Roger Clemens Picks His Poison: When the Lie is Worse Than The Crime

What's worse, taking steroids or lying about it to Congress? What the Roger Clemens perjury case tells us about our "national epidemic of lying."

What's the Big Idea?


In the wake of DSK's reversal of fortune and the Casey Anthony verdict comes another sensational legal event--the perjury case against former Major League Baseball star Roger Clemens. Following the lead of the legal talking heads, sports commentators are now sizing up the potential for entertainment value in the Clemens case. One described it as "like fantasy sports, only with jail."

On the other hand, the Clemens trial may well prove a ratings disappointment, as the Rocket is one in a long line of athletes to be publicly shamed for using performance-enhancing drugs. ESPN's Shaun Assael told Big Think our "national obsession toward sports [has] gone a little too far and we are into self-correcting mode." If it is true, as Assael suggests, that our society has already moved past the so-called "steroid era" in baseball and other sports, what is the significance of the Clemens trial?

What's the Significance?

The Clemens case is one in which the cover-up may have been far worse than the original crime. After all, Clemens has been tried (and by many accounts, found guilty) in the court of public opinion for tarnishing the reputation of the national pastime. And yet he is being tried in the court of law for lying to Congress, an incredibly brash and unnecessary act considering he was volunteering his testimony. So the injured party in this case is the government and its ability to conduct investigations. (The timing just happens to be particularly bad for baseball. Next week the spotlight will be on the game's most talented players at the All-Star game to be held in Phoenix.)

Yet Clemens is hardly the first baseball player to be accused of cheating, and then lying about it. Remember Barry Bonds? James Stewart does. In his book Tangled Webs: How American Society is Drowning in Lies, Stewart argues there is a national epidemic of lying. He places Bonds in the company of some other notorious liars of recent years--Martha Stewart, Bernie Madoff and Scooter Libby.

Watch the Big Think interview with Stewart here:

Compelling speakers do these 4 things every single time

The ability to speak clearly, succinctly, and powerfully is easier than you think

Former U.S. President Barack Obama speaks during a Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee rally at the Anaheim Convention Center on September 8, 2018 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Barbara Davidson/Getty Images)
Personal Growth

The ability to communicate effectively can make or break a person's assessment of your intelligence, competence, and authenticity.

Keep reading Show less

Antimicrobial resistance is a growing threat to good health and well-being

Antimicrobial resistance is growing worldwide, rendering many "work horse" medicines ineffective. Without intervention, drug-resistant pathogens could lead to millions of deaths by 2050. Thankfully, companies like Pfizer are taking action.

Image courtesy of Pfizer.
Sponsored
  • Antimicrobial-resistant pathogens are one of the largest threats to global health today.
  • As we get older, our immune systems age, increasing our risk of life threatening infections. Without reliable antibiotics, life expectancy could decline for the first time in modern history.
  • If antibiotics become ineffective, common infections could result in hospitalization or even death. Life-saving interventions like cancer treatments and organ transplantation would become more difficult, more often resulting in death. Routine procedures would become hard to perform.
  • Without intervention, resistant pathogens could result in 10 million annual deaths by 2050.
  • By taking a multi-faceted approach—inclusive of adherence to good stewardship, surveillance and responsible manufacturing practices, as well as an emphasis on prevention and treatment—companies like Pfizer are fighting to help curb the spread.
Keep reading Show less

Preserving truth: How to confront and correct fake news

Journalism got a big wake up call in 2016. Can we be optimistic about the future of media?

Videos
  • "[T]o have a democracy that thrives and actually that manages to stay alive at all, you need regular citizens being able to get good, solid information," says Craig Newmark.
  • The only constructive way to deal with fake news? Support trustworthy media. In 2018, Newmark was announced as a major donor of two new media organizations, The City, which will report on New York City-area stories which may have otherwise gone unreported, and The Markup, which will report on technology.
  • Greater transparency of fact-checking within media organizations could help confront and correct fake news. Organizations already exist to make media more trustworthy — are we using them? There's The Trust Project, International Fact-Checkers Network, and Tech & Check.
Keep reading Show less