Saturday, November 12, 2011

Coach Paterno's religious playbook

You know the sad story at Penn State, where clear evidence of child rape was kept secret, allowing it to continue, rather than being promptly reported to the police. (Yeah, this is remarkably similar to the child abuse scandals in the Catholic Church, isn't it?)

Well, famed coach Joe Paterno lost his job over that one, which is only right. And I probably wouldn't have posted anything here - what more could I say? - until I read this from The Atheist Camel:
When it really mattered Paterno fumbled, and fumbled beyond forgiveness.

His termination by Penn State was right and proper, and that would have been the end of it save any legal actions that might befall him as a result of his inaction. I’d have had nothing to comment upon, no further ax to grind with him. But then he said this:

"As you know, the kids that were the victims, I think we ought to say a prayer for them,"

And there, in that one sentence is the very heart of the grotesqueness of religion, the very core of what I have raged about, fought against, and endeavored to put a face on for these many years all summed up nice and tidy by a disgraced coach.

PRAYER?? Say a PRAYER for the child victims? You self righteous sanctimonious jerk... some of those kids are victims partially because you failed as a man. You relinquished your responsibility as a human being. Your hubris and self interest over shadowed those victims interest. But, now, NOW you’ll implore us to mumble words to a nonexistent thing in the sky as though that will fix things? As though those kids’ lives will be repaired by words to a deity when your own misbehavior, self-serving actions, or apathy was a causal factor for their pain?

No Joe, the only thing that can help these kids now is years of therapy by trained child psychologists. Your call to prayer to millions of your fans and followers won’t do a damn thing for those kids, it never has and it never will. Thanks anyway. And as a Hail Mary play to repair your image- forget it, that’s been tried by fools, frauds, and tyrants for eons. It’s the hall mark of disgraced religionists to drop back into supernatural mode and punt, the better to distract from their failed humanity and inability to carry it across the line. [my emphasis]

Yes, this is absolutely typical, isn't it?

Do believers see why this enrages us so? First, theists always claim the moral high ground. Yeah, you can't be good without God, huh?

And then they do something that puts my whole species to shame, like covering up child rape (and that's far from the only scandal we've seen, from the Catholic Church stealing and selling babies to the countless televangelists who've tearfully apologized for their sins).

And what then? Well, it's inevitable. They fall back on Jeebus! Prayer is magically going to make it all better. It's not a matter of too much god-worship, but too little. And their god, of course - whichever invisible being they worship - is always happy to forgive and forget, to help them move past this, er, unfortunate incident.

And at the last, how does this always end up? You guessed it. We loop around to the beginning again, with the solemn assurance that religion is the basis of all morality and that you just can't be good without God. Let us pray...

Coach Paterno didn't invent this play. It's from the long-established playbook of theists everywhere. But whether it's Ted Haggard or David Vitter or Jimmy Swaggart or the entire leadership of the Catholic Church, it's disingenuous and disgusting.

If I had evidence of child rape, I'd call the police. I don't need a god to tell me that or, more often, to give me absolution for not doing it.


Gregg Garthright said...

Before the football game, both teams met at the center of the field, and were led in a prayer by Ron Brown - a Nebraska coach who is well known for his religious beliefs. When asked, the coaches said they were sure that nobody was forced to join the prayer - as if there was absolutely no pressure applied to anyone, under these circumstances!

The crowd was silent throughout this, then chanted for "JoPa" at times throughout the game.

My understanding is, had Penn State won the game (Nebraska won 17-14), the seniors on the team planned to march to Paterno's house and present him with the game ball (I'm sure they'd have been accompanied by 50,000 or so fans).

Wow, talk about missing the point! I'm sure the victims and their families are thrilled that a bunch of sanctimonious phonies pray for a minute, then spend three hours cheering for the jackass who could have stopped the abuse 9 (or more) years ago.

The only thing that really surprises me about this whole thing is that everyone is convinced this is an unusual reaction to child sexual assault. Unfortunately, this is what happens - adults ignore it, pretend it didn't happen, and, all too often, conspire to cover it up.

WCG said...

Careful, Gregg! You're starting to sound like me. :)

Anyway, here's a plug for your new blog. Nice job, so far!

RJW - Progressive said...

Paterno might well be a cad - but the information available does not support that conclusion.

The cyber-lynching of paterno isn't as bad as an alleged rape of those kids, but the people who participate in it should be ashamed of themselves.

WCG said...

Really, RJW? How so? It's my understanding that Paterno knew about this child rape, but did not call the police.

If that's not true, why was he fired?

If my information - which is admittedly sketchy - is wrong, please educate me. Include a link, if you can.