Did Penn State Get What It Deserved? A Trojan’s Take.

I admit to the brief moment of bloodlust when I heard the NCAA would be imposing sanctions on Penn State, despite this case having nothing to do with the NCAA’s laws regarding the line of pro and amateur athlete (apologies if you spit coffee through your nose laughing at the absurdity that the NCAA actually has a hand in that now).  I mean, this was a criminal case, not a case of amateurism in question.  This wasn’t the NCAA’s court.

I admit that I briefly felt what I preach never to feel:  That we want someone else to go through what the NCAA put on us for no reason that could hold up in any court of law.  I wanted someone who actually did something nefarious to experience a punishment worse than the baffling one given to us.

The truth is, I came off that high of wanting spilled blood and frayed blue and white scarves cut from the neck of Nittany Lions.  I mean, let’s be real. Is there any worse feeling than saying you are a Nittany Lion right now?  Nittany as a word is damned because so few outside of Happy Valley (worst name for a place that now is synonymous with child rape) know what it means.  Now, like Happy Valley, it’s just a weird East Coast word that reminds us of innocent children being abused in football locker rooms.  Dirty deeds in showers meant to wash away dirt.  Nittany is now a dirty word.

So, massive scholarship reductions for four years, 60 million in cash (the approx. revenue of a college football season for any of you still thinking this isn’t a business), a four year bowl ban and over a decade of forfeited wins (don’t worry, USC kicked their ass both times they faced so we didn’t cost anyone anything).  Players can transfer at will.  Hell, the running back might be coming to USC where the showers are for showering.  It’s a walking death penalty.  Penn State, the college football equivalent of a zombie and equally as creepy.

I am conflicted in how I feel.  There’s some things we need to separate.

There’s the criminal case and there’s the football situation.

From a criminal standpoint, the main call for justice was Batman’d and Jerry Sandusky is going to be in jail long after he’s dead.  Also, if you’ve seen any movies about prison, being a rapist isn’t a good thing.  Being a child rapist, even worse.  Especially when you are with murderers at a lunch table.  When you got someone looking to kill someone, that someone who raped children might be the someone that makes the most sense to whack.

There will be more criminal and civil investigation, heads will continue to roll and my sincerest hope is that this somehow gives the victims some modicum of peace, although I doubt any amount of money or justice can scrub your mind clean.  We aren’t hard drives.  There’s no delete button.

So let’s talk about the football program.

Do I think they NCAA got it right?

It’s complicated because they did although I don’t know how you think something is right coming from someone who by virtue of their very DNA cannot be right.  When you enter into the NCAA’s jurisdiction, you basically agree they can do whatever they want whenever they want.  Anyone who didn’t believe that does now after they nailed USC to the goalposts with 2 years of bowl bans, 30 schollies, free transfer rights despite the case being five years of soft evidence leveraged by Paul Dee, a man who probably died from guilt for condemning a program for needing high profile compliance when he was the Athletic Director of Miami.

Not to overblow things, but given the Nevin Shapiro hammer that will need to drop eventually, having Paul Dee preside over a compliance case is like having Sandusky preside over a kiddie porn trial.  I am not using hyperbole.  Nevin Shapiro paid for cocaine for players over a decade.  He got them hookers.  He even paid for an abortion for a player.  Improper benefits if I have ever seen them.  And this dude wasn’t a sports agent on the outside.  This guy was a booster.  He was on the field.  He was this fucking guy:

Yep.  The same guy who let a cocaine dealing, sex yacht chartering booster on the field for over a decade was the man leading the charge against USC leading to their sanctions.  You can’t make this shit up.  That’s why it’s hard to know how to feel about the NCAA hammering Penn State.

This is the NCAA.

We should be pissed anytime they judge anyone, even if Penn State was dirtier than a piece of pizza you find under your dorm couch (Paul Dee would have eaten it he is so corrupt, don’t ask me what Sandusky would have done with it and Paterno, well, he’d have looked the other way and ignored the pizza casually mentioning it to the maid who doesn’t speak English).

The Penn State football program needed to get hit hard, but it should have come from the school itself.  It should have come the minute Sandusky was found guilty.  They should have SHUT DOWN ALL ACTIVITIES for a year or two.

Here’s why.

