Justifications, translated.

“We got rowdy, and we got maced,” Jeff Heim, 19, said rubbing his red, teary eyes. “But make no mistake, the board started this riot by firing our coach. They tarnished a legend.” [Translation: You made me hit you by talking back; men who create things that other men like deserve a get-out-of-rape-free card. See also: Polanski defenders who really loved Chinatown].

“I think the point people are trying to make is the media is responsible for JoePa going down,” said a freshman, Mike Clark, 18, adding that he believed that Mr. Paterno had met his legal and moral responsibilities by telling university authorities about an accusation that Mr. Sandusky assaulted a boy in a university shower in 2002. [Translation: It’s not the fault of the person who did the bad act. It’s the fault of anyone who points that out. See also: Calling someone a racist or sexist is worse than actually being racist or sexist].

Some blew vuvuzelas, others air horns. One young man sounded reveille on a trumpet. Four girls in heels danced on the roof of a parked sport utility vehicle and dented it when they fell after a group of men shook the vehicle. A few, like Justin Muir, 20, a junior studying hotel and restaurant management, threw rolls of toilet paper into the trees. “It’s not fair,” Mr. Muir said hurling a white ribbon. “The board is an embarrassment to our school and a disservice to the student population.” [Translation: Wahhh waaaaaaaaahh. Yes, it’s the board that is embarrassing your school, and not a 20-year-old man hurling toilet paper into trees while speaking to a New York Times reporter. Also: The “girls in high heels dancing on the roof of a car” line is about the only coverage that female students received in this article. All of the people actually interviewed were men. The girls, I guess, are pretty additions, with their high-heeled dancing to keep the riot sexy].

Paul Howard, 24, an aerospace engineering student, jeered the police. “Of course we’re going to riot,” he said. “What do they expect when they tell us at 10 o’clock that they fired our football coach?” [Translation: Of course you got hit. What do you expect when you don’t have my dinner on the table when I get home?]

Another student, Caitlin Miller, stood outside Paterno’s house for part of the evening with signs reading “We Are proud of you Joe” and “When Joe told Schultz, he told the police.” [Translation: LOL “facts”].

Scandal overshadows the big day, by Ryan Loy: It’s important to say that the boys identified as victims in the grand jury presentment are the ones who were truly hurt in all of this and can’t be compared to members of the 2011 team. But, the current football program, specifically those who take the field each Saturday, deserve the recognition and support that has been a trademark of Penn State for so long. [Translation: Sure, rape is bad, but let’s focus on what matters: FOOTBALL].

Get it together, guys.

About Jill

Jill began blogging for Feministe in 2005. She has since written as a weekly columnist for the Guardian newspaper and in April 2014 she was appointed as senior political writer for Cosmopolitan magazine.
This entry was posted in Crime, Sexual Assault, Sports and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

37 Responses to Justifications, translated.

  1. Anon21 says:

    Yeah. If I were a Penn State student, I’d be filling out transfer applications today. I’m willing to accept that these morally deficient little shits don’t speak for the whole student body, but really, I wouldn’t want to share a campus with any of those assholes.

  2. Rachel says:

    this literally makes me sick to my stomach. these are college educated students…?

  3. Sheelzebub says:

    Shorter everyone: Rape survivors? What rape survivors?

    Fucking rape apologist assholes. How telling that their concern is over firing a coach, and not the fact that eight boys (that we know of) were raped on school grounds by an employee, people at the University knew about it, and did not call the cops.

    Had Mike McQueary witnessed a mugging, no one would be wringing their hands about “oh, is it appropriate to call the police waaaaaah.” But rape? Oh, that’s not really a crime, apparently. (Frankly, McQueary shouldn’t have a fucking job anymore, either.)

    I am so fucking livid right now.

  4. The football culture at Penn State is very similar to that of Alabama. I was born into it, but also capable of looking beyond it. The issue here is of priority and limited resources. The University of Alabama cannot compete academically with schools from other regions. But it can win on the football. A people accustomed to being second best want desperately to win at something. And should anything compromise that possibility it can be easily covered up.

  5. Cooker says:

    Penn State student here who is seriously having a hard time going to classes where I will hear people who should absolutely know better defending Joe Paterno and calling for “rational” and “level-headed” response to the fact that he failed to take action when receiving statements from the witness of child rape. Silly me, thinking outrage and expectations of accountability were the rational response to that.

  6. Gillian says:

    I just don’t get it. And maybe I don’t want to. Why are these people defending someone who protected a pedophile?

