Bill Moushey and Bob Dvorchak, authors of Game Over: Jerry Sandusky, Penn State, and the Culture of Silence, have definitely struck a nerve with thous...moreBill Moushey and Bob Dvorchak, authors of Game Over: Jerry Sandusky, Penn State, and the Culture of Silence, have definitely struck a nerve with thousands of Penn State alumni and Happy Valley residents. It appears, based entirely on the “reviews” of the book I see posted on Amazon, that the pair faces a vicious backlash based more on emotion than on reason – and that almost all of the negative “reviews” posted there have been written by people who did not bother reading the book before damning it. It seems that it will be left to those without ties to Penn State, and a minority of Penn-Staters themselves, to gauge the objectivity and effectiveness of the book.
On one level, Game Over is an excellent recap of the news that starting leaking out of Happy Valley, PA, in early November 2011. Those that may have come to the story a little late will find the chronology presented to be especially helpful. Others are likely to focus more on the additional details attached to the original revelations, disgusting as some of those details are. Readers should, in fact, be forewarned that several descriptions of Jerry Sandusky’s alleged assaults of the young boys under his sponsorship and care are disgustingly graphic in nature and leave little to the imagination.
On a second level, what Game Over reveals about the culture espoused by Penn State administrators, its athletic coaches, its students, and the community that supports and benefits from the school’s presence, is almost as disturbing and horrifying as the crimes Sandusky is alleged to have committed against his young victims. That there was, and to a lesser degree still is, a “culture of silence” surrounding Penn State that allowed this kind of criminal behavior to continue for decades, cannot be disputed. Moushey and Dvorchak present their case in detail, naming names and shaming those who deserve it, in the process. Only the court system can determine the guilt or innocence of the various parties involved in all of this, but Jerry Sandusky should not be the only one facing a judge and jury of his peers before this is over.
From what the Game Over authors have to say, it appears that the second worst “crime” committed during this whole period, may lay at the feet of Coach Joe Paterno, the man who really ran Penn State while all of this was happening. If true, Paterno helped bring shame to the university and forever sullied his own reputation and famous catchphrase: “Success with Honor.” Paterno’s silence seems to have been the signal to Penn State’s coaches, administrators, and others that the entire Sandusky matter should be kept within the confines of the Penn State “family,” and that outsiders were not to be trusted with this information. Joe Paterno had just that much clout in Happy Valley – he had, in fact, almost been granted sainthood by the locals, making a cover-up of this magnitude a relatively easy thing for the school to pull off.
Much remains for the courts to determine, including: the culpability of two principal university administrators in the cover-up; the part in the cover-up of some inside The Second Mile (Sandusky’s charity for poverty stricken boys); how much Sandusky’s wife knew of crimes said to have taken place in her home; and whether Sandusky remained at Penn State (even after resigning from its coaching staff in 1999 while at the top of his game) simply because his charity provided him with a ready supply of victims of just the right age.
As James Murtha, a 1977 Penn State graduate, put it, “…in retrospect, you could almost predict how this would turn out because of the way Penn State does business. Isolation is one of its charms, but it’s also part of the problem. They all drink the Kool-Aid up there. They lost all focus. The only way to solve a problem is to admit that you have one. It’s crisis management 101. When I saw the way they handled it, I wanted to projectile vomit.”
Son of a Gun, the new memoir by Justin St. Germain, at first glance appears to be simply a son’s eulogy to his murdered mother. But it is much more th...moreSon of a Gun, the new memoir by Justin St. Germain, at first glance appears to be simply a son’s eulogy to his murdered mother. But it is much more than that because of how St. Germain uses his mother’s story to reflect also upon the precarious blue collar struggle so many people face today, one in which one missed paycheck can throw an entire family into the kind of tailspin from which it might take years to recover – if they ever do manage the trick.
Former Army paratrooper Debbie St. Germain was an extraordinary woman who met what some would say was a predictable end for a woman whose taste in men was always a little iffy. When she was only 44, her fifth husband, a burned out ex-cop who saw himself as something of a modern day Wyatt Earp, murdered her. That he and Debbie claimed nearby Tombstone, Arizona, as their hometown made it easier for her killer to maintain his deluded self-image. Tombstone is, of course, the site of Earp’s infamous “Showdown at the O.K. Corral,” the short burst of gunfire that ensured his reputation as one of the fiercest gunfighters of his day.
Debbie met her fate in September 2001, just days after the horrors of 9-11. At the time, Justin was a 20-year-old student living with his brother in Tucson where the two were struggling to make ends meet. Justin knew that he would never have been able to afford school without the financial sacrifices his hardworking mother gladly made on his behalf. But that was the least of his concerns; now his mother was dead and he and his brother were stunned by the suddenness of it. Despite their shock - especially since he was nowhere to be found after the murder – the boys were certain that Ray, husband number five, was responsible for taking their mother from them.
Some ten years later, the author felt ready to try to make sense of what happened to his mother. He returned to Tombstone and began talking to people who knew his mother in ways a son can never know her. He studied police case records in hope that he would learn more about Ray, the unbalanced loner with whom she was living on an isolated patch of ground on the day he ended her life. Justin St. Germain learned much about his mother and her death that he did not know, including what hers and her killer’s final moments were probably like, but he already knew the most important thing about her: she did not leave him. And he is determined to be the man she wanted him to be.
Bottom Line: Son of a Gun is a touching memoir that takes a hard look at a gun culture whose victims are most often individuals very much like his mother, people struggling not so much to get ahead but simply to stay even. This is their story. (less)