FOOTBALL was the reason no one stood up and followed through.  If the women’s golf coach had raped little girls in the shower, does anyone think for a second they wouldn’t have strung that guy up in two minutes?  Of course they would because when women’s golf gets shut down, you don’t lose 60 million dollars in revenue.  It’s easy to make a stand until you realize you are cutting your own leg off.

And that’s why this got out of control.  That’s why the truth was ignored, overlooked, assumed dealt with, you name it.

Now, the NCAA stepped in and there’s no precedent set for them putting play penalties based on criminal acts.  I mean, think about it.  Oregon QB Jeremiah Massoli robbed someone, but it didn’t end up in sanctions for Oregon (of course neither did paying for influence with recruits).  The grandeur of these heinous PSU crimes is causing us all to freak out.

Paul Dee

It’s actually the death penalty (the actual death penalty) argument.  There’s a mistake in people who don’t understand why people are against killing a man who committed an unspeakable crime.  Without getting into my own opinion, I understand intellectually the argument anti-death penalty people try to make.  Sure, the rapist deserves to die, but should the government be in charge of doling out punishment?  Does the government ever get it wrong?  Has anyone ever been later released who was wrongfully incarcerated?  That’s the argument.  Not that someone shouldn’t die, but rather should a flawed system be doling it out?

I’m writing about football, my opinion on the previous point has nothing to do with how it applies here.  Besides Second Mile and Penn State, tell me another organization involved in this more corrupt than the NCAA?  I’m with Penn State being punished, but why by the NCAA?  We shouldn’t be so impressed with them.  I don’t trust them and them doing something to satisfy their fans feels like it is about business and preserving football, not reminding us that it is a game.

I get making them give back the money.  That’s right.  I get the ceremonial vacating of wins (doesn’t mean much), but I am sorry…  The NCAA is doing it again.  They are setting a precedent that makes no sense and will not tie into anything else.  They are throwing darts and making it harder for schools to comply in the absence of governance anyone can understand.

If we want to look at it reasonably, if USC got what it got for a “culture of non compliance” and basically one player taking money from a 3rd party (not USC or related to USC), you’re saying what Penn State got equals dozens of counts of child rape and looking the other way?  That’s the problem with this.

Reggie Bush takes money from a shady businessman and USC doesn’t know (or if you hate USC, let’s just go the distance and say they knew and ignored it).   That was good for 2 years of bowl bans, vacated wins, transfer rights, reduced scholarships and so on.   Let’s assume you think USC should have known, screwed the pooch and did everything they could to look the other way.

Are you telling me that serial child rape is only twice as bad?  Are you saying that what Penn State looked the other way on was even in the same universe as what USC was told they “should have known about”?   Not knew about and half-assed a report and then looked the other way.  SHOULD have known.

Penn State should not be allowed to be a university if we are trying to go apples to apples.  One of the punishments doesn’t fit the crime.  If we decide that it is okay for the NCAA to decide to rule on criminal action when it wants to, are we saying we are okay with them giving out random punishments whenever it wants?  Or not doing it at all (cough, cough Auburn)?

I’m not.  I think either Penn State got off easy or the NCAA needs to show the same balls they had in condemning Penn State after JoePa died and condemn the USC witch hunt now that Paul Dee is dead.  USC deserves and apology and since I know we aren’t getting one, I suggest we just take it in the form of winning all our games, locking up our #1 recruiting class and being glad that when sanctions are brought up, even if they look comparable on paper, ours are for not knowing about would-be agents as opposed to looking the other way about something insidious.

Mark Emmert

Unfortunately, with a governing body that has no process, there’s no chance there’s ever going to be equity in punishment or enforcement.  The NCAA and Mark Emmert bowed to the public sentiment.  Just like with USC.  People felt it wasn’t fair USC had celebs on the sidelines and treated it like a game and they got hammered with no precedent.  Penn State got the same thing.

But wait.  Am I saying Penn State was a victim?

No.

Everyone is a victim to the NCAA, so if everyone is a victim, in a way, no one is.  

You should hate the NCAA for punishing Penn State.  You should hate Penn State for not punishing themselves.

That’s the core message.  Penn State got what it had coming, but it got it from the wrong people.  The NCAA is the last entity you want stepping in and going rogue because as Trojans know, the next time it might not make sense.  The next time, it might be bullshit.  Penn State needed to learn that football should be second to many, many things in life, especially the welfare of children.

