Thursday, January 31, 2013
Ray Lewis, Banned Substances and Liberty
As the Super Bowl draws near, this week's revelation from New Orleans is that Ray Lewis, the soon-to-be retired linebacker for the Baltimore Ravens, and certain NFL Hall of Famer, may have used some sort of extract from deer antlers to speed healing for the torn triceps muscle he suffered this season.
Lewis is now healthy enough to play - and has done so throughout the NFL playoffs.
According to the report, there is something in deer antler extract that is on the NFL's list of "banned substances" and, if the report is correct, Ray Lewis might be in trouble if he sought to continue playing next season.
Let me first say that I have no problem with an employer - in the case the Baltimore Ravens and the NFL - setting up rules that employees must follow. It is pretty simple. We all have an interest in doing whatever we want to do, but we do not have a right to do whatever we want to do. This means our employers can say, "Look, pal, if you do these things, you will be in trouble and it might cost you your job." That is fine.
What I have a problem with is the governmental pressure that has been brought to bear on the NFL, the rest of professional sports and society in general, that tells us what we can and cannot put into on on our bodies.
We are all emancipated, adult human beings living in a nation that was founded on the right to life, liberty and private property. This means, simply put, that as long as we do not kill someone else, steal their property, or prevent them from doing something peaceful, we are supposed to be left alone to make our own choices. Ray Lewis, in effect, owns his body.
Yet, our nation's four decade-old drug war - and by extension the "war" on steroids, human growth hormones and other "banned substances" is a direct violation of the principles of liberty.
It does not matter that these things are bad for us. There are any number of things that we are allowed to do that are bad for us. Ray Lewis would be allowed to drink two bottles of whiskey, smoke a carton of cigarettes and view pornography depicting consenting adults - all on the same day - and if he did not bother or harm anyone, no police officer would bother him.
Yet, if he rubs or injects some sort of substance that is designed to speed healing and help him do his job productively, he is in trouble.
This, folks, is insane.
It is high time that we stop supporting costly, inefficient and liberty-violating prohibitions of the things consenting adults want to use to make themselves feel better - or feel intoxicated. Morality is not the basis for law when morality makes us pass laws that keep us from doing things to ourselves.
Imagine the tax dollars we would save, the prison space we would create, and the efficiencies that would flow from having a nation of laws where you only got in trouble if you violated someone else's rights.
In the meantime, I would argue that the dance Ray Lewis does at the beginning of the Super Bowl is far more harmful to society than how he went about curing his arm.