I contribute a weekly column to the Platte County Landmark under the “Rambling Moron” name. It’s a great Northland Newspaper and well worth a subscription. The following is an copy of my article which appeared in the 8/31/12 edition – printed with permission.
REWRITING HISTORY IS A FOOL’S ERRAND
There’s been this rash of governing bodies lately removing history as a way of punishment of transgressions. Put simply, people are trying to rewrite history. I don’t see how this is, in any way, an appropriate penalty for people cheating.
Last month, we had the NCAA strip all wins between 1998 and 2011 by the Penn State Football program because of the university’s involvement in the Jerry Sandusky scandal.
Last week, we had the USADA, the governing body of United States Cycling, revoke all of Lance Armstrong’s Tour De France titles – a record seven in all – because of allegations of doping by Armstrong and other members of his team.
In 2010, after allegations that Reggie Bush and O.J. Mayo both took money from boosters, wins and championships from USC were vacated dating back to 2004.
These situations are clearly serious and indications of serious moral issues – but why take away the wins? Does that mean the guy who finished second in the race gets the medals? Usually, no. Does that mean the teams that lost those games – sometimes by double digits – should somehow feel better about losing? No. The whole idea is silly.
Sure, these cheaters should be labeled as such. They shouldn’t ever get a chance to endorse razors, or ask for money for charities, or be put on a Wheaties box. But you can’t ever rewrite history. Ever. History is just that. Truth. You can learn from history – study history – but taking an eraser to the history books is stupid.
What if we could apply the same theory to real life? Every time a politician lies to us, we can go back and remove a stupid law they made. I’m sure recently ousted Tracy Mayor, Rita Rhodes would love this. We could go back and “vacate” fixing the broken sign that led to her ouster and just say it never happened. Whoops, that error was vacated.
Maybe we could go back through our high school yearbooks and rewrite that sophomore class photo when you wore the UBU pink shirt. Or “adjust” who you went to prom with your junior year. It’s okay, that’s what the International Olympic Committee did to 1988 Weightlifter from Hungary Andor Szanyi, when they took away his Bronze medal for doping. You see, you don’t know about it, because IT NEVER HAPPENED. (Pretend I wave my arms in front of your face like David Copperfield.)
I’d love to go back and “vacate” a few of my old columns. Can you pretend that column I wrote about bullying back at the beginning of the summer never existed? Never really felt good about that one.
Maybe we could go back and remove old bounced checks from our credit report. Yep. Never happened.
If the whole idea sounds absurd, it’s because it is absurd. There are cheaters among us every day. The goal in life is to minimize their impact and learn and keep moving forward. Learn from it. Put protections in place to fix the root problem and move on – or come up with a better way to punish someone. Rewriting history is a fool’s errand.