Thursday, January 24, 2013

"High Horse Incorporated"

Wherein I sound off and act superior.  Or is that all my posts.  Anyway, I have these two things I need to write.  Then, hopefully, I will descend from my figurative high horse and walk once again among mortals. 

Sorry if the following sounds judgmental.  I can’t help it.  I am making a judgment.

Lance Armstrong is an idiot.  He did two things I don’t like.  He lied, and he cheated.  Today, I shall talk about lying, which I of course never do, though I just did when I said “Which I of course never do.”  Call that an exception.  Though I don’t know how many of those I get before they’re no longer exceptions and I actually lie a lot.  I’ll get back to you on that one.  Which may itself be a lie because I probably won’t.

Anyway, this is not about me.  It’s about Lance Armstrong.  Who, repeating “Sentence One” – for emphasis and the sheer joy of repetition – is an idiot.

Okay:  Lying.

After years of insisting that he never took drugs to help him win bicycle races, in an interview with Oprah, Lance Armstrong confessed that he took drugs to help him win bicycle races. 

So now it’s out. 

Lance Armstrong took drugs to help him win bicycle races.  And his incomparable record suggests that that works.  (Although there is no “control” Lance Armstrong participating in those races without taking drugs, so we’ll never know whether Lance Armstrong would have won those races racing clean.  I don’t think so.  And more importantly, neither did Lance Armstrong.)

Okay, so we know why Lance Armstrong took the drugs.  But why did Lance Armstrong lie about taking the drugs?  (I know you know the answer, but I’m building to something here, and I like to be thorough.)

Taking drugs when you are bicycle racing is against the bicycle racing by-laws.  Therefore, if he had admitted to taking drugs when he was bicycle racing, Lance Armstrong would have gotten into really big trouble.   

Since he wanted to take the drugs – because they helped him win bicycles races – but he did not want to get into really big trouble, Lance Armstrong blatantly lied about taking drugs when he was bicycle racing, insisting repeatedly that he didn’t.

Okay, so we know why he took ‘em, and we know why he lied about it.  Now.  After all those years of lying about not taking drugs when he was bicycle racing, why did Lance Armstrong suddenly stop lying about not taking drugs when he was bicycle racing? 

He couldn’t lie to Oprah.

I don’t think that’s the answer.

The explanation here is admittedly not as transparent as the answer to why he lied.  But think about it.

When it was advantageous for him to lie, Lance Armstrong lied his fool head off.  Similarly, one would think, when it becomes advantageous for Lance Armstrong to come clean and tell the truth, Lance Armstrong will then come clean and tell the truth.

It makes sense, right?  In both cases, Lance Armstrong’s actions are inspired by a unilateral self-interest.

Self-interest compelled Lance Armstrong to take drugs to help him win bicycle races, because the drugs helped him win bicycle races.  And, since taking drugs when you’re bicycle racing is against the bicycle racing by-laws, self-interest further compelled Lance Armstrong to lie about it. 

Continuing that reasoning, since Step One – taking drugs – reflected self-interest, and Step Two – lying about it – also reflected self-interest, ipso facto, Step Three – Lance Armstrong’s confession to Oprah reflected self-interest as well.  I mean, he was doing so well with that strategy.  Why quit now?

Here’s the problem with this line of thinking, though it in no way lets Lance Armstrong off the hook. 

How do you knock self-interest? 

Self-interest is natural.  I mean, how else are we supposed to behave?

“If it’s in my best interests, I am not doing it.”

That sounds counter-intuitively nutso.  It’s entirely human to do things out of self-interest.   The problem is…

If it is in someone’s self-interest to lie – not just Lance Armstrong, but anyone – why should we expect them to do anything else?

I have no answer for that. 

But I’m not crazy about where it takes us.

Tomorrow:  Cheating.  Which I also don’t like.  

1 comment:

Mac said...

He did a third thing - bullying. He managed to get people sacked for questioning his image. I hope he gets sued by everyone whose career he ruined.