Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Of Villains and Heroes - Which Ones Typify Humanity?


Jerry Sandusky

Lately, I think first of villains.

Penn State officials covered for and covered up (allegedly) horrible sex crimes by former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky.

Ciaverella and Conhan - Uncommon Thieves

Two judges in Luzerne County, Pennsylvania accepted bribes and kickbacks from the owner of several youth detention centers in exchange for sending hundreds of kids guilty (possibly) of petty crimes to hard-core detention centers.  Parents sat speechless and helpless as anticipated "slap on the wrist" hearings culminated with their children being unceremoniously hauled out of court in handcuffs, not to see their home again for months or years.

Vatican Counsel - Shame On You

The Catholic Church made a practice of protecting known child abuser priests over a period of decades (or is it hundreds of years?), often transferring priests who they knew were pedophiles to unsuspecting parishes just as increasingly suspicious parishioners began to ask tough questions.

Richard Nixon

The President of the United States covered up the role of his administration in the participation of a felony burglary of Watergate Hotel, cultivating an atmosphere of fear and retribution within the government, and ultimately destroying evidence before resigning in the face of impeachment proceedings.

Kitty Genovese

Kitty Genovese is stabbed to death in a Boston alley for a half-hour in 1964, her repeated screams and pleas for help heard by 38 neighbors, none of whom call the police.  Later, a neighbor explained his inaction by saying he "didn't want to get involved."


A 2 year-old Chinese girl is run over twice on a crowded street, and lays immobile, bleeding and unconscious in the street while 18 passersby do nothing to aid her (Caution: graphic images).  Eventually, a street cleaner stops to render her aid, but it is too late.  She dies soon after.  China is universally condemned for lacking humanity.

Truly Villanous

 Bernie Madoff, perpetrator of the most devastating Ponzi scheme in history, leaving behind a swath of devastated lives and, perhaps, causing his own son to commit suicide.

No Caption Required
Al Queda, which systematically carried out the most horrifying terrorist attack of all time on 9/11, with the stated goal of planting the seeds for the destruction of you, me and every American.

His Recently Uncovered
College Id Photo
Adam Lanza. 'Nuff said.

The list goes on and on.  We humans are certainly imperfect.  Presidents, legendary football coaches, God's trusted emissaries, Chinese civilians or Boston neighbors - none of us are per se immune.


Then, I think of heroes.
Joe Delaney - a True Hero

Joe Delaney, age 24, a star running back for the Kansas City Chiefs who, in the prime of his life, dives into a swimming hole in an attempt to save 3 drowing boys he did not know.  He saved one. Delaney, who had never learned to swim, drowned in the process.  He stands in contrast to Mike McQueary, the the 28 year-old PSU grad assistant who, a Grand Jury found, "left immediately, distraught" upon seeing a rape being committed by Jerry Sandusky on an 10 year-old boy in 2002. 

A True Hero in Every Way
General George Washington, the Father of Our Country (and Nixon's predecessor!), who, despite being outmanned and outgunned, somehow managed to overcome truly horrific weather, a lack of housing, supplies and adequate outerware, and the resulting low troop morale, to lead our Country to victory over and independence from England.  

True Heroes

The NYC firemen who raced to save civilians trapped in the World Trade Centers on 9/11, knowing that, with every step they took, their lives were imperiled.

Raising the Flag at Iwo Jima

The soldiers that stormed Iwo Jima, against terrifying odds and amidst horrifying casualties of war. 

Mother Theresa.  Martin Luther King.  Nelson Mandela. Oskar Schindler.

Mother Therese- A Lifetime of Heroism

We are good, we are bad, we are human.

John A. Gallagher is an employment lawyer who represents employees in Pennsylvania.

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