Here's To Shutting Up

The difficulties of speaking about the unspeakable where Penn State is concerned, and our noise problem.
Share |
Bunch of people with their priorities on straight.

I imagine video footage, which I am sure exists. Someone yells cut on an ESPN set, and the make-up people burst out and begin ministering to the faces of the people who were just talking. The make-up people are brushing, wicking, doing what they do, and the lights are still hot, the cameras will be live and transmitting again in a moment, but for the time being the debate—about whatever, the debate that isn't really a debate and which also never ends—has gone dark and silent. I think about the slackened faces of the people who have been sitting there in those chairs, on television, trying to take and defend a position one way or the other on whatever topic it was about which they were supposed to take/defend a position.

Should the NCAA take action against Penn State. Should the school tear down the statue of Joe Paterno, the gnomish erstwhile saint who displayed such lordly abstraction for a decade and a half when presented with the news that one of his most trusted lieutenants was a horribly prolific pedophile. Should we feel this way or that way about this or that. Should this action be taken or that one. Those slack faces, waiting to Have A Take or Make The Case, those tiny soft brushes moving over them. And all I can think, thinking of this, is "no fucking thanks." No thanks to this non-discussion, no thanks to this human tragedy as another fatuous hot sports topic, no thanks and no thanks and please be quiet, please.

As one commenter recently noted, we haven't written anything about the carnival of horrors at Penn State in months. We haven't really written about it much at all, actually. I wrote a column about it during our tumblr'ed pre-history—that story, now sadly without what was a fascinating comments section, is here—and Shoals wrote briefly about the way athletes responded to Paterno's death. But that was it: my daisy-cutter instant condemnation and a blog post about something LeBron James tweeted. Last month was Sandusky's 45-count conviction and last week was the 267-page Freeh Report. The former was addressed in the media with a sort of nauseous reverence reserved for things this horrific; it was just the queasy facts, which sufficed. The Freeh Report was no less hideous in its implications, and maybe more so. Sandusky, a monster if that even needs to be said, is also sick and behaved as a sick person would. There is no such excuse for the poker-faced pathology evinced by the ostensibly non-damaged people who conspired, mostly passively and fully abhorrently, not to act on what they knew about Sandusky's predations. This was an astonishing failure of empathy and a violation of the public trust and of course you know all this already, and probably knew it when the non-actors' first queasy public equivocations were issued last year.

But what is there to say about this? That the people named in the report acted appallingly, with criminal cowardice? Yes, they did. That a school that incautiously canonized a football coach and recast its identity as his made a stupid choice in doing so? Sure, yes, and of course they did: no one man should have all that power, as a contemporary philosopher has put it, and impunity is corrosive and again if you follow news about politics or banks or are familiar with history of any kind you already know all this, too. We didn't write about this because we are not in the business of telling you what you already know, and because there seemed to be no sense in delivering a new and more fulsome condemnation of things already roundly and justifiably condemned. But mostly we were quiet because it was already entirely too loud, and because the hysterical vigor of the various sub-debates—Penn State should ban football or sports or it shouldn't; it should tear down a statue or it shouldn't; the NCAA should "get involved" or it shouldn't—seemed not just unseemly, but symptomatic of a greater problem.

"I think," ESPN's Andre Ware said on College Football Live on Tuesday, "that [NCAA head Mark Emmert] gets the significance of this event for the NCAA, and for his presidency, and the need to"—and here there was a little hiccup in Ware's speech, like the sudden jolt of a speed-bump taken too quickly—"do something. And he's saying all the right stuff right now... The rulebook, if he has to rely on it, that's fine. If he can't use the rulebook, then it's time to use the bully pulpit of his office."

That is: if there was a NCAA infraction buried in this decade-and-a-half-long disgrace, the NCAA should impose some sort of penalty. If there wasn't a NCAA infraction, the NCAA should impose some sort of penalty. This knuckleheaded and paradoxically soft vigilantism is stupid, of course, and does not lead towards any solution that could deserve that name. But neither is it serious or seriously felt. This is a child's wish, this urgent, empty demand that someone do something, punish someone, say something, tear down a statue or rename a building or take some sort of action somehow and to some end. This is begging for an ending, something to feel okay about and sooner than later. This is what I perhaps-too-broadly wrote about last year in the wake of the first horrible revelations: this is not a football scandal but a cultural one, and anyway/as such is not a problem that is going to be solved by football minds saying football things, or by retreating into some new ecstasy of sanctimony or, lord knows, by the fucking NCAA. But it will take some thought, and some time, and it is work we'll have to do ourselves.

"Solve" is a tough word here, and maybe not the right one. The tendency to forget, at the worst possible moments, that other people are just as human as we are may not be something that people can solve. Our track record on this one is not great; we make the same mistakes over and over, forget every reminder. But we still need to remind ourselves, all the same. We need to do that because of how easy it is to forget that other people's kids are as precious as our own and other people's sufferings as acute; that we are all fundamentally in trust to each other and that a community without human values is pretty much a mob; that traditions curdle into simple bias if not refreshed and re-examined. We need to remind ourselves, each other, because of how easy it is to lose ourselves in a crowd but also to lose the crowd, because it is so easy to lose so much in all that noise.


