Stop Defending Joe Paterno
He got what he deserved: Scott Ostler
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 10, 2011 10:26 AM CST
Police try to control students and those in the community as they fill the streets and react after football head coach Joe Paterno was fired, November 10, 2011 in State College, Pennsylvania.   (Getty Images)

(Newser) – Scott Ostler has a message for all those in the media (and, presumably, on Penn State’s campus) asking what the sex abuse scandal will do to Joe Paterno’s legacy: “Folks, this is Joe Paterno's legacy.” His incredible record, up-to-now spotless reputation, and years on the job no longer matter. What matters is that “Paterno … knew Jerry Sandusky was possibly a sexual predator of young boys, and nobody did anything to stop the crazy man.” Firing Paterno, Ostler writes in the San Francisco Chronicle, “doesn't fix everything, but it's a great start.”

Paterno, Ostler reminds us, “is the man with the statue.” With that statue, and his “admired and beloved” status, comes responsibility. Even if he had only a vague idea of what Sandusky was doing, Paterno should have followed up—but he didn’t, because a sex scandal would have stained Penn State football. Only now does Paterno say he should have done more. “That's pathetic. You need hindsight to tell you that you must do whatever you can to stop a dangerous criminal?” Ostler writes. Legally, Paterno is in the clear. But when it comes to his legacy, there is no due process. “We'll take the facts and form them into our personal legacy of Joe Paterno."