Penn State Pedophile Enablers Get Their Just Desserts

This creep is Penn State child molester Jerry Sandusky.  He’s doing 30 to 60 years in jail for serial rape.

Remember the Jerry Sandusky case?  He’s the pervert who was raping little boys at Penn State college.  He founded a foster home for the boys there – so that he could have easy access to them!  They’ve already sued Penn State for millions over it, and more power to the boys for standing up and fighting for restitution.

Three officials at the college knew about the abuse of the one of the boys when a graduate coaching assistant told them he saw it happening – back in 2001.  Sandusky was abusing the poor kid in a shower.  The three administrators, however, heard it but did nothing whatsoever about it.  All three could have called the cops, but hey!  That might’ve brought a scandal to their little college, which might’ve rocked their precious world, and might’ve been inconvenient for them, so, even though any one of them could have easily called the police over it, none of those three stooges had the courage between them to pick up the phone.

They’re disgraceful in the extreme, and their names are Tim Curley, Athletic Director; Graham Spanier, former President of the college, and Gary Schultz, former Vice President.  Well, now their names are mud, too.

Today they got sentenced to jail over their failure to act, and I’m hoping this will be the beginning of a trend.  Those in authority who don’t stand up and act when they know children are being raped, of all things, simply don’t belong in the wide world, looking the other way for their own stupid reasons while simultaneously making things worse.  Who in their right mind could know something as vile as rape is being perpetrated against little kids and not call the police?

One thing I can never understand regarding a lot of these pedophile cases is the labyrinthine way so many of these crimes manage not to come to light right away.  I’ve heard that predators are adept at terrifying the children they abuse into silence, but nothing occurs in a vacuum.   There’s always more people around in situations like these than just the abuser and victim.  In this particular instance, an adult even witnessed the abuse.  He spoke up to the administrators.  But he certainly told the wrong people.

If I knew of a child who was being raped, I’d call the police.  Not the school principal, or the college president, or the bishop, if it was a church situation – but the police!  It’s a criminal act, so it’s their jurisdiction – not the schools’, and not the churches’.  I’d call the police first.  I’d call Child Protective Services second.  And I’d be screaming bloody murder until I got the pervert in question investigated and arrested as quickly as possible, before more harm was done.

The silent Three Stooges of Penn State are the worst bunch of sex abuse enablers I’ve heard of yet, though, because it involves the abuse of boys in foster care.  They had no parents available to be on the lookout for their boys’ welfare, and with nobody to speak up on their behalf, it was even more crucial for the administrators to take action to put an end to the abuse as soon as they knew it was happening.  Incredibly, these clowns knew what was going on since 2001, but shut their mouths just to “protect” the university’s “reputation!”

Gentlemen, what do you think that school of yours looks like now?  

Penn State’s administrators who were sentenced to jail.  Curley, Spanier & Schutz.  (Curley, Mo and Larry?)

 

 

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Documentary Recommendation: ABACUS: SMALL ENOUGH TO JAIL

ABACUS: Excellent movie, outrageous subject.

Remember how all of the big banks got away with financial murder during the crisis of 2008?  The huge ones weren’t prosecuted.  But – incredibly, outrageously and astonishingly – one small bank in Chinatown with a clientele of Chinese-Americans and Chinese immigrants was.

The Abacus Bank and the awesome Sung family that runs it are the subjects of ABACUS: SMALL ENOUGH TO JAIL.  Only ONE bank was put on trial over the mortgage crisis, and it was Abacus.  When you remember how gigantic and wide-spread that crisis was, doing the math here will make your blood boil.  Only ONE bank got in hot water over it?  That’s crazy.

But then when you realize the one in question was a Chinese bank, the way this one was targeted crosses the line into clear-cut racism.

The family that runs it, the Sungs, didn’t do anything wrong.  In fact, the day they found out one employee there had been “going renegade,” they fired him immediately and reported it to the authorities that oversee such matters.

