business news in context, analysis with attitude

by Kevin Coupe

The stories are in the headlines. The lessons are timeless.

The Wall Street Journal reports that “former Penn State defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky, 67 years old, has been charged with 21 felony counts for allegedly abusing eight victims over a period of 15 years, in a scandal that has spread far beyond the state and the world of collegiate sports.” As the Journal writes, the spotlight is not just on Sandusky - who maintains his innocence - but also on two Penn State officials “who were informed about a 2002 incident in which Mr. Sandusky allegedly had anal intercourse with a boy who appeared to be about 10 years old in a shower at Penn State,” but who told the grand jury that they knew nothing about it. “Tim Curley, Penn State's athletic director, and Gary Schultz, vice president for finance and business, have been charged with perjury for their testimony to a grand jury investigating the alleged crimes and failing to alert police or child-protection agencies about the incident.” Both men have resigned from the university.

Also in the spotlight - but not at present the target of a criminal investigation - is Joe Paterno, Penn State’s longtime and legendary football coach, who reportedly was told about the 2002 incident, informed the dean, but took no other actions. It has been stated to this point that Paterno lived up to his legal obligations ... but the inevitable debate will be whether Paterno lived up to his moral and ethical obligations.

The other story is taking place in Maryland, where a woman was on trial for murdering a co-worker in a Lululemon Athletica shop in Bethesda - a trial in which, last week, she was found guilty.

According to the Associated Press, two employees of an adjacent Apple Store have testified yesterday that on the night of the murder, they heard unusual noises coming from the athletic store.

“I heard noises coming from the right side of the store- something heavy sounding," Apple employee Jana Svrzo said, “like it was being hit or dragging, some grunting and some thudding ... We approached the area of the store where the sound was the loudest. At that point we heard some screaming or yelling. It sounded hysterical.” She added that she heard two female voices, one hysterically, say, "God help me, please help me."

But, apparently, they did nothing. They behaved in a way that was legal, but it is highly debatable whether they lived up to their ethical and moral obligations.

There often is a difference between legal and moral obligations. These two cases highlight a pair of dramatic examples, and the sad truth is that the modern news media is filled with cases where people did not do the right thing, or simply did too little. They did not report it when they suspected cases of sexual harassment, or bullying, or, say, pedophilia by a man in a black suit and a white collar.

It reminds one of what a wise man once said: “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”

I know this is supposed to be an Eye-Opener. But I cannot help but think that it is worth pointing out that nothing good happens when we keep our eyes closed.
KC's View: