Pubdate: Thu, 12 Feb 2009
Source: Appalachian, The (NC Edu)
Copyright: 2009 Appalachian State University
Author: Ryan Saunders
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Popular)


"This is the astonishing picture which could destroy the career of the
greatest competitor in Olympic history," News of the World writer
Georgina Dickinson said.

Dickinson' statement used in describing a controversial picture of
Olympic superstar Michael Phelps allegedly inhaling a marijuana pipe
is indicative of the media's vicious nature.

This event is yet another example of American cultures underbelly,
with fame and fortune, a normal life becomes almost impossible and
while a person such as Phelps should be more aware of their actions,
it is unnecessary to tarnish a legacy over one mistake. Phelps has
been scorned because of his status as a role model to children and
adoring fans alike but the media should be scorned because they are
the reason children are seeing Phelps smoking marijuana.

Why couldn't this have been dealt with privately, sparing America's
youth the despair?

In 2005, Kate Moss, an international super model, was involved in a
scandal in which a photograph was released of her snorting cocaine.

This event was a tragedy, with the sensitivity of weight and beauty
amongst the population of young girls, the media put her bad behavior
on display.

"It was like an ad for cocaine. 'If you do cocaine, you'll look like
this.' She's so gorgeous it doesn't matter what she's doing. She looks
great," Kate Hudson said in an article on the Fametastic Web site,
describing the obvious downside to the release of the Moss

Unfortunately, the British press has decided to promote yet another
drug to the general public except this time on a much larger scale.

The attempt to "destroy the career of the greatest competitor in
Olympic history" is senseless.  Phelps' behavior is being put on
display and the media is doing more harm than good in relation to the
youth of America.

This equates to exposing the private life of a child's parent or
teacher. It would not be beneficial for a child to see their teacher
drinking a beer, yet it is undeniable that most do.

The motivation to expose this scandal correlates with the United
States bitter grudge against marijuana and Phelps is the latest
celebrity face added to the War on Drugs.

The question still remains why there is a double standard for drinking
alcohol and smoking marijuana.

If a picture would have been captured of Phelps drinking a Budweiser;
he would have been offered a lucrative contract to become the star of
their next clever ad campaign.

But instead he has been punished with a three-month suspension from
USA swimming, loss of Kellogg's sponsorship and potential criminal

The alleged crime took place in South Carolina where lawmakers have
decided those in possession of one ounce or less of marijuana can
serve up to 30 days in jail and forced to pay up to $200 in fines.

Shockingly, the penalty for drunk driving earns a driver 48 hours in
jail and a $400 fine.

The truth is marijuana is illegal and what he did would, in those
terms, be wrong, but Phelps is being caught up in something much bigger.

This latest attack by the media has gone too far and now Phelps is
paying a heavy price for a "youthful indiscretion."

The media has placed the burden on the American public; we are now in
the position to decide how to react to these photos.

While the media would like to cause as much harm as possible, we need
to be reasonable with our reaction.

Phelps is a gifted athlete, he has earned every accolade he has been
given, and has worked his way into the spotlight through endless
training and successes in the pool.

What more can you ask for?

- -Ryan Saunders, a junior business management major from High Point, is
an opinion writer.
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