Wednesday, February 4, 2009
A Long, But Last Word On Phelps And His Bong Hit
The Michael Phelps story has generated a lot of heat. In fact, I’m a little light headed, giddy, and oddly hungry from all of this steam you people are blowing my way.
I feel like somebody fighting an unending nation of marijuana zombies, walking in lockstep, ready to excuse, equivocate, change the subject, or otherwise attack me over my stance that what Michael Phelps did was - at a minimum insanely reckless - and more accurately, a personal and professional tragedy.
I mean, that’s my opinion, and it’s not changing.
I find excuse making over marijuana use to be pathetic. Especially when taken in context of the sports world, where striving, discipline, and excellence are the coins of the realm. Sports, in short, is for winners, and those who would like to be one, one day.
Weed, is for losers. Period.
Can you smoke weed and lead a normal life? Sure. Can you try it as a youth and turn out fine? Of course. Do I think Phelps should be charged with a crime? Not at all.
But I am shocked at the lack of consequence. I am shocked at the unwillingness of so many to do anything but further coddle this screwed up, magnificient swimmer of a kid. I am shocked that no endorser has said: “Of course we stand by Michael, but we strongly urge that he get some help.”
Because clearly, he doesn’t get it.
But hey, it’s his $100 million, and his life, so I’m going to butt out.
My stance is simple. Smoking weed is almost always your first step into the recreational “drug store” in life. Many walk in, sample the weed, and walk out, unscathed. Many others, not so lucky.
So why even try it? Why tolerate a notion that “everyone does it, so it’s no big deal?”
To me, it’s a risk factor in life that has no redeeming upside. It is a drug that can often become an all consuming hobby that saps its user of motivation, responsibility, and morals.
Yeah, in the 60’s and 70’s, nobody thought of smoking weed as a big deal. Just like we used to be permissive of smoking in airplanes, doctors offices, and sports arenas. Just like we used to put our babies on pillows and blankets on the back shelf of cars as we drove. Just like let our kids run out and ride bikes and skateboards without helmets.
Simple risk factors. We got smart.
It doesn’t cost much to add a helmet to our children when we buy them a bike. And there’s no Constitutional right to smoke on an airplane.
I would hope in the year 2008, that we could all agree that smoking marijuana is a serious moral failing in our athletes, and that we won’t just sweep it under the rug. I would hope that all sports could draw the line at illegal drugs of all calibers, even the misdemeanor ones like pot.
I feel the same way about drunk driving, another one of Phelps’ “youthful indiscretions” but that’s an argument for another day.
So that’s that. It’s how I feel, and my mind is made up. You people made a lot of very good points, here is just small sampling of them.
Hey Steve, P. in Pewaukee...
Just wanted to say I totally totally agree with you on the pot thing. Pot is no joke. Pot is worse than alcohol. Period.
I personally am sickened and disgusted by the "tacit acceptance" in our society of pot....
Pot definitely crosses "a line", if you will, and it leads to some bad, bad places. I personally had to adopt a hard core policy of total non-association with potheads. I just got sick of it.
And before I go on, full disclosure, I tried pot when I was much younger, it didn't do much for me, I didn't like it, and I thank God every day, literally, that I did not go down that road.
I used to golf with these guys, and they smoked a little dope on the golf course. I didn't realize what a big thing this was, but amongst your pothead golfers, apparently, there's nothing better. Anyways, this one time, we're on the way to a golf course, and we detour out to some freak's house, because this is "his dealer", and he "needs some". Great. Okay, whatever, I figure I'll wait in the car.
We roll up on this place, there's like 20 cars there, a bunch of some very freaky very scuzzy lookin' people hanging around, I'm like what the eff are we doing here??? Very strange scene, with a very strange vibe. I can't possibly do justice to the creepiness of this whole deal. If I found out later they were holding 6 year olds in the basement for ransom, it wouldn't surprise me at all.
And of course, they're inside, like, for a half hour, which felt like forever... I'm like, sitting alone in this car, creeps in the yard giving me the evil eye... I'm like Jeez, willya buy your effing dope already, and let's get outta here???
So that's lesson #1, if you're hanging out with a pothead, all the sudden, pow, you're in a real weird setting, with some real weird people, and forget about 911. Whatever happens, nobody's calling the cops. Which also is strangely disquieting when it really happens to you in real life.
Story #2, again the cops, a friend of mine's son and his buddy are moving some furniture. Do they want help?? No, no no no, we got it. Fine by me. They call over to the son's place later, and some wierdo answers the phone and starts talking crazy. My buddy, this kid's Dad, get's worried, calls 911, jumps in his truck and rushes over there.
Well, we get there, the cops are loading the son and 3 of his buddies into squad cars. Cops showed up in response to the call, found the kitchen table covered in coke and dope, the whole house littered in paraphernalia... Nice.
Turns out they were all getting high, and one of his stoned out buddies thought it would be real funny to answer the phone and be a goofball.
