Maybe I don’t understand loyalty, maybe I’m not that big of a sports fan, maybe I, along with the rest of the world, is just mindlessly at the whim of the media, maybe I have a deep-seated hatred for Penn State.
What is it?
Maybe the world is mindlessly just standing in line with the media, all of us just shaking our head as CNN tells us what happened and why we should be outraged. Or maybe a 21-year-old sociology major with a part-time job at Starbucks is maybe unqualified to simply dismiss the findings of an independent report by the former Director of the FBI and commissioned by the Penn State Board of Trustees? Maybe that’s it.
What is more likely? That we’re all biased and the media’s sheep and this is all a big misunderstanding, or that some unqualified people may be rejecting facts to fit their opinion of one man? Maybe they could be the biased one?
I can’t blame you, Penn State defenders, because it hurts to be wrong, and you definitely can’t climb out of the hole you’ve dug yourself into. But consider, maybe for a second, that this does not take place at Penn State, but rather at a private institution, nay not a private institution, a private corporation that makes something as uncontroversial as clothes hangers.
Consider that the general manager of a clothes hanger factory hears about a sexual episode involving one of his foremen and a young boy that he brought into his office after working hours. Now, the foreman’s been with Snyder’s Clothes Hangers for years, and is good at his job, and it seems unlike him. The mother of the boy reports this to local police who refer it to the D.A. who decides not to prosecute the man. Okay, end of story. Now, 4 years later that guy has retired but still comes into the factory because he still likes playing around with plastic, because ya know, it’s in his blood. Corporate gave him a key and the GM doesn’t care because the foreman doesn’t interfere in the day to day operations of the business.
Then, the GM gets a report from a worker that he saw something sexual in nature in the boiler room between the boy and the former foreman. He doesn’t say what happens but, by the GM’s own account, “something sexual in nature occurred.” The GM calls the corporate office and reports the problem. The corporate office decides to report the foreman to the Attorney General’s office, but then, after a talk with the GM, a member of the corporate office says that they should hold off on reporting the foreman. The details of this conversation are unknown, the only particular that is known is that the corporate office listened to this input from the GM enough to not report it to authorities.
What happened in that phone call? We don’t know exactly. We don’t know exactly what was said, but I’m sure that a “yes, let’s report it to authorities” did not happen. In fact, any semblance of “yes, let’s report it,” most likely would have resulted in the reporting of the foreman. I would say that only a strong “No, let’s not go to authorities,” by a trusted, capable, and revered GM could make an entire multi-billion dollar university pull a cover-up over any crime.
The consequences aren’t small:
- Do the right thing and report it. The business will get a bad rap, and might lose business, but it would be doing the right thing and no one would be personally be liable.
- Do the wrong thing and cover it up, you risk being party to a felony, the tarnishing of reputation, and most likely heavy prison time. But you’ll also get to have your cake and eat it too. If the situation just went away, it would be easier. Plus, the foreman probably wouldn’t do anything like that, he’s a good guy. And the GM, he’s an even better guy, and after that conversation it all seems to be pretty fine.
By the way, for the purposes of this story, this has nothing to do with the business of making and selling clothes hangers. It just doesn’t. I just want to say that so we don’t get mired in tangential arguments about the impetus behind any actions. Because, please, have some decency and think about the victims in this situation. Imagine what their feeling. This situation was separate from the clothes hangers business, except that it happened at the factory and the suspect is a former plant employee of whom we have given special access to the factory. That’s it. Look, what does two separate accounts of sexually assaulting a young boy mean anyway? I mean, who hasn’t been accused of sexually assaulting young boys? It happens all the time. It’s a frivolous accusation that gets thrown around too much, and quite frankly I’m sick of it. I mean really, let’s be serious. Are we really going to jump to conclusions? Did I mention how this isn’t a clothes hanger scandal? Nope. Not at all. Look, the company cares about the victims, not clothes hangers, that’s why they when the issue came up they decided to play it safe and not bring up anything. I mean, sure, two separate and credible people made the accusations. I get that, but let Snyder’s just go on making hangers, that’s all we can do at this point. It makes no sense to punish others for the sins of others.
