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Thursday, Aug. 25, 2016

If you thought the Phelps thing was bad...

Posted Friday, February 6, 2009, at 12:22 AM

Besides the Super Bowl, some of the biggest buzz in the last week has surrounded Michael Phelps and the photo that has come to light of him smoking marijuana at a house party in South Carolina.

It has touched off a debate in America with two distinct sides. It's either, "It's just pot. What's the big deal?" or "I don't care what it was. This guy is a role model with millions and millions in endorsements. He should be held to a higher standard."

I tend to come down somewhere in the middle. I will say that, yes, there are much worse things he could have done. (A DUI, maybe? ... Too soon?) He isn't linked to any performance enhancing drugs. What we have here is a young adult who got caught doing something stupid and illegal. I'd say many of us did our own stupid and illegal things at 23 years old.

But how many of us were America's golden boy at 23 years old? I was a recent college grad slaving away at a part time job loading trailers for UPS at that age. My face certainly wasn't on a Wheaties box.

So, yes, Phelps should be held to a higher standard. Don't we all remember the DUI about four years ago? Didn't Phelps say how sorry he was and how this sort of thing wouldn't happen again? I believed him then, and I want to believe him now. But it's much harder at this point.

I guess my lowest common denominator hope for Phelps is that he will at least choose to do irresponsible things like casual drug use in the privacy of his own home from now on. But I'd be much happier if he'd kick the pot all together.

The thing is, though, the Phelps scandal isn't even that big of a deal when you consider what's going on in Japan. According to an AP story you can read here, in the last six months, four wrestlers have been kicked out of sumo wrestling for smoking marijuana.

And you're thinking, "So what? I know plenty of fat guys who smoke pot. They kind of go hand in hand." Not so fast, though. It's a bigger deal than any sport we can imagine in our culture.

Sumo is an ancient sport whose meaning is as much about the ritual as it is about the actual contest. The tradition is wrapped up in Japan's national identity as well as the Shinto religion. The ring for competition is even considered sacred ground.

The competitors live in so-called "sumo training stables" or heya where they train, study and live very regimented lives under "masters" who lead them in ancient traditions.

So, when a sumo wrestler is busted for drugs, it's sort of like a Jesuit Monk, a U.S. soldier and an All-Pro quarterback all in one getting busted.

With that thought in mind, at least we can look at Mr. Phelps and not feel like our entire way of life has been shamed.

Showing comments in chronological order
[Show most recent comments first]

I have never done an illegal substance in my life. Michael Phelps was my hero. And guess what? He still is. I have commented on numerous sites in regards to my support of him. It's just pot. I mean, really. He isn't trading girls to the Asian slave markets or robbing America of millions of dollars with requests for money and then having elaborate parties. He isn't a terrorist. He's just a guy at a college party that--oh, no!--got out of hand. There are more important things to worry about than someone smoking weed at a party, people.

-- Posted by caaricha on Fri, Feb 6, 2009, at 5:49 PM

Some people drink alcohol, and some people are smarter then that.

-- Posted by reeltime on Sat, Feb 7, 2009, at 5:11 AM

Michael Phelps has trained and trained hard for over a decade of his life. PEOPLE get over yourselves he is 23 freaking years old, let him blow off some steam, take his OWN words for these indiscretions that they will never happen again. He in my mind still should be an American hero because he is NOT like these baseball players that have denied things until their faces turned blue. HE OWNED UP TO EVERYTHING.

-- Posted by jaredscousin on Sat, Feb 7, 2009, at 1:14 PM

Why so cynical? OH, I see why your nickname suggests you are a bleeding heart luberal? Obama is the ruin of us all.

-- Posted by jaredscousin on Sun, Feb 8, 2009, at 9:33 AM

Phelps only owned up to it days after the picture surfaced in Great Britain. If he wanted to smoke a little weed, he should have done so at home by himself with no one else around. Not at a party where you know someone with a cell phone camer is all too happy to snap a picture. Saying you're sorry and meaning it is one thing. Saying you're sorry because it's expected of you to clear the air is another thing altogether. The latter is what Phelps has appeared to have done.

