Penn State! Again?!
I thought we were making progress. I really thought that the culture here in America was truly shifting.
I talk about assault and addiction all over the country. I talk about tough subjects. Sometimes, I'd rather be doing stand up comedy or a funny character in a play.
But I believe that talking about my experience with others will help educate and prevent assault and addiction.
And when students come running up to me, with tears in their eyes after I speak at their school, I know I am making a difference.
They say things like: "I've never told anyone this before."
"I feel like I can talk to you better than the people at the health center."
"I was so scared to even think about what happened, but you gave me the courage today to go get some help."
The work I do is challenging and stressful, but extremely rewarding.
The first part of my life was tough. I didn't think I'd live to see 30. I really didn't.
Now I know that it's common for people who've grown up with abuse and addiction to have low self-esteem, poor coping skills, and that sometimes it takes a lifetime to overcome the family experiences.
I was and am blessed with many teachers and mentors who literally saved my life.
And here is the point about this.
The world is a beautiful, mixed up, crazy good, and sometimes bad place.
Unfortunately, there are people who are sick and who take advantage of kids or people who don't have the power to fight back.
I get that part. I don't condone it, but I get that people are sick and some of them do not know how sick they really are.
And I pray that we will continue trying to help and educate the messed up people.
But the place where we can make the most difference is in the rest of our society.
Maybe we can't completely stop sexual assault, but we can certainly train everyone else in our culture about how better to deal with it.
This was the part of the Sandusky scandal that was so incredibly upsetting to me and most people.
The way in which Penn State handled it, and especially Joe Paterno, was absolutely unacceptable.
I love football too. I believe he was a great coach. But he did not do the right thing.
He was too concerned about his own record and agenda.
And then when I heard about that they stripped him of his wins, I thought:
Good. They are sending a message that this horrific, long chapter of abuse, was not ok and that it would have lasting consequences.
And then, today, I see that the NCAA is restoring the 112 wins.
I simply do not understand it.
I mean, yes, I understand it on one hand. It's about money and power and prestige.
But how can you make such a strong statement, and then retract it?
Isn't this just the sort of message that we give about other athletes who assault?
This whole "the rules don't apply to me" thing?
The message they are giving is that football and winning are more important than kids.
If you get to the top of the mountain, but no one else is there with you? Does it even count?
Once again, they're placing "wins" over humanity.
I love this country, but I feel like as a society we have lost our humanity.
There was a high school in NJ where the younger guys on the football team were being "hazed" and it came out, and the coach canceled the whole season.
And I applaud this. He sent a strong message that the kind of behavior his upperclassmen were doing to the younger ones, was not ok, even if it was "tradition".
The kick back came from the parents. The parents in this community were the most upset of anyone, but not because of the assaults.
The parents were more upset because they were worried that the canceling of the season would hurt their chances for college.
These parents were missing the whole point.
I don't have all the answers here. I wish I did.
I would like to speak at Penn state, and be part of the solution.
The only thing I know to do is to keep talking and writing about it.
Keep raising awareness. Keep talking about humanity and choices and protecting kids.
Here's to keeping on, keeping on.