There are still PSU faithful that are missing the point.  Ex players upset about the sanctions.  Fans upset about Paterno’s legacy being tarnished.  Hell, the Paterno family is on a quest to find a way to separate JoePa and the crimes he didn’t do everything in his power to stop.  That is the problem.  When you are the figurehead of a program, you should never look the other way with something like this.  This wasn’t a 20 dollar handshake.  This wasn’t a car or a new house for a parent.  This was harboring a criminal of the worst kind.

Penn State Nation should be furious they thought taking the statue down was enough.  They should be furious they didn’t beat the NCAA to the punch and knock themselves out like Ed Norton in Fight Club.  The more they protest or try to preserve legacy, the more the quicksand holds them.

People knew the USC sanctions were bullshit.  There’s truth in every lie.  Were we too cavalier?  Probably.  Were we arrogant (hell yeah) about calling the NCAA’s bluff?  You bet.  They hammered us anyway.

The thing is here, we got to see two monsters.  We got to see Penn State thinking they could have a vigil and say some nice words and then keep playing the game that was the reason they covered up the crimes.  We also got to see the NCAA randomly jump in and make a ruling again.  Even if the ruling was right, the judge was dead wrong.

____________________________

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40 Comments

Filed under USC Football

40 Responses to Did Penn State Get What It Deserved? A Trojan’s Take.

  1. 100% agree, as usual!!

  2. Funny how they still thinking about naming the library after him. Guess it makes sense since people are used to staying quiet there, too

  3. jz

    Couldn’t have said it better, completely agree with just about all your points. Though I will say that technically NCAA does have a process (it’s why the other investigations take so effing long), they just literally ignored/bypassed all of its due process (Emmert’s words, not mine), which makes their ruling even more……not even sure how to describe it. I’d like to believe NCAA ruling was genuine in their disgust of what’s happened, but like you said it’s the NCAA…

    Hopefully Penn Staters will truly understand the magnitude of this horrific situation and their part in fostering an environment that enabled such a thing to happen. But then again you have PS board members like Anthony Lubrano w/ his diatribe.

    Question: what’s your feeling about the Paterno family? I’m trying to be sympathetic, it’s their father/figurehead of the family, but all these PR-esque statements…

  4. thekatman

    The Forfeiture of games by PSU is only for the NCAA and Big 10 to save face, so that Jo Pa’s name isn’t at the top of the list for the largest number of wins in CFB. Has no effect on what happened at PSU. The $60M fine is a drop in the bucket for PSU, which has an endowement greater than $1.6B.

  5. Joe

    The 2012 mission statement post should consist of only the mission statement and no intro/fluff. The mission statement should consist of only one word.

    Win.

    Now how arrogant would that be.

    • Zack Jerome

      it would be, but the fluff is why the nation of arrogance flocks to teh bearfighter. i commend your fighting spirit.

  6. Lester M. Paredes III

    PSU deserved the death penalty for at least three years. This wasn’t some random act by a lower level assistant coach. This was pattern of abuse over at least a decade with untold numbers of victims and covered up by the highest authorities at PSU, including JoePa.

    Speaking of JoePa, can someone please send a memo to the Paterno family that no amount of complaining will ever restore JoePa’s name, nor should it.

  7. Sam

    Dear God man. Not everything is about you and your personal vendetta against the NCAA.

  8. jpfoursc

    Preach it brother…

  9. Whitney

    Did you see the Penn State alum actually compare the sanctions to 9/11? It’s amazing to me how delusional some of their fans continue to be. Just speaks volumes about the scary football culture created at that school.

  10. usc2011

    Love the column generally, but I think you’re going to want this one back. “Penn State should not be allowed to be a university if we are trying to go apples to apples.” Personally, I don’t think anybody should be trying to go apples to apples on this one – certainly not USC fans. Like Lane said today, “There is no way that you could compare what happened at USC & what happened at Penn State.” Just leaves a bad taste.

    • Zack Jerome

      Just making a point. Kiff has to play it even. I’m batman cuz I say what should be said. The NCAA compared them when sanctions were comparable.

  11. M

    I’ve been interested to hear your take on the Penn state sanctions since the news broke. You are right on target with an argument that has more logic than anything I’ve heard on tv/radio about the whole fiasco. And of course, your writing is solid. I appreciated the fight club reference!

