In April, Pittsburgh radio host Mark Madden wrote a story revealing Penn State for much of the cover-up of Jerry Sandusky’s alleged child rape that has been exposed in the past week. While it didn’t raise many eyebrows back then, six months later it looks to be incredibly accurate.
On Thursday morning, just hours after legendary head coach Joe Paterno and university president Graham Spanier were fired by the school’s board of trustees, Madden was asked on WEEI’s “The Dennis and Callahan Show” what he believes the next piece of news will be.
What he said was twice as shocking as anything that’s been released thus far.
“I can give you a rumor and I can give you something I think might happen,” Madden told John Dennis and Gerry Callahan. “I hear there’s a rumor that there will be a more shocking development from the Second Mile Foundation – and hold on to your stomachs, boys, this is gross. I will use the only language I can – that Jerry Sandusky and Second Mile were pimping out young boys to rich donors. That was being investigated by two prominent columnists even as I speak.”
– from “Jerry Sandusky Rumored to Have Been ‘Pimping out Young Boys to Rich Donors’ Says Mark Madden” by Michael Hurley
When it was only a rumor, Mark Madden accurately foreshadowed the news about Penn State’s cover-up of the allegations about Jerry Sandusky. So when I read the above quoted account of his willingness to allude to a rumor that there may be an even more ugly aspect to Sandusky’s alleged crimes, it gave me pause. If the allegations against Sandusky are true, there’s an aspect of the situation that doesn’t make sense. Why would higher-ups be willing to risk their reputations and life-long careers to cover for the wrongdoing of one of their subordinates? Despite the almost religious promotion of homosexuality now in evidence at all too many of America’s institutions of so-called “higher learning,” it’s hard to believe that they would thus willingly sacrifice themselves to the gods of “political correctness,” especially given the fact that the zealous advocates of homosexual rights are still pretending to draw the line at the sexual abuse of children.
The cover-up makes more sense, however, if the full nature of Sandusky’s activities implicates “rich donors” – people who might have the influence and clout to demand protection from public scrutiny. Is the Sandusky episode like a mushroom, which extends above the ground as the protruding evidence of an extensive fungal network that grows mostly hidden under it? Perhaps, as Mark Madden appears to believe, time (and some intrepid investigative journalists) will tell. Or perhaps the power of that network of corruption will prove sufficient to “limit the damage,” immunizing the hidden network while Sandusky and other scapegoats wither in the storm of public outrage and revulsion. (I read somewhere that fungal growths have remarkable immune properties.)
However it turns out, the rumored possibility leads one to think about an aspect of the Penn State miasma we are encouraged to lose sight of ‘midst the frenzied efforts on all sides to treat the noxious episode as if it is all about sexual abuse and not at all about the abuse of power. One of the deep problems with an understanding of human sexuality that celebrates sexual hedonism and self-gratification is that it encourages people to treat one another as mere instruments of pleasure, good not in themselves but for the good sensations derived from them. Is it merely a coincidence that this way of regarding people is also congruent with the mentality that now permeates professional sports? Athletes are all too often treated as commodities valued only for the pleasure they give to spectators and the money derived from the spectacular gatherings attracted to the various screens and monitors through which it can now be projected.
Whatever rationalizations we employ to the contrary, we cannot help but feel that there’s something deeply wrong with this way of regarding people. We cannot help but feel that people are not things like any others; that they have an inner worth beyond measure by science, price or pleasure. We cannot help but feel this because, by and large, it is the sense we have about ourselves. Hence we are pained when someone deals with us as if we are of no more account than the water and dust that make up our bodies. We are especially outraged when we know that they do so simply because they can. There is a haughty contemptuousness in the casual abuse of power that offends our sense of truth and justice even more than it offends our natural pride.
It may be that my American upbringing leads me to make too much of this. After all, throughout most of human history people everywhere lived under regimes where the elite few claimed privileges and prerogatives that reduced the multitude of the people to the status of mere instruments – fodder for the labor, pleasures and wars of their betters. In Europe since the Second World War an imposed veneer of “democracy” masks the tendencies toward arrogance (on one hand) and expectant subservience (on the other) that results from the sensibilities formed by this elitist heritage. But we don’t need a conclusive verdict about the charges leveled against someone like Dominque Strauss-Kahn to see in the dismissive, “C’est la vie” attitudes many Europeans expressed about them clear evidence that these sensibilities endure.
Americans who have not yet followed America’s self-worshipping elites in their surrender to these “sub rosa” European sensibilities react to reports of sexual abuse and exploitation from a sense of fairness that refuses to confuse the way things are with the way they ought to be. Consciences still resonating with the self-evident truth that “all men are created equal and endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights” feel the offense to natural pride, truth and justice inherent in the notion that the powerful should have their way (whether with working women or young athletes) just because they can. True, our sense of respect for individual rights means that our first demand is for the facts and the thorough investigation aimed at ascertaining them. But that demand arises from and serves our larger interest in affirming and seeking the possibility of justice for all, regardless of what power may do to thwart that possibility.
The insistence that in human affairs power must respect the boundaries imposed by right reflects the conscientious understanding the American founders intended to be the bedrock of the constitutional republic. This is the root of the ideas of limited government America’s contemporary elites, pretending they seek to do good, are now determined to discard. Yet more and more there comes to light a morass of power abuse – for sex, for money and above all for the self-gratifying vanity of power itself. Now more than ever the wisdom of America’s founders proves true. The essential purpose of legitimate government is to safeguard God-given right by limiting and constraining power abuse. Those who pretend to do us good as they discard and disregard constitutional constraints (and encourage us to cast away our sense of the moral ones) are preparing in fact to restore the Old Regime in politics and society at large; the one in which, without regard to God or any power but their own, masterful elites may expect no effective opposition as they use force, deceit, bribery and fear to gratify and advance their ambitions.
Such a regime of unchallenged power abuse is the way of life the elitists intend for America. God knows why any people that has, however imperfectly, tasted the blessings of liberty would choose to go there. We Americans are such a people. The Latin paraphrase of this column’s title is apt: By what road do we travel?