Posts Tagged ‘Penn State’

Penn State: do the sanctions punish the innocent?

July 24, 2012


The ESPN telecast showed student reaction (photo) on a split screen as NCAA President Mark Emmert ticked off one harsh penalty after another against Penn State’s football team. Clearly these horrified Penn State students were being punished for the sins of the formerly sainted coach, the university president, and other senior members of the administration. Their future autumn Saturdays, their social lives, and their pride in their university were being stripped from them.

Accountability for wrongdoing often brings down the innocent along with the guilty. Think about the workers at Enron, Arthur Anderson, or MCI-Worldcom, who lost their jobs when their bosses’ malfeasance destroyed their companies. Or think about innocent children of illegal immigrants who are wrenched away from their world when their parents are deported.

Is it all right to punish the innocent? First, there is no way of punishing the guilty without harming people close to, or dependent on them. Even a mass murderer–when he is sent away his mother suffers along with him. When Al Qaeda militants are killed, their family members often die with them.

Still we mustn’t be blasé about collateral damage to innocents. It was painful to watch the students as their innocent college years were stripped of top-quality football. But in a sense they’re not innocent. They share a nation-wide belief that football is more (more…)


My ten favorite posts of 2011

December 31, 2011


There were 112 Ethics Bob  posts in 2011, and 14,000 page views. Here are my ten favorites:

  • Ex-Auburn Prof Jim Gundlach gets a mythical Sam Goldwyn award* for speaking truth to power—to Auburn football
  • Turks trust strangers, and the trust is repaid
  • Drew Brees: ethics hero and football hero. He lives by “If not me, who?
  • Tim Pawlenty announces for President, grabs third rail of Iowa politics, earns mythical Edmund Burke Award.
  • Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ) defends Muslim judge Sohail Mohammed, calls opponents “crazies.” Hooray for an ethics hero
  • Three cheers for Bret Baier, Chris Wallace, and Byron York of Fox News, and for Rachel Maddow of MSNBC
  • Ethics: I’m giving it away
  • LSU Tigers Coach Les Miles gets a mythical Chip Kelly Award* for suspending three stars for the big game with Auburn
  • Report from Zuccotti Park, and what’s next for Occupy Wall Street
  • Rose Bowl, BCS Bowl, Ethics Bowl
  • The lesson from Penn State


The lesson from Penn State

December 18, 2011

It’s easy to pontificate about the tragedy of child abuse and rape at Penn State: Sandusky is a monster. Assistant coach Mike McQueary should have stopped the rape and called the police. Head coach Joe Paterno should have called the police. Athletic Director Tim Curley and senior vice president Gary C. Schultz should have called the police, and all should have told the truth to law enforcement and to university officials.

Instead McQueary, upon seeing Sandusky—a bear of a man, big enough to have starred as a defensive end at Penn State—anally raping a 10-year old boy, went home and told his father what he had seen, and several days later told coaching legend Joe Paterno (he didn’t want to disturb Paterno on the weekend). Paterno passed something on to his athletic director. Nobody told the police, and Sandusky went on to brutalize young boys for several years. He’s now indicted on 40 counts of sexual abuse of children,

Everybody who knew about the incident was profoundly unethical, especially McQueary, whose responsibility was—at the very least—to stop the rape and to notify police. But after you condemn everybody involved in this horror, think about this: what would you have done in McQueary’s position?

You’re faced with a frightening and embarrassing sight. Your friend is committing (more…)