FILE UNDER: Duh!
Ironic, isn’t it? Out here in the real world, kid-touchers are shielded by priests, police departments, and now football coaches. Behind bars, where society’s worst are sent, shielding, hiding or defraying a child rapist’s fate is unthinkable.
And this doesn’t just hold true for your older criminals: about a month ago, two teen burglars discovered that CDs they’d stolen were laden with child porn. Even they agreed it was worth risking a B&E conviction to notify the Sheriff’s Department and the smug P.O.S. they stole from – who had the gall to report his missing property to the police – was arrested.
Now, there are some – like the idiot kids who rioted over his firing – who say that Penn State football coach Joe Paterno did what was required of him when he alerted his superior to Jerry Sandusky’s sexual abuse of children. And that it was “good enough.” Uh, pretty much the rest of planet Earth doesn’t agree. Paterno failed morally in not going further, like say, by reporting his observations to someone who could get away with shooting Sandusky in the face. To me, Paterno’s statement that he “wished [he’d] done more” borders on antagonism; it’s like saying to your neighbor about a beloved lost dog, “yeah, I saw it,” with the clear implication that you then left the animal to fend for itself.
We won’t get into Paterno’s excuses about failing stop the act of kiddie rape he claims he saw in progress, nor his failure to scream Sandusky’s crimes from the highest rooftops on campus. The collective media will be examining the reasoning and deeper issues here for a long time to come. I merely want to point out the irony of how deadly serious an accusation of child abuse is taken in a world where deception, chaos, violence, and other predatory acts are the norm – prison.
Countless men and women who commit crimes and are sentenced to prison were abused physically or sexually in their youth. The trauma, the bitterness, anger, and rage against child abuse in your average cellblock is so thick you can paint the walls with it. In fact, I can’t think of a scarier event in life than a prison witch-hunt, because you can’t hide behind the guarantee that it isn’t you, truth be damned. Especially if such a rumor originated from the same place where paperwork, official procedure, and proof originate, like with a prison guard, a facility administrator, or even a snooping inmate clerk with the right access or incentive. (Don’t piss off the wrong person in other words.)
When rumors surface that a Chester has mistakenly (or intentionally) been deposited into the general prison population, tension skyrockets just like in the minutes preceding a gang fight. Fingers start pointing. It might be your cellmate. It might be the guy in the kitchen that scrubs pots with you. Until the rumor dies or its object is either revealed or exonerated, you even look twice at the faces you encounter in the chapel. Inmates so do not want to be associated with harboring someone like this that they’ll start accusing others just to be among the accusers. I’ve never experienced a faster moving, all consuming wave of dread and fear than a wildfire rumor of a child molester racing through one or more Maximum Security housing units.
Of course, I’m not holding the principles of convicted criminals over those of everyday people who manage to live within the law. And I don’t have a profound observation here, just an ironic moral comparison based on an experience I once had. But let me leave you with this thought, since guys in prison love to get all biblical: those privileged A-hole students who rioted are tools, pampered tools of a $3 billion college football industry and they’d better thank their maker they’re not throwing their tantrums on a prison yard. Even a sneeze in defense of Joe Paterno’s half-assed effort would call forth a hell they couldn’t imagine.