Shock! Sensation! Drug shame! After being picked up in London with one tab in his pocket -- one pill -- he shamefacedly confessed to Thursday night's Footy Show not just that he had intended to consume it, but that he had consumed many more before that over the last ten years or so. "Joey's twelve year drug hell," screams the headlines. "Some players should look at the humiliation and embarrassment this has caused not only to myself but more my family," says Johns.
But I have to say, why the "shock"? Why the "sensation"? Although some might cruelly suggest you only need half the brain to play league you do for most other sports, consuming the occasional pill had clearly never affected the league legend's game, or his off-field relationship with his fans and employers. The drug had never caused him to run amok.
So why the hand wringing?
Is it not possible to get this in perspective? If a grown man were to confess on live television that he'd had a glass or two of whiskey over the years -- oh my God! just imagine! -- then who (apart from the obvious killjoys) would be in shock? Where would be the shame or the humiliation? Confess to liking a whiskey or a vodka or a beer or three and sane people are likely to say "so what," but confess to ingesting an ecstacy or two -- which a study published in Lancet suggests is less harmful than ingesting both tobacco and alcohol -- and the world's headlines close in on you.
The harm (if there is any) lies not in the drug, but the hysteria caused by the illegality of the drug.
Perhaps sane people could stop and think about that? As Judge James P. Gray said of Robert Downey Jr.'s 2001 drug conviction, "How is actor Robert Downey Jr.'s problem with drug abuse any different than Betty Ford's problem with alcohol abuse? Why is it appropriate to send Robert Downey Jr. to jail but send Betty Ford to treatment? Shouldn't drug users who cause harm to others raise different questions, and answers, than users such as Downey who do not harm anyone but themselves?"