Monday, November 4, 2013

Hating Lance Armstrong

I hate Lance Armstrong.

"'Hate” is a bad word, I've always told my children. “I never want to hear you say you hate another person,” I say. You can hate cauliflower, I will say, or dirty snow, or whatever objects you wish, but hating a person is wrong.

Therefore, when I claim to hate Lance Armstrong, it’s a thoroughly-contemplated act.

To the best of my knowledge, Lance Armstrong is none of these things:
  • a murderer,
  • a pederast,
  • a rapist,
  • a slave owner,
  • a slave smuggler,
  • an eater of planets.
I don’t know if I hate murderers. Or rapists. Or the other kinds of people listed (or similarly awful but unlisted). Never once in my life have I fantasized about these acts. I’ve never envisioned a scenario where I was tempted to murder, or molest, or rape, or to own another human being. There’s more likelihood I’d fantasize about sodomizing a giraffe.

It’s hard for me to hate people whose brain wiring is deviant, who are capable of acts I cannot fathom. Why hate them when clearly something about them is off, is wrong, is FUBAR.

I hate Lance Armstrong because he embodies the worst of what is in all of us.

We all fantasize being great at something, dream of being the best. We all dream of being adored and admired for our greatness. We dream of teams of people working for the sole purpose of maintaining The Brand that is our human identity, an identity so powerful it builds massive do-gooding charities while you sleep with rock stars in the 14th guest bedroom of your still-expanding mansion.

Not only did Armstrong trade his soul for glory and fame, money and adulation, but he also toppled the lives of others in the process. His friends weren’t friends unless they were accomplices. When you become Lance Armstrong, people serve purposes or they are meaningless. It is this part, his aggressive and blatant use of others to perpetuate his image and success, which brings my bile to the surface.

NPR recently interviewed the two authors of a new book, “Wheelmen,” that looks into Armstrong and his scandal. Every word they spoke about it made me angrier.

Lance Armstrong did almost everything in his power, and in the power of those around him, to build a golden idol of himself. He is Tiger Woods, Barry Bonds, Pete Rose and Tanya Harding all rolled into a single despicable human being. (No seriously. Look at the guy’s story arc, and he covers all these bases quite handily.)

Armstrong created an entire employment pool of people whose job was to Build The Armstrong Brand, and what I mean by that is Help Him Cheat. He not only created co-conspirators, and aiders and abetters, but he created disciples.

How many times did I go on Facebook or Twitter to see friends of mine, over the years, aggressively defending Armstrong. He’s an American Hero. The French are just jealous. Those who would tear him down or try to scandalize him are evil. The passion of their defense of this man they never knew, the vitriol of their anger that any would doubt him… I place all of their energy and passion at the feet of that scumbag. He created the illusory monster they worshipped.

Did he do some good things with his success? Sure. So did Frank Lucas. So what. Gangsters and drug kingpins and robber barons and all kinds in-between have found nice things to do with money and fame they achieved by getting their hands dirty. Pardon me if that doesn’t excuse their deeds.

Lance Armstrong fought testicular cancer and thought he won. What he didn’t realize is the cancer had merely metastasized to places in him beyond the reach of medicines or radiation.

"Haters gonna hate," so many of his loyal defenders would say.

Yes. Yes indeed.


Anonymous said...

Beautiful sentence:

What he didn’t realize is the cancer had merely metastasized to places in him beyond the reach of medicines or radiation.

stowstepp said...

I was one of those apologists. I wanted so badly for his "story" to be true. But alas...I was duped badly. Admitting that to myself, and coming out the other side was a painful process, and I place all the blame on Lance for that pain. Hate "is" a strong word. I don't think I'm quite ready to use it in this case, although I have used once previously.

Billy said...

Thanks @stowstepp for the comments. "Hate" is indeed strong. I don't hate Hitler or Charles Manson, so it seems odd that my feelings about Armstrong are so stark. But the guy arguably did more damage to notions of faith and belief in Americans than the corrupt televangelists of the '80s.

Jesus can fend for himself, I reckon, but our faith in notions of competitive fair play and athletic heroes took a hit from Armstrong from which it may never recover. So yeah, when I write (and believe) sentences like that, I hate Armstrong.

troutking said...

I liked the post but I'm curious why you would hate Lance but not Hitler?

Billy said...

Paragraphs 5 & 6 explained my reasoning fairly well, I though. Starting with "I don't know if I hate murderers" and ending with " FUBAR."

This doesn't mean my reasoning is beyond question or reproach, but I did try to explain it.

Robert Berman said...

Hitler is so distant that "Nazi" is being reclaimed as a compliment signifying rigor. Suzanne Vega has a great song, Last Year's Troubles, about the way that the distresses and disappointments of the present sting so much worse than the disasters of the past. Probably something Darwinian about that.

Anonymous said...

I had cancer at the time lance came clean no pun indeed he left me feeling so alone and scared a nearly tuck my own life only a nurse stopped me he will never know what he took from the world by beind a selfish person out only for his own gain,he really is a a mental? Sick person and had know problems making others sick with his false hope please God let us never experience evil like him again and be touch by the wonder that was the nurse who helpt me beat me cancer through support and love and not profound lies