The nation is still in mourning as we have found out that our national hero, 14-time gold medal winner Michael Phelps, is nothing but a common junkie. Photo evidence was found of Phelps filling his massive lungs with one Dave Matthews Band concert’s worth of marijuana smoke in one toke — probably while children were watching and taking note. As we shake our heads and mutter “Kids these days” and “But Obama said things would be different now!” maybe it’s time to revisit exactly what we expect from our Olympic athletes and whether we should even be getting all prudish about this in the first place.
Let’s be clear: Pretty much all the athletes at the Olympics were completely high. Half of them probably didn’t even fully understand where they were or what they were doing. If you’re wondering why none of the Olympic officials have noticed, it’s because they’re all coked out of their minds (how high were they when they added speed walking as an Olympic event?). The thing is, we expect our athletes to be role models. Kids look up to them, hoping they can swim fast and run fast and excel at all those other activities that are pretty much pointless in modern society where we have easy access to boats and cars. And as role models, we trust our Olympic athletes to do all their drugging and their boozing and their weird sex stuff and whatever behind closed doors. That’s a trust Phelps broke. And we’re not just talking about children being let down by his behavior, but also sponsors who have much more money and are much more important than stupid little kids who probably don’t even know how to find a drug dealer.
Many people are making excuses for Phelps. “He’s won so many gold medals,” they say. “If he wants to party a little, take a toke from a bong, or run over blind people, that’s not for us gold medal-less losers to question.” Others point out the rough childhood Phelps had from being the illegitimate son of Aquaman and lacking the support of his clearly disinterested mother. I tend to dismiss these points — not because I have a response but just because I’m generally dismissive of others — but what is worth contemplating is whether we should even consider if what he did was wrong.
Marijuana is the least harmful of the mind-altering illicit substances. If drugs are comparable to shooting yourself in the head with a gun, then marijuana is just a BB gun — barely even able to crack the skull. Also, everyone has tried marijuana. Everyone. I mean, I never have, but that’s just because I was never cool enough. Also, back in the day (the 1990s) I spent a lot of time in arcades, and the video games there were all quite clear on the fact that “Winners Don’t Use Drugs.” (They were talking about winners at video games and not Olympic winners, of course, or otherwise that would be false advertising). But everyone not as skilled at video games as I am has tried marijuana, so why do we act like it’s still a big deal?
I guess one reason we keep marijuana illegal is that the ones who complain about it the most are stupid hippies. I hate hippies. Also, I find it funny when they complain. I don’t ever plan on smoking marijuana (I’m still not very cool), so I have nothing to gain from it being legalized, but since it will make hippies happy, I’m against it. Now, some might point out that being a supporter of freedom, it’s inconsistent for me to want an activity that doesn’t directly harm another to be illegal, to which I say, “That’s a good argument, but I hate hippies. Also, I’m not a libertarian, so I don’t feel this compelling need to be intellectually consistent. Once again, screw hippies.”
Still, should Michael Phelps really have to suffer because I and others hate hippies? I guess not, but there’s still the issue that kids look up to him and now they’re all going to want bongs with Spongebob stamped on them. Then again, we just take it for granted that little kids shouldn’t be doing drugs, but I don’t know how many of us have actually tried giving them drugs. Kids these days are pretty rambunctious and noisy, so maybe a little pot would calm them down. It’s possible it could give them brain damage, but most of them don’t look like they’re going to be that smart anyway.
So what should happen to Michael Phelps? Looking at the issue as a whole, I believe we have to stop pretending this is a big deal. We should admit that marijuana use is common and apologize to Phelps for the faux outrage and demanding he be a role model. Then we should lock him away for a year of hard time — also something pretty much everyone has done. Just don’t lock him up on Alcatraz, because he’ll escape from there easy.