's saying your feelings aren't important. They're just.. not that important.
posted by phaedon at 4:23 PM on January 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


Hey, we were talking about the game!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:25 PM on January 22, 2012


at this point you're both pretty much acting like massive douchebags.
posted by elizardbits at 4:26 PM on January 22, 2012 [8 favorites]


I don't think anybody cars about the one off comments, but isn't there supposed to a little space for resolution in a MetaTalk before people are allowed to actively derail?
posted by P.o.B. at 4:28 PM on January 22, 2012


You're absolutely right.

Elizardbits, knock it off.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:34 PM on January 22, 2012


> but isn't there supposed to a little space for resolution in a MetaTalk before people are allowed to actively derail?

Besides whatever the hell that squabble was about, I don't know if there's supposed to be any resolution for this thread. It was intended as a release valve for comments that would otherwise be deemed unfit for the thread over on Metafilter. It's all kind of weird.
posted by Burhanistan at 4:38 PM on January 22, 2012


A lot of people don't take what happened at PSU lightly. But I do think it's funny you spend your energy, on the day of Paterno's death, shaming people on da internetz for drinking the Sports Illustrated Kool-Aid. No one's saying your feelings aren't important. They're just.. not that important.

Over the top, dude. Let it go.
posted by the young rope-rider at 4:39 PM on January 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


Maybe cut it the fuck out already, phaedon.
posted by cortex (staff) at 4:43 PM on January 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


No, this isn't two sided. One person flipped the fuck out because someone mentioned their understanding of the facts didn't lead to a cut and dry declaration of Paterno 's guilt. Despite what the mods say, telling someone to stop being an asshole doesn't make both posters an asshole.
posted by spaltavian at 4:46 PM on January 22, 2012 [5 favorites]


It's completely shocking to me that anyone could think it's unclear that Joe Paterno looked the other way when handed a child rape allegation. The complete lack of follow through on his part - he never once tried to find out the identity of the child allegedly being fondled/raped in his program's shower room - couldn't be more clear.
posted by mediareport at 4:49 PM on January 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


You know, I had a snarky, shitty comment 'mischaracterizing' phaedon's point, all set for laughs and tons of favorites!

But I didn't post it, because it would have been a stupid thing to do. And it turns out I'm right!

This is much more satisfying.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 4:53 PM on January 22, 2012


I'm going to put this out there - fair or not, if we are now at the point where being known as someone who looked the other way when rapes were going on gets remarked upon as a negative upon your death, rather than just being swept under the carpet, then the world is a better place.
posted by Artw at 4:54 PM on January 22, 2012 [9 favorites]


you are not the boss of me, blatcher!
posted by elizardbits at 5:01 PM on January 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


now technically i think we have to thumbwrestle
posted by elizardbits at 5:02 PM on January 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


anyone could think it's unclear that Joe Paterno looked the other way

Who was unclear? Or did you mean uninformed? Which would be kind of a stupid to be shocked about someone else's news cognizance or acumen, but I guess I'm missing something here.
posted by P.o.B. at 5:04 PM on January 22, 2012


It's completely shocking to me that anyone could think it's unclear that Joe Paterno looked the other way when handed a child rape allegation.

It's unclear to me that Joe Paterno looked the other way when handed a child rape allegation. My understanding is that Joe Paterno did two things, when handed a child rape allegation: 1) made a report to the President of his university and then 2) considered the matter dealt with.

I'm not saying that makes the guy a hero or anything, but I keep getting the impression that Paterno is history's greatest monster for action 2 up there (technically an omission) and I just don't see it. Would somebody please share with me the additional facts that I'm missing?
posted by gauche at 5:05 PM on January 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm not trying to pick a fight. I just want to know what it is that has some people saying that hell is too good for the man.
posted by gauche at 5:08 PM on January 22, 2012


you are not the boss of me, blatcher!

Of course not, I'm just the shift supervisor.

