Lance Armstrong and the Sociopath’s Dilemma: When Honesty Is No Longer Ethical

Welcome to the club, Lance.

Welcome to the club, Lance.

Rose

In 2004, 15 years after he had been banned from baseball after a finding by the Major League Baseball’s Commissioner’s Office that he had violated the games rules against betting on Major League Games, Pete Rose publicly admitted that his denials over that time were all lies. Yes, he had bet on baseball, and he was very, very sorry. Rose’s admission did little to change the verdict in and out of baseball that he was a rogue and a liar. His confession was obviously part of a cynical and calculated strategy to get reinstated in the game, after the strategy of denial and waiting proved ineffective. In addition, Rose needed money, and the confession was part of the hook for his new autobiographical book, which was released at the same time he withdrew his protestations of innocence.

For Pete Rose, honesty was not an ethical value that he respected or returned to in penance after years of straying. It was just another means to an end.

Clinton

In 1998, President Bill Clinton was in the midst of the Monica Lewinsky scandal, denying that he had ever “had sex with that woman.” He called up his old friend, advisor and pollster, Dick Morris, and asked what he should do. Together they decided that Morris ought to take a poll to see what the public’s reaction would be if Clinton retracted his denials and admitted the affair. Morris reported back, after taking such a poll, that while the public would forgive the sexual relationship, anger over the President’s untruthful denials might sink his administration. Clinton decided that honesty would not work to his advantage, and continued to lie.

To Bill Clinton and Morris, honesty was just one of several tactical options to solve a political crisis. If had nothing to do with ethics, or doing the right thing.

Armstrong

It is 2013, and the New York Times reports that Lance Armstrong, now stripped of all his cycling titles, banned from athletic competition worldwide and separated from his commercial sponsors and the cancer charity that bears his name,

“has told associates and antidoping officials that he is considering publicly admitting that he used banned performance-enhancing drugs and blood transfusions during his cycling career, according to several people with direct knowledge of the situation. He would do this, the people said, because he wants to persuade antidoping officials to restore his eligibility so he can resume his athletic career.”

Armstrong, it is clear, is traveling in the well-worn and slimy footsteps of Rose and Clinton, fellow sociopaths to whom conscience, shame, contrition and remorse are alien concepts and for whom atonement and redemption are just games to win, with honesty being an indispensable, if unpleasant, tactic. When one is considering whether or not to be honest and admit what one has long denied based on cold calculations of personal costs and benefits, truth-telling is no longer a matter of ethics, or doing the right thing regardless of consequences. It is merely another weapon, along with lies, manipulation, deceit and posturing, in the arsenal of one of the lifetime predators whose sole goal in life is to prevail and profit over the rest of the trusting suckers who share the Earth with them, and who will do anything, even to the extent of briefly embracing ethical principles, to get what they want.

Should he decide to finally admit what everyone knows and he has long denied, even to the extent of suing those who declared his guilty, Lance Armstrong should be seen as no more ethical or noble than the criminal who pleads guilty in court on the advice of his lawyer, because the evidence is overwhelming, conviction is certain, and confession is the only route to a lighter sentence.

Individuals like Pete Rose, Bill Clinton and Lance Armstrong defile ethical values by their brief embrace of them.

19 Comments

Filed under Character, Government & Politics, History, Sports

19 responses to “Lance Armstrong and the Sociopath’s Dilemma: When Honesty Is No Longer Ethical

  1. What makes them truly pathetic is that they were set up as role models for children on the basis of their illicit success. They can, no doubt, live with their dishonor, for they have no sense of it and it made them rich, besides. But a lot of kids will grow up having a different outlook toward athletics and politics than kids once had. That betrayal of faith should have gotten them all exiled to an island in the Aleutians.

