“Think of the children” public: judge, jury, and executioner

I don’t know if Jerry Sandusky had inappropriate contact with minors or not, but I do know two things: 1) he, coach Joe Paterno, and Penn State president Graham Spanier (among others) have been found guilty and sentenced merely in the face of public outrage, not due process and 2) regardless of the outcome, this is yet another disincentive for men to interact with young kids.

I’m not a fan of football, so this has absolutely nothing to do with the sporting side of it. It’s about the public outrage and the resulting knee-jerk reactions based on that outrage — not evidence. I do believe people in the public eye are held to a higher standard (or lower standard from what I hear about Jersey Shore) than the average Joe, but what we’re seeing play out in the media is nothing more than “think of the children” nonsense. And it’s the typical evil cycle of the media riling up the public which is giving the media the sales to rile them up some more.

In the end, there are no winners here. Even if Sandusky is found innocent, he, Joe Paterno and Graham Spanier aren’t getting their jobs back.

And regardless of if Sandusky is found innocent or guilty, the media attention and public outrage is yet another nail in the coffin of men interacting with kids. As a man, I’m paranoid about being around small children. Paranoid that perfectly acceptable horseplay with my nieces and nephews might been seen by an outsider as somehow inappropriate. Because today men are assumed to be suspect, if not guilty, in circumstances that women would not be questioned on.

Inappropriate contact with minors is utterly unacceptable and unexcusable, period. But we as a society need to stop the knee-jerk reactions of “think of the children” and assuming everyone is guilty and hanging them in public. Such reactions are to the long-term detriment of our youth as they’re less and less likely to have mentors because of it.