We have made only slight mention of it because we feel the media has given in quite enough attention and it doesn’t really apply to the theme of the blog but the Penn State scandal, as adequately pointed out in this editorial from a Penn State senior, provides an example of something that does apply.
The media storm of the scandal has highlighted 2 major issues that are central to the philosophy here at Lions of Liberty; (A) the lack of personal accountability pervasive in our society and (B) a media fueled by ratings and hype in place of honest journalism. I feel it only fair to mention your contributors are not only passionate, liberty “lions” but also Nittany Lions. Regardless, this isn’t (too) personal.
Joe Paterno may be “responsible” for not following up, or calling the cops, or castrating Sandusky, but as our friend’s post suggests, aren’t we sort of missing the forest for the trees with this story? So maybe Paterno and Spanier didn’t do enough, or the board of trustees should have acted sooner, or apparently even I and my 40K+ undergraduate brethren should have done something in my five years there to stop this injustice. What is getting lost here, however, is the fact that disturbing, criminal sex acts were allegedly committed by one man. Sure there are spokes of responsibility that should have been more, well responsible, but let’s not forget the actual crime and the individual who committed it. This has turned into a buffet of juicy intrigue for the national media; the ultimate tale of irony as a paradigm of honor and integrity is marred with the most heinous of charges. It’s a good story. The program has for all these years stood as a shining example not only of college sports programs, but for character in general. To watch that all come crashing down is a media feast far too delicious to pass up. But remember that an alleged disgusting man is accused of a most disgusting act. That man’s name is not Joe Paterno or Graham Spanier or Penn State. The act was not negligence. His name is Jerry Sandusky and his alleged crimes were far more serious.
The whole Conrad Murray trial (Michael Jackson’s Doctor) circus is also an excellent example of the pervasive denial of personal responsibility in our national psyche. I will admit I am not an expert on the case because it doesn’t seem worth too much of my or anyone’s time, but its premise certainly is. Michael Jackson overdosed. Murray prescribed a drug that was found among a cocktail of other powerful drugs in his autopsy. He is now, according to a jury of his “peers”, partially on the hook for Jackson’s death with his recent manslaughter conviction. Pop culture’s obsession over MJ and its idolization of dead celebrities wouldn’t allow this death to be simply blamed on the actual cause-a drug addict going too far. This explanation just was not enough for his adoring fans or the ratings starved media. No, there HAD to be SOMEONE ELSE to blame. This is a troubling phenomenon. It follows a logical path that ends with everyone being blamed for a single person’s poor decisions. By this logic the local EMTs could be charged for negligence since they didn’t arrive before his heart exploded.
The media is not all to blame as this is a widespread societal issue. But its treatment of such incidents does fan the fire of this finger pointing mentality. We are increasingly a culture of people erasing the link between cause and effect, our decisions and their consequences. Personal responsibility is not only a moral imperative, but an essential part of a civilized and free culture. We need our media to reflect this.
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