  7. My favorite reaction came from the Twitter feed of Twin Cities legend Nick Coleman: “Dear cops, let’s make a deal–stop beating #occupywallstreet protesters, start beating Penn State protesters.”

  8. EG says:

    I hate every single fucking one of these people. I hope they all die. Sooner, rather than later. I wish I believed in a just afterlife.

  9. K says:

    When I was a senior in college, myself and three other women accused a fellow student of rape. These incidents had been spread out over our four years at school, and we only found each other because the girl he raped in the fall of our senior year was a friend of mine, and she told me what happened. So then I told her the story of what happened to me my freshman year, and we eventually found four other women on campus with similar stories.

    Non of us wanted to go to the police, but he needed to leave campus. When the Honor Board decided to expel him, everyone was angry. At the Honor Board.

    He got a “going away party” his last night on campus. We shared a lot of mutual friends, and as far as I know everyone went to his party. He moved off campus and into the basement apartment of one of my closest friends. Everyone was sorry for him, and very concerned about his emotional welfare.

    A few years ago I attended the wedding of two close friends from college and ran into him at the bar. They hadn’t bothered to let me know he would be there. Every time I hear about an event or wedding among my former friends that I wasn’t invited to, I wonder if they blame me, or if they just don’t want me around being an unpleasant reminder of a truth they have chosen to ignore.

    When I read last night that students at Penn State were rallying in support of an accessory to child rape, I sank down into a pit of memories. I didn’t sleep last night, and I found myself ping-ponging between two reactions. I felt bitter vindication that even in the worst imaginable case, people will protect what makes them happy and fuck the victim. My basic distrust of all people, my tendency to assume the worst, was being proven epically right.

    And then I would be overwhelmed with despair. If the anal rape of a ten year old boy isn’t enough to make people care about the victim, what chance did we have? We were doomed to be disregarded and ignored. To my shame, I found myself wishing I hadn’t ever shared my story, hadn’t testified with my friend at her hearing.

    As far as I can tell, it is impossible for a popular and successful man to harm anyone sexually. Whatever he does, whoever he rapes, he will always be the greatest victim.

  10. Bagelsan says:

    Wow, that Onion article was even more scathing and less goofy than usual, I think. It’s a tiny silver glimmer on this giant disgusting cloud that even the Onion writers can barely restrain themselves from just writing “WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH YOU PEOPLE” a hundred times and calling that an article. When professional satirists are rendered perceptibly enraged you know you’ve crossed the line of “human decency” about a million miles ago. :p

  11. I think I’m going to be violently ill.

    I also want to throw a counter-riot…but I don’t think I can do that from Wyoming.

  12. Marksman2010 says:

    Aren’t there more important things to worry about besides someone’s favorite football coach getting the axe?

    I mean, if you’re going to demonstrate, do it for a solid reason. Look at our country. Look at the world. Shit is falling apart at every angle.

    And they’re worried about football…

  13. Politicalguineapig says:

    Rachel, Gillian: See ‘sports fans.’ They’re used to sticking up for rapists.
    K: I am so, so, sorry. This is why we need feminist hitmen. Very few men ever understand that rape isn’t okay, and of course, they almost always side with the rapist.

  14. Tori says:

    I’ve spent the day explaining to various coaches (who all seemed to be genuinely troubled by news developments) that if one remembers that the mandatory reporting law is about protecting assault and abuse victims, responsibilities become clearer. Unfortunately, I think there was less than total comprehension.

  15. Bacopa says:

    What? They were defending Paterno? I figured they would be lynching Paterno, burning down the field house, and beating all the tutors at the athletic support center.

  16. Norma says:

    K: Every time I hear about an event or wedding among my former friends that I wasn’t invited to, I wonder if they blame me, or if they just don’t want me around being an unpleasant reminder of a truth they have chosen to ignore.

    I think it’s the latter.

    I’m so sorry this happened to you, and that the rape-supporting actions of people you know continue. What bullshit. I really admire your courage–doing what you did took so much strength. I appreciate for my sake, and the sake of all other women who’ve been on college campuses, that you did it.

  17. Rob in CT says:

    The parallel to the Catholic Church is just overwhelming here. The other parallel that springs to mind is “patriotism.” Aka tribalism writ large.

    An atrocity gets committed. A reporter (or watchdog group, or whatever) brings it to light. How much anger gets directed at the reporter? Tons of it. Possibly most of it. There’s usually a bunch of victim blaming, a bunch of deflection and a dumptruck load of denial.

