Sunday, January 8, 2012


We are a nation that loves to rush to judgement. For my generation,
the oak behind that statement was planted in 1996 when the country
pinned the Olympic park bombing that killed one person on Richard
Jewel. It fully matured in 2006 when three lacrosse players at Duke
University were accused and vilified for "allegedly" sexually
assaulting a stripper at an on-campus party.

The district attorney and every media outlet in the broadcast
world convicted the three student-athletes before all the facts
came out. But that is what we do, isn't it? Our legal system
mandates that people are innocent until proven guilty but in
the court of public opinion it's always the other way around:
guilty until proven innocent.

Many of us did the same thing with the Penn State case. I
did. We read the grand jury report as if it was the truth, the
whole truth, and nothing but the truth. After all, why would
anybody lie, especially under oath. Why bother with trials
if everything said in these grand jury reports is 100% fact.
That's because people lie all the time, some even do it while
they are under oath. Imagine that. Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens,
Sammy Sosa, Marion Jones, Brad Steinke and President Clinton
come to mind as those who have problems with being honest.

Should I keep going? Mike Nifong, the district attorney in
the Duke lacrosse case suppressed exculpatory evidence that
would've exonerated those student-athletes. Instead, he had
an agenda  and wanted to win re-election in Durham. Nifong
left those kids twisting in the wind, their character hacked, and
reputations smeared, just like Richard Jewel was destroyed
10 years earlier. Oh, sure. All of them were exonerated, but
there is no amount of money that could help them get back
what they lost and make up for the inner turmoil they had
to deal with when the world hated them after being
wrongly accused.

How come we never ask, "What if?" What if a person lied
to carry out an agenda. What if the people in the Penn State
case thought what they saw was a lot different than what
actually happened? What if the incidents that were reported
by the people in the grand jury report did not happen the way
in  which they were reported to the world? We first heard that
Mike McQueary heard "sex" sounds coming from the shower
where Jerry Sandusky was allegedly raping a boy. Then
we hear that it was "slapping" sounds. McQuery said he went
to the police and the police said they have no reports of that
ever happening. What's the truth? What do we believe? What
should we believe? Do we really know what really happened?
No, we don't. We can try to surmise, but without all the facts,
can we really condemn, convict, and assassinate their character
like we have?

Everybody vilified Joe Paterno quicker than it takes
Usain Bolt to run the 40-yard dash. The Penn State
became a legend over 60 years in Happy Valley, portrayed
as a man of honor, integrity, and class. And that was all
torn down in a heartbeat.

Do we really know how Paterno acted during the entire process?
How do we know that what  we've read is the truth? Why do
we believe everything we read or hear? Nobody has heard
from Paterno have they? Probably for legal reasons, JoePa
hasn't said peep. His son, Jay, said he's chomping at the bit
tell his side of the story. But really, do most people want
to hear Paterno's side of the story? After all, most of us
have convicted him already. Even the thinnest pancake has
two sides.

I'd love to hear what Paterno has to say. It might
change our perception of what actually happened.
Everything has been perception and the majority of the
country believes that "perception is reality". I personally
feel that's the dumbest statement I've ever heard. Reality
is reality. It was in the Duke lacrosse case, just as it
was in the Olympic Park bombing incident. When all
the real facts are in and we hear from Paterno, maybe,
just maybe, he won't be the irresponsible felon we've
made him out to be. What if......?

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