Burch: Penn State to State Pen?

Thursday, July 26, 2012 at 10:05pm
By Michael R. Burch

The world is full of interesting ironies. Take the name “Penn State.” Flip the words around and you have “State Penn.”

Will some of Penn State’s administrators end up doing hard time in the state pen? The jury is still out. But in any case, it seems likely that by the time NCAA penalties, canceled sponsorships and ads, lower ticket and merchandise sales, missed bowl games and multi-million-dollar lawsuits have been added up (or, more correctly, subtracted), Penn State may have lost something like a quarter of a billion dollars.

Is there a silver lining inside the very dark cloud? Yes, I believe so. You can bet your bottom dollar that university presidents, boards and athletic directors at major colleges around the United States are taking steps to make sure their institutions don’t suffer the same expensive, ignominious fate. As a result, many innocent children could be safer than they might have been before.

And of course something very similar happened to the Roman Catholic Church. It has been estimated that the Vatican’s child abuse scandals have cost the church around $3 billion. Thus it is also much less likely that rogue priests will prey on innocents with such impunity, in the future. And if they do, chances are greater that when they get caught the jig will be up and the proper authorities will be notified.

And perhaps here in Tennessee — despite our obvious deep divisions — we may also be able to make progress in better directions if we simply choose to proactively put our children first.

The U.S. Supreme Court once upheld an injunction delaying the construction of the TVA’s Tellico dam over a tiny fish, the possibly endangered snail darter. Could fracking in Tennessee be held up over the lives and health of possibly endangered human children?

We didn’t wait to protect the Tennessee snail darter until it was too late. So why wait until Tennessee children are killed by the madness of the NRA and gun-mad Republicans who insist that adults must have the “right” to bear loaded, concealed weapons into restaurants, theaters and parks? Why not sue before Tennessee has its Columbine, its Tucson, its Aurora?

When Stone Age troglodytes try to shut down Planned Parenthood, what about filing lawsuits on behalf of the teen and pre-teen girls who are bound to suffer as a result? And what about also suing in advance on behalf of the unwanted babies who will be forced to be born by the same Neanderthals who insisted on ripping up any remaining safety nets that might have kept them from hitting rock bottom?

When gay children and their parents are discriminated against by the Boy Scouts, perhaps there should be lawsuits filed over their resulting emotional pain.

When Muslim children suffer acts of religious intolerance, why not sue their abusers?

When Tennessee politicians ignore global warming and thus imperil the lives, health and happiness of future generations of Tennesseans, perhaps lawyers should sue to protect them, even before they’re born.

Once we have proof that someone is about to commit an act of treason against our country, do we have to wait for the act to occur, or should we do whatever is necessary to prevent it? If we know that adults are plotting to abuse children, do we have to allow the abuse to take place, or should we prevent it? These are obviously rhetorical questions. So if our elected representatives refuse to act to protect our children, why not let the lawyers and judges take over? Why not start filing lawsuits right and left to proactively protect each child’s right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness?

Who knows? What presumably stopped Penn State and the Vatican from continuing to allow the abuse of innocent children just might help save us from ourselves, our deep divisions and the incompetence of our politicians. If there is one thing that unites us, surely it is the desire to protect our children.

And so, along with the games of the Olympics, let the lawsuits begin!

Michael R. Burch is a Nashville-based editor and publisher of Holocaust poetry and other “things literary” at www.thehypertexts.com.

56 Comments on this post:

By: yogiman on 7/27/12 at 6:47


You mentioned some of your friendly animals were eating your food. A little tidbit that might work is a mix of 1 tablespoon of dry mustard (the hotter the better) in 1 quart of warm water. Shake it until it gets well mixed.

Spray it lightly over your veges and it may help.

You might also try to dust your garden with equal parts of mothballs and crushed dried red pepper. Again, the stronger the better.

That works better for animals.

By: budlight on 7/28/12 at 5:01

Yogi, Thank you for the information.

Interesting point: I have Cayenne pepper planted. They do not bother that area of the garden. Next year I'm going to plant more Cayenne peppers around the perimeter of the tomato plants, etc.

Speaking of animals, it looks like the zoo crew hasn't posted for a while. Those people are so biased.

Did you know that Amazon executives speak up for gay rights and donate money from Amazon to promote gay rights? And so does JC Penny. So I am boycotting both of them. Do not buy books from Amazon or anything else. Spend that money on chicken at Chick fil A.

see ya. Got to go to a school to do volunteer work - weeding their flower beds.

By: yogiman on 7/28/12 at 5:28

Have fun! I agree with you on who I buy from. I even quit buying from Lowe's because they were selling flags "made in China". What kind of American? would want to fly a flag made in China?