  2. Armstrong did more than that. He directly advised and encouraged others to break the rules too.

  3. Don’t forget Alex Delarge from A Clockwork Orange. Didn’t he “see the light” after his conditioning?

    • tgt

      Different situation. Delarge wasn’t lying, and then admitting to it when it was beneficial to him. He was a horrible person who was put through a horrible and unethical process that, randomly, caused him to be a relatively good person. It was an actual change that was against his benefit, not a fake change for his benefit.

  4. CRD

    I think these episodes are due to an increasing trend to mistakenly classify those with narcissistic personality disorders (or worse) as having great leadership abilities. They are great abilities for leadership of fascist states. Academics, the media, and now increasingly the electorate in the USA seem particularly prone to the mistake.

  5. Why is cycling still considered a legitimate sport?

    Many people admit to using drugs and none of the testing seems to catch anyone using drugs.

    This sport has zero credibility.

  6. Anchorite

    The Clinton situation is not applicable. He didn’t lie for advantage. Did not game the system. He lied about a purely personal matter in response to what was a transparently political witch hunt.
    There is no obligation to candor in response to a question that is “none of your business”. Armstrong and Rose were obliged to tell the truth because the questions were legitimate. The purely personal questions pushed in Clinton were not.

    • Didn’t lie for advantage? Peddle that dishonest bilge someplace else.

      Clinton lied to defeat a sexual harassment lawsuit. And a President fooling around with a White House subordinate is workplace misconduct (That is, professional and not personal, since you clearly don’t comprehend the difference) by the standards of every workplace in the country. No citizen is allowed to lie under oath because he thinks he shouldn’t have to testify, and the President violates his oath of office while doing so. And a President lying to the press and the public is NOT personal conduct, ever. When the President does it, AS president, it is as professional as it gets. Nixon claimed he was the victim of a “witch hunt” too.

      What’s the matter with you?

      The legal and ethical response when you think a question under oath is unfair is to have your lawyer object, not to lie. Clearly, you are one of the benighted souls whom Bill has corrupted. Or you’re Lanny Davis. Either way, your comment is dishonest, untrue, spin and utter nonsense.

      • Didn’t lie for advantage? Peddle that dishonest bilge someplace else.

        Clinton lied to defeat a sexual harassment lawsuit. And a President fooling around with a White House subordinate is workplace misconduct )That is, professional and not personal, since you clearly don’t comprehend the difference) by the standards of every workplace in the country. No citizen is allowed to lie under oath because he thinks he shouldn’t have to testify, and the President violates his oath of office while doing so. And lying to the press and the public is NOT personal conduct, ever. When the President does it, AS president, it is as professional as it gets.

        What’s the matter with you?

        The legal and ethical response when you think a question under oath is unfair is to have your lawyer object, not to lie. Clearly, you are one of the benighted souls who Bill has corrupted. Or you’re Lanny Davis. Either way, your comment is dishonest, untrue, spin and nonsense.

        Wow, jack.

        It has been a long time since I heard from anyone trying to justify Clinton lying under oath.

        Lest anyone thinks that lying about sex under oath is no big deal, I give you the Kern County child abuse cases and Wanetta Gibson.

        • It is both sad and astounding how many people will still, with so sense of shame or admission of IQ deficiency, argue that Clinton was hounded for “personal misconduct” and that he had a right to lie because of that awful vast right wing conspiracy. Thus did one ruthless and unprincipled man, his equally ruthless and unprincipled wife, and their relentless defenders corrupt American values. It is the reason I started the Ethics Scoreboard, and I will never forget or forgive it.

          • It is both sad and astounding how many people will still, with so sense of shame or admission of IQ deficiency, argue that Clinton was hounded for “personal misconduct” and that he had a right to lie because of that awful vast right wing conspiracy. Thus did one ruthless and unprincipled man, his equally ruthless and unprincipled wife, and their relentless defenders corrupt American values. It is the reason I started the Ethics Scoreboard, and I will never forget or forgive it.

            Did you get my references to the Kern County child abuse cases and Wanetta Gibson?

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