Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Penn State indignation

David Brooks writes:
Let’s All Feel Superior
First came the atrocity, then came the vanity. The atrocity is what Jerry Sandusky has been accused of doing at Penn State. The vanity is the outraged reaction of a zillion commentators over the past week, whose indignation is based on the assumption that if they had been in Joe Paterno’s shoes, or assistant coach Mike McQueary’s shoes, they would have behaved better. They would have taken action and stopped any sexual assaults. ...

Online you can find videos of savage beatings, with dozens of people watching blandly. The Kitty Genovese case from the ’60s is mostly apocryphal, but hundreds of other cases are not. A woman was recently murdered at a yoga clothing store in Maryland while employees at the Apple Store next door heard the disturbing noises but did not investigate.
Yes, there are many such videos, but nothing like what McQueary told the grand jury. He testified that he was the sole witness to an old man brutally raping a 10-year-old boy, and he did not intervene or report it to the police.

There is no record of McQueary telling anyone of a rape in 2002. He somehow remembered the story for the grand jury 9 years later, and now he has changed his story.

A famous NY Times article on the 1964 murder of Kitty Genovese said that 38 people watched and did nothing. The story is in the psychology textbooks, but it is mostly false.

A Psychology Today blog writes:
Is it possible that someone can have a really scary experience early in life and then forget all about it until it comes out during psychoanalysis years later? ...

Perhaps the most notorious case played out in California where kids from a preschool were badgered into concocting hair-raising tales of sexual shenanigans occurring between playtime and naptime. ...

But perhaps the most tragic part of this entire episode is that anyone who ever took so much as a Psych 101 class should have been in a position to speak out against this lynch-mob mentality yet, to the best of my knowledge, only one person did.
I am speaking out against the lynch-mob mentality at Penn State. It is based on recovered memory, a bogus Freudian concept. It is brought by horrible evil people who hate everything that Joe Paterno stands for. They say that he is suspect because he is a leader, a football coach, a conservative, an Italian-American, and a Catholic.

NBC's Bob Costas says:
"There is a tremendous amount of information out there and fair-minded, common sense people have concluded that you are guilty of monstrous acts," Costas said. "And they are particularly unforgiving with the type of crimes that have been alleged here. And, so, millions of Americans who didn't know Jerry Sandusky's name until a week ago now regard you not only as a criminal but -- I say this I think in a considered way -- but as some sort of a monster."
No, fair-minded people believe in innocent until proven guilty, and common sense says that a 3.5 year investigation that depends almost entirely on McQueary's credibility is a very weak case.

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