The son of course is insisting that the coke "wasn't his", and he just had "a little pot." Again, as soon as you step in that sub-culture, you're standing next to hard-core cokeheads, and worse.
So the son does a year in a Huber Facility.... This was years ago, and I still see the Dad from time to time. Lemme tell ya, the son is still ENRAGED that his Dad called the cops. Enraged. They haven't spoken forever. That's another rule, never never never get between a pothead and their weed. Never do it.
There's this catechism in the dope world. Another rule is, you never call the cops. Never. I mean, the son could have been dead. He could have been in trouble. His Dad was concerned. Doesn't matter, never call the cops.
That tickles a spot in my brain, for some reason... the yellow alarm light goes on when I think "Gee, my entire existence, I can never call the cops, and I have to hope to God no one else ever calls the cops.... Hmmm...." Not sure I wanna live like that. Put me down for "no" on that...
That's part of why you get so much "heat" every time you bring this up... On some minor level, you're threatening to get between them and their weed. Don't do that. Don't even think it.
I just thank God I never went down that path... I had a very similar life experience to you. One of my best friends joined in the dope crowd. This guy was smart, sharp, got straight A's... my parents wished he was their son.
When it became obvious to his parents he was a dopehead, they started searching him, searching his room, on like a daily basis. He of course freaks out, physically attacks his parents, literally... so they send him to a place to get "cleaned up". We call it "rehab" now... Well, he runs away from there, and disappears, for like years, literally. Again, never get between them and their dope. Keep that in mind anytime they say they're "recreational" users... riiiiiggghhht.
He was back in town a few years ago... had been in and out of pens in 2 states, a litany of problems... This guy had the world by the ass. And then the dope came along... Life over. See ya. Welcome to hell. It is very heartbreaking. He was my friend. He had it all. And it all literally went up in the Cheech & Chong bong smoke.... what a waste.
So to me, don't compare offshore gambling or drinking a beer now and then to dope. There is no comparison. None. I might not be a celebrity morning show host, but I have an Escalade, and a Harley Road King Classic, and a house full of electronic doo-dads, and it's all paid for. There's nothing illegal here, I can freely call 911 whenever necessary. I seriously seriously doubt it would have worked out so well if I had turned to the Graffix Water bong at a young age...
Now, do I play a little poker offshore?? Yes I do. Did my Cards and the Over Parlay come in Sunday?? Yes it did. Was I drinking a beer during the game?? Yes I was. Did I smoke a nice CAO Cigar in celebration?? Yes I did. Am I perfect? No. However, I submit to you, those things are child's play compared to the very real horrors of life-ruining pot.
Like you, I draw the line in front of the pot. No thanks.
Love your shows.
P. in Pewaukee
I was listening to your comments this morning concerning marijuana. I think you are a hundred percent correct with your opinion.
I am a 52 y/o man and my brother is eighteen months older at 54 years of age. Growing up together on the Eastern Shore of Maryland we could not have been closer and I remember looking up to him and idolizing him. Around eleventh grade for my brother, tenth grade for me he began to hangout with the weed smoking crowd and we grew distant from each other. He continues to smoke marijuana to this day and is now a recluse living as a caretaker on a private estate.. I am president of a food company.
I definitely believe that marijuana, and the lack there of, helped to shape our destinies.
First of all let me say I’ve been listening to your show for several years now and love it. I love the format and the rest of the crew and recently here in Richmond VA have even started listening to your afternoon show with Andy.
In the interest of full disclosure I’m a 41 year old white male Police Officer who was raised in Appalachia (went to the same high school as the Steelers Heath Miller, though probably 15 years prior) and now work the streets of a medium sized urban city. I see drug addicts and drug dealers everyday and 99.9% of them started their addiction or career by using pot which is indeed a gateway drug a fact no sane person can dispute.
I don’t care if a person uses it from a personal freedom aspect (if you want to flush your life and health down the toilet go for it) but it is still ILLEGAL and I will arrest anyone who I catch buying, selling, or using it. I also dispute how many “successful professionals” there are who supposedly use it. In my experience I have run across a “few” white collar drug users (no doctors or successful business leaders of course) and they were pretty much losers too. . the guy who drives a Mercedes who’s license plates are expired by two months and there’s a warrant out for him for failure to pay child support that’s your average white collar suburban user.
We constantly find these guys getting robbed in or near housing projects, they have no business being in, and then have to hear their lame explanations on why they’re there. “I was just trying a new short cut home” is a good one. Ask yourself one thing about Marijuana. . How many times have you heard “My life was a mess. . . I was unemployed, broke, and had neither respect nor admiration from my peers. . then I started smoking Pot and WOW my life got better in every way.” Versus “I had everything a great job, a great family, a nice house and then I started smoking Pot and it all disappeared.”
Keep up the good work I’ll keep listening.
I just want you to know that you were right on today on the Bob & Brian show. Phelps can claim he is young and irresponsible when it come to his actions but , it sure seems odd that someone that young can have an agent and all of the business sense to cash in on all of the endorsements. I am not buying it!! That is not the first time he smoked nor will it be the last. He had a chance to learn from the DUI.
