Some clouds just don't have a silver lining, no matter how hard you look.
Some clouds are so dark and disturbing that you immediately lose all hope that something good could ever come from the bleak situation. Such a cloud is hovering over Penn State University.
What is happening in Happy Valley, or College City, or Linebacker 'U' or whatever they call themselves these days is sad on a number of different levels. It starts, of course, with the alleged sexual abuse of a number of boys by a football coach. That, in and of itself, is enough to make you want to cringe. But the problems don't end there.
What did, or in this case, didn't, take place after the alleged abuse was witnessed is almost as disturbing.
It has been reported that a graduate assistant actually saw the abuse take place. Good, right? The abuser would be busted, right? Justice would be served, right? Nope.
Instead of going to the cops or calling 911 or, heaven forbid, jumping in and pulling the child out of his nightmare, the assistant, Mike McQueary (now on administrative leave), told his father what he saw, then, on advice from his father, let then-coach Joe Paterno in on the secret the following day, according to grand jury testimony. Another day passed before Paterno told the athletic director, Tim Curley, about former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky doing "something of a sexual nature to a young boy."
McQueary's move was just the first in a string of buck-passing that has resulted in one of the biggest college scandals in the history of campuses. Others are to blame, too: the athletic director, Paterno - lovingly referred to by many as Joe Pa - who was canned Wednesday, and the university's president, who, like Paterno, is now unemployed. Anyone who was privy to what was alleged to have happened is on the hook for this one.
These spineless fools didn't just drop the ball, they kicked it through the goal posts. Today, they tell us to pray for the alleged victims, but who among them stood up for the kids so many years ago?
The Penn State Board of Trustees is finally rolling up its sleeves and cleaning its filthy house, but it's doing it with a broom when it should be using a shovel. They need to fumigate. They need to bring in men with HazMat outfits on.
Human beings are complex and we're all different, but this I know: We all come with a built-in responsibility to report things we see that are bad. McQueary did that, but he told the wrong person - someone who he had to know would keep the information on the down-low to protect the football program's glowing reputation. He should've told the cops, the FBI, a priest, someone not affiliated with the university, not just his pa and the Pa. How about all of the above? It's called tattling when we're 6. It's called moral responsibility when we're 28 and what we see makes us want to kill somebody.
Many people at Penn State failed. They failed each other, failed their school, failed their community and, above all, failed these young boys and their families. They should be more than embarrassed, they should be ashamed. I hope they cry themselves to sleep every night.
In telling Curley of the allegations of sexual abuse by his former assistant coach, Paterno probably thought he performed his due diligence. Obviously his buck-passing was enough to let him sleep at night and continue his legendary coaching career and enjoy all the perks that come with being Joe Pa.
By not telling the authorities, however, he neglected his moral obligation - not as the most powerful man at a Division I university but as a man. Morality outscores legality in this case; too bad it took university officials this long to man up and realize that and make some drastic decisions.
At Penn State, Paterno was larger than life but his actions left his college with a black eye. Make that a body cast. He and so many others have collectively destroyed the integrity of one of the most esteemed educational institutions in the United States by essentially trying to sweep the unsweepable under a rug.
Another big decision was made Thursday when it was announced that McQueary, now a full-time coach at PSU, won't be on the sidelines for today's game against Nebraska. The school says McQueary, who testified in the grand jury investigation that eventually led to child sex-abuse charges being filed against Sandusky, has received "multiple threats." McQueary needs to go. So does Curley, who is on paid administrative leave. They can join the other members of this sorry good 'ol boys club at Linebacker 'U'.
The scandal at PSU puts many things in perspective. At the University of North Dakota, they've squabbled for years over the university's nickname. Here at the University of Minnesota, we complain about our football team never being very good, never getting to the Rose Bowl. Petty stuff compared to what's going on at PSU.
Our clouds here eventually will part and give way to sunshine. At PSU, the storm is still brewing.