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The Joe Paterno Statue Has Been Removed

Photo of a bronze statue of Joe Paterno, running with one finger held high in front of bronze football players

The statue of Joe Paterno outside Penn State’s football stadium has been removed.

By 7:45 a.m. this morning, jackhammers rattled behind a metal fence covered by a blue tarp. The statue was tied to a forklift. The fence shielded the statue, covered in clear plastic and protective packaging materials.

Penn State President Rodney Erickson says the statue was an obstacle to healing:

I now believe that, contrary to its original intention, Coach Paterno’s statue has become a source of division and an obstacle to healing in our University and beyond. For that reason, I have decided that it is in the best interest of our university and public safety to remove the statue and store it in a secure location. I believe that, were it to remain, the statue will be a recurring wound to the multitude of individuals across the nation and beyond who have been the victims of child abuse.
“Store it in a secure location”: that sounds like he’s either 1) leaving wiggle room about the statue’s future, or 2) just pretending to leave wiggle room so Paterno fanatics won’t freak out. Either way it’s a start.
The statue was always creepy, even before the Jerry Sandusky child abuse scandal. People at Penn State are free to worship Joe Paterno in their own way, of course — the First Amendment guarantees freedom of religion — but placing a bronze idol of a coach in three dimensions, literally in front of two-dimensional football players, all at a public university, just seems weird.
Paterno’s willingness to OK the statue in 2001 was an early sign that he’d lost perspective.
The local paper had no problem finding Paterno fans who still have perspective trouble:
Susan Lamey, of State College, looked on, visibly upset. She said Paterno did not deserve to be the scapegoat of the Sandusky scandal.
“It’s just another crime being committed,” Lamey said of the statue’s removal. “It’s just like what they want to do with the football team. They keep punishing the innocent. This is not solving the problem. This doesn’t fix anything.”
Yes, they just keep punishing the innocent at Penn State.

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