Monday, November 14, 2011

Don’t Blame the Hippies

It sounds to me as if David Brooks is blaming the Penn State child rape scandal on the 1960’s.

I don’t think it was just a Penn State problem. You know, you spend 30 or 40 years muddying the moral waters here. We have lost our clear sense of what evil is, what sin is; and so, when people see things like that, they don’t have categories to put it into. They vaguely know it’s wrong, but they’ve been raised in a morality that says, “If it feels all right for you, it’s probably OK.” And so that waters everything down.

Yeah, except I don’t think Jerry Sandusky was at Woodstock, and I don’t think that Joe Paterno and every other place where this cult of college football worship goes on is based on Love, Peace, and George McGovern. These are some seriously conservative people who live by the manly man rules and don’t tolerate any of that “if it feels good, do it” mentality unless it can get them a win on Saturday afternoon and the NCAA doesn’t find out about it.

And not for nothing are there parallels being drawn between what went on at Penn State and what went on in the Roman Catholic Church: the hierarchy of infallibility, the cult of personality around a larger-than-life idol, and the strict code of silence that covered up the sins and the crimes of the powerful against the weak and vulnerable. That kind of power structure and brutality has been with us a lot longer than rock and roll and Timothy Leary.

And as long as people like David Brooks keep finding a convenient scapegoat and Ross Douthat makes excuses — “I believe that Joe Paterno is a good man” — instead of looking within the cloisters of the locker rooms, the sacristies, and other places that promote their own type of counter-culture, it’s going to keep happening.