I am going to get serious for a moment here. I apologise, but this is something that is very close to my heart: drug abuse. Anyone who knows me, knows how strongly I feel about drug abuse.
I fucking love it.
So when I find out someone's career is going to be ended by it, I get a little upset.
Tomorrow is a sad day in the history of the Australian Football League.
Aussie Rules superstar Ben Cousins faces a Show Trial, where he will be found guilty of generating bad headlines (the official title is “bringing the game into disrepute”), banned from playing for at least a year and quite possibly for ever.
In true Show Trial-style, if he ever wants to play again he will almost certainly have to publicly “recant”, confess to his degeneracy and apologise to the entire fucking country for having sinned.
Now don’t get me wrong. Ben Cousins may well be one of the greatest Aussie Rules footballers ever, but he is far from innocent.
Until his recent sacking, he played for the West Coast Eagles — a close contender the most arrogant and obnoxious club to ever bring the game into disrepute.
However there are a good three dozen or so other young men currently on the Eagles playing list, and none of them are being hauled before the AFL’s Star Chamber.
And as Cousins has never played for Carlton, some leniency is surely due.
So what has he done?
Well anyone who has glanced at the papers will know this is all about drugs.
Not “performance enhancing” drugs. Recreational drugs.
Seems young Ben has a liking for for substances that, for reasons of historical quirk, are currently prohibited.
This state of affairs is not even 100 years old and, like the ill-fated (and utterly evil) alcohol prohibition in the US in the '20s, has proven a complete and utter failure.
Prohibition merely makes prohibited drugs more dangerous and under the control of violent gangsters.
I'll have my coke with ice, thanks
So what are these drugs Cousins is perhaps a little too fond of? Well, that has not been confirmed.
Let’s just say that the popular joke goes: “Have you heard about the new Ben Cousins meal deal at [Eagles sponsors] Hungry Jacks? No burger and fries, just coke and ice.”
So young Ben Cousins, who has won pretty much every award it is possible for an AFL player to win at the age of just 29, likes to put a lot of white shit up his nose.
There is an obvious question no one asks: so what? What business is it to anyone else where one of the games highest-paid players pocket money goes?
Personally, I prefer to soak my liver. I will admit that certain stimulants can assist in this task, allowing you to drink for entire weekends at a time.
But I have principles and don’t believe in performance enhancing drugs.
I take my booze straight.
Apparently, our fine and principled media and politicians have a different take. I don’t want to call the media vultures, as that would be an insult to what is, in comparison, a mighty fine bird.
Let’s be clear — this means profits for them as they voyeristically pick over every aspect of Cousins’ personal life that can be sold as seedy, troubled and down right fascinating.
And as Cousins is, on available evidence, a drug addict, there is a lot out there. A lot of headlines, a lot of readers and a lot of advertising cash.
For politicians, who I am sure we would all love to drug test, it is simple moral hysteria to turn working people who like to drink against working people who like other drugs — and give the cops more power to attack us all.
The facts are these: Cousins has never tested positive to drugs. He has never been found guilty of any crime. His only crime is generating bad publicity for the AFL via the vulture-media — threatening the AFL's “brand” (read: corporate sponsorship).
Cousins’ drug use does appear to have become something of a problem for him. But there is a reason such things are, usually, referred to as “personal issues”. It’s because they are no one else’s fucking business!
The importance of getting wasted
Now, I love booze, but I am not a fascist. I see no reason to force my personal preference on others.
The important thing is we all love to get wasted.
And we can all too easily cross that fine line between good, healthy drug abuse and serious addiction. Most of us do this with alcohol, a minority with prohibited drugs.
To give a sense of how ridiculous the system is, according to the media, Cousins, who had fled to the US, was admitted to hospital after overdosing on cocaine. Having survived, needing care and assistance, Cousins found himself pursued by the US police wanting to charge him for using a prohibited substance!
Of course, that was more front page headlines, notwithstanding Ben Cousin’s dad’s emotional appeal to the media to leave his son alone because he has little hope of recovering with the media pillaging his every movement.
But this is not all that the AFL are considering when they charge Ben Cousins with bringing the game into disrepute.
No, he has also brought the game into disrepute by associating with what are referred to as “underworld figures” in Perth.
Ben Cousins is a known “associate” (that is what you call someone's friend when you want to spit on the friendship) of John Kizon, well-known suspected gangster and drug dealer who, according to his lawyer, is a fine upstanding citizen.
What is Cousins’ problem? Why would he want to hang out with petty, small-time gangsters when he is more than welcome to associate with big-time corporate robber barons from the insurance industry like SGIO — high-profile sponsors of the Eagles?
First the man abuses the wrong drug (why can’t he abuse alcohol like most famous Aussie sporting icons for fuck's sake?)
Then he hangs out with the wrong sort of gangster!
He clearly has to go.
A new Oscar Wilde?
The actions of the media vultures, the moral hysteria, and the hypocritical clamouring for the blood of a high profile victim guilty of preferring the wrong sort of pleasure brings to mind another infamous case from over 100 years ago.
Now, I am not saying Ben Cousins is a modern day Oscar Wilde.
I am not trying to compare his problems with the white powder with the persecution of the genius playwright and Irishman for homosexuality.
There is obviously no comparison. By all accounts Wilde had none of the grace nor poise on a football field, and he never won a Brownlow.
In his defence, Wilde also never played for the Eagles.
What I will say is I hope Cousins gives a spirited defence of his right to put whatever shit up his nose that he wants. As footballers are not renown for a Wildean way with words, I have taken the liberty of writing Ben’s speech for him.
Head held high, inspired by Oscar Wilde’s famous trial speech, Cousins should declare to the whole world his love of the drug that dare not speak its name:
“‘The love that dares not speak its name’ in this century is such a great affection for stimulating narcotics that Sigmund Freud enjoyed for cocaine, such as Coca Cola made the basis of their corporate expansion ... It is that deep spiritual affection that, when pure, is perfect. It dictates and pervades great works of art.
“It is in this century misunderstood, so much misunderstood that it may be described as ‘the love that dares not speak its name’, and on that account of it I am placed where I am now.
“It is beautiful, it is fine, it is the noblest form of drug abuse. There is nothing unnatural about it, and it repeatedly exists with a younger man who has all the joy, hope and glamour of life before him.
“That it should be so, the world does not understand. The world mocks at it, and sometimes puts one in the pillory for it.”
Well, Ben Cousins, you have the support of this fellow drug abuser.
Or an alternative speech Ben Cousins could give if Wilde’s not his bag.
Sure enough the inevitable happened. The AFL Show Trial found Ben Cousins guilty of bringing the game into disrepute and banned him for 12 months, after which it will consider whether to let him back in.
The AFL *refused* to even say what the evidence against Cousins that their Star Chamber considered actually was! And on this basis, Cousins is denied employment for at least one year in the only thing he is any fucking good at. Beyond running from cops, of course.
And as predicted, in true Stalinist style, Cousins was forced to hold a press conference at which, woodenly reading his prepared script, he publicly “confessed” to his crimes and admitted to being a degenerate human being.
He apologised to everyone for this state of affairs.
The only hint of defiance came with this reference to the seemingly endless stream of lurid stories about Cousins in recent weeks: “Contrary to media reports, I am a lot further down the track in my rehabilitation than has been reported.”
Of course, Ben Cousins had no choice but to capitulate. It was a kangaroo court, the verdict was prepared in advance and everything was stacked against him. He could play his assigned role or he could kiss his career (and livelihood) goodbye.
But that doesn’t mean the rest of us have to accept such hypocritical stupidity.