Saturday, March 19, 2005

why they really don't care about the kids...

The oft-used line cited by most social conservatives is the ever-trite phrase: "what about the children?" We are expected, apparently, to hold children in the highest of veneration, and every problem that must be solved must be solved for the kids. What a load of bullcrap. If conservatives really cared about the kids, I'd be trading in my imaginary Democrat membership card and jumping the aisle faster than you could organize a "Condi for 2008" rally. After all, the red party would be all about fixing Social Security (which I'm glad Bush is bringing the focus to though I think his solution is myopic), deconstructing (not creating) the bajillion dollar debt, and preserving the environment (not drilling big holes in it). And yet, in all of these and many other issues, the Republicans have pulled a fast one over all of us -- they claim to be about the kids, but really it's actually about making the illiterate parents think they're for the kids, which is rarely the same thing. Kids don't have the right to vote. There's no incentive from anyone in politics (either Right or Left) to actually doing what's best for the kids. However, babies have that biological cuteness factor, so it's great politics to say you're trying to help kids, all the while screwing them in the ass. Why am I on this? Well, this past week has seen quite a few big cases, but the one I'll be discussing in this post is the recent congressional hearings on steroid use in Major League Baseball. First of all, I actually am into baseball. Counterintuitive though it might seem, I was a Torontonian during the three seasons when the Jays won the World Series, and it was one of the few joint family events that I remember: for those seven games, my parents, my sister and I would watch TV, silently rooting for the Jays. Though I'm not actually a follower of baseball, I like the game and it has a good solid place in my heart. That being said, I see this whole fiasco regarding steroid use in MLB to be a complete waste of time and money. Whether Sammy Sosa or Mark McGwire used steroids really doesn't affect me or my feelings towards the sport. Modern athletes also take creatine and drink gatorade, but that doesn't mean that they're somehow lesser athletes than Babe Ruth. I mean, just look at that beer gut. What I do think is relevant about the whole steroid debate, though, is steroid abuse in young athletes. The National Institute on Drug Abuse announced in 2000 that nearly 2.7% of 8th grade to 10th graders had used anabolic steroids. My friend had a roommate -- young, healthy, Asian, built like a friggin' tank, and a physiology major -- who was regularly ordering steroid cocktails over the Internet to try and improve his weight lifting and make him even more muscle-y... all because he wanted to make up for the emasculated Asian male stereotype and ultimately swing a few hot chicks. My friend would describe the subsequent emotional cycles this guy would go through; some weeks he would be extremely pliant and hyper, other weeks he would be aggressive, and throughout the entire year he was destroying his physiology, he had little to no libido. Now, this guy was a physiology major -- I knew him because we took several classes together -- and yet he never made the connection between what he was doing and how badly he could screw himself up. That story alone is enough indication to me that the problem with steroid abuse isn't impressionable youths seeing their favourite baseball stars using steroids (as the Congress would have us believe), but impressionable youths not getting the proper education. Even if they know the side effects, most people don't really know the side effects. The NIDA website offers a brief summary of how badly steroid abuse can hurt you: effects can range from the development of improper secondary sexual characteristics (such as the development of breast tissue and reduction of the testicles in men or the deepening of the voice and enlargement of the clitoris as if it were a little penis in women), to more serious and dire consequences such as permanent damage to the cardiovascular system and the liver. And yet, we've all been socialized to ignore the consequences. How often have you seen a commercial for a pill like Cialis, and just glossed right over that litany of side effects? We're trained to hear the side effects but not really take it in, because, dammit, we want our aging penises to get erect again! Another friend recently told electroman that she was taking a drug for a disorder she didn't have, in order to improve her concentration. When electroman asked in alarm what the side effects were, she responded that she didn't know. The only one she had looked for was weight gain, and since that wasn't on the list, she hadn't bothered about the rest. Let's face it, ending steroid abuse in Major League Baseball does nothing to help the kids. Congress has simply not established any connection between steroids in baseball and steroid abuse in kids, but it's a nice soundbyte to help sell this collossal waste of resources to America. Let's give McGwire a break and really concentrate on caring about the kids, by improving education of steroid abuse in the nation's public school sex and health curricula. We need to emphasize to kids the very serious consequences of abusing steroids or any other drug -- that this isn't just a small side effect but that it could really mess you up for the rest of your life. After that, if a kid chooses muscle mass over an extended lifespan, then there's really nothing more I think the government can or should do. Fundamentally, all of us, including the kiddies, have a right to choose what we do with our bodies, and beyond trying to help people make informed choices, the government shouldn't use their federal clout to force a decision they prefer. What has to be remembered is that banning doesn't work; it didn't work in prohibition, it doesn't work with abstinence-only sexual education program, it doesn't work in underaged smoking and underaged drinking, and surprise, surprise, if I wanted to get any marijuana or cocaine, I could probably do it with very little hassle. Combatting abuse isn't about making the drug more illegal, it s about making the users more aware, so they can make the right conscious choices.


Blogger James said...

I don't care about the kids. Children are annoying, whiny, and useless. That being said, the waste of gov't time, effort, and money the recent steroid hwearings displayed show to me how utterly ineffectual the GOP-controlled Congress is. All they know how to do is grab at headlines. It's sad.

Personally, I'm noty a libertarian, so I wouldn't mind the banning of all steroids, but you're right, that woun't stop the problem. Our society teaches people to have no respect for their bodies. Tobacco, alcohol, recreational drugs like cocaine and Cialis -- Americans are encouraged to do exactly as you say for their instant fix. Because of that alone, I'm usually willing to write off their concerns. Hell, weed used over time annhilates spem count, but no one is holding federal hearings over marijuana use in the Black community. I guess they think that the fewer babies we have, the better.

Great post. I wish I could be that concise. :)

3/19/2005 02:34:00 PM  
Blogger Jenn said...

i guess that's the difference between you and i. i honestly think that we would have a better time eradicating the appeal of unhealthy drugs by better education, but that our civil liberties are better served by giving us the choice to mess up our own bodies. i really don't see why we should be okay with the gov't legislating what we can put into our bodies, but then how someone could then be pro-choice and against the Patriot Act...

3/19/2005 03:17:00 PM  
Blogger Jenn said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

3/19/2005 03:18:00 PM  
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