Share |

Comments

We got a grab a book from our area library but I think I learned more from this post. I am very glad to see such wonderful information being shared freely out there.
site

Hello, this is fastidious post I actually loved reading this. Accommodation In Barcelona

I imagine video footage, which I am sure exists. Someone yells cut on an ESPN set, and the make-up people burst out and begin ministering to the faces of the people who were just talking. buy soundcloud plays

We got a grab a book from our area library but I think I learned more from this post. I am very glad to see such wonderful information being shared freely out there.targeted website traffic

Your contents are too straightforward to browse and easy to understanddiscount insurance rate

You create sense out of the foremost complex topics.
payroll advance loans

Your way to enlighten everything on this blog is actually pleasant, everyone manage to efficiently be familiar with it, Thanks a great deal. 24 hour plumber los angeles

kurang untuk itu kami mahal sini coba barang tanpa kami kepada kami itu di lama baja konstruksi Jual pipa hitam besi baja
terbesar tidak dapat dijamin delhi to jaipur taxi

Your articles make whole sense of every topic. halal

Nice information, valuable and excellent design, as share good stuff with good ideas and concepts, lots of great information and inspiration, both of which I need, thanks to offer such a helpful information here...http://topinsuredeals.com/reasons-to-compare.html

It feels awe-inspiring to read such informative and distinctive articles on your websites. Seriously Trademarks.com.au

The blog is good enough, keep up writing such type of posts.Ad Respark review

Hey to everyone, it’s my first visit of the blog site; this blog includes awesome and actually best info for the visitors.
discount car insurance

The vital information in this blogs has allured me. m9d

Just saying thanks wouldn’t just be enough, for the fantastic fluency in your writing. passive restraint credit

That’s a nice site you people are carrying out there.
cash advancecom

Thanks for your work. Sharks have always been a subject of interest for me, so I really appreciate the effort you put into this piece!Los Angeles County DUI Attorney

You create sense out of the foremost complex topics.i drive 10 miles a week can i get cheeper car insurance

Awesome work! That is quite appreciated. I hope you’ll get more success.

payday loans online

Remarkable blog! I have no words to praise, it has really allured me.discount auto insurance

Your articles make whole sense of every topic.
real payday loans

This is such a great resource that you are providing and you give it away for free. iphone repair san diego

I have checked this link this is really important for the people to get benefit from.life ins

I see the greatest contents on your blog and I extremely love reading them.easy online payday loans

This blog Info is fabulous; I must wanna see best more from your writers. Printing VIP

Nobody can reject the info you have given in the blogs, this is actually a great work. MyBKHelp

I would be supportive on all your articles and blogs as a result of they are simply up to the mark.
life insurance quotes

I definitely enjoying every little bit of it I have you bookmarked to check out new stuff you post.. http://sdke215.wix.com/hungrythirsty

Melihat hasil survey dapat disimpulan berada diposisi 10 besar hasil pencarian adalah strategi jitu untuk meningkatkan pengunjung dan peluang peningkatan penjualan produk atau jasa yang anda tawarkan.Jasa pembuatan website

Remarkable blog! I have no words to praise, it has really allured me. interesting articles

Well, it’s a nice one, I have been looking for. Thanks for sharing such informative stuff.life ins

To me, this implies concentrating on a section of sacred text at once and persistently turning it over in my brain for the duration of the day (and/or night). Regularly I discover it serves to say the entries so anyone might hear or even to deal ajmer to jaipur cab

I wanted to thank you for this great read!! I definitely enjoying every little bit of it I have you bookmarked to check out new stuff you post... adult traffic

Your articles and contents are encouraging.
fastest payday loan

I can separate the game itself from the baggage of American baseball history as I know it, appreciate the beauty of a single swing or catch without prejudice aaa handbag website

I thought it was going to be some boring old post, but it really compensated for my time. I will post a link to this page on my blog. I am sure my visitors will locate that extremely useful...buy youtube video favorites

Go-ahead guys you are really accomplishing a great job. Best of luck! auto insurance quote

You create sense out of the foremost complex topics.
life insurance quotes

I Never ever found such edifying blogs. Business envelopes

Keep the balls rolling!! Nice posts you have given for us.payday loans no credit check

Thanks for your beyond belief blogs stuff. Find A Lawyer in Illinois

The superb highly informative blog I’m about to share this with all my contacts.
fallout shelter for pc free download

I am interested in knowing more about the happenings across the world and this site has helped me to know more about the happenings. Keep up the good work.club gemini residence

This project’s residents will enjoy recreational & transportation and conveniences all at their doorstep. Expects convenient and exciting lifestyle.new launch condo in toa payoh

I don’t suppose many of websites give this kind of information.401k to gold ira rollover

These are actually wonderful some ideas in the blog. You have touched good quality points here. In whatever way continue writing.probolan 50 kup

Great Article it its really informative and innovative keep us posted with new updates. its was really valuable. thanks a lot.vo genesis review

Women Really Do Have More Stubborn Fat! Researchers have discovered that women have 9 TIMES more Alpha receptors than Beta receptors in their stubborn lower body fat.rebelmouse.com/thebetaswitchreviewhq/

It was very useful for me. I m happy I found this blog. Thank you for sharing with us,I too always learn something new from your post..Online Medical