Monday, February 02, 2009

Michael Phelps Smoking Pot

If you haven't heard or seen the picture(s) yet, Michael Phelps was photographed back in November taking bong hits.

I agree with Hugh Hewitt on this one--to his credit, Phelps owned up to it immediately and apologized to his fans, his sponsors, and anyone else interested in his apology. That's not only classy, it's smart--no lying, and tomorrow it won't be a story anymore.

Some of my students discussed it in class today, and I was impressed with one comment in particular. When one student lamented that Phelps is a "hero" and shouldn't have done what he did, the writer of this blog replied that "he's not a hero"; they agreed he's a "champion"--kinda hard to disagree with that!--but he's not a hero.

When some students suggested that they should use the "Phelps excuse" to smoke pot, I jokingly suggested that when they earn 8 gold medals in one Olympics, then they could consider it.

I've said it before and I'll say it again--I don't smoke and have no desire to, but I don't see pot as any worse than alcohol. I'd support its legalization. I do not, however, support violating the current law.


mazenko said...

I'm with you on the students attempting to link their usage to Phelps. I use the same logic when students say, "Bill Gates never graduated from college." I say, "Bill Gates dropped out of Harvard. Once you can get in and start your own successful corporation, you can put yourself in his league."

I'm not in agreement with legalization, but there is much to be said for decriminalization. That should go with an increased effort at treatment options for substance abuse.

Darren said...

Why just decriminalize? Let's go whole hog, including taxing it. Let's allow Philip Morris--or perhaps some new company--to make beaucoup dinero off of this stuff.

Lots of tax money there to pay for all your socialism!

Dustin Scott said...

Let's look at Amsterdam for a monent.

Lots of the marijuana users there are tourists. I don't have the numbers, but I'm confident in saying that the locals are not the ones consuming all, or even most, of the marijuana there.

Legalization of someting takes the "badness" out of it, and therefore, the popularity of the "something" (for lack of a better term) declines. On the other hand, outlawing something makes many people do the "something" a lot more.

I read somewhere that "the best way to popularize something is to ban it" (paraphrased).

Legalize marijuana, and I bet usage plummets.

Example: Prohibition. It outlawed alcohol, yet useage of liquor skyrocketed. When alcohol was legalized again, its use went back down again.

P.S, thank you for the link Mr. Miller.

Darren said...

I do what I can.

Coach Brown said...

Sorry, but my town is the nice social experiment of legalizing marijuana, and it has done nothing but increase crime, decrease the benefit of education, and attract questionable populations.

And taxing it would be useless with all the illegal grows out there. It's basically legal now, yet illegal grows still devastate the environment and cause running gun battles with cops.

Nope. Can't get me on the legalization bandwagon.

Anonymous said...

Stupid move for Phelps. I hope he loses his sponsorships and has his medals revoked, though I doubt that can happen.

Donalbain said...

It would be nice if Phelps had stood up and said "Look, I broke the law, that is wrong. But then, look at this. I am considered by some to be the greatest Olympian who ever lived*, and I like pot. Maybe it is not the evil we are told it is. It is time for a sensible, mature discussion about the issue."

*Note: Donalbain does not consider the idea of "greatest Olympian" to have any meaning, since comparisons across sports is silly. Especially with regard to swimmers, who have more events to compete in than anyone else.

Steve USMA '85 said...

Phelps is a legend here in Maryland where he grew up. I even watched him swim as a Stroke & Turn official. Never had to DQ him. :^)
Anyway, he has done this before. He was busted for DWI a few years back and he used almost the same verbiage in his apologies. OK, different offense but after alcohol, he said he would never do that again. So do we give him a free pass on each type of offense a youthful person sometimes commits?
Busted for illegal gambling - Sorry, I'll never do it again.
Busted for illegal firearm possession - Sorry, I'll never do it again.
Where is the line drawn? OK, I'm not advocating he be stripped of all sponsorships and thrown into the hall of shame for eternity. However, I can't say I'd blame a sponsor if they drop him.
I hope he truly learns this time. The eyes of the world are upon him at all times. Sucks to not have privacy. On the other hand, I parked my 12-year old Honda Civic next to his tricked-out Cadillac Escolade at a meet at the Naval Academy. I was 40 driving a car worth $2000. He was 17 driving a $50,000 car. So it doesn't totally suck to not have privacy.

As to Marijuana - the stuff is nasty. I agree with Coach Brown, health risks and damage to the community far outweigh any argument for legalization in my book.

mazenko said...

I'm with Coach Brown on this. The basic idea is we already have one dangerous drug (alcohol) legal - two if you consider tobacco, though it doesn't impact behavior. There is no reason to add to the list.

There is no evidence of the "forbidden fruit" motive. Thus, legalizing will not lower usage - if anything, it increases because the law/punishment is a reliable motivator for the average person. However, there is much evidence of the harmful nature. More children (under 18) are in rehab for marijuana addiction than all other drugs combined.

Comparing it to alcohol is a fallacy because many people drink alcohol for reasons other than intoxication. Most adult drinkers imbibe 1-3 drinks a week. I like the taste of a glass of cabernet. However, no one smokes marijuana for any reason other than to get high. No one simply likes the taste of the smoke.

There are a myriad of detrimental effects of marijuana. Now, I am not arguing for social engineering and legislating lifestyle - hence my support for decriminalizing. But since it's already illegal, I don't support legalizing. I don't want to profit from any more vice than we already have. It's basic cost benefit analysis. The drug war is foolishly costly, but legalization would be equally detrimental in other ways.

Donalbain said...

There are a number of detrimental effects of smoking tobacco. And yet we allow that. And the only reason people smoke tobacco is for the nicotine fix.

Personally, I am in favour of personal liberty in this matter. If someone wants to mess up their own lungs, then let them. The law steps in when they harm or threaten harm to others.

Ellen K said...

I am sure some folks will use this softpedaled accusation to try to legalize pot. As if cell phones and beer aren't causing enough havoc on our roads. On the other hand, Phelps has reached that rarefied level of celebrity/athlete which some folks believe should exonerate them from the laws of the normal world. I am sorry he was such a naive idiot. I am sorry he's losing some overcompensated support. But he's 23, an adult and he knows the law. If it were my kid, they would probably be in jail.

Anonymous said...

We have laws against drink driving. That is not a reason to ban alcohol.

coffee said...

the sad thing about the Phelps "pot scandal" is, that British tabloid could care less about whether or not it's wrong that Phelps smoked pot (a year ago)... they're just shooting for ratings, and unfortunately it worked

Donalbain said...

I would love to hear an argument for keeping marijuana illegal that fits the following criteria:

1) It is not about keeping people safe from themselves, because that would mean we ban smoking

2) It is not based on the fact that it is already illegal, because that would mean will still ban women from voting

gbradley said...

It's really a waste of time.
I hope that we have fewer Stoners in the future not more.
Decriminalization and Legalization are both bad ideas.
(although they probably sound great 10 minutes after sharing a joint with someone)
Society should discourage it's use by whatever means is appropriate.

I hope that this indiscretion costs Michael Phelps big time $$.
He is no longer a Role model in my book.

Anonymous said...

Legalize marijuana and expect immediate and positive results (criminally/culturally) in our society!
And shame on Kellogg's for pulling their endorsements.
Don't they realize that most of the folks who use pot are loyal consumers of Kellogg's products, i.e., cornflakes?
Nothing else can match this as a healthy choice for the Munchies!