For doing the right thing, what happened?  A slew of employees of the bank were arrested while chained to one another in one of the most bizarre scenes I’ve ever seen.  The Sung family wound up embroiled in a case that lasted five years.  The baseless charges, one of the family members says, “were super-imposed on us.”  Indeed, they sure were!

This is an excellent documentary, and it’s fun to see how the Sung family does not lie down and put up with their mistreatment – but stands up and fights back.  To the Sungs, I say, BRAVO!

Enough Already: It’s Time to Criminalize Hazing!

 

Hazing deaths have got to stop…

I don’t know the parents of Timothy Piazza, who was killed in February as a direct result of a barbaric hazing ritual at Penn State college, but my heart certainly goes out to them.

Timothy died thanks to the idiocy of a bunch of frat boys from a group called “Beta Theta Pi.”  They were forcing pledges to drink far too much alcohol as part of what sounds like a horrifically stupid initiation ritual.  The young man became severely intoxicated, which was bad enough, but the insanity of these boys didn’t stop there.  Timothy fell down the stairs as a result of what he was “required” to drink, from the rituals made up by the fraternity boys. There’s more.  Then they moved him, poured liquids on him, and even pushed him into a wall to try to revive him, if you can believe this.  They also wouldn’t do the right thing and call 911.  One of the frat brothers wanted to summon help, but the rest of them wouldn’t hear of it.  If they had listed to that one, the single voice of reason there, and called for an ambulance, Timothy Piazza may have survived.

But the dip-shits of Beta Theta Pi didn’t call for an ambulance.  Timothy is dead.

Is this what any child’s parents pay college tuition for their children to experience?

I remember when I was in college and the friend of a friend, two years younger than I was, enrolled.  She was a quiet kid, not exactly Honor Roll material, to put it as kindly as possible, and she was shrilly desperate to become “popular” at the college.  She was invited to pledge a sorority and hoped I’d join her, but it wasn’t something I wanted to do.  I had seen other sorority pledges doing things like walking across the campus doing the box step for a week or being forced to sing “The Brady Bunch Theme Song” in the Student Center.  It struck me as something I might have enjoyed if I was, say, ten or eleven years old, but I was twenty and couldn’t see the point.  A twenty-year-old doing the box step for a week?  Ridiculous!

Yet this silliness appealed to the girl who wanted to be Miss Popularity of the campus so she underwent the initiation for the sorority.  What did her group’s hazing rituals involve?  Here’s where it takes a dark turn.  She told me that one of the pledges “got kidnapped” by the full-fledged sorority members.

“Kidnapped?” I repeated, incredulous.  God only knows what kind of stunt those wacky sorority gals just pulled, I remember thinking.  I knew kidnapping was a federal offense, but my friend and her fellow pledges either didn’t know that or care.

“Yes,” Miss-Popularity-to-Be whined to me, “She was kidnapped!”  Then she related that all the rest of the little pledges were transported to a graveyard at Midnight – naturally, they’d have arranged the timing of such a moronic stunt at Midnight.  “And they made us do all sorts of things to get her back!  For hours!  We were there until three in the morning!  You wouldn’t believe some of what they made us do!”

My imagination could easily fill in the blanks there, not that it wanted to, so my next question was, “Why the hell are you putting up with this insanity?”

The Popularity-Wannabe’s erudite wail in reply was, “Because I want to belong!”

It seems to me, then as now, that “belonging” is one matter.  Voluntarily engaging with some amoral group that has no problem with putting its potential members at physical  risk, whether by enforced substance abuse, abductions done in the name of “fun,” or any of the other horrors that come to light whenever one of these situations goes haywire and winds up on the news, is quite another.  Too many of the stories that abound about “hazing” practices cross the line from harmless pranks right into sadism – and should not be ignored.  Every year since 1970 there has been at least one death from hazing, sometimes more.  This is needless.  How many more do there have to be before hazing gets banned outright, by law?

