Take Down Penn State’s Statue of Joe Paterno

Target: Rodney Erickson, President of Penn State University

Goal: Remove the statue of Joe Paterno on Penn State’s campus.

While the statue of Joe Paterno remained a focal point of protests during the Penn State scandal, it is extremely disrespectful to leave this statue up. It was discovered that Joe Paterno was aware that colleague Jerry Sandusky was sexually assaulting young boys and did nothing about it. When a witness fails to report a crime, they are almost as responsible as the actual perpetrator. While Joe Paterno’s statue is meant to memorialize what he did for the Penn State football team, it also serves as a painful reminder of what he didn’t do for those young victims.

This statue is now a constant reminder not only of Sandusky’s crimes, but also of Paterno’s failure to speak up. It must be extremely painful for those young men who were abused to see a statue glorifying the man who could have helped them but chose not to. Clearly, this is not an action to be praised, let alone memorialized by a statue. In order to demand some type of justice for the victims of Sandusky’s crimes, it is imperative that the statue of Joe Paterno be torn down.


Dear Graham Spanier,

It is necessary that the Joe Paterno statue on Penn State’s campus be torn down immediately. While the statue initially served to memorialize Paterno’s accomplishments in sports, it now stands as a 7-foot reminder of how he did not speak up to save young boys from being sexually assaulted. Although these were Jerry Sandusky’s crimes, Paterno was equally at fault for not telling law enforcement about the sexual harassment that he knew was happening. This statue is a constant reminder of these crimes and the negative impact they had on Penn State University.

Not only does this statue make the university look bad, but it is also a painful reminder for the young men who were assaulted as well as their families. If someone hurt or abused your child, or didn’t do anything when they knew your child was being abused, you would not want them to be glorified by a permanent statue. It seems that the negative press Paterno received with regards to the Sandusky case outweighs the positive media coverage he had received from sports, thus this statue likely brings more negative emotions than positive. In order to stop the suffering of these young men and their families, it is necessary that you take down the Joe Paterno statue.

[Your Name Here]

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  1. Bill Bodden says:

    I disagree with the concept of taking the statue down. It should remain there with a plaque reminding visitors of this story of how Paterno, the Penn State faculty, the alumni and students who were fans made the football team and its winning a priority over their moral obligation to protect children from a sexual predator on the football staff.

    • So, all of Penn State Nation, roughly 1 of every 700 living Americans, is responsible for the actions of Jerry Sandusky?

      • Bill Bodden says:

        No. All of the Penn State Nation weren’t responsible, but the higher-ranking faculty who knew of the accusations were apparently complicit. As for the rest of the Penn State Nation they were cheering an emperor they thought was wearing a fine suit when he was clothed in soiled rags. There is a lesson there that they should have learned as children from the Hans Christian Andersen story but apparently didn’t.

        • You explicitly indicted “the Penn State faculty, the alumni and students who were fans.” Do you now retract that?

          As for the proposition that all such should have known, that assumes facts not in evidence.

          BTW, did you actually read the Freeh report in its entirety?

          • Bill Bodden says:

            The majority of people at Penn State may not have known what was going on behind the curtain or in the locker room showers, but my main point remains valid that this is a teaching moment about the blind or blinkered elevation of a person or a team to heroic status. This does not apply only to Paterno, the football team and Penn State. It is a lesson for all of us (Note: all of us) but especially young people at what are supposed to be institutes of higher learning where a culture of sports idolatry has led to other abuses. This lesson should also apply to the hero worship of other celebrities whether they are politicians, entertainment figures, or whatever.

            I didn’t read all of the Freeh report, but if there is anything in it that completely exonerates Paterno and the faculty, please share it with us.

          • “my main point remains valid that this is a teaching moment about the blind or blinkered elevation of a person or a team to heroic status.”

            Just how does that work?

            Data –> Information –> Knowledge –> Understanding

            At what point in time do you decide that the process is completed?

          • “I didn’t read all of the Freeh report, but if there is anything in it that completely exonerates Paterno and the faculty, please share it with us.”

            Are we to understand that you would stand the principle of “innocent until proven guilty” on its head?

            I submit that it is your burden to read said report, and then point to evidence contained therein of Paterno’s guilt.

    • Good point!!!

  2. .. Never allow a posse to develop into a lynch mob.

  3. While at it, why not take down all monuments to those who were less than perfect?

    We might begin with the Jefferson Memorial, which honors one who both owned slaves and fathered children with them.

    • Bill Bodden says:

      The problem with many monuments (and museums), probably the vast majority, is that they present a one-sided view. There is something to be said for recognizing the good that these monuments might represent, but there needs to be some way to inform visitors that these people were also human and frailty is part of the human condition. We don’t need to go to the opposite viewpoint and just denigrate the people associated with monuments, but if we just give a glorified portrait then we are lying to the audience. That is very regrettable if we are lying to the younger generation.

      I understand the Vietnam Memorial is in line for some revisionist history. Is there no end to the lying associated with that war from its very beginning?

      • Does anyone really need to be reminded that none are perfect?

        Given that, to what end diluting the extraordinary good that some have done?

        • Bill Bodden says:

          “Does anyone really need to be reminded that none are perfect?”

          Apparently, so. And, I’m not sure reminded is the right word.

          “Given that, to what end diluting the extraordinary good that some have done?”

          Honesty and accuracy. In many cases, it will make them appear more human and will let others know you don’t have to be perfect to achieve respect.

          • No doubt that explains the feeding frenzy of the crowd, why the cross trembles with desire.

    • Start a petition-I’d support it!

  4. Mark the statue with a scarlet letter, for all to remember…

    • What scarlet letters shall we put on the Jefferson Monument, to remind all that he both owned and fornicated with slaves?

  5. I say modify the statue by adding a statue of a child kneeling at Joe’s feet begging & pleading for help! As a resident of State College and a PSU alumni, I am mortified that this happened and pray for every victim!

  6. Anyone who thinks it should stay up and honor (Not stay up to shame – I get that concept!) was NEVER ABUSED as a child and has no clue! Joe knew and he should be shamed for it even if he is dead! I am glad it is down and it should stay down!

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