McQueary’s age is no excuse for his lukewarm, delayed action

Dan Abrams, who’s some sort of ABC talking head, has weighed in about Mike McQueary.  Because I’ve already flogged the topic to death in other posts, I won’t explain here why I strongly disagree with his argument that McQueary really didn’t do anything that wrong.

What intrigued me in the article was a point I’ve seen others make, but that Abrams makes with beautiful clarity (emphasis mine):

In retrospect, should McQueary have been satisfied with that? No way. Should he have done more? Yes. Could he have done more? Of course. Should he be celebrated as a hero because, as he put it, he “made sure it stopped?” No. But many have even suggested that McQueary is monstrous for having called his father for guidance before immediately reporting the incident. Is that really so hard to understand? A 28-year-old, so troubled by what he has seen in his workplace, that he calls his father for counsel?

McQueary has been described in most articles as a student (albeit a graduate student), which implies that he was very young at the time.  In fact, as Abrams establishes, he was 28.  Twenty-eight.  Not twelve.  Not ten.  Not even just turned twenty-one.  Ten years before witnessing his boss raping a child (and description of his boss’s activity is per McQueary’s own grand jury testimony), he’d earned as a matter of law the right to vote; to marry without parental permission; and to go off to war, with really cool weapons in his hands.  Seven years earlier, he’d been given official permission to buy alcohol.  He’d passed all the milestones of youth, and then some.  He was not a child.  By my lights, he was a man.

Now, I think it’s very nice that McQueary has a close relationship with his father.  I hope to have a close relationship with my kids until the day I die.  I hope, too, that they continue to see me as a source of wisdom, someone they can turn to for advice or just to kick around interesting ideas.  But I also hope that, by the time my kids are 28, I will have done my parenting job sufficiently well that, if they see an older man anally raping a 10 year old child, they will intercede immediately, rather than having to sneak out of the room so that, some hours later, they can ask me for advice.

Sorry, Dan Abrams.  Sorry, Mike McQueary.  Mike’s “youth” is not an excuse.

And just to give you a little perspective:

Dakota Meyer, 21 when he engaged in the conduct that earned him the Medal of Honor:

Rank and Organization: Sergeant, U.S. Marine Corps.

Corporal Meyer maintained security at a patrol rally point while other members of his team moved on foot with two platoons of Afghan National Army and Border Police into the village of Ganjgal for a pre-dawn meeting with village elders. Moving into the village, the patrol was ambushed by more than 50 enemy fighters firing rocket propelled grenades, mortars, and machine guns from houses and fortified positions on the slopes above. Hearing over the radio that four U.S. team members were cut off, Corporal Meyer seized the initiative. With a fellow Marine driving, Corporal Meyer took the exposed gunner’s position in a gun-truck as they drove down the steeply terraced terrain in a daring attempt to disrupt the enemy attack and locate the trapped U.S. team. Disregarding intense enemy fire now concentrated on their lone vehicle, Corporal Meyer killed a number of enemy fighters with the mounted machine guns and his rifle, some at near point blank range, as he and his driver made three solo trips into the ambush area. During the first two trips, he and his driver evacuated two dozen Afghan soldiers, many of whom were wounded. When one machine gun became inoperable, he directed a return to the rally point to switch to another gun-truck for a third trip into the ambush area where his accurate fire directly supported the remaining U.S. personnel and Afghan soldiers fighting their way out of the ambush. Despite a shrapnel wound to his arm, Corporal Meyer made two more trips into the ambush area in a third gun-truck accompanied by four other Afghan vehicles to recover more wounded Afghan soldiers and search for the missing U.S. team members. Still under heavy enemy fire, he dismounted the vehicle on the fifth trip and moved on foot to locate and recover the bodies of his team members. Corporal Meyer’s daring initiative and bold fighting spirit throughout the 6-hour battle significantly disrupted the enemy’s attack and inspired the members of the combined force to fight on. His unwavering courage and steadfast devotion to his U.S. and Afghan comrades in the face of almost certain death reflected great credit upon himself and upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service.

Sal Guinta, 22 when he engaged in the conduct that earned him the Medal of Honor:

Rank and Organization: Staff Sergeant, U.S. Army, Battle Company, 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry,173d Airborne Brigade.

