- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Sending a message

“The United States government has sent the impressionable Youth of America an unmistakable signal: Do not, under any circumstances, break any sporting records after adding 18 pounds of muscle at age 36.

“If you do, Uncle Sam will use the awesome powers at his disposal — grand jury inquisitions, illegal leaks, even the State of the Union address — to humiliate you in public and pressure your union to accept year-round random urine testing, even if you will never be charged with breaking a single law. …

” ‘To help children make right choices, they need good examples,’ President Bush warned, remarkably, in his 2004 State of the Union Address. … ‘The use of performance-enhancing drugs like steroids in baseball, football, and other sports is dangerous, and it sends the wrong message. … So tonight I call on team owners, union representatives, coaches, and players to take the lead, to send the right signal, to get tough, and to get rid of steroids now.’ …

“There is such a thing as the presumption of innocence, no matter what you read in the sports pages. As it stands, Barry Bonds has not even been formally accused of violating a single baseball rule, let alone federal law.

“President Bush has indeed ‘sent a message’ to the kids of America: We can make you look guilty, even when you’ve never been charged. It’s a rough lesson, but they might as well start getting used it.”

Matt Welch, writing on “George Bush vs. Barry Bonds,” Dec. 8 in Reason Online at www.reason.com

Hollywood equation

“Hollywood is … inspiration wedded to promise, money welded to disillusion. …

“On one end are the problematical creative folk who try to transfer their private visions to the screen. One of the earliest was Charles Spencer Chaplin. … Another was the Teutonic ham Erich von Stroheim, who directed ‘Greed,’ perhaps the greatest silent drama. …

“Still another mix of brilliance and narcissism was Marlon Brando. … Notes [author David] Thomson wisely, Brando’s style of self-indulgence was ‘nonsense that could yet destroy a society, as well as an approach that drags down art or story telling or entertainment.’ For ‘when enough people take some malaise as a right, the result is a society in which everyone is acting instead of being.’ …

“On the opposite end of the equation are the businessmen and studio heads whose interest was, and always will be, the bottom line.”

Stefan Kanfer, writing “The Dream World and Its Denizens,” Dec. 8 in Opinion Journal at www.opinionjournal.com

Just asking

“What makes the life of Christopher Reeve or Michael J. Fox more important than other human lives? What is there so special about these two actors that renders their existence, even their well-being, of greater worth than the lives of the embryos that they want to be created and exploited on their behalf?

“What justifies the killing of very small and helpless human beings so that the tissue of their flesh can be used to improve the lot of men like Christopher Reeve and Michael J. Fox?

“Indeed, if a society can be persuaded to place so diminished a value on helpless human lives, why should such a society care one whit for the reduced existence of Christopher Reeve and Michael J. Fox?”

Patrick Henry Reardon, writing on “Christopher Reeve, In Pace Requiescat,” in the December issue of Touchstone

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