  12. Trojan Princess

    Posted this on FightOn247 Zack, you speak for us all!

  13. smartino

    Typical west coast trash. all are the same you think you all know everything but could never hack it on the east. I see it every day. Also west coasters there is only one school out here that is worth two sh ts and that is Standford. USC what a joke how many student athletes you graduate in basket weaving 101.

    • Zack Jerome

      Um, check our rankings academically. Also sorry your admin covered up child rape. Jeez.

    • mwilton

      BTW Phi Beta Kappa, it’s spelled Stanford. Typical east coast douche!

    • thekatman

      Standford msy be your version of academic excelence, but out West we have Stanford, USC and that commie school known as Kal.

    • M

      I generally stay out of these things but you misspelled Stanford. Maybe you should proofread before insulting the academic ability of others. What does hacking it on the east coast have to do with anything? This is not about geographical differences. It’s about committing and covering up child rape. Last time I checked, those are considered crimes on both coasts.

    • Innara

      Lol Standford??? You’re not very smartino.

  14. Why is it that the majority of a-holes, like this clown, are transplanted East Coast loud mouths? We get to experience them whenever Baaaaahston, the Yankees, or the Rangers are in town. If the East Coast was so effin great, why did they leave? And better yet, please return asap. Here’s a suggestion from a soft, quiche eating, Angeleno – GTFO!!

    • M

      Hey now, not all people from the East Coast (like myself) are ignorant loud mouths and I’m sorry if that’s been your experience with us. I feel the need to clarify to any prospective students and entering USC freshman from the East Coast that most Californians. are actually quite welcoming despite what the above comment might lead you to believe! Let’s remember that (like it or not) the Trojan Family includes people from both coasts!

  15. sam stuarti

    yes penn state deserves to be punished,they’re arrogant

  16. “The NCAA is doing it again. They are setting a precedent that makes no sense and will not tie into anything else. They are throwing darts and making it harder for schools to comply in the absence of governance anyone can understand.”

    That’s a perfect description. Abso-fucking-lutely perfect.

  17. Sadly, I have to disagree. It may be a first. The PSU situation is unlike any other and should be treated as such. Yes the NCAA is simply a bank and has no business handing out their opinion here, but more importantly this is a criminal case and should be treated as such. This is not some money that is frowned upon or the occasional complimentary hooker. This is abused kids.

    What situation is more likely to protect kids, and empower whistleblowers in the future? A world where an 80 or 100 year program can be destroyed by the actions of a soon to be dead sick bastard, or where we let the cops and FBI come in and do their job. Which would be to investigate, hunt down, all guilty parties and anyone protecting them.

    This didn’t involve improper benefits, eligibility, or a single advantage for the Nittany Lion football team. Why is the NCAA even involved?
    “Donny, you are out of your fucking element!”. let the cops and the justice system take care of these scumbags and leave the rest of PSU out of it.

    Besides the obvious collateral damage to the student athletes, teams on the schedule aleady, and community up there, what do you think happens happens next time there’s a crime at a big sport campus. It doesnt have to be this horrible. It could be gambling, or pimping co-eds. Does the Assistant coach volunteer to be that guy that levels the program for years or let his superiors at the university decide what is best, while the criminals use their status to hold an entire university hostage and slink away like cowards.

    • Zack Jerome

      i don’t think we disagree here for the most part. the reason the team needed to be punished was because the team was the reason the investigation was left to rot. you can’t let the robber keep the jewels.

    • When people make the argument that the sanctions unfairly punish students, other athletes, people who had nothing to do with Sandusky, I always like to reply the same way: Those people who are unfairly hurt by the sanctions should feel free to take up their grievances with Penn State, not the NCAA. PSU’s culture got them into this mess, THEY are the ones responsible for the lost scholarships, revenue loss, crippling of other programs, etc. They can explain to their students why their actions led to the sanctions. If students and other PSU folk feel like they’re being unfairly punished, they should seek redress from the folks responsible for this mess…and that’s not the NCAA.

      The problem with immediately blaming the NCAA for all this stuff is that it takes the heat off of the institution that is ultimately responsible, and it fails to hold that institution to account. It gives a scapegoat to the students who really ought to be looking inward, looking at the community they’re a part of, and committing to real lasting change. Of course it’s easier to just blame the NCAA, so yeah.