These athletes are willing to take the money and fame but are not willing to assume the responsibility that comes with it. He could of went back home with his medals and kept a lower profile and enjoyed the money and fame, but no he is all over the TV and in magazines. He is not willing to fulfill the obligations of the role and all the duties that go with it. That is what a good American Citizen should do. We need more responsible people in this country, not guys who keep using the system and not giving back by being a good role model.
By the way the last time I checked alcohol was a legal substance and pot was an illegal substance. I enjoy your comments on the show!!!
I have this conversation a lot and I first stipulate to people that the illegality is wrong. No question. I then stipulate that no child under the age of consent (or 21) should be doing it. Much like alcohol.
So come with me as we fly off to a world where its legal and regulated and then compare its relative attributes. I know people who switched because they were blithering idiots when drinking and quite frankly it acted as a substitute for those who knew that quitting alcohol was going to be difficult and arduous. Strikingly they have lived a much better life without alcohol.
And you start hanging around in these circles and you are surprised by those who partake. I will grant you there are idiots who smoke and idiots who don’t but don’t tell me the lone variable separating the two is weed and weed alone.
And to your point about a gateway drug, its only a gateway drug because we have lied to our children about the relative harm of marijuana as compared to alcohol and cocaine, etc. Kids try marijuana, figure its not so bad and then make the leap to other drugs.
In the 60’s we told kids that you could overdose on marijuana as a scare tactic. More importantly, lets quit destroying peoples lives over this, legalize it and come down harder on the real drugs (which would probably include alcohol if truth be told).
Subject:: The Evils of Mary Jane
Enough of J. Edgar Czaban and going on and on about Marijuana. It's not Cocaine, it is illegal, but alot of people do it (even some Republicans) Steve. To say it's as bad as cocaine is beyond ignorance. Why not talk about Rush Limbaugh and the millions who abuse prescription drugs?
Subject: Phelps and drug use
Your comments:: Steve, YOU are right on point with this whole Phelps thing. Illegal drug use is ILLEGAL. He was caught drunken driving and he didn't learn from that. His past performance would indicate that he won't learn from the pot smoking. As the father of a 9 and 11 year old kids... when they think that if Phelps can smoke pot and STILL be the best swimmer ever it gives them room to think pot smoking is ok..."it didn't hurt him!) Hang in there!!!
Bob & Brian…please post Steve’s Tuesday “sports” report. Next time I have my teenagers “captive” in the car, I’m going to make them listen to it. Steve….that was a spectacular argument for why pot fucks up the future of youth….dead-on-balls accurate. Previously, I leaned more toward booze being worse, as it is easier to overdo it with alcohol and kill yourself (or someone else).Your words have swayed me to the other side. Especially as I look at some of the people I knew who let weed diminish their potential. The “gateway” aspect of weed is also under-rated. Everyone that I know, who has used pot, has also tried harder drugs. The one caveat that I would add is that both booze and weed fuck up people in their youth, as their brains have not fully developed. Weed may seem to have a higher rate of screwing up youth as weed is easier for teenagers to get than booze. The pot dealer doesn’t ask if you are 21.
DK – Oconomowoc
I'd like to weigh in if I might on your 'weed' discussion of Tuesday morning. I am 53 years old, a child of the drug rich 60's and 70's. I, like you, remember the guys I knew in High School who went the 'weed' route. Not as much now, but over the years I would hear various stories about some of these guys - not so good stories I might add. So, from that perspective, your point is well made and well taken.
However, what I would like to add is that most of the guys I knew were already, shall I say, somewhat off the tracks. These were people who were trouble makers and bad students back to grade school. So, from my perspective, weed and the like were just the next things they did. It could have been anything.
On the flip side, I knew people who were good students, well balanced who did try this stuff. They didn't go back to it, it didn't de-rail their lives. Now I realize that this somewhat narrow slice of life that I remember from those days does not represent all people in similar situations. However, I can't help but wonder if it's the case that bad people make bad choices, do bad things and lead bad lives; if in fact marijuana wasn't the cause, but merely the next thing they did. And I wonder if somewhat balanced people are less in danger of going off the tracks, even when they stray from time to time.
I just say this as a reminder about the dangers of drawing the wrong conclusions. And I'll say it here to be clear, I am NOT in favor of this stuff, I just want to offer a perspective, to step back a bit and take in a broader picture.
So from my perspective, the people I knew who I say are like the ones you talked about, were going to be "something" heads, weed heads, coke heads, beer heads, whatever. Weed was in their path, their path wasn't changed because of weed.
Again Czabe, I always enjoy your discussions. Agree or disagree, I know your arguments are well thought out and presented in a clear and concise manner.
My wife swam at UW-Green Bay so, finding out a swimmer smokes weed is like finding out the girls softball team is 90% lesbo. Kinda a given. It expands your lungs duuuude.
Burn trees in your fireplace not zigzags