Archive for November 19th, 2011
The crimes alleged to have been committed by past and present Penn State University officials will take years to sort out. But WC proposes one early, easy lesson that can be learned:
The criminal laws of Pennsylvania, Alaska and the U.S. set the basement, not the ceiling, for acceptable conduct in a civilized society.
Certainly this should be obvious. Apparently it is not.
The criminal laws of Alaska say that if you observe an adult anally raping a child you have a duty to report it to the authorities, and that it is a Class A misdemeanor to fail to do so. AS 11.56.765. That’s the basement. A civilized society also imposes a moral duty to attempt to stop the crime, to protect the child. The criminal laws don’t require it; societal norms do. Just because letting a child rape continue isn’t a crime doesn’t mean it is moral conduct.
The criminal laws of Pennsylvania are different than Alaska’s; it may not be a crime to fail to immediately report the child rape to the police. But that doesn’t excuse you from not calling. It just means it he didn’t commit a crime under Pennsylvania law. Criminal law defines what you must do, not what you should do. The basement; the minimum.
Jane Leavey has a nice apologia for McQueary at Grantland. And WC acknowledges her point that McQueary’s life is going to be hell for a long time. But it doesn’t change the bottom line.