So the NCAA has brought the hammer down on the Penn State football program, and more generally, the university. Good for them.
The scandal reminds us that there (and should be) various institutions in our lives, each with a different role to play.
Prosecutors within government brought criminal penalties against Jerry Sandusky, who now awaits sentencing for his crimes. There may also be criminal penalties for other Penn State officials, relating to perjury. Doubtless, there will also be civil proceedings, to obtain monetary punishment from various parties, including the university.
The NCAA, meanwhile, is not a unit of government (one might argue that it is, but leave that for another day). It, too, has rendered its judgment.
There are rumors that the Big 10 conference may also take action. Piling on? Perhaps, though also arguably justified. Associations should have the freedom to decide who will belong.
Finally, we also have the general public, informed (or misinformed, depending on your view) by media accounts, personal experiences, peers, churches and other voluntary associations, among others.
Though Joe Paterno is, in death, beyond the reach of government for legal sanctions, he has been posthumously stripped of 112 of his wins by the NCAA. Though the standard of “beyond a reasonable doubt” applies to criminal proceedings, it doesn’t necessarily apply to the formation of his legacy in the public mind. Three institutions, three different sets of rules.
So there you have it: State, private associations, and the public at large. All will have to render separate judgments on the fetid swamp in Happy Valley.
As it should be.