I put a lot of faith in the good nature of people, and I know it. I think that Joe Paterno feels bad about the allegations against Jerry Sandusky, but I don’t think that firing him has any real consequences with regards to him. I don’t think the action of firing an 84 year old man is as bad of punishment as the crime itself that will tarnish his career. It doesn’t make a bit of difference vis a vis Paterno whether or not he steps down or is fired. The damage was done long before the board of trustees meeting.
It is simply a symbolic move that Penn State doesn’t take sexual abuse against minors lightly. And that’s all well and good. The charges are despicable and that should never happen and no one should be okay with it. But at this point, it is all symbolism. Symbolism is important, because we place some sort of nonintrinsic value on it. If I lived in a world where it was just me and the parties involved in the crime (for the sake of argument), I wouldn’t care whether or not he got fired, because in all reality, it doesn’t matter. But in this world, it does matter, because most people seem to place a huge value on the symbolism of the action. And for that reason, I do think it was a good call to fire him. Not because of him or Jerry Sandusky or Penn State, but for all of the people who are crying out for symbolic justice. You make something that doesn’t matter…matter.
Ah the power of symbolism