Danger! Shameless Opportunists At Work!

Lance Armstrong wouldn't understand this movie at all.

Lance Armstrong wouldn’t understand this movie at all.

Less than two weeks after Ethics Alarms wrote about the ethics-free deliberations in the Lance Armstrong camp about whether or not to finally tell the truth and “apologize,” Armstrong prostrated himself in a 90 minute confession to Oprah Winfrey, who has branded herself as America’s confessor, capable of washing away sin and shame with a hug, a tear, and a stern word.

It makes me want to vomit, frankly.

I saw this coming, of course, as did you. One thing we could count on with Lance (and Bill, and Pete, whose odious club Armstrong joins with the Oprah tactic) was that he would do whatever was necessary to benefit him. There is nothing, absolutely nothing, in common with a genuine confession and a real apology in Armstrong’s 180 degree reversal with Oprah, or in the necessary preparations for it he engaged in, like apologizing to the cycling community and the Livestrong staff. When Armstrong thought he could continue to fool some of the people all the time by lying, posturing, and viciously attacking—sometimes with lawsuits—those who he knew were telling the truth about his cheating, he continued to lie. Now that the jig is up and he has no other options, he’s going to come clean and weep softly with the Big O. Sociopaths are usually very good actors. Some of them have won Academy Awards.

You can watch this despicable and cynical exercise if you want; personally, I’d rather stick a fork in my eye. Armstrong is using Oprah to gull the gullible one more time, and lure back a critical mass of his former admirers (“He said he was sorry! What more do you want? Don’t you believe in contrition and forgiveness? Isn’t America about second chances?” The toilet beckons.), and Oprah will be using Lance to bolster the sagging ratings of her cable network. She doesn’t care if she gives a public predator a second chance—a second chance to lie, cheat, steal, and warp the values of the young. It’s all business and bucks to Oprah. Maybe she’ll hug and forgive him. Maybe she’ll give him a tongue-lashing like she did when she ambushed fake autobiographer James Frey, so the soft-hearted and mushy-headed can can say of Lance, “He’s suffered enough!” I don’t care, and neither should anyone else. The best outcome for sport, ethics, television and America would be if nobody watched or paid attention to these two shameless opportunists feeding off one another.

If you want to see what a real confession and apology look like, watch the 2012 Denzel Washington film “Flight,” which got Washington a deserved Academy Award nomination. The movie has a lot of flaws, but at its core it is about the life and character rot alcoholics endure while they are trying to meet their responsibilities and sinking deeper and deeper into a deadly dependency on booze.

Spoiler alert—and this will spoil the movie if you haven’t seen it!

At the climax of the film, Washington, a brilliant commercial pilot who has flown for years with an alcohol addiction and cocaine habit (to counter the effects of being drunk), faces a government inquiry about his role in a plane crash in which six people died, but that all investigators concur would have been a total catastrophe had he not handled the emergency so skillfully. Knowing that he would be testifying in the morning under oath (and lying) both to save his license and to keep his airline from a ruinous lawsuit, Washington still can’t stay sober the night before, and requires an AM cocaine cocktail to even make it into the hearing room. Thus fortified, he answers the tough questioning admirably, and is one response away from total victory. Soon he will have exoneration, reinstatement, and a return to his double-life as a drunk who takes the lives of unsuspecting and trusting passengers in his hands every day, as he rationalizes to himself that it is okay because he is special. Then, suddenly, as the last question requires him to sully the reputation of a dead stewardess to save himself, Washington’s character stuns the panel and the spectators with a spontaneous admission. He is an alcoholic, he says. He was drunk when the plane he was flying crashed. He is drunk right now, at the hearing.

And he goes to jail.

That is the confession of a man who has a conscience, isn’t a sociopath, and who has earned, eventually, forgiveness and a second chance at trust. That kind of confession is so far beyond the comprehension of a man like Lance Armstrong that I can imagine him watching Washington’s moment of truth, smacking his head with his palm and exclaiming, “What an idiot! And what a stupid movie! Nobody would do that!”

Well, we know you wouldn’t Lance.

___________________________________

Source: Washington Post

36 thoughts on “Danger! Shameless Opportunists At Work!

  1. It would be great if Armstrong had a “Denzel” moment on Oprah, wouldn’t it? On the other hand, it might be even better if he had a steroid induced Tom Cruise moment and started dancing on the couch… maybe even on Miss Winfrey! Otherwise, Oprah wins regardless.

    • HOW could he have a Denzel moment? At this point, all he can do is help himself. I suppose if he admitted that he killed some cyclists that refused to dope, reduced them to a gaseous state and filled his tires with them, that would qualify.

      • It’s not as though I expected it! Armstrong has been lying to too many for too long to break the habit easily. That some of his “collegues” in the French race racket are probably no better that he, however, would likely not justify his filling his tires with their precious bodily fluids; suitably gassified!