  18. Bill Baldwin, Jr.

    Let’s face it; the NCAA is no longer capable of fairly administering the rules and regulations of college sports, football, basketball and all the rest. What was once an organization of member schools dedicated to fairness and the rule of law has become an inbred gang of Avery Brundage knockoffs in loud sports jackets. At least with an elitist and condescending snob like Brundage, the amateur athlete knew where he or she stood with the IOC and AAU. Broke.

    But as has been demonstrated by the NCAA over the last 10 to 15 years, it all depends on who is doing the judging and who is being hauled before the typical NCAA Torquemada-like tribunal. From what I’ve read, the normal rules of evidence don’t apply. Talk about a DA having the power to indict a ham sandwich – when you’re up against an organization that considers it ethical to invest in one person the varied and often times conflicting roles of investigator, prosecutor, judge, jury and executioner, you end of up with a process fully in keeping with the standards of fairness established by past historical models. Stalin’s Show Trials and the Spanish Inquisition, to name two.

    Consider how the NCAA chooses to confront the complex issue of big time college football bringing in millions per school each season mostly thanks to the talents of players of African American descent largely from at or near the bottom of the economic ladder. I’m not advocating salaries for college football players, but there should be a monthly allowance for these young men that would allow them to go out to eat once in a while or experience other student-recognized out of classroom activities. Now, the NCAA position is SO Absurd and against logic and plain common decency, it’s reason enough to send the NCAA packing. Depending on the location, we’re talking say $250 a month spending money let’s say, over and above full scholarships and the training tables. Now, if a coach takes pity on a player and buys him a burger and fries it’s as if both divulged state secrets, at least in the warped and idiotic world of the NCAA.

    Example: The Ohio State Money for Memorabilia Scandal that took down Jim Tressel.

    This is a fine football coach and an honorable man. I think Tressel understood better than most just what Ohio State and all its athletic organizations owed to the players from less than middle class wage earning homes. Ohio Stadium was packed for every home game and multi-millions of dollars flowed in each year through the efforts of players from the poorest sections of American life. Shouldn’t these kids be treated with dignity rather than elitist contempt? Tressel made the mistake of not telling the NCAA the whole story the first time out and it cost him his job.
    Finally, a Comment on USC and Mike Garrett

    I had the privilege of being a student at USC when Mike Garrett played. While he may be difficult , make that sure of his opinions and willing to stand by his convictions, Mike Garrett was not only a terrific AD over 17 years, but he was right about the NCAA’s true motivation – jealously at the way in which Pete Carroll’s teams played the game. How dare USC have fun while kicking Ohio State, Oklahoma and Michigan ass in major Bowl Games. Now, understand USC certainly deserved a one year Bowl ban and loss of scholarships because of the Reggie Bush situation; Pete Carroll should have known about it and Mike Garrett, as well. But the charge of “loss of institutional control” was so bogus, it bordered on the criminal. And in the end, after USC President Sample went off to retirement, and Pete Carroll pulled a Baltimore Colts weekend bolt north – You’ll recall on a Thursday there’s Pete on camera during the postgame of the NCAA Title game from the Rose Bowl speaking about “our ( USC)” chances for that next season while wearing his USC tie, then a mere four days later there’s Carroll decked out in Seattle Seahawk green at a press conference as Seattle’s new head coach.

    Meanwhile, back in LA with the NCAA about to hit town with the full force and weight of its power, Mike Garrett is left to take the fall. SC’s new president Max Nikias, a Greek Cypriot who amazingly after 20 years at SC still had virtually no understanding of the stature in which athletics is held at USC – more Olympians have gone to USC than any other University in the world – when Garrett “tells it like it is”, Nikias disgracefully moves to send him packing. Mike Garrett, who as AD expanded the quality and stature of every sport, from NCAA championships in Women’s Volleyball, Golf and Soccer to name three sport;, Mike Garrett, who as AD never missed a USC home game or match , I can tell you he was at every women’s basketball, volleyball and track and field meet I attended ….every one and of course Garrett was at the home and away football games as well; Mike Garrett, an honorable man who bled USC”s colors and won its very first Heisman Trophy, that Mike Garrett was dismissed in as classless a move as I have ever witnessed.