-- Posted by purple_heat on Sun, Feb 8, 2009, at 7:19 PM

"Conservatives keep spending low (hence the name you donkey) and government small. So to call someone with the name "smaller_gov_now" a "luberal" makes you look like a complete fool."

Really? The largest increase in Government spending and size was presided over by none other than George W. Bush. First runner-up was Ronald Reagan.

But that is really beside the point. If you think about the amount of money spent criminalizing, interdicting, proscecuting, and punishing drug offenders to very little effect, you might come to realize that legalizing and taxing higher quality drugs might be a possible solution. Right now, peoples' lives are ruined by the illegality of drugs more so than the effect of them. By legalizing drugs, in the end, those who would destroy themselves by using drugs would fail to reproduce, with the same results as we are trying to achieve now but much cheaper and with much less violence and despair in the long run. Our problems in Mexico and Afghanistan would disappear practically overnight. Our law enforcement community could concentrate on other, more critical crimes. Drug gangs and their associated violence would be a thing of the past. Worried about your kids? Well, now you'd have to be a responsible parent with the capability of leading your children to responsible decisions, rather than relying upon the Government to do your work for you with fear.

Mankind has been altering their mood since before recorded history, and will continue to do so despite whatever laws society chooses to impose upon them. Look at the results of prohibition; it created so much violent crime that the States ratified the 21st Ammendment.

-- Posted by chazm_vet on Mon, Mar 9, 2009, at 8:21 AM

I would ask the vet....who around here stated Bush was a conservative? If folks would have watched what he did and they made an assessment of his party affiliation they would probably guess Blue Dog Dem. And the only thing that kept him off the roles as a full blown social liberal is the domestic work done on terror. His stance on terror and the fact that there have been no attacks here since 2001 is about all the conservative cred he retains.

And I, for one, would like to see some of your numbers sourced.

You make an awful lot of claims with zero evidence to bolster your contentions.

-- Posted by Catie's Dad on Wed, Mar 11, 2009, at 8:30 AM

I used the Government Accounting Office. Actually, in terms of percentage of National GDP, Truman was the biggest spender in the 20th century (the largest amount spent as a percentage of GDP of all time will probably always be the Civil War) as a result of WWII operations. However, in terms of inflation-adjusted dollars, Bush 2 and Reagan were the top dogs when it came to spending. And what, you ask, did they spend the most on? Bush spent it on domestic security, Iraq operations and Government re-organization. Reagan spent it on defense, primarily new weapons development. Remember Star Wars? It's still not deployed. However, he managed to bankrupt the Soviets using his vision of the concept alone.

The concept of 'conservative' vs. 'liberal' seems to come up frequently with regard to 'Republican' vs. 'Democrat.' I find it interesting that the Goverment actually decreased in size and spending under Clinton (same source), yet he is reviled by the 'conservative' electorate as a 'tax and spend' liberal.

Spending 10s of Billions per year on interdiction, enforcement, prosecution and incarceration of individuals on the wrong side of archaic, draconian drug laws seems somewhat 'luberal' to me. Reagan initiated the 'War on Drugs.' It isn't working very well, in case you haven't noticed. Some jerk broke into my house in October to find fenceable items for his meth habit. If it was legal, he could just go to the pharmacy and pay for cheap, high quality meth with his wages from whatever minimum wage job he works at, rather than risk having his sorry self blown away. He would eventually either die of his addiction or learn that drugs are bad, crime would fall, and our tax base would be added to.

-- Posted by chazm_vet on Fri, Mar 13, 2009, at 1:29 PM

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Jared Jernagan
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Jared Jernagan is a 2003 graduate of Wabash College and has been in journalism since 2005.
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