The Crooked Finger Points Inward

It’s funny how sometimes standards can be doubled, whether applied to yourself or to others.  What’s good for the goose isn’t always good for the gander except if certain conditions are met.  Sometimes I try to figure out if there is a place, a calm, soothing plot where hypocrisy lies dormant and never to awake.  Where the real of what we do on this earth is silently upheld before everyone to see.  As John Mellencamp said in his song Between a Laugh and a Tear, “Sometimes life is too ridiculous to live.”

Hypocrisy is one thing that really makes my blood boil and my brain curdle.  To me it’s worse than jealousy in the damage it can do.  Speaking in terms of a gateway drug, hypocrisy opens the door to a logical string of, well, really bad stuff.  You can see it everywhere you look, from way up top all the way down to the murky bottom.  People can be hypocritical without even knowing they have succumbed to it and that’s one thing that makes it so dangerous.

Who makes up the prized core demographic in this country?  By prized I mean the age group most coveted by sales and marketing gurus who strategically target product to the masses.  Depending on what you are selling, the typical definition of the prized demographic is anyone falling into the age range of 18 to 49.    Again, prized demographics are changed and narrowed down depending on what product is being pushed into your face.  18-49 is great for auto manufacturers but not so great for companies that make adult diapers.  You get my point.

So if you’re in that age demographic (especially toward the upper end of it), think back to the seventies, eighties and nineties.  Think of what your favorite music was and think of the bands who wrote and performed that music.  Think of the culture that surrounded that entire scene – the famous recording sessions, the concert tours and the music itself.  Also think about your own personal culture during that time.  In terms of my personal culture, it was all about the music and all about the next party.  I admit it – I filled my body with a lot of that culture, to the point where I’m amazed my organs still work now that I’m toward the top end of that prized demographic.  Chances are a high percentage of my fellow prized demographic members did the same and continue to do the same.  A lot of people I know in my age demographic still use a variety of self medication techniques.

As I’ve gotten older I’ve often thought those who served time in my generation would one day lead future generations, whether through a slow infusion into representative government or through their obvious impact on our culture because of our large numbers.  Lo and behold, we are beginning to see things changing in a way that is more in line with our prized demographic’s beliefs.  Most notable to me is the relaxing of criminal marijuana laws and the legalization of medical marijuana in several states.  I won’t be a hypocrite here – I believe marijuana should be legalized.  Not because I smoke it every day (because I don’t).  I just believe that people should have the choice of whether or not they want to consume it especially if they have the choice to consume alcohol.  As far as I know, there have been no official medical reports released that say marijuana is any worse for you than alcohol.  And let’s face it, the legalization of pot would probably lift this country out of its economic mess, but that is another issue by itself.

Anyway, this isn’t about the legalization of pot, it’s about the hypocrisy of the prized demographic…

And now to my point.  Lance Armstrong was a human wrecking ball when he competed in the sport of cycling.  I won’t go into statistics here but I think most everyone who has a pulse knows he was one of the most dominating athletes in any sport during the past two decades.  I’m sure you’ve heard all about the doping investigation and the resulting forfeiture of his winnings.  Alright, that’s one thing.  Earlier this week, all on the same day, he lost his sponsorship and endorsement deals with Nike, Anheuser Busch and Trek Bicycles.  He has also stepped down as chairman of the Livestrong cancer fighting foundation.  The guy has admitted nothing and many believe the only way he will ever save face is to take accountability.  Many people think the guy is an idiot because he allegedly cheated to give himself a competitive advantage.  People don’t like cheaters.

So let’s assume Armstrong was doping.  Have you ever doped?  Have you ever gotten together with your friends and taken something into your body that wasn’t necessarily legal?  When you were rocking out in high school to the Stones, Led Zeppelin, The Who or whatever band you were into, did you find that doping made everything more fun?  Have you, as a member of the prized demographic, ever used drugs in a recreational sense?  Have you ever used one of the millions of energy drinks at work to help you get that report done on time?

Did you answer yes to any of those questions?  If so, do you think Lance Armstrong should be receiving the treatment he’s getting?  If you said yes to both of those questions, congratulations, you are a hypocrite!!

The only way any of this can make sense to me is if I rationalize it by thinking the sales and marketing idiots at Nike and the other companies that dropped Armstrong are in the very bottom range of the prized demographic.  The youngsters who recently graduated college and think they know everything.  I can’t think of any other way this can’t be hypocrisy and it stinks.

Every person on this planet is human.  I don’t mean from the obvious biological standpoint.  I’m talking about the natural human condition which means we all have flaws,  We all make mistakes.  No one is perfect.  If a corporation is going to sign a contract with a human to represent their company from a marketing perspective, they should know the consequences by now.  It all comes down to humans being prostituted to the masses for large corporate revenues.  Then when the human messes up (translation: behaves like a human), the corporations are doing the right thing by terminating endorsement contracts?  And in Nike’s case, keep in mind they stuck by Kobe Bryant when he was facing allegations of rape.  How is the distinction made as to which offense is worse when it comes to endorsement deals with athletes?

Before you point the finger at Lance Armstrong, make sure your own house is clean.  Make sure you have the right to judge the guy, taking into account your own personal culture.  Is there a difference between what Lance Armstrong may have done and a corporate executive having three martini lunches a few times a week?  Is it any different from a student that takes speed to be able to pull an all-nighter to cram for an exam?  Or what about that guy in a band that has to shoot heroin to be able to get to a creative level to write that next number one hit?  After all, doping was a huge thrust behind the music we grew up with, and in reference to that scene made earlier in this post, we all thought that was ok, right?

I can’t point my finger at Lance Armstrong.  It’s one thing to strip him of his winnings in a sport.  Unfortunately, the foundation he ran will suffer.  People seem to have forgotten that with him at the helm of Livestrong, he has raised more than a half billion dollars toward cancer research.  If you know someone who has cancer, you know that Mr. Armstrong is a champion.  Cycling?  Who cares?  Helping to find a cure for the worst disease we know of?  Lance Armstrong has done more good than bad.  He’s not worthy of a finger point from you, either.

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