Saturday, February 07, 2009

The Michael Phelps' Bong Hits

“Does embattled Michael Phelps Deserve a break for his indiscretions?” is the headline of an article on the Op-ed page of the Tennessean. That is also the type of question being asked on talk shows and by pundits across America. I think it is the wrong question. The question we should be asking is, “Isn’t it time to end the hypocrisy of pot prohibition?”

Olympic Swimmer Phelps got caught smoking dope. Some pundits are saying it is a teachable moment to explain to your kids that all people are flawed. Others are saying he is young and deserves a break for doing something stupid.

Was it stupid for Michael Phelps to smoke dope? Was it a forgivable indiscretion? What is the lesson? He was stupid. He was not stupid because there is anything inherently wrong with smoking a little dope but he was stupid because he risked million of dollars in earnings from product endorsements. He was stupid because he thought he was partying with friends. He was stupid because he failed to realize that he is a celebrity and cannot do what normal people do.

The lesson is that you should not get caught. The lesson is that if you do get caught you have to act like you did something wrong and ask for forgiveness.

I know the response of many to this argument is that marijuana is illegal and he should respect the law. Actually, I think a little disrespect of the law can be healthy thing. Many otherwise respectable people drank booze during prohibition. If everyone had respected the law we would still have prohibition. When the national speed limit was 55, many of us continued to drive 70. Many of the sex practices that people routinely engage in were once illegal in many of the states. It was once illegal for two unmarried people to have sex. Oral sex was illegal. Sex between people of different races was illegal. Should we have all respected the law? Sometimes the law is not worthy of respect because it is a stupid law. If everyone obeys the law it doesn’t get changed.

After getting caught Phelps had this to say: “I engaged in behaviour which was regrettable and demonstrated bad judgment. I’m 23 years old and despite the successes I’ve had in the pool, I acted in a youthful and inappropriate way, not in a manner people have come to expect from me. For this, I am sorry. I promise my fans and the public it will not happen again.”

It is unfortunate but this is the kind of groveling, hypocritical, self-serving statement one has to make if they get caught. I wish he would have said this: “I smoked a little dope at a party and don’t regret it. I regret getting caught. I regret that an activity which is relatively harmless is illegal. I am a successful athlete and enjoy a little pot from time to time. I hope that this incidents helps to dispel the myth that dope smoking is only for losers and slackers. I regret that society considers this incident newsworthy or inappropriate.”

Like Michael Phelps, William F. Buckley, Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, Sarah Palin and tens of millions of other Americans, I have "tried" marijuana. Unlike Buckley I tried it more than once. Unlike Bill Clinton, I did inhale. Unlike Sarah Palin, I did enjoy it. It is OK to admit that you did it at some point in the past, just don’t admit or get caught doing it in the present. I suspect that a lot of people who hold important jobs and are accomplished and responsible routinely smoke a little dope. But, they cannot say, "yeah, I like to get stoned every once in a while." They may say that in their youth they "tried" the drug, but they do not admit to currently using it. Such bullshit! Such hypocrisy.

Marijuana is a harmless drug. It is absolutely ridiculous that society continues to ruin lives and waste millions of dollars arresting and jailing people for engaging in such a harmless activity. If we had more marijuana and less alcohol the world would be a better place. Maybe, if marijuana was legal, more people would choose to get high rather than drunk. The worst thing you can say about marijuana is that it makes people have a stupid grin on their face and think that Oreo cookies are the best thing they ever tasted. People stoned on marijuana are not prone to domestic violence or barroom brawls. Stoned people find life amusing and, by and large, are easygoing and peaceful. Marijuana may be a net plus for society.

Millions of Americans routinely engage in the harmless activity of smoking pot but yet have to lie about it. Making millions of people be liars and hypocrites is the least of the things wrong with our drug policy. People really do get a police record or go to jail or lose their jobs or their scholarship or lose child visitation rights because of using marijuana.

Isn’t it time to end the hypocrisy of pot prohibition?

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1 comment:

  1. Wow, as a registered Democrat I came to your blog looking for a fight but now I find myself agreeing with you!

    The biggest problem I have with the goverment's marijuana policy is how inconsistent it is with reality. According to their propaganda the Netherlands should be a third world country, our current president should be a bum on his couch and of course Michael Phelps should be completely unmotivated to even consider swimming. On top of that, it is plant!