Nine years later an arrest is made, and it’s unveiled that there are almost a dozen victims of the foreman’s, and much of the abuse occurred repeatedly at the Snyder’s factory.
This is how it plays out. Remember, this has nothing to do with clothes hangers or the business of Snyder’s Clothes Hangers.
Statement from corporate:
“We here at Snyder’s Clothes Hangers reject the early, unfounded reports that upper levels of our administration may have known something about the abuses and could have stopped them but did not act appropriately. We reject these charges. What we should really be concerned about are the victims of the foreman and their families and the hope that they may find peace. That’s why we’d like to announce that we will go to huge lengths to protect our own reputation and our business. I repeat, this has nothing to do with the sale of clothes hangers. We care about the victims, not clothes hangers.”
A few months later the GM dies and reportedly wrote this statement before he died:
“Dear fellow citizens. I cannot believe that people are saying that this scandal is directly related to clothes hangers. That’s nuts! You wanna know why? Because we’ve produced good, quality made clothes hangers for years at low prices all while keeping your dollars local and supporting the local economy. How could it be? All of our employees have been hard-working, well-to-do members of the community for literally decades. Believe me because I produced all those hangers for you and would never steer you wrong. Nope, not no way, not no how. Doesn’t the past mean anything to you? I mean, I don’t mean to distract you from the real issue of this case, which has always been the healing process for the victims and their families, but we did awesome things in the past! Like really awesome things. WE made A LOT of good hangers, and you guys loved those hangers, always puttin’ clothes on them and what not. Remember? This isn’t clothes hanger related, though. I’m just saying, that when you think about this case, just remember that we made a TON of good hangers. Love you.”
A few months later
Statement from corporate:
“We at Snyder’s Clothes Hangers, seeing as it’s not a clothes hangers related scandal, would like to commission an independent panel to look into our business to see if there really was anything fishy going on. This will provide plenty of clarity for the victims and their families so they can see that it wasn’t us who covered up the situation and ruined their lives. Nope. That’s not us. You wanna know why? Because this is all about the victims and the families of these victims and we feel that the only way to provide healing and closure is to see if there is anything our company could be legally liable for.”
Then the independent report finds corporate and the GM at fault. While not a legal document, it was conducted by the former head of the FBI.
Statement from corporate:
“Welp, it looks like we messed up. We promise to do better next time. It’s a good thing that the foreman is going to prison for life, because as I stated before and repeatedly to the point of creepy exhaustion: this is all about the victims.”
Statement from GM’s family:
“I don’t understand why you want to come down on this family and the legacy of a great businessman. Remember when he made all of those clothes hangers? Everyone loved them, I don’t understand why there’s so much backlash.”
Remember, this is all about the victims, and is NOT a clothes hangers issue.
The statement from supporters of the GM and Snyder’s Clothes Hangers:
“It’s sad to see so many people rush to judgment after hearing the results of the independent investigation conducted by the former head of the FBI. But that’s okay, Snyder’s will be back making high-quality hangers in no time. Nothing can keep them down. Go Snyder’s!”
Please, don’t get caught up in the hype, this is not related in any way to the business of clothes hangers.
The Department of Commerce hands down fines and penalties against Snyder’s Clothes Hangers related to the cover-up.
Statement from supporters of the GM and Snyder’s Clothes Hangers:
“This is crazy. Clearly EVERYBODY is not thinking straight except us who love the clothes hangers at Snyder’s Clothes Hangers. This is a blessed local business with decades of doing the right thing. I mean, they put “Quality Guaranteed” on each package of clothes hangers. It seems really crazy to punish all of the workers who will lose their jobs but did nothing wrong, just because a few people acted poorly. But like we said before, we’ll be back, and we’ll be cranking out the best clothes hangers ever.”
This scandal is not related to clothes hangers. It really isn’t. Just stop it. Alright?