  18. Pingback: Friday Linkfest – the mostly WTF edition « The inconstant musings of the mostly medicated

  19. James H says:

    I really hate this shit. The terrible part is that this is so common. I’m in the military (no jokes please, I know I’m an easy target) and as you can imagine, sexual assault is rampant. The worst part is, that though the military provides numerous avenues for reporting these kinds of incidents, they often aren’t. Even worse, often times when they are, they are swept under the rig. “Oh, well I deployed with that guy, he’s a good soldier” or “She’s just angry because he disciplined her” happens all the time.

    I’m so tired of how much acceptability our society lends to people who prey on others. Specifically, how much our society allows men to prey on people. The fact that at Penn State, “football culture” trumps basic human morality not only does not surprise me, but it should stand as a testament to how much of a joke the higher education system in this country has become…

  20. Josh L says:

    The attitudes of the Penn State students are ignorant and wrong. I can’t imagine what was going though their heads, if they even thought things through before rioting. They are dumb and shortsighted for reacting this way.

    I think some of the “translations” leave something to be desired, though. I’m especially not following the Clark translation.

    It would be nice if on Saturday, Penn State had a moment of silence for those kids who were abused. At least they’d give the appearance that they realize that there are important things at that university than their football team.

  21. gidget commando says:

    K: I’m SO sorry. I wish for you all the healing and validation in the world. For the perp, I wish lots of karma. And for the people in your mutual circles who want to bury their heads in the sand…well, I hope they learn and can redeem themselves (to you, and everyone else) before it happens to someone they can’t ignore or marginalize. (Only because I don’t wish your experience on innocent people near them.)

    Anon21: I keep forgetting how effing BRILLIANT the Onion is. That was scary good. May I also recommend John Scalzi’s piece. (Trigger warnings, of course.)

  22. bobby says:

    “Paul Howard, 24, an aerospace engineering student, jeered the police. “Of course we’re going to riot,” he said. “What do they expect when they tell us at 10 o’clock that they fired our football coach?” [Translation: Of course you got hit. What do you expect when you don’t have my dinner on the table when I get home?]”

    At the risk of being slightly off-topic (and a bit nit-picky) : it seems to me that conflating a football fan’s misguided devotion to a revered icon (who likely is deeply tied to said fan’s identity and personal pride) with domestic violence is inaccurate at best. I’m not trying to say that one is necessarily worse than the other, and I’m in no way trying to defend someone who would be so insensitive as to care more about a silly game than the victims of sexual abuse. I’m just saying that what you’re stating as a “translation” is an entirely different scenario, with entirely different dynamics. Claiming that their actions are tantamount to domestic violence for the sake of demonizing their actions seems just plain unproductive.

  23. Ruchama says:

    It would be nice if on Saturday, Penn State had a moment of silence for those kids who were abused. At least they’d give the appearance that they realize that there are important things at that university than their football team.

    There’s a candlelight vigil on campus tonight. Last time I checked the facebook page, which was yesterday afternoon, there were over 6,000 people who’d said they’d attend. And every radio station in the area has been talking about it all day, so I’d imagine there will be a lot more people.

  24. K says:

    Thank you for all the supportive comments.

    Anon21: That Onion article was scathing and perfect, thanks for the link.

    In the last day I’ve been thinking about the fact that, for me, one of the worst consequences of acquaintance rape is the inability to trust or be vulnerable with other people. That fallout was massively reinforced by watching so many of my friends express more concern for the rapist than for me or any of the other victims. I have developed very few close relationships since that time. It is a physical fight to make myself emotionally vulnerable.

    I can only imagine that inability to trust is thousands of times worse when you are raped as a child, by an adult who claims to care for you. I keep thinking about those boys, many probably still nearby, watching their community rally around the man who failed to protect them and deciding that no one is safe. That no one can be trusted to care for them or protect them, or value them more than a football game.

    I wonder how we can tell those boys that there are people out here who would have protected them, and will fight for them now?

  25. Iam138 says:

    Penn State alumnus here. Not at all surprised at anything that has happened. Very much a herd mentality there, as evidenced by the cluelessness of students saying some of those things to the NYT reporter and giving their own names for attribution. I’m glad my son in college didn’t go there.

  26. librarygoose says:

    bobby: I’m just saying that what you’re stating as a “translation” is an entirely different scenario, with entirely different dynamics.

    I think the point is that these are excuses heard over and over again from abusers and their apologists. How often is a battered spouse told “You know what happens when you make me angry, what did you expect?” The blame for the abuse is placed squarely on the victims, and the abuser is now the wronged party. The lame ass excuses and arguments these students are spouting is just more rape-apology. They are not special or new thoughts.

