Tackling the Penn State-Paterno situation: Video Q&A recap

Did Penn State coaching legend Joe Paterno drop the ball in the way he responded to allegations of possible child … Continued

Did Penn State coaching legend Joe Paterno drop the ball in the way he responded to allegations of possible child abuse allegedly committed by Jerry Sandusky, a long-time assistant coach on Paterno’s staff?  Our discussion Wednesday invited people to ask what they would do and why?

We considered the importance of distinguishing between legal culpability and moral responsibility.  And we raising people’s need to assign blame and determine guilt as part of the need to find a resolution and return to normal.

 Of course, Paterno announced early Wednesday that he would retire at the end of the season, but last night the school’s Board of Trustees decided to fire him immediately.

The questions we covered at noon Wednesday still apply, however: Was Paterno’s decision to retire at the end of this season a cop out?  Should he have fought for his job? Was the university right to fire him outright? 

From the frying pan of the Paterno case, we jumped into the fire of Herman Cain’s problems with multiple women claiming that he harassed them sexually.  Is Cain finished?  Should he be?  Even if he did harass the women, should that disqualify him from the presidency?  

We also discussed the role of hubris in the lives of so many politicians.  Why do so many of them seem to think that they can get away with almost anything?  Turns out that entering public life – believing that you have what it takes to lead millions of people — requires, for most people, a healthy dose of hubris.  The real question is how one channels their outsized sense of self.

Finally we discussed French President Nicolas Sarkozy being caught on an open microphone remarking to President Obama about how much “Sarko” dislikes Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.  Rather than countering Sarkozy’s claim that the Netanyahu is a liar, President Obama bemoaned have to work with him far more closely than Sarkozy does.

What to make of this kind of ugly spat among long-time allies?  What does it mean to complain about an Israeli leader lying in the midst of revelations that Iran’s leader has been lying to the world about Iran’s developing nuclear weapons technology? 

Perhaps allies expect more from each other than those who are not.  That’s probably as it should be, but whatever the frustrations are, fences need to be mended and that’s what these allies must do, especially given the common and far more serious challenges they all face.

About

Brad Hirschfield An acclaimed author, lecturer, rabbi, and commentator on religion, society and pop culture, Brad Hirschfield offers a unique perspective on the American spiritual landscape and political and social trends to audiences nationwide.
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