Joe Paterno

Joe Paterno doesn’t deserve a nickname

Up until now I hadn’t written anything about the Penn State tragedy. Not because I didn’t care or hadn’t done any research, but because I’ve been busy this week covering Stanford, a college football team that’s in the news for winning, not protecting rapists.

Also, I didn’t feel like I had anything unique to contribute since all normal people are in agreement on what’s happened and what should happen to those at fault. Child rape is horrible, it ruins lives, so anyone who protects a child rapist is contributing to the ruination of many lives. It’s impossible to put into words how disgusting it is.

Joe Paterno was fired tonight, a decision that was absolutely necessary. It doesn’t begin to help all those poor people who had their lives scarred forever by Jerry Sandusky, one of too many pederasts allowed to hang around with the kinds of “at risk” kids most susceptible to getting taken advantage of by a predator and not telling anyone.

But Paterno’s gone, and even though there’s a wide section of Penn State students who seem to feel that Paterno shouldn’t have to lose his job, Paterno probably should have lost his job on Monday, despite a group of misguided moronic Penn State students who hung out in front of the old man’s house and chanted his name not in anger, but in defiance. Against what? People who think child rape’s a bigger concern than a slightly above average Big-10 football team? If I was the parent of one of those students and I saw him or her on TV on Paterno’s lawn, I’d cut the kid off that night. No more allowance, kiddo. See if Grandpa Joe will help you out.


(Jones, who’s been covering this story for Black Shoe Diaries, a Penn State blog on SB Nation that’s seeing their traffic increase exponentially for reasons they surely didn’t hope for, wasn’t upset about Paterno’s ouster, just concerned because campus police were unprepared for the announcement.)

After all this ghastly news and an aftermath that’s only just begun, there is one last thing to say.

Everyone needs to stop calling him JoePa.

It doesn’t matter that his name is Joe and the first two letters of his name are “P” and “a.” Calling him “JoePa” makes him sound like an old grandfather. Like a father. Paterno is both, technically, but as a coach and supposed educator he was obligated by law to report Sandusky’s child-raping to the authorities. He didn’t. He not only didn’t report it to anyone besides another person underneath the Nittany Lions umbrella (the athletic director), he allowed Sandusky to waltz around campus and use the facilities.

“JoePa” is a guy whose house always has the biggest line of trick-or-treaters at Halloween. “JoePa” is someone who would help a child in need, regardless of that kid was a relative or a complete stranger. Calling Paterno “JoePa” is no longer okay. It can no longer be accepted. Due to freedom of speech I can’t stop people from calling him whatever they want to, but every time I ever hear this shortened version of his name I’m going to cringe.

He’s Joe Paterno. Pa-ter-no. From now on, if I ever utter that name it’s going to sound like a disease.

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