Why Students Rioted

Some were perplexed to see college students at Penn State University rioting last night. They weren’t even part of Occupy State .

They were reacting to the firing of Joe Paterno as head coach of Nittany Lions (and less so, I imagine, for the president of the university Graham Spanier). He was the winningist coach in football history; now he was being fired for the losingist reason: Failing to report sexual abuse of young boys under the care of a coaching associate over a long, long period of time.

Well, he told somebody, students complained. Some higher ups. But not the police, as the law demands.

Still, rioting and overturning a satellite truck (gol darn media!) seemed to send a message that they favored JoePa, as they insist on calling them, in this Pennsylvania paternalist society, over those anonymous abuse victims.

But actually, rioting on campuses is a knee-jerk reaction to whatever happens to a bigtime football team. Win a big game, riot, Lose a big game, riot. Lose a football coach, riot.

When there are satellite trucks around and crowds and beer there is almost an expectation from everyone that the kids do something, they will.

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