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Sick Culture Cheers Sandusky Verdict
Sick Culture Cheers Sandusky Verdict
Monday, Jun 25, 2012 11:45 AM EDT
It felt like a football game as the guilty verdict arrived. We've made
everything, awful or not, into spectacle
By Roxane Gay
A shorter URL for the above link:
Jerry Sandusky did not testify in his own defense. But we had front row
seats to his spectacle when Sandusky was interviewed by Bob Costas on Rock
Center at the end of 2011. Theres a certain crassness to an alleged
pedophile being allowed to defend himself on national television. While
our justice system is predicated upon the notion of the presumption of
innocence until the establishment of guilt, there should be limits to what
a highly visible figure can do to establish that innocence outside of the
court of law. There are no limits, though, not really.
In the interview, Sandusky sounded like a broken, broken man. If he is
guilty of the crimes he has been convicted of, and yes, I surely do
believe he is guilty, Sandusky has been a broken man for a very long time.
In that interview, he chose to reveal the ways in which he is broken, laid
himself bare, however unintentionally.
Or, perhaps, he sounded so desperately broken because he got caught,
because he no longer has unfettered access to young boys and an elite
athletic program. I imagine the loss of that lifestyle must be quite a
blow. You never can tell what it takes to break a man down.
If you ever want to know what guilt sounds like, listen to Sandusky try to
explain his untoward actions with young boys over the years. His voice was
haunting, weakened, I hope, by the gravity of what he has done. He talks
of showering with the boys and roughhousing and touching them as if such
behavior is normal. When asked, Are you sexually attracted to young boys?
Sandusky repeats the question. Instead of simply saying No which is what
most people would say whether they were guilty or innocent he says, Am I
sexually attracted to young boys? I enjoy young people. I love to be
around them. But no, Im not sexually attracted to young boys. The denial
seems like an afterthought. Watching the interview was uncomfortable but I
did not look away. Millions of people did not look away.
Now, Jerry Sandusky has been convicted after an incredibly speedy trial.
The spectacle continues. Were seeing just how broken he really is and how
he has, in turn, broken far too many others. The details that came out of
that Pennsylvania courtroom are as repulsive as they are heartbreaking.
There might be some small measure of justice for the victims; its too soon
to tell. Sandusky will go to prison. His victims will be compensated. They
will heal. We can hope. The damage, though, has been done and it cannot be
undone. Penn State will rebuild itself. A new football season will start
in Happy Valley and a new season will start in Lincoln and in college
towns all across the country, casting a wholesome veneer over some ugly
truths. Young men will break their bodies against one another while we
cheer them on. Off the field, who knows what those young men will do. We
will forget about Jerry Sandusky and his victims, whom we have barely
acknowledged at all, even if we dont mean to. This is how it goes. Theres
always some new fracture in humanity to focus on.
But again, this isnt entirely about sports. Our cultural reverence for
athletes is only one kind of spectacle. Provocative interviews with
could-be criminals is only one kind of spectacle.
We live in a culture of entitlement. This is particularly true when it
comes to knowledge. We feel entitled to know everything and see
everything. The Internet is partly to blame. This is the age of WikiLeaks
and the rabid righteousness of Julian Assanges quest for the truth, for
his right, for the worlds right to know about the war and sensitive
military and government secrets.
The complete article may be read at the URL above.
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