"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil...
"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing." (Edmund Burke)
As the dust settles on the Penn State scandal that brought down Joe Paterno, we can pause to examine the moral decisions involved.
It seems that a graduate assistant witnessed a child molestation and reported it to his superiors. One of those superiors reported it to his superiors. Nothing came of it. Nobody did anything. It is alleged that the graduate assistant was worried about his job security. Job Security? really? When children are being sexually molested?
When I was head of Industrial Engineering at the Go-Kart Factory, there was a time that the company tried to break into the youth ATV market, an area where we had no expertise.
Engineering designed a vehicle and we built a prototype. The brakes just barely worked. Really only slowly slowed the vehicle down. There was a controversy. Finally, the President of the company came to the factory floor and rode the little vehicle himself. The Plant manager and I were completely flabbergasted when he looked us in the eye and said to us, "The brakes work fine. Build it."
Of course we didn't object publicly at that point, but we later devised a strategy that ultimately worked for the kids, but not for us. Bottom line is we told him we wouldn't put the thing into production until engineering re-worked the brakes. We made a stand together. He relented, and the problem was fixed. He didn't get his vehicle to market when he wanted, but no kids were injured due to a flawed design either.
Strange thing is, his actions ran contrary to the interests of the company. About 10% of our manufacturing costs were devoted to safeguards so that kids didn't get injured, do to either federally mandated measures or increased safety designs mandated by lawsuits. The company paid over a million dollars a year in liability insurance due to injuries as a result of operating the go-karts. And for a relatively small company that was a sizeable chunk of change.
When we made our stand, we made an enemy of the President and we knew the possible consequences. He found a reason to fire the Plant Manager within six months. I lasted another year and a half and when the company re-organized and was sold, everybody was fired and rehired but I was let go. I went thru a period of severe economic hardship before I got back on my feet.
Sometimes you just have to know when to do what is right, no matter what the consequences to yourself. You pick which side to be on--The good guys or the bad guys. I don't know what side Joe Pa comes down on, but I know where I stand... and why. And I sleep just fine at night.