Don't make me angry. You wouldn't like to see me after I've escalated this up the chain.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:10 PM on January 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Maybe we just need a whole vocabulary of one symbol things to post in obit threads:
. : standard .
* : dot with reservations, "I am respectfully acknowledging this death, but have serious criticisms towards how this person acted in life"
~ : ambivalent about the death
! : surprised and saddened
^ : thinks the world is a better place now that this person is dead
% : saddened by death, but also irritated because this person was an author in the middle of a series
posted by Pyry at 5:13 PM on January 22, 2012 [11 favorites]


The convention is already that the asterisk is a puckered anus, silly.
posted by Burhanistan at 5:14 PM on January 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


Joe Paterno enjoyed a unique position on the campus, due to his influence and history with the school.

He preached ethical leadership, focusing on both the academic and athletic programs of the school. He was looked up to because of his moral weight and the gravitas he projected.

If you had asked people what program would never had a scandal (much less one this big), many would have said Penn State.

And he did the minimum legally necessary.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 5:15 PM on January 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


Well maybe that fits thematically: "I really want to shit in this thread, but am clenching my sphincter as hard as possible"
posted by Pyry at 5:18 PM on January 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm not saying that makes the guy a hero or anything, but I keep getting the impression that Paterno is history's greatest monster for action 2 up there (technically an omission) and I just don't see it.

Its oversights and omissions like that which make institutionalized child rape possible. The less socially acceptable they are the better.
posted by Artw at 5:18 PM on January 22, 2012


Also, this is yet another illustration of my favorite system model, the 'disaster chain.' It wasn't the failure of any single individual that led to this state, but chain of failures, each one leading to the next, and compounding on the one previous. You can have multiple redundant systems/procedures, but that only means that when they all fail simultaneously, you get an even bigger boom.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 5:18 PM on January 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


He's certainly not alone in guilt.
posted by Artw at 5:21 PM on January 22, 2012


It's unclear to me that Joe Paterno looked the other way when handed a child rape allegation. My understanding is that Joe Paterno did two things, when handed a child rape allegation: 1) made a report to the President of his university and then 2) considered the matter dealt with.

Would somebody please share with me the additional facts that I'm missing?


The first Grand Jury incident accusing Sandusky of improper conduct with children was in 1994.

In between that incident and the McQueary incident in 2002 (the one of which Paterno was directly informed), there were five more Grand Jury incidents and a police investigation that led to Sandusky's retirement from PSU.

The fallout from the seventh incident, which had McQueary as an eyewitness, was that Sandusky returned his keys to the football facilities to PSU, and Sandusky was forbidden to bring children from his charity into the locker rooms.

Both Paterno and McQueary attended events for Second Mile (Sandusky's charity) long after the 2002 allegations.

Sandusky held sleepover football camps for boys, run through his own corporation, at satellite PSU campuses as late as 2008-9.


This is not all on Paterno. It's on Paterno and on McQueary and on Graham Spanier and on Tim Curley and on Gary Schulz and, very likely, on many other PSU and Second Mile staff who became aware of the allegations and the indictments and the eyewitness account and failed to take follow-up steps to separate Sandusky from both Penn State and from children.

But while much of the current evidence against Paterno is indeed circumstantial or hearsay, the growing pile makes it harder and harder to believe that all of the above really DIDN'T know or DIDN'T understand the gravity of the events or WERE satisfied that 'everything had been taken care of' when Sandusky continued to associate with both the PSU football program and with children in subsequent years.

Occam's Razor is sharp.
posted by delfin at 5:26 PM on January 22, 2012 [8 favorites]


Okay. This makes some sense to me.

I'm of two minds about the whole "he did the minimum that was legally required" business, but okay. Thank you all for helping me to understand this better.

It doesn't seem like anybody who was involved acquitted themselves well. I think that institutions above some size threshold exist primarily as a way to dissipate responsibility / liability / guilt, and that is certainly at play here.
posted by gauche at 5:27 PM on January 22, 2012


Thanks delfin.
posted by gauche at 5:29 PM on January 22, 2012


P.o.B., my comment was in response to this from kittens for breakfast:

If you're saying that he should have done more, maybe he should have and maybe he shouldn't have.

