“Joe Knew”. Two words that are in the center of a lot of controversy and indignation. I wish I could say it was a tempest in a teapot but I don’t feel that way. And even as a die-hard Pitt fan I don’t fail to see the ‘other’ side’s reasoning in this matter of the manufacturing and attempted sales of these shirts.
For some background… Some minor Pitt blog, at least one I have never heard of it, called thePoint412.com had T-shirts made up with the saying “Joe Knew” on them… and planned to sell them before the Pitt-Penn State game on Sept. 10th.
Under any other circumstances and probably anywhere else in the country this wouldn’t be newsworthy. Fans of one college program have been insulting other schools and their fans since college football started in the early 1900s.
But the subject of those two words is Penn State’s ex-head coach of its football program Joe Paterno and the phrase itself references the Penn State – Jerry Sandusky pedophilia scandal. In other words it is a hot, emotional and ultimately a sad issue.
I won’t speak for anyone else in this matter but will stick to what I think about it. Others have their own opinions and reasons for doing what they did, or wanted to do.
To put it bluntly the designers owners of those T-shirts weren’t going to take a loss selling them so along with the dig at Penn State University there was a profit angle to it also. They wanted to make about $15 on each shirt sold… so spare me any other reasonings but financial on their part.
I don’t like the idea on many different levels and honestly find nothing either enlightening or humorous about it either. No one attending that Sept 10th game in Heinz Field is going to ask “What did Joe know?” unless they lived under a rock for the last five years. There is no discussion starting with those shirts… everything has already been said ad nauseam and nothing is going to change anyone’s mind about Joe Paterno’s role in the scandal.
A role which I firmly believe was integral to the allowance of crimes against humanity and the ruination of young men’s lives. At this point I don’t harbor one iota of goodwill toward Paterno, his staff or the Penn State administration at the time. They all hold extreme guilt in the matter as far as I am concerned.
Perhaps the most sickening after effect to the scandal and trial of Sandusky are the extremist apologists who bark and bray about ‘unfairness’ every chance they get.
But that doesn’t mean I hold everyone associated with that university responsible or paint the students, alumni and the employees of PSU as c0-conspirators. Far from it and especially now. I think that what we see from some Pitt people, and a small segment of the general public, is them choosing a far too wide a target when pointing fingers in accusation.
Those T-Shirts and the thought behind them are fives years too late in my opinion and drags the buyers and the wearers toward the lower road when our course as outside observers should be the higher road.
I’m of an older generation who believes in civility when appropriate and decisive action to cause relief of a wrong when necessary. Those t-shirts do neither. They are an insult that will result in nothing but what has already happened – sanctions toward the originators of the idea.
I grew up with the belief that the University of Pittsburgh and its associates were of a high quality and most had more class than other universities who we considered rivals. I was taught that we needn’t stoop to others’ lower level because it feels good to do so for a day or a week or ever.
I still feel the same way and truth be told every person I know well who has ties to Pitt expresses the same sentiments. That is the way it should be not just between Pitt people and Penn State people but as a guiding principle, especially when you introduce yourself and associate yourself with our university… and in all walks of life.
Because of backlash by others the owners of the shirt folded their tent and made off in the middle of the night. Good! But not without this last plaintive cry of indignation:
“Unfortunately due to the unfair harassment of one of our friends and negative backlash, we will be canceling all shirt orders,” the first tweet read.
“Let it be known that this was done by a group of friends who did not expect this to happen. 0 shirts will be sold. You will never see them.”
“Unfair harassment” That is a mouthful and rather hilarious coming from a group of people who wanted to make a monetary profit by shoving the dirty end of a stick into PSU fans’ eyes.
Go on and sell the T-shirts later if you want. Make money at the expense of diluting and minimizing life shattering experiences of others into a silly, insulting and profitable jab at a rival school’s followers if you must.
But don’t ever say you are doing in the name of the University of Pittsburgh or anyone associated with Pitt in any way. Those shirts and the tepid minds behind them don’t speak for me… and I’ll bet they don’t speak for 99% of the other Pitt students, administration, alumni and fans either save for a minuscule minority who might feel differently.
We others will choose to remain above the fray. The line we choose not to cross below isn’t ‘politically correct’ – its names are civility and maturity and it is where the Pitt people I know reside.