Does McQueary deserve to be hated? Never mind the fact that he apparently told a friend last week that he did stop the rape and did talk to cops afterward. Assume that’s not true and that he simply left the scene of the alleged crime. Does anyone really think he walked out of that locker room because he had no objection to what Sandusky was allegedly doing? That’s not to excuse him for not acting, merely to say that that scene might not have been as easy to digest psychologically as it seems. David Brooks:
Some people simply can’t process the horror in front of them. Some people suffer from what the psychologists call Normalcy Bias. When they find themselves in some unsettling circumstance, they shut down and pretend everything is normal.
Some people suffer from Motivated Blindness; they don’t see what is not in their interest to see. Some people don’t look at the things that make them uncomfortable. In one experiment, people were shown pictures, some of which contained sexual imagery. Machines tracked their eye movements. The people who were uncomfortable with sex never let their eyes dart over to the uncomfortable parts of the pictures.
As Daniel Goleman wrote in his book “Vital Lies, Simple Truths,” “In order to avoid looking, some element of the mind must have known first what the picture contained, so that it knew what to avoid. The mind somehow grasps what is going on and rushes a protective filter into place, thus steering awareness away from what threatens.”
Even in cases where people consciously register some offense, they still often don’t intervene. In research done at Penn State and published in 1999, students were asked if they would make a stink if someone made a sexist remark in their presence. Half said yes. When researchers arranged for that to happen, only 16 percent protested.
If McQueary saw what Sandusky was up to and approved, he’s a monster. If he saw it and let it go because he was afraid to confront Sandusky, he’s a coward. If he saw it and was so jolted that he couldn’t process it, he’s … what? I sure hope “Victim 2” comes forward and tells the world what happened in the locker room that night. I’m as interested to hear his account of McQueary’s reaction as I am his confirmation (or denial) of what Sandusky was up to.
Here’s McQueary’s brief interview with CBS this afternoon, and below that a clip from the Today show this morning of Sandusky lawyer/legal genius Joe Amendola uttering the immortal confidence-building line, “Showering with kids doesn’t make him guilty.” Except that … it does, actually. According to McClatchy, it might mean that he’s guilty of indecent exposure:
[U]nder Pennsylvania’s child protection laws, what Sandusky admitted to in an interview with NBC’s Bob Costas could fit the definition of indecent exposure. If children under 16 were involved, it could be a first-degree misdemeanor with a maximum punishment of five years in prison and a $10,000 fine…
Title 18, Chapter 31 of the Pennsylvania state code defines indecent exposure as when a person exposes his or her genitals “in any place where there are present other persons under circumstances in which he or she knows or should know that this conduct is likely to offend, affront or alarm.”
The law considers that exposure to be a second-degree misdemeanor. But the law also says: “If the person knows or should have known that any of the persons present are less than 16 years of age,” it’s a first-degree misdemeanor.
Why would a defense lawyer agree to let his client be interviewed on national television knowing that his admissions about showering with kids would be admissible at trial? Ah, my friends — that’s the mystery of Amendola’s legal genius. And you’ll be pleased to know that his sound judgment apparently extends to personal matters as well. Exit question: Maybe Sandusky and Amendola are already plotting some sort of “ineffective assistance of counsel” strategy on appeal?