I remain completely shocked that anyone could make that statement.
posted by mediareport at 5:30 PM on January 22, 2012


I remain completely shocked that anyone could make that statement.

Well, hold onto your pearls, then, because here's some more of it. I do not know what else Paterno could have done, and this may be me missing part of the story, and if so, please feel free to enlighten me on that. I don't think it really fell to him to alert the police of what someone else claimed to have seen. I think it fell to the actual witness to do that. He could have called the police and told them that someone claimed to have witnessed a serious crime, and then the police could have gone to the witness themselves, but I am really am very unclear as to why that should have happened or what made that Paterno's responsibility. I see no reason in the world why the witness could not and should not have alerted the police on his own. To be very honest, I have absolutely no idea why he involved Paterno at all.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 5:37 PM on January 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


However, I would like to think that the kind manner in which to handle this, for the sake of those that loved him because he was a father or a husband, would be to wait until the body is cold and the dirt has been thrown back in the grave before you shit on it. And then, instead of doing it where his grandkids might come across it when they google his name, how about considering having this conversation in your corner bar? And, try not to feel obligated to carve the conversation into the table for posterity.

Maybe if we don't talk about it, it will go away.

Maybe if we don't call attention to it, it won't seem so awful.

Maybe if the kid doesn't say anything, it won't ever have happened.

No, sorry. I'll be damned if I keep my mouth shut to make you, them, or anyone else feel more comfortable.
posted by zarq at 5:40 PM on January 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


To be very honest, I have absolutely no idea why he involved Paterno at all.

Because of the charismatic moral leadership that Paterno practiced.

In accordance with his own leadership style, he should have:

encouraged the witness to go to the police.
informed the police that a crime was reported to him.
ensured that the alleged perpetrator was not placed in a position of potential abuse while the police investigated.

People seem mostly to be responding to the failure of Paterno to live up to his own standards.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 5:41 PM on January 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


People seem mostly to be responding to the failure of Paterno to live up to his own standards.

That's fair, I guess, but are we talking about Jim Jones here or what? If I saw a child being raped, the only reason I can see that I wouldn't go to the police (or physically intervene) is shock. I wouldn't need someone to tell me what to do next. I can see informing Paterno of what I was going to do. But his standards or lack thereof would not figure into things.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 5:45 PM on January 22, 2012


I chose not read that obit thread, as there was nothing useful for me to say.

That said, there is only one proper course of action to take when confronted with sexual abuse. If witnessed, you physically stop it, using whatever force is required. Then, you call the police. Informed of it, you call the police. Period. Joe Paterno is beneath contempt.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 5:46 PM on January 22, 2012


Yeah, this is Paterno's explanation:

I didn't know exactly how to handle it, and I was afraid to do something that might jeopardize what the university procedure was. So I backed away and turned it over to some other people, people I thought would have a little more expertise than I did. It didn't work out that way."

The lack of follow-up after it became clear his first "backing away" strategy didn't do anything is what I'm focusing on here for folks who haven't been following this closely. You can debate a lot of things about this, kittens for breakfast, but that Paterno - the man in control of so much in the Penn State world, failed so utterly to pursue any kind of attempt to find out if the kid was ok - failed utterly here is, in my view, crystal clear and indisputable.
posted by mediareport at 5:47 PM on January 22, 2012


I think in a case like this, on a website where people post dots for dead people, to post a blank comment in an obit thread. I don't think a blank FPP has any merit at all.

Clearly you were not on MeFi in 1992 for the infamous John Cage obit thread.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 5:47 PM on January 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


I do not know what else Paterno could have done, and this may be me missing part of the story, and if so, please feel free to enlighten me on that. I don't think it really fell to him to alert the police of what someone else claimed to have seen.

Consider this statement:

"I saw a ten year old being raped in the ass in an area of the school you are in charge of, by someone you are responsible for."

Once he knew what had happened (even as an allegation,) it was his responsibility to make sure that:

a) not happening, or if it is,
b) never EVER going to happen again.

