Earl Hipp is not happy.
I’m REALLY angry at how one really sick guy can change the world in so many horrible ways. Jerry Sandusky’s perversion, in truth, has damaged the lives of millions of people. He’s has become the Bernie Madoff of pedophiles. If you can stand to even think about all this for just a little longer, try on the following:
The obvious is the depth of the damage to the souls of all the young boys he abused, including his own foster son (one of five). They are men today whose lives and the lives of their families, are now filled with dark corners, churning emotions, hidden pain, and destructive shame. The horror of living with an abuser in your life, even after the abuse has stopped, is really incomprehensible to me.
Then there are the many layers of competent, dedicated, and otherwise good people at Penn State who lost it and made horrible and morally inexplicable decisions to not intervene and protect young boys. People who should have immediately taken physical and legal action against this perverted man and done what we all know was the right thing to do. Instead, they hid in denial hoping to insulate their institution from the necessary and inevitable consequences. Now they, and all the people around them, must try to find a way to cope with the tragic consequences of what they did and didn’t do.
Imagine all the students at Penn State and young people all around the world, looking for guidance from adults. All of these young people who, yet again, have to see adults in large institutions behaving shamefully and letting them down by modeling unethical, selfish, and dishonest behavior.
To the list of those hurt, add all the parents of young males everywhere. They now must wonder if they can trust any youth-serving group, mentoring organization, coaches, male teachers, scoutmasters, the men in their religious institutions, and even the men in their neighborhood. It represents a huge tear in the fabric of community trust.
Of course we have to include Men, as a class, getting kicked in the balls just because they have them. Because the pedophile creeps we hear about are men, now all men are suddenly suspect. Good men who want to show up for young males now have to hold back, or make sure they have a woman with them when they are around boys to avoid indictment. Now there is another reason for men to not trust other men, in general, and certainly not trust them with their sons.
I’m glad this guy has been stopped and will certainly be punished. I’m glad a whole school community, and maybe the world, will get a chance to look in the ethical mirror. But I’m angry at the media, first, because of its relentless hunger for the next sordid detail. Secondly, I’m really angry the media never gives us a counter-point profile of all the men who have made life-giving and often life-saving differences in boys’ lives. Most men can remember guys who showed up for them, but we rarely hear a story about all the gifts they brought and those who today continue to bring into young male lives.
And then there are the hundreds of thousands of lost boys. Young males without fathers or involved male relatives, boys in foster care, in juvenile detention or jail, all the boys who are lost and severely under male-nourished who now will have an even smaller chance of finding a male ally, advocate, or mentor to help them on their journey to manhood. Because of the sick creeps, the really good men who might have shown up for these lost boys must now have even more courage to withstand the insinuation that if they want to help a young male, it might be because they are pedophiles.
Yes, I’m sad and angry at how one very sick man can do so much damage. I’m sad a public and functional definition of a solid, mature, responsible, and generative “good man” is now getting harder to see in the world around us. Yes, I’m really angry that calling men to be man-makers in the lives of all our boys just got a whole lot harder.
This post originally ran on the Man-Making blog.
—Photo Orange Steeler/Flickr