PA--New Paterno statue may soon go up
For immediate release: Thursday, Dec. 11
The new Joe Paterno statue – scheduled to go up last month – will likely go up soon. It is a hurtful mistake. It won’t help Paterno. But it will help other wrongdoers, by discouraging victims, witnesses and whistleblowers from reporting known or suspected crimes.
Think about teenagers who are being molested right now, or have been recently, and who are struggling with whether or not to report these crimes. When they see adults praising those who commit or conceal child sex crimes, they aren’t likely to complain about the hurtful injustice. At least some of these youngsters are likely to clam up, give up, get depressed, and stay silent, enabling the predator to continue hurting kids.
To those who are victims of sexual violence, this is terribly hurtful. It’s a re-victimization. Here are the messages that many abuse victims, whether 15 or 55 years old, will get from this statue: “Your pain doesn’t matter. We adults need heroes. And we’re going to cling to them, even if they ignored or hid or minimized the horror that you and other victims have endured and are enduring. And in child sex cases, adults will always side with adults, whether they commit or conceal this horror. So why speak up? No one will believe me. People always believe and back the popular and powerful, even when it’s clear the popular and powerful have acted irresponsibly.”
The artist Zenos Frudakis claims that his conception of the piece had nothing to do with Paterno as a coach and everything to do with him as an influential resident of State College.
That’s dumb and irrelevant. An artist’s conception isn’t what matter. The impact of his or her art matters. And this art work will hurt and silence victims.
Many would object to a flattering statute of O.J. Simpson, even if the artist said his conception of it had nothing to do with Simpson as an alleged abusive spouse and murderer and everything to do with him as an influential Los Angeles resident.
Many would object to an insulting or degrading statue of Jesus even if the artist said her conception of it had nothing to do with religion and everything to do with him as an influential resident of the Middle East.
What matters is the outcome of our actions, not our “conception” of our actions. And there’s no reason why anyone should ever risk hurting thousands of living crime victims to honor one deceased and credibly accused wrongdoer.
Caring adults should prod these misguided donors (Kim Intorre, Ted Sebastianelli, Eric Porterfield and others) to raise an equal amount of money for a statue to honor real heroes: the men, women and children who find the strength to protect others by reporting those who commit and conceal heinous crimes.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. We were founded in 1988 and have more than 20,000 members. Despite the word “priest” in our title, we have members who were molested by religious figures of all denominations, including nuns, rabbis, bishops, and Protestant ministers. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)