I think it fell to the actual witness to do that. He could have called the police and told them that someone claimed to have witnessed a serious crime, and then the police could have gone to the witness themselves,

Yes, he should have. Every single person with knowledge of the incident should have gone to the police. However, it also seems obvious considering Curley and Schultz' responses that they would have tried to cover for Sandusky given the least opportunity.
posted by zarq at 5:48 PM on January 22, 2012


I am really am very unclear as to why that should have happened or what made that Paterno's responsibility

Because for all that we've been hearing about how Paterno was such a great mentor and a leader to his players and staff, I'd think that when McQueary went to him with what he saw (after waiting a day), Paterno would have reached out, cuffed McQueary in the head and said "Why didn't you call the police??"

And then he would have grabbed the phone and called the police. Because that's what a true pillar of the community would have done.
posted by ladygypsy at 5:48 PM on January 22, 2012 [12 favorites]


Shit, I've got to stop typing while rushing out the door. Hopefully you can parse that last sentence in my comment above.
posted by mediareport at 5:49 PM on January 22, 2012


I didn't know exactly how to handle it, and I was afraid to do something that might jeopardize what the university procedure was.

God forbid university procedure might be jeopardized when a ten-year-old boy was being raped.

That this was his response only deepens my revulsion at his inaction.
posted by tzikeh at 5:51 PM on January 22, 2012 [6 favorites]


And then he would have grabbed the phone and called the police. Because that's what a true pillar of the community would have done.

That part I certainly agree with. I don't understand what should have made that necessary, though.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 5:52 PM on January 22, 2012


I don't think it really fell to him to alert the police of what someone else claimed to have seen. I think it fell to the actual witness to do that. He could have called the police and told them that someone claimed to have witnessed a serious crime, and then the police could have gone to the witness themselves, but I am really am very unclear as to why that should have happened or what made that Paterno's responsibility.

In some states, professionals who have contact with vulnerable populations, like minors, are required by law to report even the suspicion of abuse. Hearing a report from an alleged witness would definitely make the grade (according to my training as one of those professionals). My point isn't that Paterno would have been required to do so - Pennsylvania's not a mandated-reporter state, and college coaches don't have much contact with kids under the age of consent - but that this is enough an accepted practice that some people are punished by law for their failure to do so.
posted by gingerest at 5:52 PM on January 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


In some states, professionals who have contact with vulnerable populations, like minors, are required by law to report even the suspicion of abuse. Hearing a report from an alleged witness would definitely make the grade (according to my training as one of those professionals). My point isn't that Paterno would have been required to do so - Pennsylvania's not a mandated-reporter state, and college coaches don't have much contact with kids under the age of consent - but that this is enough an accepted practice that some people are punished by law for their failure to do so.

Okay, that's fair. I think I'm actually still kind of stunned by the notion that doing this fell to this person, though. It sounds like the whole thing was a huge buck-pass that began with the actual witness trying to shift the burden onto someone else, not that he (or anyone) should have had to carry the burden.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 5:55 PM on January 22, 2012


Those to whom much is given, much is expected.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 5:59 PM on January 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


If you want to have a moment of silence then by all means go ahead -- I'm just not sure what your moment of silence has to do with the comment section of a MeFi post.

The role of silence in communication (PDF).
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 6:04 PM on January 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think I'm actually still kind of stunned by the notion that doing this fell to this person, though. It sounds like the whole thing was a huge buck-pass that began with the actual witness trying to shift the burden onto someone else, not that he (or anyone) should have had to carry the burden.

That's what I was getting at above -- it DIDN'T just fall to one person. It got passed around to a lot of people who knew, or at least strongly suspected that Sandusky + kids == bad news and failed to take productive steps.

Going by Deadspin's timeline of events, for example, by 2007:

"People/organizations aware of allegations concerning Sandusky, as of this date: Penn State University Police, State College Police Department, Centre County Office of the District Attorney, Second Mile attorney, Penn State attorney, Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare, Penn State's janitorial staff and supervisor, graduate assistant Mike McQueary, head coach Joe Paterno, Penn State athletic director, Penn State senior vice president for finance and business, Second Mile executive director, Penn State president, wrestling coach."

