Priorities At Penn State

I don’t have a particularly strong opinion on whether the statue of Joe Paterno standing outside Penn State’s football stadium should stand or fall, and I find the competing arguments — that it should be immediately removed or that it should stand, at least for a little while, as a shameful reminder of Penn State’s mass institutional failure — interesting and compelling in their own right. There are conflicting reports about whether the statue is coming down this weekend, but either way, this latest protest is another shameful chapter in an ongoing series of them for the university and its students:

A group of Penn State students have started a vigil intended to protect the Joe Paterno statue from vandals.

Seniors Mike Elliot and Kevin Berkon formed the group after they saw a plane fly over the campus earlier this week displaying a banner that read: “Take the statue down or we will.”

Clearly, at least for some students, the necessary realignment of Penn State’s cultural priorities that should have taken place after this scandal hasn’t yet happened. It’s enough to make you wonder if any of this would have been necessary had anyone in State College rushed to defend Jerry Sandusky’s victims with the same vigor these students have for defending a man whose reputation was shattered long before his statue will be.