Religion Magazine

Vulgarity, Vengeance and Jerry Sandusky

By Stjohnpa @faith_explorer


Why the disgust with Sandusky?  “… now that people have lost the sense of sin, when someone breaks one of the few moral laws they still recognize, they have no experience of contrition and penance. They don’t know the psalmist, “Out of the depths, O Lord, have I cried unto thee.” Their judgments are severe precisely in proportion to their ignorance of themselves.”

The story is familiar by now. Nine years ago, a young football coach at Penn State walked into the locker room and heard odd noises from the showers. He peeked in, and claims to have seen a young boy with his hands placed on the walls, and a retired coach, Jerry Sandusky, embracing him from behind.

Vulgarity, Vengeance and Jerry Sandusky

They Brought the Children by Vasily Polenov, c. 1900

He reported this to his superiors, and, after a perfunctory investigation, they let the matter drop. Other young men now claim that Sandusky recruited them through his charity, The Second Mile, and seduced them or pressured them into sexual activity.

Sandusky maintains that he is innocent. That seems implausible. Every time he opens his mouth, he comes across as all the more deviant, tangled in years and years of self-deceit and depravity. If he is guilty, as he appears to be, then he should spend a long time in prison.

But what puzzles me is not the factual dispute. It’s the reaction of the public in the comments appended to news articles on the scandal, which are unrelievedly vulgar, and express a gleeful delight in vengeance.

Some say that he deserves execution, others castration. Many look forward with satisfaction to the homosexual rape he will suffer in prison. For criminals, too, possess a code of good and evil, and though they may respect a killer, they despise child abusers.

What’s the puzzle, you may ask? It’s manifold. First, what, according to contemporary mores, is wrong about male penetrating male? We are told that this is just another form of sexual release; we are even asked to celebrate it, with gaudy parades down Main Street, attended by children, who will be encouraged, if they are “questioning,” to try it out — protected, of course, by a latex sheath.

But then, why the disgust with Sandusky, and why the sense that he would be justly punished by that same act? For the same people would not say, if he had kissed the boys, that the prisoners should make him suffer by kissing him in return.

Nor do they concentrate upon the age difference. Indeed, that difference accentuates the evil, but doesn’t change the nature of the act, and it’s the act that they revile, with most disgusting physicality.

Yet in their vilification of Sandusky, there’s not a trace of self-awareness. It’s not only that they never stop to question their tolerance of homosexual activity in general. It’s that they don’t examine their own consciences.

They’re blissfully free of sexual evil — because they happen not to be attracted sexually to children. They seem to understand that it is vile to corrupt the innocence of children. But if they reflected for a moment, they would see that we’ve been corrupting children for a couple of generations now.

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