Saturday, November 17, 2007

Hands Off Barry Bonds

Barry Bonds, the former San Francisco Giants slugger who has hit more home runs than any other professional baseball player in history, faces jail time for lying to federal prosecutors about his alleged use of steroids. The use of steroids to build up one's muscles and thereby become a more powerful athlete is illegal. Many would argue that steroid use invalidates the achievements of Bonds and the other athletes who have used them. That is not the point here. Whether steroid use invalidates a sporting achievement is strictly a matter between the sports associations, team owners, the players, and their fans. It is a private matter for these parties to sort out themselves, not a criminal governmental matter. (It may involve the government if Bonds violated a contract and there are lawsuits among the affected parties. However, that would be a private dispute being adjudicated by the courts, not a criminal matter.)

The Bonds prosecution is just one more instance of the government assuming de facto ownership of our bodies. Can I ingest a drug of my choosing that my doctor and I believe can treat a rare cancer? No, unless the drug manufacturer invests many tens of millions of dollars to pass bureaucratic hurdles set by the Food and Drug Administration. Can I choose my own medicines, including antibiotics, to treat myself? No, under the prescription laws I must first pay a doctor to make that decision for me. Can I eat foods containing "trans fats" at a restaurant in New York City? No, because the city has banned such foods on the premise that I am incapable of making such choices for myself.

As government officials now make many of the basic decisions affecting our health and well-being, Americans have become infantilized. No longer are we sovereign adults who exercise self-reliance and self-responsibility to govern our own lives. The government makes such choices for us. We now live as children, not free adults.

Every person owns his own body by right. If you own your own body, this includes the right to put any substance you choose into it. If it is illegal for Bonds to make such decisions regarding his body, then his body is no longer his; it now belongs to the government.

If the government owns our bodies, by implication not only can it tell us what we can and cannot put into them, but also what we can do with them, such as whether we can have abortions.

Our freedom will only be restored if each of us individually, fully and without limitation, owns his own body and such ownership right is fully and completely recognized by the government. True ownership of our own bodies means we can do what we want with them, so long as we do not harm another person.

Barry Bonds has hurt no one, except possibly himself, by allegedly taking steroids. That is his right. It is true that Bonds is technically being prosecuted for lying to federal investigators, not steroid use as such. However, he should not have been questioned about steroid use in the first place. Morally, ingesting steroids or any other substance is not a crime.

I say to the government: hands off Barry Bonds. Hands off his body, and hands off mine. I own my own body and have a right to use it as I please.


Inspector said...

They Who Think They Own Us will not stop at ruling what medicines and medical procedures (i.e. abortions) we choose for our bodies - they will seek to control us down to the last detail. Cigarettes, French Fries (i.e. trans-fats), and now even soda are among the things the government wants to deprive us of our choice to consume.

Barry Bonds is a great example, too, because it is always the unpopular examples that the government uses to break our freedoms. People operating on a purely emotional level won't defend Barry Bonds, Michael Vick, or users of hard drugs. But our individual depend on it.

Galileo Blogs said...

I cannot agree more. People seem to understand your point better with free speech, and are willing to support the right of Nazis and Ku Klux Klan members to speak freely in order to defend the principle. However, even that is being eroded, witness the speech codes on public university campuses and periodic attempts to legislate against speech that denigrates a particular minority group.

People need to learn that freedom means that each person is responsible for his own life, even if a particular person uses that freedom to hurt himself.

Another way to put it: I am not my brother's keeper. It is wrong to compromise my liberty in order to protect him from himself.

Inspector said...

Sorry; that should read "our individual rights depend on it."

And well said, Galileo.

Galileo Blogs said...

Thank you, Inspector, and for your comments.