Well now, look at that; they took down Joe Paterno’s statue from outside the Penn State Stadium. Why? To make themselves feel better about the culture of excess and abuse they have created and continue to nurture around this country daily? Football – the commodified and commercialized sport of champions – has become the heroic denouement in this bone-dry graveyard of capital. How many more of our children, and ourselves, will be sacrificed on this altar of consumption, greed and excess, grinding down our youth in order to enrich the wealthy and distract the Joneses? But, perhaps, this is not the right question. Maybe we should go back a bit further to understand why their All-American hero, the late coach Paterno, was thrown under the bus. The truth is that there is nothing sacred in this world of commodities except money. And, above all else, Penn State wants to insure its continued access to capital: investments, contributions, donations, or what have you.
Truth is that Joe did what Joe had to do to protect the sacred cow, the almighty dollar and the culture of make-believe it supports. Yet, he did no more than what other great men and women of this perverse nation have done. In fact, while his cover-up may have sacrificed some young men’s innocence, he certainly did not destroy as many young men’s lives as the armed forces does weekly and continuously, grounded in yet more questionable heroic missions based upon more profound lies, distortions and cover-ups. Nor was his action (or lack thereof) any more heinous than the continuous lies, distortions, dissimulations, and cover-ups that we get weekly from our national leaders, along with the CIA and other appointed operatives, including the Supreme Court.
So now, topping it all off, the boys at the top of the pyramid (the National Collegiate Athletic Association) have weighed in and made it clear that money is the sole driver in this contemporary morality play. A sixty million dollar fine has been assessed against Penn State University for the failures of its hierarchy to correct and report such behavior, along with a four-year ban from all post-season play for the football program and the vacating of all “wins” by the Nittany Lions since 1998. Boy, if that isn’t rewriting a small piece of cultural history to satisfy one’s collective sense of guilt and self-loathing then I don’t know what is. Look, it is not as if I seek to justify Jerry Sandusky’s behavior appropriately adjudicated or not; in short, I have no dog in this fight. But neither am I in the least bit interested in buying into the bullshit tales that they (those further up the hierarchy) spin to justify and rectify their cultural mythologies. The Penn State spectacle is simply a microcosm of this culture of deceit and deception and denial; and yet the real bullies and cheats and liars go unpunished, while they serendipitously find a scapegoat for their own disgusting displays of inhumanity and lack of compassion.
Our culture idolizes its sports figures and football heroes if not more than all others. Yet, football itself is a scale model representation of the same hierarchization and commodification we find rampant in the larger society, from the owners and general managers on down the line through the quarterback and then those who do the real heavy lifting on the “front lines” of defense and offense. A clear chain of command, specialization, a focus on competition and winning, the inappropriateness of questioning authority (at least not publicly), always show a perfect expression to the audience; these are the virtues of the system, the same system that plays itself out in the domain of politics, law and business. Even the apparent necessity of teamwork on the field (and in the factory) is strongly linked to specialization (everybody plays a well-defined role), a need-to-know mentality, and a public face suggesting that all parts are working together efficiently, like a well oiled machine, in order to achieve victory… conquer the enemy or destroy the competition.
Perhaps Joe, and some of the other grown-ups in charge out there just believed as they were taught, that the rules are forever maleable, especially in the interests of winning, alumni funding, and the historical record. I don’t know that Joe was wrong in this assessment, if in fact it was how he rationalized the situation. But, there were two problems with his conclusion, in any event. He did not plan on the cat getting out of the proverbial bag; nor was he high enough up the ladder to snuff it out if it did. Perhaps, a third issue that grew season after season… too many young men were evidently too involved with the genteel Mr. Sandusky.
You see Obama, Bush, Clinton, Cheney, Thatcher, Reagan, et. al., they had/have the sort of clout to keep their shit (lies, obfuscations, cover-ups, dodges) out of sight and out of the press; much more clout than the “former” winningest Division 1 college football coach in history. That’s right folks; just like that the history books are changed. It is an object lesson for us about the recording of history in general… it is written and rewritten by the Generals! Remember that the next time you crack open one of those approved history texts that your son or daughter carries home from school: it will not be like reading Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States. Buyer forever be wary!! And perhaps that is the history book you ought to expose you and your child to — even at this, the eleventh hour!
And now that we have the Sandusky trial out of the way in the land of law and order, we can turn our full and undivided attention to the trial of that poor idiot who massacred the folks at the theatre in sleepy (or is that junked-up) Aurora, Colorado. This jackass also took his own delusions of invincibility too seriously, thinking he could rewrite history with a gun. Well perhaps he did rewrite his-story. Ironically, it seems he made history this week, while Joe now appears never to have existed. Isn’t it comforting to know we are protected by the loving arms of the fatherland!