Yesterday I wrote what I thought would be my final word on Mike McQueary, but I guess I was premature in doing so. I got a lot of great “hate comments” calling me a coward, a piece of garbage, etc., and I responded to those with what you’ll see below. I want everyone to know that I’m not defending McQueary — I’m merely trying to understand why he did what he did. David Jones of the Patriot-News wrote on the same subject tonight, and adds a few details that I overlooked. Now, you’ll have both him and me to pick on, as if you don’t pick on him enough already for being “an Ohio State homey.”
Now, here’s what I wrote in response to the viscerally vituperative comments some of you sent me. I did not want this to remain buried in the comment thread, as people were probably tired of reading your macho posturing before getting that far. Here, then, is my comment to you.
My intent was not to defend McQueary, but to attempt to understand his actions by putting myself in his position. However, I seem to have failed in getting that point across to my good readers.
What I would have done in that situation is hypothetical, and in spite of all the bravado expressed heretofore in this comment thread, what anyone else would have done is also hypothetical. You and I weren’t there. We know what our visceral reaction is now, but when confronted with the actual situation and a brain full of adrenaline, all bets are off. The fact remains that we weren’t there.
As for what McQueary should have done that’s a little easier to answer and I think we all agree that he should have done something, although we might differ on exactly what, to save the child first and worry about collateral damage — including loss of his potential job — last. McQueary acted like a coward, but instead of sitting here pounding my chest and writing what everyone judging him is writing, I tried to comprehend why he fled instead of fighting. Go ahead and call me Nancy for that.
Shoulda-woulda-coulda don’t really matter now. He didn’t do anything at the time, and he didn’t do anything between the time of that horrifying scene and his grand jury testimony, in which he exposed himself as a coward who ran to his dad. Again, he “shoulda” had second thoughts about his initial cowardice and his subsequent kowtowing to authority in keeping the incident under wraps; he “shoulda” gone to the police. But he didn’t. The “why” is what I wanted to try to understand.
I would like to believe that most good people, even if they were cowardly enough to have fled the crime scene as it was occurring would have conscience pangs later on, and would eventually vindicate them by reporting it to the police, no matter what their employer told them about keeping it quiet. McQueary was once again a coward for being a good boy and doing what Poppa Joe and G$pan told him to do. There must have been some pretty strong threats, because the janitor in 2000 never said another word after reporting a similar incident to his supervisor. The university administration suborning inaction is not an excuse for committing that crime of neglect. Two wrongs do not make a right.
But again, we’re second guessing an event that actually occurred by stating what McQuery should have or could have done. He did what he did (or didn’t what he didn’t, as it were). We cannot change that. We can only try to understand it. That’s what I attempted to do, not to condone it.
Nothing we do or say here will save the boys involved in these heinous crimes from their suffering, their permanent scars, and their damaged psyches. No punishment of McQueary will do anything but satisfy the vindictive impulses of those of us who yearn for vigilante justice. The damage is done.
As Lizzie wrote above, for some, violence begets violence. I would say that chances are pretty good that as long as McQueary lives in State College, he’ll be a pariah, and some night, a couple of assholes will decide to find him and kick the shit out of him. String him up in public. Whatever. What will that accomplish? If those assholes hadn’t found an excuse to kick McQueary’s ass, they’d be going after someone else, just to satisfy their need for violent revenge. We don’t need that. It won’t change anything. It won’t turn the clock back and save the alleged victims.
McQueary cannot be tried and convicted of being a coward in a court of law. He complied with the law in reporting the incident to his superior. The moral court he will be judged in does not impose jail sentences. He will have to bear the title of coward and he will have to live with the consequences of his inaction for the rest of his life and, if you believe in it, the afterlife.
Is it enough? No, but the time when anything else that could have been done has passed. We’ll all have to be content to know that McQueary will be haunted by this forever. Oh, and as for that job he was trying to protect? Looks like he’s lost it, anyway.