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Drug Enhanced Performance - Double Standard?
By Cindy of Stone Marmot
Oct. 27, 2008
Our society appears to consider it a big no-no for someone to try to enhance their physical performance with drugs. We hear about Olympic athletes being tested for drugs and barred from competing if they test positive. Baseball pitcher Roger Clemens was front page news because someone accused him of using steroids. This was so important to some people that the US Congress even investigated these allegations. Many also claimed that Barry Bonds and Mark McGuire achieved their baseball home run records due to drug enhanced performances and that these records should be tagged with asterisks as not quite valid and they shouldn't even be eligible for the Hall Of Fame.
But society doesn't seem to be as concerned about drug-enhanced creative performances. Songwriters and musicians are most notorious for their drug use. But many famous painters, authors, poets, actors, etc., have also used drugs or alcohol (just a drug by another name) to enhance their creative performances.
True, most people frown upon drug use by anybody, including artistic types. But most people accept it and are willing to overlook its use by artistic people. You don't hear about drug tests before concerts or Congressional investigations into artists' drug use. You don't hear of anyone being rejected by the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame or denied Grammies or Academy Awards because of their alleged drug use.
Why is drug-enhanced physical performance considered so horrific while drug-enhanced creative performance is tolerated and overlooked? Why the double standard?
It can't be because one is of little monetary consequence. The top athletes and the top musicians and actors have roughly similar incomes and are in about as much demand by advertisers.
It can't be because either sports or the arts have little impact on society. Sporting events and concerts play similar venues and draw similar sized crowds. Tens of millions go to movie theaters each week.
It can't be a role model for young people issue. Music appears to have a bigger impact on youths than sports. Youths are the biggest consumers and the main target audience for most music. You probably find as many, if not more, youths who model their looks and behavior after their favorite musicians as those who model these traits after their favorite athletes.
So why the double standard? I would think that messing with your mind would be more serious than messing with your body.
Maybe it is because it is easier to see the results of messing with your body than the results of messing with your mind.
Maybe it is because most people can believe that drugs can enhance physical performance but question the effectiveness of drugs to enhance mental performance. Many would claim that drugs hurt mental performance. In fact, “getting stupid” is just another way of saying that a person has used too much of a drug.
But I'm not talking about intelligence here. I'm talking about creativity. Few will deny that drugs open up the mind to ideas, observations, and viewpoints that the drug user would ordinarily not have or perceive. And for a person whose lifestyle and income is dependent upon their creativity, these unique ideas, observations, and viewpoints can be as good as gold.
Many creative types feel that drugs are the only, or at least the easiest, way to get these unique ideas. This is not true. You can train yourself to be more open to unique ideas and viewpoints without drugs. In fact, you can be more creatively productive without the drugs because, even though the drugs may help your creativity, they also tend to hurt your memory, reasoning, and physical performance. You can accomplish a lot more if everything is operating at or near its peak capabilities.
So, why the double standard? I don't know. This is just food for thought.
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