And yet no whistles blew. Or, if they did, they blew very very softly so as not to disturb anyone.

*tiny little toot*
posted by delfin at 6:08 PM on January 22, 2012 [5 favorites]


Oops - I meant to vet that before I hit "post". Pennsylvania does have identified mandatory reporters for child abuse and neglect, but sports coaches aren't included. The sticky point, such as it was, was that the obligation of a staff member of an institution in the event of reasonable cause to suspect child abuse is to report to the person in charge of the institution, who in turn is obliged to report immediately by phone and within 24 hours in writing to the Department of Public Welfare.

IANAL. But relevant PA code statute 23 §6311 here and §6313 here.

US Public Service Announcement: from your federal government, updated today, here are your child abuse notification hotlines. (Although PA DPW is down at the moment. Which is making my DDoS-fear node throb.)
posted by gingerest at 6:43 PM on January 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


I missed something along the way in this thread because I kept reading 'kittens for breakfast' within people's comments and I thought it was a new phrase for 'doing a terrible thing'. I mean kittens for breakfast! That's so mean! But it turns out it is someone's user name and refers to an earlier part of the discussion. I really need to sign up for remedial metafilter: basic comprehension.
posted by bquarters at 6:55 PM on January 22, 2012


No, it's kind of like "Bob's yer uncle."
posted by Burhanistan at 7:10 PM on January 22, 2012


GIAAANTS!!!

(sorry Brandon)
posted by jonmc at 7:35 PM on January 22, 2012


...Paterno seems to be taking the brunt for all this...

Yes, everyone who knew or suspected that this was going on is culpable, but Paterno WAS football at Penn State. If he had spoken against this, his voice would have shook that world.

I didn't know exactly how to handle it, and I was afraid to do something that might jeopardize what the university procedure was.

Such horseshit. What he KNEW is that it would jeopardize his famous program and cast it in an unfavorable light. He did the absolute minimum required by his conscious. The university buried it under the carpet (for the sake of their precious reputation), and he chose to keep silent.
posted by BlueHorse at 7:42 PM on January 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


Thanks gingerest. I am not sure why sports coaches are not included, as coaches working for a stage university would be employees of "an agency, institution, organization or other entity with which that person is affiliated." Interestingly, at the state agency I work for we were discussing this last fall and discovered that most of our employees did not know that they were mandated reporters -- not just the people whose jobs involved direct contact with kids, but secretaries, janitors, coaches, anyone who works for the agency. By December we had mandatory training for all staff.

The online training for Illinois is a good read for anyone who wants to see specifics about reporting, it seems like a lot of people here care about this issue.
posted by cgk at 7:48 PM on January 22, 2012


Timeline

Oh, dear lord.

All this time, I thought the students at Penn State rioted because they were enraged that Paterno and the University were protecting a rapist

It never occurred to me they were rioting because the University fired the guy who allowed a predator to continue raping children.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 8:47 PM on January 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'll bet cash money that none of his relatives or friends are going to be looking for what The Internet has to say about him anytime soon, if ever.

That doesn't really make it OK.
posted by gjc at 8:50 PM on January 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


HuronBob: “I would like to think that the kind manner in which to handle this, for the sake of those that loved him because he was a father or a husband, would be to wait until the body is cold and the dirt has been thrown back in the grave before you shit on it. And then, instead of doing it where his grandkids might come across it when they google his name, how about considering having this conversation in your corner bar? And, try not to feel obligated to carve the conversation into the table for posterity.”

I am not going to express an opinion on whether we should be cursing Joe Paterno's name here, or whether we should be completely silent about him – or even whether those are really the only two options, as has been implied here.

