Bloggers have the luxury of offering opinions which sometimes influence popular opinion. But speed of reaction almost always results in lack of detailed analysis. The Sadusky football coach/child abuse scandal at Penn State is a case in point
The story caught my attention, as it provides insights into corporate responsibility, social influence theory, willful blindness and dilemmas of leadership. My thoughts are mostly around the dilemmas raised by the case, and for responsible bloggers
The complexities of the case
As I dug into the news [Oct-Nov 2011], I became aware of the complexities of the case as the ‘map’ of the trial shows. The Grand Jury report also reveals those who subsequently were fired [up to Nov 9th 2011]. It suggests the dilemmas facing the Penn State football coach Mike McQueary who had observed Sandusky molesting a student [in 2002]. Also the dilemmas for other individuals at Penn State as the story was passed up the line at Penn State.
The most common response I have heard about the Penn State football-child abuse scandal is that Mike McQueary should have notified the police, and that he should be punished. McQueary was a graduate assistant coach at Penn State in 2002 when he allegedly observed Jerry Sandusky, emeritus Penn State coach [molestiung a student] in Penn State’s locker room shower. McQueary immediately called his [own] father.
The next day, per his father’s recommendation, McQueary called Penn State’s legendary head coach, Joe Paterno, then went to Paterno’s home to inform the coach of what he had seen. Paterno reported some version of what McQueary had told him to athletic director Tim Curley. Subsequently, McQueary met directly with Curley and Penn State finance vice president Gary Schultz to describe what he had seen.
And that was it. Nothing happened to Sandusky; nothing was done for the child, or any other children Sandusky had assaulted. Years later, when a grand jury uncovered these events, Curley and Schultz were charged with lying to the grand jury; then Penn State fired Paterno and University president Graham Spanier.
No immediate action was taken against McQueary, who had become coach of wide receivers for the team. At first he was to be kept out of Penn State’s next game to protect him from irate fans. Then, the University’s attitude towards McQueary shifted, as more public ire was directed at him. He has since been placed on administrative leave.
Doing no evil and free expression of opinion
The battle for responsible blogging is as worthwhile a cause to defend as the right to free expression of opinion. Google got it right when it opted for their slogan don’t be evil. But more recently the firm has begun to phase out its slogan, aware that the dilemmas of corporate life make “doing no evil” too easy a target for critics.
Blogging no evil
Bloggers capture the wishes and fears of our 21st century world. They often amplify emotional beliefs. It is the duty of what called the redress of poetry. However, much of blogging would be of greater value if bloggers took more time in attempting to dig more deeply. By identifying the dilemmas faced within a leadership story, we give ourselves a better chance to see beyond the targetting of perceived injustices. It may not change the world, but it helps the blogger avoid the dangers of willful blindness.