question of the weekend: How much “soul-searching” is there to be done over the Penn State sex abuse outrage?

I was startled to see this headline on a CBS News story this morning:

Obama: “Soul-searching” from Penn State scandal

The story begins:

(AP) CORONADO, Calif. – President Barack Obama says the Penn State sex-abuse scandal should lead to “soul-searching” by all Americans, not just Penn State.

“Obviously what happened was heartbreaking, especially for the victims, the young people who got affected by these alleged assaults,” he told Westwood One Radio in an interview Friday night, in his first public comments on the scandal.

“And I think it’s a good time for the entire country to do some soul-searching — not just Penn State. People care about sports, it’s important to us, but our No. 1 priority has to be protecting our kids. And every institution has to examine how they operate, and every individual has to take responsibility for making sure that our kids are protected.”

Obama said that the scandal shows that “you can’t just rely on bureaucracy and systems in these kinds of situations. People have to step forward, they have to be tapping into just their core decency.” When kids are mistreated — or anyone, for that matter — “all of us have to step up, we don’t leave it to somebody else to take responsibility.”

For those not already aware of the story, the The Christian Science Monitor briefly summarizes:

[T]he allegations in the Jerry Sandusky case are so heinous that Penn’s State’s Board of Trustees fired [football coach Joe] Paterno immediately. Mr. Sandusky, a former defensive coordinator under Paterno, is charged with sexually assaulting eight boys from 1994 to 2009. The indictment states that a graduate student witnessed Sandusky raping a young boy in the locker-room shower and told Paterno. Paterno informed his superiors but not law enforcement.

And the university did not inform law enforcement either. No one went to the police. No one, apparently, confronted Sandusky in any public way. No one stopped him from being around children.

I am disgusted by this story. I am outraged. But in no way do I feel as if I have any “soul-searching” to do. I can’t imagine what Obama is talking about. What does he think the majority of us need to search our souls for?

It seems to me that the only people who should need to be doing any soul-searching about this matter are those who were aware that Jerry Sandusky was raping little boys and did nothing about it. Such as Mike McQueary, the aforementioned graduate student who, as an assistant coach at Penn State walked in on Sandusky as he was raping a child and did nothing about it. He didn’t stop it. He didn’t rescue the boy. He walked away. And when he saw that no one was notifying the police about it, he kept his mouth shut too.

The Penn State students who rioted — rioted — this week at over Paterno’s firing could do with some soul-searching too. No matter how much they love football, no matter how much good Paterno may have done (and by all accounts Paterno was a great couch, not just for leading his teams to victory but in refusing to allow them to let their academics slide), there is something seriously messed up in their heads if they can come to this man’s defense.

I don’t know how these people live with themselves.

But in this matter, at least, my soul is just perfectly fine. And I suspect yours is too. We didn’t all aid and abet a pedophile rapist. The culture of football worship may have, but even that does not encompass us all.

How much “soul-searching” is there to be done over the Penn State sex abuse outrage?

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