Thoughts on politics and life from a liberal perspective

Saturday, 7 February 2009

Michael Phelps is being made a Scapegoat

The recent news that Michael Phelps has lost some of his sponsorship, some funding and has had a 3 month ban imposed on him by his sporting body has got me angry.

Apparently he was photographed at a party inhaling what looked like cannabis smoke through a bong. There have been claims that he is "setting a bad example" and as a role model it is "appalling" that he should do something like this.

I would like to make the following points:

1) Michael Phelps is an absolute phenomenon. He won 8 gold medals in the 2008 Olympics which is a new record in itself. He has not however asked for this talent he has been blessed with - he is simply doing his best to maximise this potential and doing a fantastic job.
2) If he did take cannabis in the way it seems at a party, then all he is doing is what millions upon millions of young people across the western world do every year. Far from this being an extreme, unusual thing for a 23 year old man to do, it is absolutely normal. Why should he be held up to a higher standard than most other 23 year old men just because he is hugely talented at what he does?
3) If he had have been photographed drinking a "yard of ale" or doing shots of tequila, would there have been such an outcry? Of course not because alcohol is accepted and tolerated in western culture, even though it kills and damages (both mentally and physically) far more people than cannabis.
4) Cannabis is not a performance enhancing drug so what business have USA Swimming got in punishing Michael Phelps for doing something in his spare time?

Michael Phelps is being made a scapegoat because he is in the public eye. He has apologised for his actions and I suspect he will not do it again, not because he has done anything immoral or evil, but simply because of the treatment he has had.

The hypocrisy of this sort of thing makes me sick. The very people imposing the ban and hauling him over the coals will be sitting down to have a nice bottle of wine or a few glasses of whisky at some point over the next few days and will not see at all that there is any equivalence between what they are doing (taking a mind altering drug that is normal for middle class middle aged people) and what Phelps did (taking a mind altering drug that is normal for college aged young men).


Oranjepan said...

Ecstasy "not worse than riding".

Care to comment?

Mark Thompson said...

I was just doing it!

See here.

Anonymous said...

Michael Phelps is an American Hero. He stood tall and made America proud at the Beijing Olympics. This is how America treats its heroes, we forget all of the hard work Michael Phelps did to achieve his task, we forget the pride we felt with the each gold medal, we forget how Phelps helped America to be competitive against a Chinese when they planned on winning all of the gold’s, we forget all of those things and hang a man for smoking a glass pipe at a college party. It is time that we as a country stand up for the rights of the individual, it’s time we stand together with our neighbors and take collective control of our destinies. Write a congressman or a senator any of them; Imagine the weight of millions of emails calling for a change in policy. In this moment in America anything is possible just Google the email address of your representative and send him or her a short email. It will take 10 minutes but then you have taken responsibility for change. A senator considers each email as representative of 2 thousand voters.