Damnatio memoriae

I salute Steven L. Jones, a student at Houston Baptist University, for recalling another of those useful Latin phrases.  This one has application from George Orwell’s “memory hole” in 1984 to the NCAA sanctions against Penn State:

Question: What do Joe Paterno and the Roman Emperor Nero have in common?

Answer: damnatio memoriae

Damnatio Memoriae (Latin for “the condemnation of memory”) is the act of trying to erase a person from history. In the Roman world, this meant erasing the condemned man’s name from inscriptions, removing coins with his image from circulation, or defacing images and statues of him.

As you might imagine such an endeavor is extremely difficult to accomplish. Even in an age less bombarded by media than ours, it could be difficult to track down and remove every single mention of a person. People who generate great anger are normally people who have also left a lasting and far-reaching mark.

But more than being difficult, is it right?

via JoePa Meets Nero « Reflection and Choice.

How would you answer that question?

 

HT:  Micah Mattix

Penn State’s punishment

The NCAA did not kill off completely Penn State’s football program, as was widely expected, but the sanctions for the child sexual abuse scandal and its coverup were pretty harsh:

NCAA President Mark Emmert made the announcement Monday morning that the program would be hit with a four-year postseason ban and a $60 million fine. He called the case “unprecedented.”

In addition, the school will be forced to cut 10 scholarships for this season and 20 scholarships for the following four years.

The move essentially bumps Penn State down to the scholarship levels of schools at the lower Football Championship Subdivision.

The school will be forced to vacate all wins from 1998-2011, a total of 112 victories, and serve five years of probation.

The loss of victories means Joe Paterno is no longer college football’s winningest coach. He was fired in November during the scandal after 409 wins at the school.

Because of the length of the punishment, all current Penn State players and incoming freshman will be free to transfer to another school without penalty.

Is this an example of completely justified outrage taking the place of justice?  Normally, guilty individuals are punished, and surely those who knew about Coach Jerry Sandusky’s sex with little boys and did nothing about it need to be called to account.  But the Penn State players, students, and alumni didn’t know what was going on.  Why are they being punished?  Or is there corporate guilt, in which every member of an institution has a share in its transgressions?

If part of the problem in the cover up was the cultural climate of football uber alles, the corporate guilt would extend far beyond Penn State, to big time football universities as a whole and to the NCAA itself.

Also, is the NCAA acting beyond its jurisdiction?  Penn State did not violate any of the rules that the NCAA is supposed to enforce (such as recruiting violations, paying players, and the like).   Isn’t child abuse a matter for the criminal justice system and civil courts to take care of, rather than a sports organization?

And what kind of punishment is it to forfeit 13 years worth of games that have already been played?  It isn’t as if an ineligible player contributed to illicit victories that might otherwise be losses if it were not for the infraction.  How does that punishment have to do with the crime?

Don’t get me wrong:  I am repulsed by what happened at Penn State and want it addressed in the strongest possible way.  I just don’t understand the  NCAA action.  What would be better?

Joe Paterno dies

Penn State football was Joe Paterno’s life.  Now, shortly after he was fired from the scandal-plagued program, he died.   He had a treatable form of cancer, but it killed him at age 85.

Do you think the timing was coincidental, the cancer being the sole physical reason why he died, or can mental trauma be a cause of death?  Do you know any other examples of that?

Fired Penn State coach Joe Paterno dead at 85 – Yahoo! News.

Ridiculing the Penn State t-shirt controversy

Here is how to deal with a pseudo-controversy (referring to the student-selected t-shirt design for a football game, the logo drawn from the stripe on the Penn State uniform). Penn State Students Poke Fun at T-Shirt Cross 'Controversy' | Christianpost.com:

Though the two-side design looks innocent enough, to some, the combination of the vertical blue stripe running down the center of the shirt’s front side along with the words “Penn State” cutting across the vertical beam appeared reminiscent of a cross.

Penn State t-shirt

And to a handful of students, the seemingly religious imagery on the shirt was reason enough to file complaints with the university and even to organizations such as the Anti-Defamation League, which in turn contacted Penn State officials.

According to Bill Mahon, vice president of university relations, six people have voiced their objections to Penn State over the shirt design while around 30,000 shirts have so far been sold.

Despite the small number of complaints, the school’s newspaper and even Fox News picked up on the story and brought the alleged controversy into light to the surprise of many Penn State students. . . .

In three letters that appeared in the Collegian on Monday, students further expressed how laughable the current controversy is and how it’s been blown out of proportion.

“While driving through Centre County, I saw power poles shaped like crosses. Advice to Allegheny Power: You'd better change your design before someone is offended,” wrote Penn State alumnus David Dimmick.

Recent graduate Steve Edling also mocked the current controversy, suggesting sarcastically that it was time to protest that all lowercase t’s be immediately stricken from campus as well.

“From this day forth, the words ‘Penn State’ shall be in all caps or never written at all, because crosses belong at Notre Dame and nowhere else,” he wrote.

This is a good example of how humor–satire, ridicule, laughter–is often a better way to respond to things like this than trying to out-outrage those who are outraged.


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