And the only time I go into at Wal-Mart is when I can't find it made in the USA or or sold in a local store.

And by the way, I've got a few more recipes to help your garden if you want them.

By: yogiman on 7/28/12 at 7:07


"Speaking" of being a gardener you might want to check our www.motherearthnews.com/

You can find a lot of good information on that site. Their magazine isn't too bad for a gardener to get.

By: Ask01 on 7/29/12 at 6:15

Since the primary concern here seems to be planned parenthood and abortion, I have to wonder about some posters reasoning processes.

People raise the alarm about the 'murder,' the cessation of human life caused by abortion, yet at the same time support, sometimes rabidly, the 'murder' of inmates by execution. Granted, there are those who, with premeditation and malice, commit intentional homicide, such as the 'suspect' in Colorado, who is a definite waste of air, and contamination of the gene pool, and need to be removed. I can't disagree with these instances, but the calls often seen for immediate execution with no appeals, denies the very real fact people have been freed from Death Row, totally exonerated after "good, honest, upright" citizens found them guilty.

Who knows how many innocents have been 'murdered' by the state? I really wonder how the juries which convicted them feel about faciltating the murder of an innocent person by the state? Prosecutors and judges have such egos I believe they just shrug and go on. Citizens, on the other hand, must consider they, as mere cogs, could be victimized in the same manner. Just something to consider.

Some of these same 'good' citizens rant, rave, and complain about minorities and the poor 'breeding like rabbits,' then complain about services which might stem the tide of future welfare recipients by not just preventing the birth, but perhaps preventing the pregnancy in the first place.

What a concept, eh? Provide reproductive education parents don't seem to be capable of imparting, and, perhaps even the 'tools' to prevent unwanted pregnancies, and maybe break the cycle of babies born into poverty eventually producing even more.

Personally, I would much prefer the price of a condom to a lifetime of welfare.

Now, as to Penn State.

What disturbs me most about the NCAA's sanctions against Penn State is the individuals suffering the most from the punishment had absolutely nothing to do with the actions of one lecherous old man, and the inactions of many misguided other so called authority figures who valued a program enriching either their pockets or reputations above the welfare of defenseless children.

I'm speaking of course, of the athletes wanting no more than to play football and maybe even obtain an education, and the other students who may suffer from the loss of funds.

The true criminals are those in power who allowed, and by inaction, tacitly condoned, these incidents. They are the ones who must be judged most harshly and punished most severely. Sandusky will be going to prison, where I feel certain without a 24 hr guard, will be on the receiving end, and eventually succumb to a slip in the shower. ( Somewhat apropo, eh?)

Joe Paterno has been publicly shamed, stripped of wins, (on paper anyway) and demonized as a faciltator of child abuse. Since he passed away before he could be named in a lawsuit and tried, he escaped enduring some of the worst fallout, still, his name will be toxic for many years. Although I do predict he will eventually, perhaps 40 or 50 years hence, be held up as a man troubled by what he had heard, (remember, as far as we know, he never actually witnessed anything) and haunted by not having taken action. Hollywood can do wonders to shape history, don't you think?

The other figures central to this travesty will eventually be named, indicted, tried, and punished, suffering a fate somewhat less harsh than Sandusky, but more humiliating and expensive than Paterno.

These are the ones who should bear the brunt of the legal, athletic, and societal wrath, not those such as students who are caught in the crossfire.

Holding those authority figures directly involved responsible and meting out across the board punishment impacting them financially, taking away their liberty, and destroying their social standing should be enough to cause their contemporaries at major football colleges to more closely monitor and police their programs.

The only positive I perceive to directly punishing Penn State is those providing tremendous financial support to university athletics will be much more sensitive to what is happening behind the scenes and will perhaps exert some influence to preclude such incidents.

Time to go prepare breakfast, folks. Have a great morning.

By: yogiman on 7/29/12 at 8:10

I've been a one for one character all of my life. I've always believed if someone kills someone, they deserve to die themselves. And I haven't believed they should be put to sleep to execute them. They should know how their victims felt when they were being killed (It might change their mind).

I've been told it's cheaper to imprison someone for life that to execute them. BS. I can't see them suffering because their memory of killing someone. With their brain systems, if may be a daily pleasure they feel.

Our criminal system has always been "innocent until proven guilty". But it has been known in too many cases the accused was not given the right to prove their innocence and too many have been found guilty that weren't.

In every case, the prosecutor doesn't want to lose the case because of the loser reputation it would give them. And I've heard of men being found guilty when the prosecutor knew he wasn't.

Of course, with the development of DNA testing today, many have been and are being found innocent, but that "ex-con" reputation stays with them for life.