James Leroy Wilson's blog

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

In Praise of Mark McGwire

What individuals do with or to their own bodies is nobody's business but their own. Well, that's not quite true; it could be the "business" of one's family, friends, and business associates, but even then the responsibility lies with the individual. If an individual consumes trans fats, smokes tobacco or marijuana, or takes cocaine, meth, or steroids, that does not constitute an act of aggression against others. Therefore, it's not the government's business.

Up until recently, we had a backward situation. Steroids were banned by the government, but not by major league baseball. Maybe steroids shouldn't even be banned in baseball, though there is a strong argument in favor of it. If steroids were legal, players would feel greater pressure to use them for the short-term gain, to keep their millions-a-year jobs. I could see why a league would want to discourage such health risks and classify the users as cheaters.

Drug policies for performance-enhancing drugs in team sports could provide stronger disincentives than they do now. Imagine if just one person on the World Series championship team used steroids - the championship would have to be forfeited. If teams were forced to forfeit games that they won with a steroid user, that would serve as a bigger scare to the steroid user than the threat of being suspended for future games.

In any case, if Mark McGwire used steroids during his record-setting career, there was no rule in baseball saying he couldn't. He "cheated" in the sense of breaking the State's laws, which other baseball players would have reasonably been reluctant to do. With the performance-enhancing drugs, he could out-perform law-abiding and players and place them at a disadvantage.

In any case, there should not have been any federal steroid laws to begin with. Congress should repeal the laws they have, not add more and force private organizations to follow a common policy.

That's why I admire Mark McGwire for his words to a Congressional committee investigating steroid use in baseball 22 months ago. That Congress was wasting time and money on hearings for something so trivial, and so outside the constraints placed on Congress by the Constitution, was outrageous. Just by showing up at the hearing, a member of Congress would have violated his oath of office. Their lust for power is far more unethical than anything an athlete could ever do in a game.

So even though I'm not sure why he showed up at all, I admire Mark McGwire for what he told Congress. From CBS News:
His voice choked with emotion, his eyes nearly filled with tears, time after time he refused to answer the question everyone wanted to know: Did he take illegal steroids when he hit a then-record 70 home runs in 1998 — or at any other time?

Asked by Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., whether he was asserting his Fifth Amendment right not to incriminate himself, McGwire said: "I'm not here to talk about the past. I'm here to be positive about this subject."

Asked whether use of steroids was cheating, McGwire said: "That's not for me to determine."

To a couple of other questions, all he would say is: "I'm retired."

And here's a quote provided by CNN that says it all about the harassment Congressional thugs are capable of:
Asking me or any other player to answer questions about who took steroids in front of television cameras will not solve the problem. If a player answers no, he simply will not be believed. If he answers yes, he risks public scorn and endless government investigations. My lawyers have advised me that I cannot answer these questions without jeopardizing my friends, my family, and myself.

Ain't that the truth! The consensus opinion was that McGwire disgraced himself in front of Congress. Sounds to me that he kept his dignity intact in a kangaroo hearing that should never have taken place.

1 comment:

  1. Absolutely agree with you - applying a law after the fact is just not a way to establish consistency within 'law abiding' citizens. But law is not really law - it's creative social engineering for economic profit. Whether the value of my McGwire rookie card goes up or down is not significant, but my appreciation for going and telling congress that they have no right to parade one class of mega-millionaires in front of another for finger-wagging on public display. BTW, are beseball writers so full of themselves that when they comment on social issues, they don't read the sh*t before they put it howdt there. Mebbe they should stick to baseball.