    • It is much too late for Armstrong to have a “Denzel” moment. It all depends on the timing. If Washington’s character demeaned the character of the stewardess to save himself and blamed everyone else until the point at which he knows that there is overwhelming and unassailable evidence against him, the moment is gone. He is lost and his situation irredeemable. He has to confess when he still has a good chance to get away with it, when he has to choose willingly to pay the price for his actions. If he only confesses when he has nothing to lose and everything to gain by confessing, it is doubtful that his confession is sincere.

      Armstrong’s last chance at a Denzel moment was probably sometime in 2006.

      • Likely true, Michael. I was just suggesting that, even at this late date, it wouldn’t be out of bounds for a full, abject confession. Not that I seriously expect something like that! Your logic is undeniable. Confessions mean something only when they are motivated by unselfish motives AND the willingness to do penance. If Armstrong wanted that, he wouldn’t be on Oprah’s show.

  2. I’ve read a few commentaries that share your stance and I couldn’t agree more. What’s even better, it’s getting the word out the the apology is a scam and nothing but an attempt to offer a rebound for his career and her cable station.

  3. That is the confession of a man who has a conscience, isn’t a sociopath, and who has earned, eventually, forgiveness and a second chance at trust.

    It is also fiction, and has as much relevance to real life the part of Dragonball Z where Mr. Satan getting the people of Earth to donate their energy so Son Goku could have a huge Spirit Bomb to throw at Kid Buu.

        • I couldn’t disagree more. Good fiction’s greatest value is that it clarifies reality, ideals, and much else. “The Killer Angels” does a better job explaining what happened at Gettysburg than any history I ever read. I could easily give a three hours lecture on the valid lessons of Jurassic Park, the movie as well as the novel. So what if it was fiction? It is perfect example of a confession against interest. Has no one acted like Sidney Charton in “A Tale of Two Cities”? There are plenty of examples. What’s your problem with fiction?

          • GOOD fiction, Jack. The best fiction tends to be that of incidents based on true history. You could make a case for both “To Kill a Mockingbird” and “Jurassic Park” in some aspects on that score. Kid Buu less so!

      • Wow, you really are a doper apologist. Armstrong used his influence and resources (most of which obtained through cheating,lying and fraud) to impede his sport’s policing process, managed to lie, sue, bully and intimidate his way out of the truth and due accountability, and you can honestly say the process was unfair to him? Even when the law enforcement process violates a guilty criminal’s constitutional rights to nail him, the issue isn’t fairness— a lying criminal who gets caught, however he is caught, has been treated fairly. The issue is the integrity of the system, and legality. It isn’t fair that we release a murderer who is caught using illegal means; it’s just necessary to protect the integrity of the system. Armstrong has no right to complain about anything. He’s not in jail–now THAT’s not fair.

        • This mindset is why are rights are continually being limited. Anything is fair, so long as the bad guy gets what he deserves. The process doesn’t know whether Armstrong was a doper or not. If it was fair to Armstrong, then it would have to be fair to a clean rider.

          I’d like to highlight this: Even when the law enforcement process violates a guilty criminal’s constitutional rights to nail him, the issue isn’t fairness– a lying criminal who gets caught, however he is caught, has been treated fairly.

          You just backed torturing the guilty. Torture is fine, so long as it turns out the subject of torture had lied about something.

          • How can you read “fairness” and “torture” (!) into this? This is a matter of crime and punishment. Of ethics vs. outrage. Who has violated Armstrong’s “rights” and just what rights to you prescribe to him? To what degree will you dance around an issue like this when the facts are plain at hand?

            Somewhere along the line, you have to make a case of right and wrong. If Armstrong’s case doesn’t scream “wrong” at you, then what will? Did he have to go to France and shoot all his competitors during a race to get a rise out of you? For God’s sake, Tiggy. come out of your ivory tower of theoretical musings and look things in the eye.

            • “I’m done with you again. If you don’t understand my reference to torture here, then I don’t think you’d understand with additional explanation. If you don’t see what fairness has to do with how international and national sporting associations police their members, then I don’t think additional explanations will help you.

              My points here are simple, and I don’t feel like dealing with your contempt for logic and failure to engage with reality.

              • Tiggy: You wouldn’t know reality if it crapped on your rug! And without a basis in reality, no true logic is possible. Your’s is and remains an alternate reality divorced from what lies right outside your door.

          • Nope, that’s not true at all. I advocate adherence to rules and respect for rights and due process, guilty or not guilty, but when a guilty criminal or cheat is caught and exposed, no matter how it occurs, he has gotten what he deserves. The system, the culture and the process are harmed, and that’s why is why unethical methods should be resisted and condemned. But the guilty villain is estopped, in my view, from complaining of fairness. You can complain. I can. He can’t.

            Torture is a different matter. It’s not just against the rules. It’s absolutely wrong.

