Penn State lesson? Hold off on statues

Guest EditorialMany hard lessons have been learned from the sex-abuse scandal that has engulfed Penn State University. Here’s a small one that is relevant:

Go easy on the tributes to “living legends.”

One oddity from last weekend’s emotional Penn State football game was seeing the statue that honors now-ousted coach Joe Paterno. The statue was erected as testimonial to his decades-long career. Last week, he was fired amid criticism that he did not do enough after hearing a report that a child was sexually abused on campus.

Time may judge Paterno more kindly. But there is no doubt today that this memorial is an embarrassment to Penn State, and many would wish it were not standing.

The university is hardly the only place to honor people long before their careers are over.
Drive around our community, and you can find rooms and buildings named after prominent individuals — long before they have left the public scene.

Few can imagine that any of them would absorb the kind of embarrassment or shame that ended Paterno’s career so suddenly. But does any organization want to take that chance?