Did anyone else read this provocative nothingburger of an essay? Michael Bérubé on “Why I Resigned the Paterno Chair:”
I read the Freeh report the morning it was released and proceeded to ignore every news-media outlet’s request to comment. A producer for National Public Radio’s All Things Considered called my English-department office, my office at the Institute for the Arts and Humanities, my cellphone, and my home phone. For good measure, she e-mailed and tweeted me. That afternoon, I saw a cloud formation that pretty clearly seemed to be a smoke signal—”Professor Bérubé, this is NPR. Please call us RIGHT THIS SECOND.” Radio, TV, newsmagazines, and newspapers called and wrote. But I had nothing to say that day, and I have had nothing to say since. Until now.
If only he had clung to his original instincts! I found the essay at turns apologetic, defensive, and strange. The best I can say for it is that it reflects the weird world of being in the midst of a media spectacle that bears no resemblance whatsoever to the world you know, work, and live in. (I was at Penn in the early 1990s when the “water buffalo” fracas hit the national news, and I found portrayals of student life there in the national media utterly unrecognizable.) Bérubé doesn’t seem to know what the point of the essay is, other than to make people stop asking him to comment on the Penn State football team and higher administration criminal conspiracy to conceal systematic child rape.
I wonder why the editors of the Chronicle ran it, quite frankly. I would love to hear from the rest of you about what you made of it.
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