It turns out that eighteen members of the Beta Theta Pi fraternity are now facing criminal charges for what happened to Timothy, as well they should.  And while I feel sorry for Timothy’s parents, I can’t help but wonder just what kind of frightening creatures raised those eighteen defendants, who weren’t even brought up with enough sense to call 911 when they saw an unconscious young man had fallen down a flight of stairs, but  instead, threw him into a wall.

Rest in peace, Timothy Piazza.

 

IN ORDER TO LIVE by Yeonmi Park

IN ORDER TO LIVE by Yeonmi Park. Eye-opening on so many levels!

Want to know details on what’s going on in North Korea?  Read IN ORDER TO LIVE: A NORTH KOREAN GIRL’S JOURNEY TO FREEDOM by Yeonmi Park.

This is a horrifying book.  It begins in North Korea, where Yeonmi’s family cannot get ahead because they’re in the wrong political “caste,” and where their straits are increasingly  dire.  There’s a famine.  There’s the arrest of Yeonmi’s enterprising father, who was utilizing some unorthodox methods to make ends meet.  There are problems regarding the bribing of officials, medical staff, train conductors, and all sorts of people.  North Korea is a country where just about everybody who works anywhere has got their hands out in some direction, often, as in the case of the medical personnel little Yeonmi had to contend with when she was in the hospital, expecting a payoff simply for doing their jobs.

But just when you think the girl’s problems might be over after she crosses a frozen river on a cold winter night and escapes to China, they don’t!  It’s when she and her mother leave North Korea behind, and wind up in China as illegal aliens, that even more horrors begin…

As always, I don’t want to add any spoilers and reveal too much of the rest of the story.  I just want to recommend it, and add that it’s a “doozie.”  Read it if you’re not faint of heart and want to find out more about what the North Koreans go through.

God bless Yeonmi and her family, and the people they left behind in North Korea as well.

And P.S.: Shame on China for not doing a whole lot more to help North Korean economic refugees!  The horrors the illegal North Koreans were put through would not exist if China would have the balls to show them some mercy.  Come on, China – step up to the plate!

Lucille Ball Would Have Been Perfect in a Non-Musical Remake of “AUNTIE MAME”

Lucille Ball as the lovable character “MAME.”

Lucille Ball, they say, was terribly miscast in the title role of the movie MAME.  It’s been uttered so many times you’d think it was a universal truth.  “Lucy was too old.”  “Lucy couldn’t sing.”  “Angela Lansbury played it better on Broadway.”  I could  recite the list of reasons why they say she shouldn’t have done it the way she did it in my sleep.

And yet…

If you take away the distracting, and ridiculous, soft-focus shots they used to film her close-ups, which the movie could well have done without,  and if the singing numbers had been dubbed, what would you have?  The lady’s acting in the role of irrepressible, unconventional “Mame Dennis” can hardly be faulted.  She nails every scene, and not as a “Lucy Ricardo” type, either.  If I hadn’t grown up on “I Love Lucy” reruns, I never even would have guessed this part was played by the same actress.

Take the scene where she’s fired from the department store.  She’s tried on the roller skates to demonstrate them for her handsome customer, “Beauregard Jackson Pickett Burnside.”  She gets fired from the job.  She can’t get out of the skates because she’s knotted the laces.

What does Mame do?  Well, first let’s look at what she ought to do, what anyone else in her position back then would have done.  After all, it’s a scene set in 1929, she’s broke, the world is a different, stuffier place, and to be a lady accidentally on skates out in public in a store is supposed to be mightily embarrassing.  Yet watch the scene.  The character holds herself up high, as if being stuck in those skates is an honor, not a disaster.  She makes it look deliberate, a matter of pride, yet it’s all subtly done.

I imitated her stance for years, after seeing this movie as a child, whenever I got myself into a bit of a jam.  If life gives you lemons, stand tall, even if you’re five foot one, like me, and make some lemonade, folks.  Wherever you are, Lucy, thank you so much for that scene!

