The recent allegations of years of horrifying events and sexual assaults on the campus and within the renowned football program of Pennsylvania State University (see the grand jury’s report here) have stunned most Americans. That anyone could witness the rape of a child, turn on his heel and leave without knocking the perpetrator to the ground is appalling. That McQueary then went to his father for guidance, and that neither contacted the police, and that famed football coach Joe Paterno (grandfather to seventeen children), when informed of the attack the next day also did not think it was his moral duty, even his Christian duty, to pick up the phone and press 911 – that, too, is beyond belief. No wonder death threats against McQueary forced him to stay away from the Penn State/Nebraska game on 12 November, the last game on Penn State’s schedule.
And chances are, Sandusky has child abuse images on his computers, too — I hope the FBI has those computers in its possession — and is part of an internet ring with other men.
There are many discussions of why coaches and officials at Penn State circled the wagons rather than report Jerry Sandusky’s horrific behavior, and many of them have to do with money and reputation and power, just like in the Catholic Church. There’s also the “good ol’ boys” culture, where men who’ve worked together regard reporting each other as somehow breaking a sacred bond. It might also be dangerous to one’s job. Putting work success over a child’s welfare demonstrates a shocking lack of ethics.
There was a lack of ethics throughout. There was also a dearth of Christian ethics. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you? Out the window . . . with regard to the victims. It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones (Luke 17:2)? Totally ignored. It’s as if the men involved had never even listened while in the churches they attended.
I think, though, there was another aspect working here: certainly Sandusky, and the men covering for him, did not regard rape as torture. It was somehow a lesser offense. Yet rape is torture. Unwanted entry by an erect penis (or other hard implement), torture.
Let’s look at the definition of the word torture (I’m working with www.dictionary.com):
1. the act of inflicting excruciating pain, as punishment or revenge, as a means of getting a confession or information, or for sheer cruelty.
2. a method of inflicting such pain.
3. Often, tortures. the pain or suffering caused or undergone.
4. extreme anguish of body or mind; agony.
5. a cause of severe pain or anguish.
c.1495 from Middle French torture: “infliction of great pain, great pain, agony,” from Late Latin torture: “a twisting, writhing, torture, torment,” from stem of Latin torquere: “to twist, turn, wind, wring, distort”.. The verb is 1588, from the noun.
I’d say what any victim of rape experiences – twisting and turning to get away from the pain — comports with at least definitions #3, 4, and 5. And as for sheer cruelty (definition #1), that’s surely what happens when a man sexually attacks a child, whose body (even if female) is in no way developed enough for healthy sex, even if the child were old enough to legally give consent.
Rape is abuse? Yes. We all know that.
Torture? Yes, that’s what it was. That’s what all rape is. Torture.
It’s past time for us to acknowledge that torture includes rape, any rape, of anyone.
Considering that child molesters are the bottom of the heap in prison, and that nearly 30% of male prisoners are survivors of sexual abuse, Sandusky – if he’s not sequestered for the rest of his life – will get to experience the terror and pain he willing inflicted on his victims. I would be very much surprised if he didn’t regard rape as torture.
No knives, no water, no electricity needed. Just an erect penis used with cruelty, to enter a body cavity without regard for the other person.
Rape is just another form of torture.