Place and date: Korengal Valley, Afghanistan, 25 October 2007. Entered service at: Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Born: 25 January 1985, Clinton, Iowa. Citation: Specialist Salvatore A. Giunta distinguished himself conspicuously by gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty in action with an armed enemy in the Korengal Valley, Afghanistan, on October 25, 2007. While conducting a patrol as team leader with Company B, 2d Battalion (Airborne), 503d Infantry Regiment, Specialist Giunta and his team were navigating through harsh terrain when they were ambushed by a well-armed and well-coordinated insurgent force. While under heavy enemy fire, Specialist Giunta immediately sprinted towards cover and engaged the enemy. Seeing that his squad leader had fallen and believing that he had been injured, Specialist Giunta exposed himself to withering enemy fire and raced towards his squad leader, helped him to cover, and administered medical aid. While administering first aid, enemy fire struck Specialist Giunta’s body armor and his secondary weapon. Without regard to the ongoing fire, Specialist Giunta engaged the enemy before prepping and throwing grenades, using the explosions for cover in order to conceal his position. Attempting to reach additional wounded fellow soldiers who were separated from the squad, Specialist Giunta and his team encountered a barrage of enemy fire that forced them to the ground. The team continued forward and upon reaching the wounded soldiers, Specialist Giunta realized that another soldier was still separated from the element. Specialist Giunta then advanced forward on his own initiative. As he crested the top of a hill, he observed two insurgents carrying away an American soldier. He immediately engaged the enemy, killing one and wounding the other. Upon reaching the wounded soldier, he began to provide medical aid, as his squad caught up and provided security. Specialist Giunta’s unwavering courage, selflessness, and decisive leadership while under extreme enemy fire were integral to his platoon’s ability to defeat an enemy ambush and recover a fellow American soldier from the enemy. Specialist Salvatore A. Giunta’s extraordinary heroism and selflessness above and beyond the call of duty are in keeping with the highest traditions of military service and reflect great credit upon himself, Company B, 2d Battalion (Airborne), 503d Infantry Regiment, and the United States Army.

Michael Monsoor, 25 when he gave his life in Iraq, earning a posthumous Medal of Honor:

Rank and Organization: Master-At-Arms Second Class (Sea, Air And Land), United States Navy
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as automatic weapons gunner for Naval Special Warfare Task Group Arabian Peninsula, in support of Operation IRAQI FREEDOM on 29 September 2006. As a member of a combined SEAL and Iraqi Army Sniper Overwatch Element, tasked with providing early warning and stand-off protection from a rooftop in an insurgent held sector of Ar Ramadi, Iraq, Petty Officer Monsoor distinguished himself by his exceptional bravery in the face of grave danger. In the early morning, insurgents prepared to execute a coordinated attack by reconnoitering the area around the element’s position. Element snipers thwarted the enemy’s initial attempt by eliminating two insurgents. The enemy continued to assault the element, engaging them with a rocket-propelled grenade and small arms fire. As enemy activity increased, Petty Officer Monsoor took position with his machine gun between two teammates on an outcropping of the roof. While the SEALs vigilantly watched for enemy activity, an insurgent threw a hand grenade from an unseen location, which bounced off Petty Officer Monsoor’s chest and landed in front of him. Although only he could have escaped the blast, Petty Officer Monsoor chose instead to protect his teammates. Instantly and without regard for his own safety, he threw himself onto the grenade to absorb the force of the explosion with his body, saving the lives of his two teammates. By his undaunted courage, fighting spirit, and unwavering devotion to duty in the face of certain death, Petty Officer Monsoor gallantly gave his life for his country, thereby reflecting great credit upon himself and upholding the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.

I could go on, but it will just make me cry, and I assume I’ve made my point:  McQueary’s age is no excuse.

I’ll say here again that I don’t know whether I would have done any better in the same situation than McQueary. I’m perfectly willing to concede that I would have fallen prey to analysis paralysis, disbelief, denial, organizational paranoia, etc. But the fact that I too might have behaved badly does not excuse McQueary, a 28 year old man, from failing to do the right and proper thing, which was to act immediately to protect a small child.

