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Penn State, Happy Valley, & the Good Citizens of Omelas

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ejbr Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Nov-11-11 09:06 PM
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Penn State, Happy Valley, & the Good Citizens of Omelas
In a basement under one of the beautiful buildings of Omelas, or perhaps in the cellar of one of its spacious private homes, there is a room. It has one locked door, and no windowIn the room a child is sitting

These words are form Ursula LeGuins chilling short story, The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas. You may remember the story, which is often taught in high school English classes: a moral lesson about what, or rather whom, a society is willing to sacrifice in order to maintain its own happiness, its own illusion of utopia. Omelas is a beautiful city, given to festivals and music and great displays of community fellow feeling. Omelas, like Happy Valley, loves a good parade. Everyone in Omelas is happy, save for one: the child alone in the locked basement room, the child who closes its eyes because it fears the dirty mops in the corner, which appear terrifying in the dark. The child is always referred to as it, rather than as he or she; the childs suffering is easier for the good citizens of Omelas to endure if the child is objectifiedan it rather than a little girl or little boy.

<snip>

Perhaps Mike McQueary, Joe Paterno, Tim Curley, Gary Schultz, Graham Spanier, and everyone else who knew (and we would be very naive to believe there werent others who knew), when forced to consider one nameless child in a basement room in the dark, or in a shower after hours, did not allow themselves to think, This little boy is someones son. Maybe, instead, they told themselves, This is one kid, maybe more, but they are not like my kids, really, not like my own well-protected children who come from a good home and a loving family. The kid in the shower has already suffered at the hands of fate, and what is a little more suffering for these nameless children, really, when there is so much, for so many, at stake?

Of course, in fact, we will never really know what they were thinking. We can only speculate why they chose to look away, why they chose not to go to the police and save the children they knew about, not to mention the other children whom they had to suspect would be victimized if Sandusky was allowed to continue his relationship with Second Mile.


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