Would Phelps have apologists if he was black?
Perspective should never influence punishment.
Except when you say that it should.
Too often in our society, we practice selective perspective. We're willing to see all the angles only when it suits us. When perspective becomes inconvenient, we can be unflinching, even cruel.
Or we can we can be empathetic.
I'm not suggesting Michael Phelps' being photographed sucking on a bong is high treason. But it's not jaywalking, either.
You're right, smoking pot should be less of a crime than jaywalking. You know this; I know this; everyone who's ever tried weed knows this.
Should Phelps be stripped of his medals?
No. What sort of fucktard would even consider that?
Only someone who hit the bong with Phelps would believe that.
No. "Becoming a brain dead retard" is not a symptom of marijuana usage. At least not in the short term! Buh-zing.
But does he deserve harsh criticism? Absolutely.
Yes, we need harsh criticism because the guy did something that ~20% of Americans did the same weekend. Boo this man!
He has shown an incredible lack of responsibility. This is the second time Phelps has exercised alarmingly poor judgment. The first, of course, being when he received a DUI in 2004 as a 19-year-old and served an 18-month probation term.
Show me an 18-19 year old male who claims to have never done anything that level of stupid, and I'll show you a liar.
But that doesn't mean USA Swimming's decision to suspend Phelps from competition for three months doesn't ring hollow. The governing body's statement explaining Phelps' suspension was rife with hypocrisy. It read:
"This is not a situation where any anti-doping rule was violated, but we decided to send a strong message to Michael because he disappointed so many people, particularly the hundreds of thousands of USA Swimming member kids who look up to him as a role model and a hero. Michael has voluntarily accepted this reprimand and has committed to earn back our trust."
Let's be clear: USA Swimming acted out of embarrassment, and because more than a few people have wondered whether Phelps, who also lost an endorsement deal with Kellogg's, was getting a free pass.
So your beef is that Michael Phelps isn't being punished hard enough, but even though USA Swimming suspended him (when they didn't have to), it wasn't enough because of the way they worded it? Get fucked, Jemele.
I'm wondering why USA Swimming didn't seem to care about the type of person Phelps was after his DUI. That crime was far more egregious. Phelps not only endangered his own life, but the lives of others.
Why no outrage then?
I understand why Phelps sympathizers have argued that his mistake represents only the growing pains of youth and that it was "only weed."
The thing is though, it is ONLY WEED, a substance that's far less harmful than tobacco or alcohol.
In 2002, Rasheed Wallace was given a misdemeanor citation for marijuana possession. The charge against Wallace -- who was 28 at the time -- was eventually dropped after he completed community service, and drug and alcohol counseling.
Boy did 'Sheed ever get crucified for that one? It was such a shame how he lost all those endorsements that he had. The thing that burns me up is that people still bring it up all the NEVER.
But no way would the Portland paper have ever written an editorial as glowing as the one that appeared in The Baltimore Sun, Phelps' hometown newspaper.
It wasn't glowing. It was merely pointing out the inanity of people flipping a shit because Phelps had a bong rip at a party. This is the biggest non-story of all time.
When Josh Howard admitted he and many other NBA players use marijuana, I don't recall seeing a single column like this one on Forbes.com.
I admit the outrage over Josh Howard's comments was idiotic, but he said, in a public forum that he smoked weed all the time. What did he expect was going to happen? Phelps on the other hand thought he was doing something (that shouldn't be a crime) in private where he couldn't influence kids into making the same "mistake" as him.
Look, what Phelps did was stupid, but not unforgivable. The fact that police in South Carolina want to pursue criminal charges against him is a waste of time and resources.
So you think Phelps should be punished the same way 'Sheed was, but you think it'd be a waste or resources for the police to do so. That's fucking brilliant!
President Barack Obama, former President Bill Clinton and even Dawn Wells, the actress who played Mary Ann on "Gilligan's Island," have smoked weed before. Studies show that nearly half of you reading this column have tried marijuana at least once.
I just wish that same perspective was used when Steelers wide receiver Santonio Holmes was busted for marijuana possession.
The Santonio Holmes marijuana possession thing was easily the most annoying story line that was barely mentioned at all during the 2 week Superbowl period.
Am I turning this into an issue of race?
No, because it's been about race since the beginning of the article.
While Holmes will have to appear at a hearing on his marijuana charge later this month, he's a Super Bowl hero now. Wallace never has to worry about sponsors hounding him, but he's made millions in the NBA. Mayo's marijuana incident, which was eventually dismissed, didn't hinder him from becoming a dazzling NBA rookie. It's also fair to say Ricky Williams, a once-devoted pot user, received more criticism for bailing on the Dolphins than smoking weed.
So in laymen's terms: "I spent this whole article arguing that Michael Phelps would get different treatment if he were black, and now I'm admitting that the black athletes, who I claimed were wronged, got off with little more than a slap on the wrist, at worst. Ergo, I've rendered the whole argument moot."
An absolutely classic example of Jemele Hill building an argument up, and then torpedoing it in the final paragraphs.
But I'm proposing a wild idea: Let's try to employ perspective with every athlete. Let's not treat Barry Bonds like the worst cheater ever to inhale oxygen, when it appears that arguably the greatest pitcher and the greatest all-around player have used performance-enhancing drugs.
Yes, Roger Clemens got off totally scott-free from the whole steroids thing, and it's hard to imagine a non-white guy, whose popularity is as astronomical as A-Rod's, suffering much from being caught using steroids.
If you believe Phelps is just behaving like "a kid," then Carmelo Anthony -- who pleaded guilty to driving while impaired last June as a 24-year-old -- shouldn't be stereotyped as a troubled thug.
'Melo gets the reputation for being a thug because he was on the Stop Snitchin' DVD. If it gets any more thuggish than telling kids not to report crimes to the police, lest they be beaten/murdered, please let me know.
Likewise, Phelps' shouldn't be more harshly judged now just because black athletes weren't given the benefit of the doubt.
Perspective, after all, is for everyone.
So what you're saying is: Phelps shouldn't be punished for his non-crime, except that he should.
I'll have what she's smoking. (TOPICAL!)