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Sunday, July 22, 2012

In Which I Grapple With Humanity's Hard Heart

I could live a thousand years, and still never understand the evil hidden in a man's heart.

The brutal, calculated attack on innocent people in an Aurora, Colorado theater this week is unfathomable. I can't wrap my head around it. What would possess 24 year-old James Holmes to suit up as if for war, toss cans of tear gas into the theater and indiscriminately spray the packed audience with bullets from an automatic weapon?

Why? What was his point?

Only Holmes knows, and he's not talking. All I know is he legally bought a firearm whose sole purpose is to kill people, not animals... people, and tried to obliterate a roomful of patrons.

Yeah, we don't need gun control in this country.

For Pete's sake, all these people wanted to do was see a fucking movie. That's it. Nothing more. And now 58 people are wounded and 12 are dead, including aspiring sportscaster, Jessica Ghawi who narrowly escaped a similar attack in Toronto two months ago.


Several friends and I went to see Batman on Wednesday at a special premiere for Pittsburgh audiences. Pittsburgh is prominently featured throughout the final chapter in this series. We were wanded going into the theater, which at the time I thought was overkill. It's chilling to think we could have been caught up in a similar attack.

Okay, so Sometimes I have flashes. I hesitate to call them psychic flashes, but there's definitely something mystical going on. Sitting in the theater Wednesday night watching the villain, Bain calling for the citizens to rise up in anarchy to subvert the dominant paradigm, an unsettling thought flew through my mind. "I hope no one takes this to heart."

Our world is broken. This country is broken. Morality is broken.

And then this morning the powers-that-be at Penn State decided the smiling statue of the late Joe Paterno erected in front of (Not-so) Happy Valley stadium must go. The decision came on the heels of FBI Director Louis Freeh's investigative report finding Paterno and three top administrators concealed the child sex abuse allegations against Jerry Sandusky.

I live for the day we all can stop reading, writing and saying the name Sandusky.

According to, Penn State President Rod Erickson said he decided to have the statue removed and put into storage because it “has become a source of division and an obstacle to healing.”

“I now believe that, contrary to its original intention, Coach Paterno’s statue has become a source of division and an obstacle to healing in our University and beyond. For that reason, I have decided that it is in the best interest of our university and public safety to remove the statue and store it in a secure location. I believe that, were it to remain, the statue will be a recurring wound to the multitude of individuals across the nation and beyond who have been the victims of child abuse.”

I agree with Erickson's decision. That statue is a slap in the face of the victims. It mocks the pain and suffering inflicted upon them indirectly at Joe Pa's hand. Had Paterno done the right thing years ago and stopped Sandusky when the evidence was first presented to him, a dozen young men's lives would not have been destroyed and his precious legacy would be in tact.

But he didn't, and so it isn't. And now his entire, once glowing career is riddled with doubt. Tarnished forever. Leaving us wondering what other suspicious, untoward activities he helped cover up. An entire lifetime dedicated to educating his athletes and helping them become upstanding citizens pissed away. How he could justify sacrificing those young boys' psyches for a football program is beyond me. It's a shame. Hubris is a destructive beast. I do feel bad for his wife who has to live with this truth.

Jo Pa's walk of shame