    A couple of months before Pete Carroll ran away, 60 Minutes with the late Mike Wallace, no less, had done a terrific and flattering piece on Pete Carroll. No college coach had more muscle to stand up to the NCAA than Pete and had he stayed as head coach and taken his share of the responsibility, you can’t tell me the NCAA would have gotten away with what it ended up doing to USC.

    And we all know what happened and recently we have found out just who was on that committee and why it did what it did. Forget the NCAA admitting any guilt, but the University of Southern California, President Max Nikias and AD Pat Haden owe a public apology to Mike Garrett. Haden, who came in to help SC when we needed someone after Garrett’s firing, nevertheless has made some statements critical of Garrett, which in the light of known facts were and are wrong.
    As for USC’s president, soon after taking office, Dr. Nikias, who was a fund raiser more than an educator at USC, announced the establishment of a Five BILLION dollar fund raising program as the center piece of his presidency at USC. Then he fired SC’s first Heisman Trophy winner and trashed him and athletics in general at the university. One would think Dr. Nikias might want to reconsider his actions. The University won’t get a dime from me until he does.
    Bill Baldwin, Jr.
    USC Class of 1967

  19. Fuck the SEC

    Comments on the Silas Redd transfer?

  20. There is a small wrinkle to your argument (which I don’t disagree with, for the most part). The NCAA didn’t just hand down sanctions out of nowhere. They came in and said to PSU, “We can either fast-track the penalties listed here and call it a day, or we can go the full investigation route and just to let you know, we’re seeking a 4 year death penalty and will probably drag this thing out a while.”

    The PSU prez Rodney Erickson chose to sign off on the penalties and fast-track things, to lessen the penalty and probably just to get it all over with. So this wasn’t a case of the NCAA just unilaterally handing down sanctions, it was a case of PSU plea-bargaining. In that way you could argue 2 things:

    1) That there was at least some due process. A real criminal can plea bargain and admit guilt and skip a trial, going straight to sentencing. PSU did that. That’s still due process, even if it’s a short due process.

    2) By signing off on the penalties, not contesting them, and taking this route, in a roundabout way PSU did indeed sanction themselves like you wanted them to do, they just used the NCAA’s offer to do it. From reading PSU blogs there are just as many people angry at Erickson for laying down and taking the hit instead of fighting it Mike Garrett-style. Those people are morons, but there you go.

    So as a USC alum, while I have no love for the NCAA (I want LFK and Barkley, upon winning the national championship trophy, to immediately and silently give it back), I’m cutting them a bit of a break. Assuming the NCAA has jurisdiction over this type of thing, they at least offered some due process and in the end it was Erickson and Penn State that fell on their own sword to avoid getting dismembered.

  21. mc

    Let me see if I got this right. The NCAA penalizes schools for student athletes that cross the line of amateur status that receive economic benefits. Heretofore the penalties were loss of bowl games and scholarships.

    The NCAA should be sanctioned for taking $60 million as a shakedown of Penn State.

    Financial penalties have no place in the NCAA playbook. The $60 million figure was allegedly the revenues for one season. So is that now the benchmark? How profitable is your program and dole over one years revenue. And if you dole over two or three years we will even reduce the other sanctions.

    The NCAA has just slid down the slippery slope allowing monetary penalties. And now is just as culpable as the student athlete who got a free tattoo, sold a jersey or got some sneakers, tickets or walking around money.

    So where exactly does this $60 million go? To the victims? No. And who exactly paid it. The taxpayers of the state of Pennsylvania, a public school.

    And if you really want to compare apples to apples try this. Reggie Bush’s family got two years free rent. Ten percent of America’s homeowners have not paid their mortgage for two years and have lived rent free. Maybe the NCAA can sanction all these homeowners who haven’t made their mortgage payment. Maybe not allow their kids to attend college for two years or take away their student scholarship.

    We need to investigate the NCAA for lack of institutional control.

    FIGHT ON!!!!

  22. tiger

    It’s nice that Paul Dee got his own “death penalty”….literally and figuratively! LOL

  23. Instead of suspending Penn State from football I think the NCAA should fine the school. Players did nothing wrong and punishing them is wrong. There has been far too many attacks on Penn State for the inaction of a few administration people and Paterno’s lifetime of service does not deserve to be thrown away. He did much more good than harm and it was the others that failed to take proper action.

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