UPFRONT: The Two Joes

Categories:  Upfront    News & Politics    Opinion
Wednesday, November 16th, 2011 at 10:00 AM
UPFRONT: The Two Joes by Cory Vaillancourt
vimeocdn.com

Let us play a little game of make-believe.

Close your eyes, take a deep breath, and bring yourself back to a warm summer night in August of 2011. Imagine, if you will, that it is late. It is really late. Like 3:00 in the morning late, which hovers right on the border between “late” and “early.” You are asleep, and, you are almost 70 years old, which means asleep in your bed at 3:00 a.m. is a pretty good place to be.

You are nestled all snug in your bed, with visions of whatevers dancing in your head. Suddenly, from your phone, there arises such a clatter, you pick up that phone to see what is the matter. Away to your car, you fly like a flash, tear open the car door, and make a mad dash. Then, what to your wondering eyes should appear, but an 18-year-old “acquaintance” beckoning you near. You, little old driver, so lively and quick, should have known by this moment it must be a trick.

"Now, Driver! Now, drive me! Now, German and 12th streets!
On, Car-man! On, Stupid! On French street, my fleet feet!  
To the end of the block! I’ve business to handle!
Now dash away! Dash away! Dashes this vandal!"

Sorry, I got a little Christmas-y there; must have been due to that that nasty ice storm last Thursday night. Where were we? Oh, yes.

You, a 70-year old man, receive a late-night call from an 18-year old “acquaintance” begging for a ride on the border of late and early. You roll out of bed and pick him up, but he asks to be dropped off again, citing some sort of unfinished business. You swing around the block and pick him up again, moments later, except this time, he is bleeding and he is carrying a hammer. And, as you happen to stop in front of a used car lot where several vehicles sport sparkling crystal necklaces comprised of  freshly-broken windshield particles, your “acquaintance” rolls down his window and skillfully ridicules these inanimate objects, shouting “I got you now!” which will really show those stupid cars who’s boss.

Now, let us imagine that two witnesses, ummm, witnessed your “acquaintance” vandalize the vehicles, and also witnessed your “acquaintance” scream at those same defenseless damaged decorated vehicles. These two witnesses gave police a description of your vehicle and your “acquaintance.” Fittingly, you are pulled over in short order by Erie’s Finest with both a bleeding teenager high on pills and a hammer in your truck, shortly after several cars had been damaged, all at 3 in the morning.

It doesn’t take a mathematician to figure out what probably took place that warm August night; one plus one almost always equals two.

You knew, or reasonably should have known, that a crime had been committed. Any moral, upstanding member of society would have – or should have - informed the police immediately instead of waiting for them to come knocking at your door, or in this case, your SUV window. Let us also make-believe that you are no ordinary moral, upstanding 70-year old man, but rather a respected member of the community with a decades-long history of service to that community; this makes it all the more shocking and reprehensible that you did not act in the best interests of that community.

Did you enjoy that little game of make-believe? I hope so. Sadly, it was not make-believe. It really happened. But I’m not yet finished dragging you through the looking glass to make-believe land, so keep your eyes closed and take another deep breath, because in make-believe land, you can actually read this Upfront with your eyes closed, which is how most people prefer to experience Upfront.

Let us play a little game of make-believe. Again.

Close your eyes, take a deep breath, and bring yourself back to a cool spring night in March of 2002. Imagine, if you will, that it is early, like breakfast early.  You are awake, and, you are almost 76 years old, which means that being awake in your home at breakfast time is a pretty good place to be.

You are sitting at your kitchen table, probably with visions of bacon dancing in your head. Suddenly, on at your door there arises such a clatter, that you run to that door to see what is the matter.

Away to your door, you fly like a flash, swing open the…

Oh, wait, it’s Christmas creeping back in; must have been due to that that nasty ice storm last Thursday night. Where were we? Oh, yes.

Your assistant - He saw something terrible the night before, and, rather than call the police, he called you…after first calling his father, who presumably died of shame when he discovered that the very question he was being asked over the telephone, “What should I do in this situation, Dad?” demonstrated his own failure to raise his son properly. 

Now, this hulking young behemoth of an assistant quivers like a tiny child on your doorstep, and places into your small, aged hands a sordid and graphic account of a nearly-unmentionable crime that he personally witnessed, involving another of your assistants and a 10-year old boy. You kick the ball away to your superiors, who do next to nothing, all at breakfast time in the morning.

It doesn’t take a mathematician to figure out what probably took place that cool spring night; one plus one almost always equals two.

You knew, or reasonably should have known, that a crime had been committed. Any moral, upstanding member of society would have – or should have – informed the police immediately instead of waiting for them to come knocking at your door, or in this case, invite you to testify before a Grand Jury. Let us also make-believe that you are no ordinary moral, upstanding 75-year old man, but rather a respected member of the community with a decades-long history of service to that community; this makes it all the more shocking and reprehensible that you did not act in the best interests of that community.

Enough with the make-believe. The two Joes’ situations are obviously quite similar: any average Joe should have known a crime had been committed and that average Joe therefore had a duty to contact the police immediately upon that realization. Because of the two Joes’ status in their respective communities, and their desire to protect that status at all costs, they willfully ignored their duty.

Yep, the two Joes’ situations are quite similar indeed; however, there is one critical difference. Paterno lost his job.

Cory Vaillancourt is a brilliant writer/complete hack and can be complimented/heckled at cVaillancourt@ErieReader.com.

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