But I will say this –

I really liked this comment of HuronBob's. It seems to me that it captures quite eloquently the import of talking about various sensitive stuff here on Metafilter. We are indeed 'carving the conversation into the table for posterity.' That's how Metafilter works: these things stay visible, and they're visible to people going forward. Comments are rarely deleted, even when they're quite caustic. This means that we have a good deal of responsibility when we're talking about important things like (for instance) the final meaning of Joe Paterno's legacy and its relation to the pain and suffering caused under his watch by one of his colleagues.

I don't say this to indicate that we should shut up about all this; far from it. Up above, zarq spoke eloquently about the need to keep talking about all that's happened, and I grant that his position is a strong one. However, I do believe that we need to remember constantly the fact that this is an open room; anyone who wishes can listen in to this conversation, and that means we have to make our words count. Ugly attacks that are borne more from anger than from thoughtfulness probably won't do as much good as intelligent and honest assessments that cut to the heart of things without cruelty. Ugly attacks will only serve to turn off those who need convincing and who need to hear this spoken about clearly in order to make the truth plain to them.

In short: we can't shirk our responsibility to talk about these important things, but we don't have the luxury of indulging in cruel or bilious insults that will only harm our discourse here and destroy our ability to do good in these situations. I appreciate that a lot of people feel very passionately about what is a very, very painful subject, but those very people have a hell of a lot of perspective to offer if they can just calm down and explain themselves as concisely and eloquently as they can.
posted by koeselitz at 9:15 PM on January 22, 2012 [6 favorites]


And then, instead of doing it where his grandkids might come across it when they google his name, how about considering having this conversation in your corner bar?

That's a nice sentiment, but you can't protect the relatives of famous dead people from the fame of their forefathers. He's the famous guy in the family tree. There's a public statue of the guy. His fame will route around any obstacle anyone tries to put up. His descendants are going to hear about him more than they care to and they are going to see old news films all about this controversy. If they dig into old online comments, they are going to find a million wonderful and terrible things said back and forth about him in many places. At least a bad MetaFilter obituary thread is going to be better than the other comments they'll find.

And if those hypothetical grandkids do find the story here, the shocking bits are not going to be a few "Rot in hell, Paterno!" comments. The hair-raising parts for those grandchildren are going to be the stories about innocent little boys being raped in shower rooms by big football coaches while other trusted men look the other way and try to wish the whole thing away. They will think "At least my grandfather did something to save those little boys... or did he?"

Also, this is my corner bar.
posted by pracowity at 12:33 AM on January 23, 2012 [6 favorites]


pracowity: Also, this is my corner bar.

Thank you, pracowity. That's what I wanted to say, but didn't know how to put it. "Don't say it here because people who are involved might find it one day" narrows the possible topics of discussion on MetaFilter to almost none.
posted by tzikeh at 12:59 AM on January 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


In short: we can't shirk our responsibility to talk about these important things, but we don't have the luxury of indulging in cruel or bilious insults that will only harm our discourse here and destroy our ability to do good in these situations. I appreciate that a lot of people feel very passionately about what is a very, very painful subject, but those very people have a hell of a lot of perspective to offer if they can just calm down and explain themselves as concisely and eloquently as they can.

Okay, I'll bite. Please explain how anything I have said in this thread or that one has harmed the discourse here. Evidence, please. What have I said that has irreparably harmed the nature of Metafilter and prevented "our ability to do good in these situations?" I expressed myself with links and quotes and explanations of why I feel that way about Joe Paterno's (in)actions. I did not simply dive into the thread and leave a contextless "rot in hell" comment. I did not make jokes. I did not attack anyone else in either thread. I engaged people in conversation and responded to people who disagreed with me.

Note that I've only used the phrase "rot in hell" a handful of time on Metafilter during the last 7 years. I used once it to describe the Pearls, who wrote a book suggesting that infants be whipped. I used it once to cheer the death of Osama bin Laden. Shockingly enough, the site has not fallen apart in the interim.
posted by zarq at 6:40 AM on January 23, 2012


zarq: “Okay, I'll bite. Please explain how anything I have said in this thread or that one has harmed the discourse here. Evidence, please.”