I only wish that Lucy had tried to make a remake of AUNTIE MAME, the non-musical movie version of the same basic story that was made in the 1950’s and starred Rosalind Russell.  Yes, Lucy in the musical was a mistake, but if she had starred in AUNTIE MAME, sans the unnecessary gauzy close-ups and songs, I think she’d have been remembered well for it, and rather than going down in motion picture history as something of a bad joke, it would be remembered as a good movie.

And let me add this: I hate it that Lucy took abuse for this movie!  Her version was the very first one I saw of this story, so Lucy was “my Mame.”  The joy and love and fun of this movie gave me a whole new perspective – and even got me through several godawful years at a terrible, abusive school.  Wherever you are, I say, BRAVA, Lucy!  Just wish I could have told you in person.

 

Stunning in every outfit: Lucy as MAME.

Movies: A QUIET PASSION and THE ZOOKEEPER’S WIFE

A QUIET PASSION tells the story of poet Emily Dickinson.

A QUIET PASSION tells the story of poet Emily Dickinson.  It’s a visually beautiful movie.  If you enjoy costume dramas, you’ll love it, set as it is in the time period before and after the Civil War.

But if you walked into the movie not knowing too much about Emily Dickinson, as I did, this film may very well leave you with more questions about her life than answers.  It seemed to leave some essential something about the story out.  Apparently Emily, played by Cynthia Nixon, lived in a college town, though that was never illustrated.  She said she was too devoted to her family to ever want to marry, yet while they got along well, at least most of the time, they didn’t seem to be so wonderful that a gal would want to stay with them forever.

Apparently, I just found out, Emily was increasingly reclusive, though I also didn’t fully realize that while watching the movie; in it she seemed to circulate, though not particularly widely, until she became ill, when it wasn’t practical to do so.  How many women in the 1800’s went all over the place, though?  If I was supposed to realize she had an aversion to leaving the house, all I can say is that I didn’t.

Emily also had a lot of doubts about religion, God, souls, and so on, and didn’t want to attend church – which in those days was considered scandalous – yet did an about-face about religion and propriety when her married brother had a flirtation with a married woman.

I was left sitting there, during several scenes, just wondering, “Huh?”

On the other hand, a friend who does know a lot about Emily Dickinson was with me at the theater, thought the movie was wonderful, informative, fantastic, and wanted to go back and see it again!

THE ZOOKEEPER’S WIFE, on the other hand, makes a lot more sense.  Jessica Chastain has the title role in a movie based on the true story of a zookeeper and his wife who saved 300 Jews in Warsaw during the Holocaust.  And what a spread they had where they could hide them: an entire zoo!

This story follows the book of the same name very well, without too many Hollywood embellishments.  It mostly sticks to the facts, which are dramatic enough in themselves.  It was interesting on several levels: the animals, the rescuers, the hidden Jews, the bombings, the creepy Nazis and their menacing interactions with the Polish characters.  I especially enjoyed the llama who followed the zookeeper’s wife around the zoo when the animals were still in residence (before a Nazi removed most of them to his zoo in Munich) and a scene where Chastain assists in the birth of a baby elephant.

One problem with the movie: the English-speaking actors spoke their English lines with Polish accents.  At times, this made the dialogue hard to understand.  Having actors speak with heavy accents in Hollywood movies not set in America is a trend that I wish would lessen a bit: Hello, the audience can get it that the movie’s set in Poland without having to strain to decipher the words being said.

It’s still a good movie, and showcases a courageous couple.  THE ZOOKEEPER’S WIFE is worth seeing.

Jessica Chastain does a great job as THE ZOOKEEPER’S WIFE.

AMERICAN HEIRESS by Jeffrey Toobin

AMERICAN HEIRESS tells the bizarre story of the kidnapping of Patty Hearst.

Do you remember the Patty Hearst kidnapping?  I certainly do!  It happened while I was in the seventh grade, and it was the major news story of 1974, at least until Nixon resigned.  It got even more attention than the latest hilarious craze: streaking.  That kidnapping was a crazy story of countercultural revolutionaries run amok and had more twists and turns than a snake.

