On the field and before the television Penn State fans and team behaved themselves.
On Saturday, as the clock struck noon at Beaver Stadium, both the good and the bad sides of Penn State were on display. Inside the towering football cathedral—where more than 100,000 Nittany Lions worshippers gathered for the first game of the post-Paterno era—a row of shirtless guys with letters painted on their chests spelled out the words “For the Kids.” At midfield prior to kickoff, Penn State and Nebraska players converged for a moment of silence and prayer for the young boys former PSU defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky is accused of raping and molesting over the course of a decade, perhaps much longer. Tears flowed from the crowd and the TV cameras transmitted what seemed like genuine sadness and compassion, even remorse, to the rest of the country.
But outside, away from the TV cameras:
Thirty-four-year-old John Matko, a 2000 Penn State graduate, stood in the middle of the closed-off street as thousands of PSU fans—many clad in some version of a “We Love Joe” T-shirt—milled around, many gawking at him. Matko held two hand-scrawled signs. One bore the Albert Einstein quote, “The world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil but because of those who look on and do nothing.” The other demanded PSU “honor the abused kids by canceling this game and the season NOW.”
Students, alumni and others—and not just a handful of “rotten eggs” but literally several hundred people over the course of half an hour—spit on Matko, dumped beer on him, shoved middle fingers in his face, called him a “fucking pussy,” “faggot,” and a “piece of shit,” and yelled at him to “get the fuck out of here.” They slapped and punched his signs, occasionally knocking them to the ground. Each time, Matko slowly bent down and picked them up. One guy got inches from Matko’s face and barked “We Are!” as his buddies laughed. It was like a public flogging, and through it all Matko remained silent and just took it. “I knew I was gonna be outnumbered today, but I didn’t know quite how much,” Matko said. “I was part of this community and I know how narrow-minded everybody is around here, and they still don’t get it.”
And people who it s so hard for sexual abuse victims to come forward.
Paterno wasn’t the one who got screwed: it was the victims.