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In which Roger Clemens is compared to Casey Anthony

Jul 6, 2011, 8:25 AM EDT

Roger Clemens AP

I don’t think that I have to provide regular readers my steroid-prosecution-skeptic bonafides. You know where I stand: questionable use of government resources and a highly questionable way for us to assess what happened in baseball over the past 20-25 years too.  A fun spectacle on some level, but ultimately signifying nothing positive or particularly useful.

All that said, I just can’t get on board with Mike Vaccaro’s column in today’s New York Post. The column in which he argues — in a way you might think I’d argue — that the Roger Clemens prosecution is a waste of everyone’s time and money and that the legal system has better things to be doing. The problem I have is the example he uses as a means of jumping into the matter:

Caylee Anthony is dead. And nobody has yet been forced to answer for it. This was the kind of case that merited all the time, all the attention and all the energy of our judicial system. A 2-year-old girl drowns, her body is tossed in the woods, a suspect is arrested, arraigned, indicted, tried. This is why lawyers are paid handsomely, why judges and juries are empanelled, why taxpayer dollars are spent.

In this moment, frankly, it is difficult to build an angry lather about Roger Clemens …

Look, I get that some people got emotional over the Anthony trial — Vaccaro himself was clearly annoyed by the verdict in real time on Twitter yesterday afternoon — but if a dead toddler is your threshold for what is a worthy prosecution, nothing that goes down in our legal system is going to seem all that legit to you.*

There are clear priorities in our legal system. There has to be. But it’s not as if every transgression against Man and State is placed on a big board, all of them judged against one another and only the most dire cases pursued. There are different tracks in the justice system, all leading from different stations.  Some begin with the police on the street. Some begin with people monitoring paperwork. Some begin with citizens filing their own lawsuits. An investigator and a prosecutor tasked with looking at drug crimes or the veracity of testimony before Congress can’t have Caylee Anthony as their bogey, or else they’re never going to make a case.

Back to Clemens. No, it’s not the highest and best use of the legal system. But I’d argue that, in the way it all came down, it’s a higher use than the Barry Bonds case in that, unlike the Bonds case, it truly did involve a person trying to bully his way through legal proceedings based on his fame, offering up implausibilities that demanded they be put to the test one way or the other lest the proceedings look like a farce. Clemens was given multiple outs and opportunities to avoid the public spectacle and willingly passed them up. And yes, I wish that others who have come before Congress and told lies were put in the dock too, but our shameful overlooking of the lies of tobacco or oil executives, for example, does not mean Roger Clemens is worthy of no scrutiny himself.

But no matter where you fall on that issue, I would hope we can agree that, when talking about Roger Clemens, using the Casey Anthony case as a framing device is not exactly the most artful or apt thing in the world, and that it really does nothing to help us think about what to feel about Clemens, steroids in baseball or the legal system.

*It’s also possible that Vacarro doesn’t truly believe that child murder is the threshold for our legal system to act and that he’s merely being sensationalistic and emotionally manipulative here. Perish the thought.

  1. JBerardi - Jul 6, 2011 at 8:30 AM

    Oh, do I long for the halcyon days of ~24 hours ago, when I had no idea who the hell Casey Anthony was.

    • largebill - Jul 6, 2011 at 8:38 AM

      JBerardi,

      Don’t worry next sensational story (missing blonde or shark attack) and she’ll be quickly forgotten.

    • franklapidus316 - Jul 6, 2011 at 8:54 AM

      same here, had no idea until yesterday’s mass twitter freakout.

    • Jonny 5 - Jul 6, 2011 at 9:26 AM

      You guys must really live in a bubble, because this has been news for quite some time. I am jealous and wish to know where this world is you live in. I want in!

      • paperlions - Jul 6, 2011 at 10:34 AM

        Eastern CT, in a town of about 1800 people scattered through a forested landscape. On my 10 mile drive to work, I typically pass 2 to 7 cars, a few joggers, a few deer, some turkeys, a could cyclists, about 1.2 millions squirrels/chipmunks, and not a single store or gas station.

    • paperlions - Jul 6, 2011 at 10:25 AM

      I didn’t know who Casey Anthony was until I saw this post…and then I had to google the name. I was vaguely aware of the story of the story when the toddler was found….hadn’t heard anything since.

      Really, all you have to do is not watch the news. If I am interested in reading about some story or just seeing what is going on…I type BBC news in google and go from there….I can do with out the entertainment that is presented as news on a daily basis. I’ve never been one to rubber neck at traffic accidents either.

  2. largebill - Jul 6, 2011 at 9:03 AM

    One item that jumped out from the excerpt you posted is this sentence: “In this moment, frankly, it is difficult to build an angry lather about Roger Clemens …” Why does he feel it is necessary for him to build an angry lather about a relatively victimless criminal case in which he isn’t a participant. People face our justice system for a wide range of alleged infractions. Some are minor like speeding tickets. Some are more serious like property crimes (theft, fraud, etc). Some are heinous (rape, murder, etc). We can debate where perjury falls on the whole moral outrage scale, but there is no denying it falls somewhere on the books and it can be prosecuted without my getting emotionally involved at all. Way I look at it is, right now people are speeding and only some will be given tickets. Those that get caught and those that don’t were equally in violation of the law. Overall the justice system works. However, despite how well it works you will always be able to cite examples of flaws in the system. And we are all free to ignore the process or get emotional about the flaws differently depending on the nature of the case. In other words, I can be upset about a child being murdered and no one being held accountable and simultaneously not give a damn about Clemens. Different offenses different responses.

  3. florida727 - Jul 6, 2011 at 11:03 AM

    This will come across as cold, and I don’t mean it to, but there are 307+ million people in America. Caylee Anthony DIRECTLY affected, what, a handful of them? Her mom. Her grandparents. A few friends at KinderCare.

    Roger Clemens affects BASEBALL. Our national pastime. Far more people are affected by what happens to the sport of baseball than what happens to one 2-year old little girl.

    Is what happened to Caylee tragic? Absolutely. Does justice need to be served because of her death? Again, absolutely. But to compare the NATIONAL SIGNIFICANCE of the two scenarios is absurd. I know it’s not “politically correct” to fire bullets at the Casey Anthony trial. It’s an “emotional” topic. Like it or not though, baseball has a far more wide-reaching impact on our society than ONE criminal trial… even one as sad as this one was and the emotions it stirred. Think about it: five (ten? twenty?) years from now, no one will think twice about Casey Anthony. They will think about baseball. Sad as that may be.

    • Jonny 5 - Jul 6, 2011 at 11:37 AM

      http://www.thepunch.com.au/images/uploads/robertdowney_junior.jpg

  4. mossholder - Jul 6, 2011 at 12:45 PM

    Are you kidding me? You honestly think that Rodger Clemens being tried is more important than a 2 year old girl getting murdered with no solution in sight. All of America is angry at the Anthony case because the mom got away with it! Many people are comparing this trial to the OJ case, but you’re right… Clemens lying about Steroid use is way more important than ACTUAL crimes. The guy shot some steriods big deal… HE DIDN’T KILL ANYONE.

  5. mossholder - Jul 6, 2011 at 12:47 PM

    HA! Florida727… were you on the jury? That explains it all…

  6. dirtyharry1971 - Jul 6, 2011 at 1:18 PM

    never thought anyone would stoop this low to write something like this, disgraceful. msnbc really needs to see whats being posted on their site, joking or not joking this is just wrong

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