Artist removes halo, adds blue ribbonPosted: July 15, 2012
OK, there is this mural of all sorts of important people including Joe Paterno in downtown State College PA. The artist who painted the mural added a halo over Joe’s head after Paterno died earlier this year. Now that it has come out that Paterno was apparently aware that Sandusky was abusing kids and protected the molester (or, at very best, failed to act on the reports or allow others to intervene), the artist has painted the halo out again. He also added a blue ribbon to Paterno’s coat in the mural.* I was not aware of this, but apparently a blue ribbon means you support the victims of child sexual abuse.
|Artist Michael Pilato working on the mural|
I don’t have a horse in this race, being uninterested in football, not a victim of sexual abuse** and not a Penn State fan, but, seriously, what the fuck? Isn’t adding a blue ribbon to the image of Paterno kind of adding insult to injury since he helped keep Sandusky in a position where Sandusky could keep molesting kids? Isn’t that “accessory to the crime” or “conspiracy to conceal a crime” territory?
The whole colored ribbon thing starts to make me suspicious anyway since it seems to be a way of looking like you are doing something without doing something. I mean, I guess I can stick a yellow ribbon on the back of my car and it means I want you to know I support the troops or pin a pink ribbon to my lapel and it means I want you to know I support breast cancer research — and maybe that’s helpful because it might spread awareness of the cause. But the cynical side of my nature thinks that it can also be a ‘heart on my sleeve’ gesture done primarily to show others that “I’m a swell person who cares about this cause so you should like me.”
I think there ought to be a special color of ribbon for people who knew someone else was doing something really fucked up and they had the power to stop it but decided not to do anything about it. And that’s the color of ribbon that ought to be painted on the portrait of Paterno (and a good portion of the Catholic clergy) and other people who look the other way.
It’s fine to have heroes, I guess, and if you love Penn State or “Paterno-ball,” then maybe you will want murals and statues and libraries named after him. But please don’t try to imply that he was ‘sympathetic to the cause’ of preventing child sex abuse by painting a blue ribbon on his lapel like some kind of a medal. He wasn’t. Paterno chose football and the school’s image and his friendship with Sandusky and the fact that he probably didn’t want to deal with a scandal over protecting the kids of people he didn’t know from sex abuse. He shouldn’t get to wear the blue ribbon.
* Apparently Sandusky used to be in the group portait and was painted out. Source.
**Yeah, I’m against it — who isn’t? I just can’t claim the cause has greater personal resonance for me than many of the other ways in which humans fuck one another over.