  27. Bacopa says:

    Sorry but if I witness a rape in a locker room I’m grabbing a baseball bat and administering an awesome beatdown. I’ve gotten into a fistfight with a suspected rapist over the “I’ll drive her home issue. Hell, I was even in a questionable consent quasi-rapey situation myself once, but backed out, you know, out of not wanting to hurt someone else and not wanting to do something rapey and stuff like that.

  28. Matt says:

    Feelings arent rational. People care about what other people provide to them. Their interactions with other people don’t matter. Have you ever stuck up for a friend because “I KNOW THEM AND THEY ARENT LIKE THAT/DONT REALLY MEAN IT!”? Then stop being a hypocrite. Have you ever seen House? Dude is a massive jerk. But everyone loves him. This behavior isn’t new, its not shocking, I can’t understand how people are surprised about this reaction. Every day all over the world people are cut slack by other people for bad behavior because of the benefits provided by the former to the latter. You’ve done it, your friends have done it, your mom and dad did it.
    Look at the whole hot girls of wall street thing. All those nice progressive dudes who thought it was okay? And everyone seemed so surprised.

    I just can’t get passed how many people are constantly shocked when these things happen. Its bloody commonplace…

  29. bobby says:

    librarygoose: The blame for the abuse is placed squarely on the victims, and the abuser is now the wronged party. The lame ass excuses and arguments these students are spouting is just more rape-apology. They are not special or new thoughts.

    I agree that there are various types of rape apology going on here, shown not only in the actions of everyone who chose to do nothing, but also by the students who apparently think that it was okay for their beloved coach to essentially do nothing. And I agree that there are parallels between the victim blaming tied to so much domestic abuse and the indifference toward the abused children that the PSU football fans showed.

    I suppose my point was that I would approach a conversation with one of these “protesters” very differently than I would with someone who is physically abusing their partner. The implication here seems to be that they’re one in the same, and it seems like graying those lines doesn’t really serve much purpose.

  30. Gillian:
    Ijustdon’tgetit.AndmaybeIdon’twantto.Whyarethesepeopledefendingsomeonewhoprotectedapedophile?

    I couldn’t agree with you more. What they should really be rallying for is the 10-year-old boy, or at least against pedophiles. This is such backwards thinking.

    Gillian:
    Ijustdon’tgetit.AndmaybeIdon’twantto.Whyarethesepeopledefendingsomeonewhoprotectedapedophile?

  31. preying mantis says:

    bobby: I’m just saying that what you’re stating as a “translation” is an entirely different scenario, with entirely different dynamics. Claiming that their actions are tantamount to domestic violence for the sake of demonizing their actions seems just plain unproductive.

    Exactly what does “riot” mean where you’re posting from?

  32. zuzu says:

    preying mantis: Exactly what does “riot” mean where you’re posting from?

    LEEEEAAAVE THE RAPE APOLOGISTS ALOOOOOOONE!

  33. preying mantis says:

    zuzu: LEEEEAAAVE THE RAPE APOLOGISTS ALOOOOOOONE!

    Well, I guess they sure showed the Board of Trustees what would happen if they punished child-rapists and those who covered for them again. I suppose we’ll have to leave the rape apologists and the rapist avengers alone?

  34. Azalea says:

    Im disgusted that people are more upset that someone didn’t go.to the cops to report a crime that gadgets been reported to them than they are at a fully grown adult who walks away from a child being forcibly motorized, allowing Sandusky the rapist to finish. The first line of failure lies with the people who SAW. a child being raped and decided the best thing to do was to allow the rape to continue in real time and tell people about it. Sandusky was not a .SU employee when this happened but he wasn’t the big bad wolf either SOMEONE could have stopped any one of those rapes.

  35. lb says:

    Yes the point is the rape charges. Sandusky is being talkedabout less than JoePa in the media.
    The man who actuallywitnessed the rape and reported it to Paterno, who as we know in turn REPORTED IT to the administration, is not being fired. Mcclusky is still a coach with Penn State. If Paterno has to go so should Mcclusky.
    There is no question that Sandusky and the administration are at fault. Right now I see JoePa as being collateral damage. Did Paterno rape a child? No. Did he report what he did not see but was told to him? Yes.
    Should he have been fired? Doesn’t matter because its been done

  36. Ruchama says:

    The man who actuallywitnessed the rape and reported it to Paterno, who as we know in turn REPORTED IT to the administration, is not being fired. Mcclusky is still a coach with Penn State. If Paterno has to go so should Mcclusky.

    McQueary, not Mcclusky. And he’s currently on administrative leave, and speculation is that he’ll be fired eventually.

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