Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Moral Outrage

I have been thinking lately about the complete lack of moral outrage in the culture anymore. I am not just talking about the lack of moral outrage for millions of children aborted in this country, but the lack of moral outrage for law-breaking and murder in general.
Let me explain, how this post came about. I admit up front that I am a huge wrestling fan. However, this post is not about wrestling, just keep reading. Recently the best wrestler in the business today, Chris Benoit, apparently murdered his family before committing suicide. Now people are always shocked by things like this, but what irked me is the underlying drug culture this exposes. There is absolutely no moral outrage for drugs in this culture even when they end up killing people. Take a look at the article and see the chairman of the WWE, Vince McMahon, denied that steroids and the large amount of prescription drug use may have contributed to this abomination. Why would a company deny that steroids are bad and can cause ‘roid rages’? McMahon also sanctimoniously proclaimed that Benoit’s name would never be uttered again on WWE shows. Now, I agree Benoit is a killer, and that is disgusting. However, I think Vince McMahon is partly to blame as he obviously encourages the use of pain killers and steroids. Just take a look at the evidence. Sports Illustrated has uncovered wide spread drug use by wrestlers, including Eddie Guerro who died from them. Take a look at this list of wrestlers who died from drug related problems. Now remember that these are only the big name wrestlers who died. The list does not include those busted for drug use like Scott Hall, Lex Luger, and Chris Masters to name a few. The list does not include those who are relative unknowns trying to make it in the business and die as well. If that were not enough evidence of an endemic drug culture remember that court documents prove McMahon distributed steroids to his wrestlers in the past. Yet, do we see moral outrage in the covering of this death? Are there questions about steroids everywhere? No. Somehow, the business of steroids in our athletes goes away again.
Now, I think this goes far beyond just wrestling. Baseball is about the only sport where people are actually angry about steroid use. And even then it took the Sports Writers years to break the story. Plus, it turns out that amphetamines are chewed like M&Ms in baseball locker rooms, but not one Sports Writer ever thought this would make a good story? Baseball MVP Ken Caminitti died from drugs after admitting to using steroids. Yet, the writers stayed silent and the union members stayed silent. Where was the moral outrage? Don’t even get me started on the the world of professional boxing. The National Football League is even worse. Now, Chris Collinsworth was my favorite player growing up and he is my favorite announcer today. But this article shows just how stupid sports writers are when it comes to this stuff. Collinsworth touts how tough the NFL steroid policy is because you get suspended 4 games (roughly 25% of the year) for taking steroids. A second offense equals 6 games (37% of the year). A third nets one whole year. Wow. Tough stuff. Except of course a person can miss 4 games because of taking illegal steroids and still be considered the best defensive player in football, make the pro-bowl and be eligible for all the post season award, which is where the bonus money kicks in for many player contracts. Why is missing 25% of one season considered tough by writers? The football teams do not forfit the games they won why their top player was cheating with drugs. Why is not, ‘you get caught with steroids one time, and you are out for at least a year.’ Is a four game suspension tantamount to being against drugs, or is it really an enticement to take drugs? Collinsworth thinks that a four game suspension compares favorably to the Olympic Track and Field. While I have no doubt that Olympic standards are not up to date enough to discover who is taking drugs, the policy for Track and Field is a multi-year suspension for one offense, and a life time ban for the second. Plus, Track and Field has mandatory testing at every race compared to the 10% chance of the random test in the NFL. Now, who has the tougher policy? Collinsworth does not show us moral outrage, but rather a covering for his sport that pays his salary.
Leaving the world of sports for a minute, think about Hollywood. I remember great moral outrage at Mel Gibson for making racially unacceptable comments, but does anyone even remember what he was doing when he made those comments? Yes, that is right, driving and speeding while intoxicated. Think how many people check into drug rehab in Hollywood a year. Brittany Spears and Lindsay Lohan have been multiple times in this calendar year. The media covers it as a funny story, but these are people’s lives. The people our culture holds up and celebrates are almost all on drugs and we wink and look the other way. Marilyn Monroe and Elvis Presley died from drug use, so it is nothing new. I honestly believe one reason that Scientology is so big in Hollywood is its stance against drugs. Most of these movie stars need help, and that particular cult offers them some.

In summary, I think Christ Benoit is responsible for his sinful actions. I also think the employer who provides deadly mind altering drugs share creating an environment of drug use deserve some blame. So too do the people who stayed silent for so long about the drug use rampant in our nations sports. Finally, the culture at large that puts drug use right up there with loitering on the scale of bad things to do also deserves blame.