Patricia Hearst, grandchild of ultra-wealthy newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst, was first kidnapped from her apartment by a group calling themselves the “Symbionese Liberation Army.”  It was an interesting title.  “Symbionese” is not a word, and that was one of the first things I remember hearing about the story after Patricia was taken.

What happened next, after Patricia was forcibly removed from her home at gunpoint, is still a source of some debate.  Her parents were instructed by the Symbionese Liberation Army to give food packages to the poor as a “good faith gesture” to ensure the 19-year-old’s release. Meanwhile, they kept Patricia locked in a closet, blindfolded, where she was justifiably terrified.  Some of the kidnappers took turns sitting outside of the closet door and subjected her to anti-American and Marxist harangues.  These were violent people, involved in not only this kidnapping but others, carjackings, bank robberies, and even a murder, yet they didn’t like “society” and wanted to “transform” it.  (Into what?)  Patricia, stuck in a closet, had no choice but to listen to this stream of nonsense.  Within a few weeks, the case took its first incomprehensible turn when Patricia claimed she had decided to join that “Army” of the people who had kidnapped her, and didn’t wish to be released.  What the…?

Even as it happened, the country was captivated by the seeming mystery of it.  I recall a very horrible tape playing on the radio of Patricia calling her parents “those pigs the Hearsts,” not long after they gave away a fortune in food to the poor to try to ensure her safe return.  I was twelve years old – and appalled.  Why would Patricia turn against her own parents, who had spent a fortune on the food giveaway in the hopes of “ransoming” her, and toward her kidnappers?  Why would she side with this spooky, shadowy Symbionese Liberation Army, anyway, after they burst into her house with a gun?  Did she really mean what she said, or was it possible that she had been brainwashed?

And just as the rest of us, all over the country, were wondering about those questions, the situation became even more convoluted about a month later: Patricia took the revolutionary name of “Tania,” then joined her new “comrades” in robbing a bank!  There was even a security tape to prove it.

Last weekend when I saw Jeffrey Toobin’s book,  AMERICAN HEIRESS: The Wild Saga of the Kidnapping, Crimes and Trial of Patricia Hearst, had come out in paperback and was sitting on a table at my favorite Barnes & Noble, I eagerly bought it.  It’s an impeccably researched book – bravo, Mr. Toobin! – and brought back a flood of memories.  I can vividly recall reading about the case in a “Weekly Reader” in my mint-green-painted 7th grade Social Studies class, though I can’t remember much else of what we read that year in that little publication; seeing another article about it at my grandfather’s house, in a magazine that had Patricia as “Tania” on the cover, holding a gun; watching the news footage when a house that was surrounded by the FBI was burning down, with many of the “Army,” but not Patricia, still in it…

Nobody knew what to make of Patricia’s “transformation” into a “revolutionary” at the time, and no one is sure what to think about it even yet.  Yet Jeffrey Toobin’s book brings up a whole other mystery about the case of which I wasn’t aware until I read it.  The so-called “Symbionese Liberation Army” turned out to be comprised not of legions of units of soldiers but of eight young discontented assorted nuts.  There had been ten, but two were in jail for a murder they didn’t commit.  It was three of the members who kidnapped Patricia who were the real murderers.

These people were the oddest collection of malcontents imaginable.  The leader, for example, is a prison escapee, often drunk, who was believed to be a schizophrenic by a prison psychiatrist, so you can imagine what kind of people were his acolytes.  The descriptions of each one are fascinating to read, though reminiscent of watching a train wreck, where you don’t want to see it, but you can’t look away, either.  AMERICAN HEIRESS is a page-turner and a jaw-dropper.  What a cast of characters!  And after reading about the members of this, ahem, “army,” there’s a new riddle to add to all the others about the unreal saga, and it’s this.  How did those eight lunatics manage to summon the logic to pull off any crimes in the first place, with guns, yet, without anyone shooting themselves in the feet?

This book needs to be made into a movie!