I distinctly remember the first time I helped make the decision to fire someone. We'd done a poor job with the interviewing process, a couple of people we'd liked had dropped out, we badly needed help, and we talked ourselves into the idea that we could make this person work.
We couldn't. Within two weeks it was clear we'd made a terrible decision, and we were way too small to carry any deadweight. So we fired him.
Working a few different jobs before this one, I'd often thought people should be fired. Lots of people probably should be. But this was the first time it became real, when it wasn't just some equation in my head (value added - cost of employment < 0) but a real moment with some dude who just found out people thought he sucked so badly that there was no real hope of things working out.
If there was anything good about the situation, it was that he'd just graduated from college, hadn't left another job to take ours, and back then young people without experience could actually get hired for things. Add in the severance package and he was better off than when he came to us.
These are not the kinds of advantages likely to be shared by most of the people involved in the Penn State football program. They have kids and spouses. Maybe narrow, specialized skills. They live in the middle of nowhere. And the economy still sucks.
So when you sit comfortably at your computer, basking in your righteous indignation and prattling on about "sending a message," ask yourself how many more innocent victims you want to add to this story.
Here are some names and faces to get you started.