Michael Phelps hits bong - what an outrage - or just americans getting their fix?
By David Sirota, Creators Syndicate. Posted February 16, 2009.
As the Phelps 'scandal' proves yet again, our narcotic of choice -- creating controversy where none exists -- packs a punch.
I'm not sure if it's because we're strung out on "Lost" episodes, or if it's because we're still suffering from a post-9/11 stress disorder that makes us crave "breaking news" alerts, or if it's because the economy has turned us into distraction junkies. But one thing is painfully obvious after Michael Phelps' marijuana "scandal" erupted last week: Our society is addicted to fake outrage -- and to break our dependence, we're going to need far more potent medicine than the herb Phelps was smoking.
If you haven't heard (and I'm guessing you have), the Olympic gold medalist was recently photographed taking a toke of weed. The moment the picture hit the Internet, the media blew the story up, pumping out at least 1,200 dispatches about the "controversy," according to my LexisNexis search. Phelps' sponsors subsequently threatened to pull their endorsement deals, and USA Swimming suspended him for "disappointing so many people."
America is a place where you can destroy millions of lives as a Wall Street executive and still get invited for photo-ops at the White House; a land where the everyman icon -- Joe Sixpack -- is named for his love of shotgunning two quarts of beer at holiday gatherings; a "shining city on a hill" where presidential candidates' previous abuse of alcohol and cocaine is portrayed as positive proof of grittiness and character. And yet, somehow, Phelps is the evildoer of the hour because he went to a party and took a hit off someone's bong.
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