Joanne Tosti-Vasey, president of the National Organization for Women’s Pennsylvania chapter has called for Penn State head coach Joe Paterno’s immediate resignation based on his verbal reaction to the suspension of Florida State linebacker A.J. Nicholson prior to the Orange Bowl, reported the Associated Press.
As you may recall, Nicholson was accused of sexual improprieties by a 19 year-old woman in the Hollywood, Florida hotel where the Seminoles stayed during the period leading up to the Orange Bowl. Charges are still pending. FSU head coach Bobby Bowden suspended Nicholson for violating team rules, which apparently applied to disobeying the curfew rule, and Nicholson was sent home to Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
When asked about the incident at a pre-bowl press event, Paterno gave a typically flippant, curmudgeonly, Paternoesque response:
There’s some tough—there’s so many people gravitating to these kids. He may not have even known what he was getting into, Nicholson. They knock on the door; somebody may knock on the door; a cute girl knocks on the door. What do you do?
Geez. I hope—thank God they don’t knock on my door because I’d refer them to a couple of other rooms.
But that’s too bad. You hate to see that. I really do. You like to see a kid end up his football career. He’s a heck of a football player, by the way; he’s a really good football player. And it’s just too bad.
I have to admit that when I first read the quote, long before the NOW witch decided to go hunting, I thought Joe was a little off-base with his flippant remark about the cute girl knocking on the door. But then I wrote it off to the ramblings of an old man—and we all know that Joe is prone to quite a bit of that sort of running off at the mouth. He means no harm by it. Eventually, he gets serious, realizing that he committed a faux pas, and changes course to a more serious assessment of the situation. That’s what he did above when he changed his tune talking about the kid’s football career. In no way did he intend to minimize the plight of Nicholson’s accuser.
I will say that I am not a fan of what NOW has become. When the women’s movement was new and revolution was necessary, the organization served a valuable purpose in calling for change. NOW they’re just a superfluous pain in the ass.
Before I reach for the Preparation-H, I want to say that neither do I wish to trivialize rape nor do I wish to defend anyone who would do so. In my opinion, that wasn’t what Paterno was doing.
What Ms. Tosti-Vasey doesn’t seem to get, as she seeks publicity by picking on larger than life public figures, is that Paterno was speaking from years and years of experience in dealing with a large group of young men away from home. His characterization is accurate, and there’s not much NOW can do about it, because it is based on the inherent physical attraction between young men and young women. It is not going away anytime soon, nor should it. Young women gravitate to young male athletes. Big surprise! I wonder how long this has escaped our attention. Whenever you have situations that permit young women and young men to get together, alone, in hotel rooms, things happen. Sometimes they go too far into non-consensual territory, but that line is often blurred. And, though Ms. Tosti-Vasey would never, ever admit this, sometimes it is the woman who is the aggressor.
Ms. Tosti-Vasey first of all ass-umes that the Florida woman’s allegations against Nicholson are true. Unless and until the case goes to court and is properly tried, or unless Nicholson confesses to the crime, no one can judge him guilty. Tosti-Vasey apparently finds Nicholson guilty by virtue of his being a man. But all that is beside the point.
The point is that Joe did not say that he condoned this behavior. He said that it was impossible to prevent all of it. He has had to deal with several instances of sexual misconduct involving players on his team over the past 40 years, even though he runs one of the cleanest football programs in NCAA Division I-A. However, he respects due process and he does not assume that his men are guilty until proven innocent. This one wasn’t even his player, but he was genuinely sorrowful over the kid’s career ending this way.
We don’t know what were the circumstances in that hotel in Florida, and neither does Ms. Tosti-Vasey. All she knows is that Paterno said something that she could use to increase her visibility in Pennsylvania by being a general pain-in-the-ass. Lately, Joe’s candid comments have pissed off a lot of people—especially the sports media—but calling for his resignation on account of something such as what we’d hear at a family reunion from Crazy Uncle Joe is ridiculous. It used to be that NOW could do a pretty good job of emasculating their targets; however, all Tosti-Vasey has managed to do is shoot herself in the foot.
It would serve her right if Lynn Swann is successful in his gubernatorial candidacy in Pennsylvania!
If the president of the university and his athletic director couldn’t bring themselves to fire Paterno when they thought they had a good reason, no NOW babe is going to be able to get him fired for a contrived, baseless allegation. The most she should get is a sincere apology from Old Joe to the alleged victim for making some insensitive statements. When this happens, and I believe it will, Joanne should consider it a closed case and stop embarrassing herself.
(Thanks to EMAW_KC for asking for my thoughts on the subject. View his opinion.)
[By the way, the Associated Press article gratuitously throws in a closing comment about a sexual discrimination complaint being lodged against PSU women’s basketball coach Rene Portland last year by a former player who happened to be a lesbian. This gratuitous inclusion was completely irrelevant to the Paterno story. It suggests to me that the AP is merely furthering its liberal agenda by contriving some flimsy relationship between the two disparate stories. –TNT]