Now that Eddy's well-deserved slurp-fest is winding down, I was hoping to get peoples' thoughts on this raw, heartfelt piece on the Penn State tragedy by Charles Pierce. Specifically this passage.
There will now be a decade or more of criminal trials, and perhaps a quarter-century or more of civil actions, as a result of what went on at Penn State. These things cannot be prayed away. Let us hear nothing about "closure" or about "moving on." And God help us, let us not hear a single mumbling word about how football can help the university "heal." (Lord, let the Alamo Bowl be an instrument of your peace.) This wound should be left open and gaping and raw until the very last of the children that Jerry Sandusky is accused of raping somehow gets whatever modicum of peace and retribution can possibly be granted to him. This wound should be left open and gaping and raw in the bright sunlight where everybody can see it, for years and years and years, until the raped children themselves decide that justice has been done. When they're done healing — if they're ever done healing — then they and their families can give Penn State permission to start.
Many have applauded Pierce and echoed the sentiment in this passage, and it seems pretty plausible to me as well. Yet the thrust of it seems inconsistent with most philosophical theories of responsibility and desert. The idea that the raped children should decide from themselves when justice is done is at odds with the principle that offenders' just-deserts should be tied only to their personal culpability for the offense. According to Pierce, what Penn State deserves should be determined long after the offenses and not by a set of principles or even a jury--but by the victims. Obviously there are tons of complications here, so let me just ask: do you agree with (a) Pierce's claim that the program's deserved fate should be determined primarily by the victims of these terrible crimes, and (b) that our current theories of desert (both philosophical and judicial) are at odds with this claim?