There is a dangerous anticheating sentiment in this country. We are disgusted by David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez for taking steroids even though steroids made Boston relevant for the first time in 200 years. We are appalled by swimmers who break records with full-body polyurethane suits despite the fact that this technology allows straight men to look directly at the television.
These steroided, polyurethaned cheating men should be our heroes. For while we trumpet achievement through discipline, Americans are a performance-enhanced people a Botoxed, Prozacked, Viagraed, LASIKed, Propeciaed, liposuctioned, tooth-whitened, spell-checked, serotonin-inhibited superrace. When Ortiz pushes a baseball over the fence with his balloon-animal arms, when Nancy Pelosi delivers one of her smooth-browed lectures, when Joe Biden smiles so photographers don't have to bother lighting a beer summit, they are celebrating the fact that we are no longer prisoners of our genetics. Having to accept the station you were born into is exactly why we left Europe. Also, the portions were too small.
Of course swimmers should wear the suit that makes them go the fastest. Sport, just like life, is a complicated competition that involves technology, training, psychology and doing stupid things to impress girls. Testing untrained, naked people on their natural ability would be pointless, though I am considering pitching it to Fox. The only reason Michael Phelps objects to the full-body suits is that his sponsor, Speedo, doesn't make one. Speedo, apparently, is committed to making the gonad-gripping suits that are yet another reason we left Europe.
Should athletes not be permitted to get risky surgeries to prolong their careers? Should they not be allowed to take chances on the field that might get them hurt? Should we require them to read the books they supposedly write? Where will the madness end?
I don't want to watch swimmers move as slowly as they did in 1950. I also don't want to watch swimmers go as fast as they do now. That's because swimming is the only sport exactly as boring to watch as it is to do. But I do want and fully expect to one day see a baseball hit out of a major league stadium and into another major league stadium.
We need to stop pretending we are honest and instead be honest about cheating. The ethical battle of our time is about the fairness of medical technology: genetic engineering, cloning, steroids, plastic surgery. We are O.K. with Viagra, LASIK and Paxil because they restore basic human functions, but we get really uncomfortable when people improve themselves by buying their pert breasts or giant pecs. It's no different from the original objections to wearing makeup, dyeing one's hair, and oiling up before an ancient Greek wrestling match which would not have been necessary if ancient Greek men had had makeup and hair dye.
Our moral superiority about our naturally thin lips or un-home-runny arms is nothing more than a silly, momentary discomfort with technology improving our bodies, which will go away when these procedures are cheaper and safer. I for one will proudly take steroids when they finally make ones that don't ruin your health, necessitate a shot, or require you to keep going to the gym after taking them. I pretty much stopped caring what I looked like once I got married.
I have long been an advocate of cheating. It started when my dad fooled an IRS auditor by comparing different vintages of phone book, finding an out-of-business furrier and getting me to use my Apple IIe to create a fake receipt to prove a false fur-coat donation. I'm a big fan of the statute of limitations. While some would call that tax fraud, I thought of it as preventing animal cruelty.
By my senior year in high school, everyone in Mr. Kurtiak's AP European-history class had the answer keys to his never changing multiple-choice tests, and only my friend Art Chung refused to use one. Art is now a junkie prostitute. Actually, he went to Yale and is now an incredibly successful writer for game shows. But what did he gain by not cheating? "I know why the Treaty of Westphalia was signed, and you don't," he said. When I asked him why the Treaty of Westphalia was signed, Art got real quiet. "Uh. I believe it was about the Thirty Years' War," he said. I was laughing at his stupid guess until he looked it up. "Suck it! It was!" he yelled. That's when I knew for sure that Art had finally learned his lesson and had used that pause to cheat and look it up. I am so proud of him.