Nothing you've said has harmed the discourse here, zarq. I tried to pointedly mention that I really kind of liked your comment above. I wasn't trying to say that you or any person here has said anything terrible or made metafilter worse, and I hope I didn't come across that way. Those are just my own evolving feelings about obituary threads.
posted by koeselitz at 6:57 AM on January 23, 2012


Ah. Sorry. Guess I sort of jumped the gun there. :(
posted by zarq at 7:10 AM on January 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Obituary threads are a blight on MetaFilter.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 7:15 AM on January 23, 2012


Obituarias delenda est?
posted by zarq at 7:26 AM on January 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Is there a way to make obits a special class of posts that limit each user to one comment only? It would allow everyone to leave their thoughts on the deceased but would eliminate the petty bickering, the derails, and the hall-monitoring.
posted by rocket88 at 8:11 AM on January 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


If people just pretended the title did not exist at all when posting a MeTa (or any other) thread the world would be a better place.
posted by Deathalicious at 8:14 AM on January 23, 2012


Is there a way to make obits a special class of posts that limit each user to one comment only?

Technically? Yes. Realistically? No.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:33 AM on January 23, 2012


Obit threads... Yeah.
Here's why I did this one.

When I heard about Joe's death, I came to Metafilter to read what this community had to say about him. For about an hour I watched single link obits get deleted. I figured I could probably quickly construct one that might offer perspectives not found in a typical obit, so I did.

That first link is a biography that was written by a student for the library's Literary and Cultural Heritage Map of Pennsylvania. It was also recently updated by a student to include his dismissal. I linked to an old, simpler version of that page, btw. Here it is in the context of the project. It strikes me that the students here are in a similar spot as Joe found himself. They will forever be known, not as the class that celebrated Joe's 409th win, but as the jerks that rioted when Joe got fired. They are also the kids who witnessed all of this kill the man. Who feel abandoned and lost, and rightfully so. They're the ones who are answering job recruiter's questions about their attitudes on pedophile at their interviews. (Yes, that is happening) They're the ones who just took out five and six figure student loans to come here only to discover that their diploma will come with asterisk. They are the ones who loved him the most, and who may have been the most disappointed, and are certainly grieving. I wanted them to have a voice.

I also included his bio according to GOPSUSPORTS.com. Primarily I did that because it was the most encompassing, but it also is the antithesis of what the students tried to do. The student bio is a part of a library project that looks at the literary life of the Commonwealth. The GOPSUSPORTS.com bio lives on a site that is actually a university property, in spite of it being a dot com, and whose purpose is to sell tickets and branded crap. To me it represents everything wrong about athletics here—The corprification of the institution, the enterprising of the university, an issue Joe fought long and hard to forestall. The difference in those two biographies say a lot to me. Joe cared about the library and the students, it seemed fitting to include their voice. To actually begin with their voice.

Then there's the Times obit, the message from the family, some pictures and stats. And then the Board of Trustees talking about firing him. How they didn't have a choice. And finally Joe's final response to the whole thing, admitting he should have done more, and then how that confession didn't seem to make a difference.

No, I'm not generally a fan of obits, and I've never been a fan of football. But I posted this because this wasn't just about one man's death, not here at Penn State anyway. This was about a catastrophe, an epic tragedy. People seem to forget that the victims are us, too. Every boy Sandusky hurt was also from Pennsylvania, most from Centre County, many from State College. At least one that I know of is now a student here. The feeling here is that a family member hurt other family members, and before we could understand why Dad didn't do anything about it, Dad up and died. We feel hurt, confused, terribly, terribly sad, and alone. I'm not asking others to see it this way, but for me, even though the post is essentially about grief, that wasn't an obit post. It's not about one man dying, it is about the destruction of a community, my community.
posted by Toekneesan at 12:02 PM on January 23, 2012 [9 favorites]


F**k Joe Paterno.

No seriously, 2 days at the top of the rec list at DailyKos with hundreds of upvotes. (A survivor of childhood rape tells her story. Trigger warning. It gets graphic.)

