An Open Letter to John Ziegler

Dear Mr. Ziegler,

We all want the truth, John. We really do. I want the truth. You want the truth. The Paternos want the truth. My fellow students want the truth. Your followers want the truth. Your haters want the truth. Everyone wants the truth.

Alas, you already knew that. You injected yourself into this mess early on and waged a year-long media crusade that featured animated YouTube videos, dozens of radio appearances, and even interviews with Jerry Sandusky himself. Consequently, this campaign to exonerate Joe Paterno built you a solid following along the way — a following that essentially propelled you to appearances on primetime TV as of late.

But this week, the wheels fell off. The Paternos — the family of the man who you have strived so hard to defend over the past year — rapidly (and justifiably) distanced themselves from you during the last 72 hours beginning on Sunday night. Next came the Today Show interview and the shouting match with Piers Morgan on Monday, which, in all honesty, I wasn’t overly irked by.

But then you crossed the line yesterday when you released the statement that essentially blackmailed Victim 2 into speaking with you (which I hope he didn’t respond to). Sixteen months into this scandal and you’re threatening victims into talking — how civil of you. If victim shaming is the price of the truth, I honestly don’t know if I want the truth anymore. Do you understand how deranged that is?

But no, John, you did not stop there. That wasn’t enough — you had to resort to the unthinkable. Around 7 p.m. last night, you inexplicably published Victim 2’s name multiple times in your attempt to exonerate the man whose family virtually disowned you. Let me reiterate that: You published the identity of a sexual abuse victim in an attempt to defend Joe Paterno. I’m sure that’s what he would’ve wanted.

And wait, it gets EVEN better. Around 8:30 p.m., you denied intentions of naming the victim and blamed it on “cyber attacks.” Additionally, about an hour later, you tweeted that the problems were fixed. Yet, I refreshed the page and there the name was, staring at me in the face for a second straight hour. Then finally — it’s now 11:00 p.m. — you apologize for “a stupid mistake out of utter exhaustion” and state that the “hacking prevented us from fixing.”

Well, John, even if I were to believe this was unintentional, “exhaustion” is not a justifiable excuse. Period. Perhaps if you cared as much about the respect and sensitivity of the victims as much as you did about the fight for Paterno, this wouldn’t have happened. Your post even had the chance to be enlightening. But the harm done in publishing Victim 2’s name far outweighs any revelations contained in your piece, which admittedly, are somewhat compelling.

During your failed backpedal, one tweet states that the hacking “prevented” you from fixing the post — that’s past tense. It’s now three hours after that tweet… I just refreshed the page… The name is still staring me in the face. So, if the alleged “hacking” concluded hours ago, why is the name still up? (The names were finally removed around 3 a.m. EST Wednesday morning, eight hours after the initial post went live.)

It’s crystal clear, John: You wanted this to happen, or at the very least, you didn’t care if it did. You (intentionally or not) went through with your sick, sadistic threat even though experts such as Jim Clemente strongly advised you not to do so. You’ve succeeded. You’ve now made it that much harder for past, present, and future sexual abuse victims to come forward and seek help. Mission accomplished. I hope you’re happy.

Everything you have achieved up to this point — any residual positives from your work — has now quickly evaporated due to your recent insane, conniving, and downright reckless methods.

While many people are still divided on whether Penn State should “move on” or not, everyone in this community is unified in trying to make something good out of this mess — to help this community and the victims heal. Your actions blatantly disregarded these efforts and served as an insult to those who are working to make this university a worldwide role model in child sexual abuse awareness and prevention.

I truly believe this all started a year ago with positive goals in mind, but somewhere over the last month, those goals have drastically changed for the worse. You are no longer informative and an effective seeker of “truth”. You are vicious, irresponsible, and an embarrassment to anyone associated with this school and the man you claim to fight for.

Let me make it very clear once more: You are hurting Penn State. You are hurting victims of sexual abuse. You are inflicting much more harm than good on the situation as a whole.

We want you to get the fuck out of here, John. You have officially overstayed your welcome.

John Zielger’s response can be found here.

About the Author

Ryan Beckler

Ryan is a senior in the Smeal College of Business majoring in Marketing. He is a Lion Ambassador who loves giving tours to prospective students. His favorite activities include distributing news and consuming Chipotle.

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