Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Ahhhhhhhhh, Vice!

by Dick Mac

I am a fan of vice, even though I strive to avoid it.

Today I discuss two of my faves: gambling and injectable drugs.

When I compare the two, I immediately think that the former is safer than the latter. I know of no gambler who has contracted hepatitis or HIV from a deck of cards, a pair of dice, the single-arm of a bandit, a cock fight, horse race, or bingo marker. I do know gamblers who have destroyed their lives, lost everything, alienated their children, lost their jobs and ended-up in bankruptcy court. These people are called addicts, and rightfully so: they can't stop, they are addicted. Still, the insidiousness of their problem is in its relative physical safety.

The latter, injectable drugs, are sort of in their own special category of vices. Technically, injecting drugs is in the same category as drinking alcohol, smoking pot, tripping on acid, and chewing Prozac. We all know, however, that injecting drugs is really different than smoking a bone. There is nothing insidious about addiction to injectable drugs: it is dangerous on every level.

When I consider parenting, I worry about the pitfalls my child will face: peer pressure, stress, spiritual and financial struggles, and I wonder how vice will play a role in her coping with life.

I hope my child stays away from cigarettes, and booze/drugs, overeating, gambling, and the many other vices at her disposal; and, I pray that she chooses against injectable drugs.

There is something viscerally disquieting about injectable drugs, the people who use them, and the people who traffic in them.

I've never heard anyone say, "He sells a little [junk] on the side, but he's generally a good guy." Although, you might hear someone say: "you know, he drinks heavily, but he's a good provider."

There is just something about the use of injectable drugs that seems to cross a line for almost everybody. It's a moral issue. It seems too extreme. It's scary and dangerous and people don't really like to think about it or talk about it. It happens to other people, in other places, in other times.

Gambling is a socially acceptable activity, unlike shooting drugs. There are palaces around the world (actually, buildings grander than palaces) open specifically for gambling. Free booze and free food and free lodging are available to anyone who wants to indulge. The deeper you indulge, the more free stuff you get. (Again, I point to the insidiousness of gambling.)

Shooting drugs might be the least socially acceptable activity, outside of rape and murder. There is no place in the world (even your friends' homes) where you are welcome to hang-around and shoot a little dope. Chat with the guys, enjoy a free tourniquet, and some clean hot water, maybe a clean toilet to puke into. It just doesn't work that way.

People who shoot drugs are really outsiders, and gamblers are really just regular joes like you and me who are coming over to the house on Saturday to play a little penny-ante poker.

Gamblers who are compulsive are known to steal, lie, cheat, defraud, even kill for their addiction. Drug users who inject drugs enjoy the same characteristics. Both the compulsive gambler and the injectable drug user are sociopaths, on some level; and your family is better-off if neither is at the dinner table.

Why do we treat them so differently? Why is one such an outcast and the other just a nuisance?

Come now, Major League Baseball, who at one time banned Willie Mays and Mickey Mantle (both retired) from the game because they endorsed a casino in Atlantic City, and currently ban Pete Rose from the game because he gambled on games (not his own games) while a manager. Major League Baseball has taken a stand that many families might want to consider: either you give-up the questionable behavior or you're out.

With the ban of Pete Rose, MLB has shown the courage of its convictions. These are the rules and you broke them and you're out! Period. End of story. No negotiations. You are banned for life. Arguably, the greatest pure hitter in the history of the game, Rose is now an outsider, shunned by the industry (family?) he helped build, to whom he gave his life.

The courage of its conviction is something that MLB should be proud of, because it shows a moral fiber I don't expect to see in a corporate entity.

Most corporate entities (recognized as 'people' as defined by the 14th Amendment) are generally morally bankrupt. They are sociopathic (maybe even psychopathic) in their drive to succeed and crush all around them. The moral fiber of corporate entities is questionable, at best.

So how has MLB managed to maintain such a strong moral presence?

Oh, wait . . .

There is no punishment of injecting drugs and cheating.


That's right!

You can inject (or can have injected) drugs that gave you a competitive advantage, you can cheat, and there is no punishment.

Alex Rodriguez, Roger Clemens, Andy Pettite, and hundreds of other baseball players cheated for years, got caught, and all enjoy a secure place, snuggled around the fireplace in the hallowed halls of Major League Baseball.

Pete Rose is out, because he bet the over-under on a Twins v Indians game in 1987; and Alex Rodriguez is in, even though he injected drugs for years while playing the game.

Major League Baseball has some pretty skewed priorities and really odd values.

This is not a morally upstanding organization, this is a psychopathic entity ignorant of its own flaws and racing to the finish line of profits with absolutely no consideration for their moral impact on society.

Allowing Rodriguez, Pettite, and any other player who shoots drugs to remain in the game sends a message to America's youth that shooting drugs is OK, that cheating is OK, and there are no consequences for moral bankruptcy.

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