And after I read it, I was even more convinced her title was appropriate.
posted by spitbull at 12:22 PM on January 23, 2012 [6 favorites]


(A survivor of childhood rape tells her story. Trigger warning. It gets graphic.)

I couldn't get through it. But am extremely glad she wrote it. Thanks for linking to it here.
posted by zarq at 12:30 PM on January 23, 2012


Holy hell, that was hard to read. Thanks, spitbull, for sharing.
posted by misha at 3:57 PM on January 23, 2012


I work for a large public university in California. Just a little while ago all employees received the following email about reporting criminal activity. I find it really interesting that in instructing us on how to proceed if we witness or suspect child abuse, calling the police is waaaaay down on the list. Just wanted to throw this out there.

Dear Campus Community Member,

In light of the recent publicity about suspected child abuse on college campuses, I want to remind all faculty and staff that there are mechanisms on our campus for reporting suspected illegal acts and resources to act upon such reports. All of these mechanisms provide the option for filing a report anonymously. You may file a report through Ethics Point, an independent website, by following the instructions available at:

[URL]

You may also file a report by telephone through the systemwide hotline at 1-800-403-4744. Additionally, you can file a complaint by contacting the campus Chief Compliance Officer [name, email address, and phone number]. Of course, you may also file a complaint directly with the Police Department [phone number] or the California Bureau of State Audits at [phone number] or on the web at:

[URL]

The University takes allegations of wrongdoing very seriously, and I encourage you to bring any concerns you have about illegal activity forward so they can be addressed and dealt with appropriately. Please be aware that University policy prohibits retaliation against those who have filed complaints. We rely on, and are grateful for, reports from the campus community that help us meet our commitment to provide a safe environment for everyone on our campus.

posted by mudpuppie at 1:02 PM on January 24, 2012


I find it really interesting that in instructing us on how to proceed if we witness or suspect child abuse, calling the police is waaaaay down on the list.

Well, it's not like catching a football coach buttfucking a little boy in the showers is an emergency or anything.
posted by pracowity at 6:58 AM on January 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


To compare/contrast, here's the letter sent out from the President's office of Indiana University:

IU Faculty and Staff:

At the beginning of a new semester and in light of the sad and still
unfolding events at Penn State University involving allegations of the
sexual abuse of children, I am taking this opportunity to ensure that
all members of the Indiana University community very clearly understand
that IU has absolutely no tolerance for sexual or any other form of
abuse of children. Moreover, the prevention and reporting of abuse is a
matter of the utmost importance to the university, and so all members
of the IU community have the duty to bring instances of child abuse to
the attention of the proper authorities.


In an emergency or if you see a crime in progress, always call 911
immediately.

Anyone who has reason to believe that an incident of abuse of a child
has occurred must report it immediately. Indeed, Indiana law requires
that any person having reason to believe that abuse of a child has
occurred must report it to the local police (IU or community) or to the
Indiana Department of Child Services. You may report to any of the
following:

- The IU Police Department on any campus, or the local community police.
Dial 911, or dial the local IUPD campus number or local community
police department number;
- The anonymous Indiana Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline. Dial
1-800-800-5556 or visit the website at www.in.gov/dcs/2971.htm;
- The anonymous IU Whistleblower Hotline. Dial 888-236-7542, or click
on the "Human Resources" section of the Hotline website:
https://secure.ethicspoint.com/domain/en/report_custom.asp?clientid=173
61;
- The Protect IU website. Click on the "Report an Incident" button at
protect.iu.edu;
- The Provost or Chancellor's office of the relevant campus.

If you believe that an IU office you have contacted concerning abuse is
not responding, then please contact my office directly at
iupres@iu.edu.


Finally, I am directing all IU programs that include children on a
regular basis to undertake a thorough review of their child protection
policies to determine their adequacy in light of recent events. I have
asked Vice Presidents Dorothy Frapwell and John Applegate to provide
policy framework for this review, which should be available to programs
by the end of this month.

Michael A. McRobbie

posted by endless_forms at 8:26 AM on January 25, 2012 [3 favorites]


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