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  • IndyGirl

    I have had the same thought–I would hope that if I were put in that situation, I would do better. I can’t guarantee I would, but I would rather be someone who went overboard (e.g., went after Sandusky with a ball bat) than be the one who froze and did next to nothing. McQueary’s story seems to have changed as the public outrage grows. The testimony released makes no mention of his doing anything to stop it, just that Sandusky and the child saw him when he saw them. To me, that makes his inaction even worse. By walking away, McQueary was effectively telling that child, No adult will help you, you might as well stay quiet about it.

  • Mike Devx

    > I have had the same thought–I would hope that if I were put in that situation, I would do better.

    Book made this same point as well.  We truly *do not* know how we will act until we are in the crucible.

    But McQueary serves as a warning to us all, to examine our motivations and any tendency we might have in our skulls towards rationalizations.  Those rationalizations will freeze us into inactivity, confusion, inaction.   Examining them up front – due to the unhappy example of McQueary – and ensuring our moral compasses are set, may help us if and when we enter the fire.


    Once upon a time when I was 24 or so, I was doing a little after dinner shopping while Mr. Sadie was home putting the boys to bed. It was close to nine in the evening in that store when I heard a small child crying. I recognized the cry – “I am tired and wanna be in bed asleep.”
    I turned to see the father pulling along this little toddler, who couldn’t have been more than year and a half. No one in the store was saying anything and I couldn’t do anything BUT say something. So, I told him, your baby is tired and needs to be in bed in a soft voice. The guy looked at me blankly, as if I was telling him there was a special in aisle three. No reaction, not good enough. In my drill sargeant voice came “PICK HIM UP – HE’S TOO LITTLE TOO TIRED TO BE DRAGGED AROUND A STORE AT NIGHT” – “HE NEEDS TO PICKED UP NOW AND HUGGED. DO IT-I AM WAITING.”
    A clerk behind one of the counters said to me afterwards, “Gee, I wouldn’t have the guts to say anything.” I told that clerk that night – someone had to say something then and there and not witness such indifference to the needs of a child.

  • Earl

    It fills me with rage to hear people making excuses for McQueary – it was a 10-year old KID, for G*d’s sake!
    It chokes me up to see those photos of our heroes and to read what young men are capable of…..
    I hope McQueary does some deep thinking about what kind of man he is….and what he might be, if he made different decisions.
    For me, if he were my son, I’d be so deeply ashamed I simply don’t know how I’d cope.

  • Earl

    Oh Yeah!!
    Sadie:  You’ve got my “Mom of the Month” medal!!  Good on ya’!

  • Oldflyer

    I notice that McQueary is putting some late spin on the story.  He now says that he made sure it stopped before he left–but not by intervening physically.  He also claims to have alerted the police.   The police deny that.
    There are reports that McQueary has struggled with the doubts about his inaction over the years.  I would think he has.
    BTW, the age issue is too lame for words.  Like many, after reading that he was a graduate assistant–which in itself means that he was 22 or so, I was shocked to read 28.  My guess is that the average platoon leader,  the average cop on the street, the average nurse in ER, and countless other people in responsible and high stress  positions  are no older.

  • Mike Devx

    I know: Hindsight is 20-20.  Never judge a man until you’ve walked a mile in his shoes.  You never know for sure what you’ll do in a situation until you’re in it.  And all that.

    But I also know this:  If you can do what McQueary did, and walk away from that shower rape, then you’ve led an unexamined life.  Time to take a closer, harder look at yourself.  If you weren’t raised by your parents to believe in something, then it is time you took responsibility for that yourself, and start figuring out what you do believe in, and what you will act on.


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  • Ymarsakar

    I think to the Left and the media cranks in the air waves, you aren’t an adult until you’re dead. Welfare isn’t cradle to grave for lack of a reason. A 28 year old is a child in the LEft’s eyes, one to be taken care of, not someone that should Cowboy it up like Bush or a Texan.

  • Ymarsakar

    Don’t make unilateral decisions! Wasn’t that the great and loud refrain from the Left we heard for the last semi decade?

     Well, Mc here went to his father to “consult” and did as the Left advised. No unilateral decisions there!

    But that’s a propaganda point only competent people would point out in this internal division here at America.