            • The criminal deserves whatever he gets. I don’t agree, but, for the sake of common ground, let me rephrase:

              The process used against Armstrong was not a fair process.

              Torture is a different matter. It’s not just against the rules. It’s absolutely wrong.

              I agree that it’s absolutely wrong, but you were absolute in not caring. Again: Even when the law enforcement process violates a guilty criminal’s constitutional rights to nail him, the issue isn’t fairness– a lying criminal who gets caught, however he is caught, has been treated fairly.

              By your arguments, torture is wrong, but not unfair.

              • Let’s take Bin Laden. Does Bin Laden have ethical standing to argue that his execution was unfair? I don’t think so. From a fairness standpoint, he got what was coming to him. The criticism of civil libertarians and others that the US should never just shoot a civilian, citizen or otherwise, without due process of law is legitimate, and should be aired. Bin Laden, however, was not treated unfairly–he reaped what he sewed. So did Armstrong. “How dare you break the rules to catch me breaking the rules?” makes no sense coming from the initial rule-breaker. It makes sense as an abstract ethical judgement against the tit for tat, ends-justifies-the-means actor, but the instigator of the exchange has no ethical standing to complain. Legal standing, yes.

              • Bin Laden was an avowed enemy of the U.S. who, in his own words, was at war with the U.S. I don’t see that the U.S. broke the rules to kill him.

                More importantly, your last two sentences AGREE with my position. Third party actors should continue to say the process was unfair.

                • I know we’re down to stripping gears here. The process was unfair, and yes, third parties should complain about it to ensure that it isn’t institutionalized. But the result was not an unfair result to Armstrong. The process used to reach that result was unfair in the abstract, and the ends don’t justify the means.

                  • I did not claim that result was unfair to Armstrong. Just the process.

                    Windy: On the plus side, at least we’ve got a confession. That should reduce the claims that he was railroaded.
                    Reply

                    tgt: But it shouldn’t reduce the complaints that the process was unfair to Armstrong.

          • “I’d like to highlight this: Even when the law enforcement process violates a guilty criminal’s constitutional rights to nail him, the issue isn’t fairness– a lying criminal who gets caught, however he is caught, has been treated fairly.

            You just backed torturing the guilty. Torture is fine, so long as it turns out the subject of torture had lied about something.”-TGT

            Jack didn’t back torture… you just backed taking comments way out of context, such as the follow on sentences where Jack clearly describes how the Fair System was violated. The criminal still gets a fair treatment for his crime (if he is truly guilty), even though the process for finding him guilty was unfair.

            The reason that the process must be fair, is not so the guilty can be fairly found guilty, but so the innocent know they are not being unfairly found guilty. And that means that sometimes the guilty go free (which is UNFAIR).

            • Absolute comments don’t need more context. Jack was clear. To him, you can’t be unfair to a lying criminal.

              Here’s a sentence I found accurate: “The reason that the process must be fair, is not so the guilty can be fairly found guilty, but so the innocent know they are not being unfairly found guilty.” The issue is that if you prejudge that someone is guilty, and create an unfair process based on that, then you aren’t protecting the innocent. The process is unfair.

  4. “Absolute comments don’t need more context. Jack was clear. To him, you can’t be unfair to a lying criminal.”

    Not when your mistake arises out of a confusion of the terms.

    ‘Even when the law enforcement process violates a guilty criminal’s constitutional rights to nail him, the issue isn’t fairness– a lying criminal who gets caught, however he is caught, has been treated fairly.’

    Two possibilities of what is being referred to as fair: The punishment of the criminal or the process that got to the determination of guilt.

    Jack was referring to the punishment being fair. As his context (which you ignored) explained when discussing the integrity of the system is what must be protected.

    • When there’s an ambiguous statement made in a reply to me, with one meaning relevant to our discussion, and the other one arguing with a strawman, I assume the replier meant the relevant statement.

        • I don’t follow your logic. It might be because “As his context (which you ignored) explained when discussing the integrity of the system is what must be protected.” is incoherent. I could make assumptions about what you meant to say there, but none that I see help your point, and I’ve now learned that I shouldn’t try to interpret unclear statements.

          • Lemme help you, since you are reverting to TGT strategy of splitting hairs and arguing about side issues when your ship is sunk.

            “Absolute comments don’t need more context. Jack was clear. To him, you can’t be unfair to a lying criminal.”

            Not when your mistake arises out of a confusion of the terms.

            ‘Even when the law enforcement process violates a guilty criminal’s constitutional rights to nail him, the issue isn’t fairness– a lying criminal who gets caught, however he is caught, has been treated fairly.’

            There are two possibilities of what is being referred to as fair: The punishment of the criminal or the process that got to the determination of guilt.

            Jack was referring to the punishment being fair. His context (which you ignored) explained this when it went on to describe that the process of reaching punishment is what must be protected.

            There. Continue tap-dancing.

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