Get It Quietly

Football, bollocks and a bit of poker if you're lucky.

Location: Enfield, London, United Kingdom

Monday, August 14, 2006

The Obedience Of Fools

When I googled, "rules are for the abeyance of fools", the top link I found was this blog. Which is nice, but clearly means that I was mis-quoting somehow. And indeed I was, the correct quote is "rules are for the obedience of fools and the guidance of wise men". I also didn't know that it was originally said by Oscar Wilde. Wasn't everything ?

Anyway, this sprang to mind when reading about the goings-on at some athletics championship at the weekend. Darren Campbell basically threw a major strop, blanking his relay team mates and refusing to join a lap of honour after their win, because the team included Dwain Chambers. Chambers is serving a two-year ban for steroid use, but because of some technicality, he was still eligible for this competition. Clearly this is a grey area, worthy of proper consideration before the event.

Not according to the guy who makes the decision, as follows :

"[UK Athletics performance director David] Collins defended the decision to include Chambers, who is not eligible to run at the Olympics because he is a convicted drugs cheat. 'The rules are the rules,' he told the Times. 'If the rules of the sport were to change I would not have a problem with that. It is a very vexed question and I do not think it is as simple as black and white. But it is a difficult decision for me because what I am running is a programme that is focused on success at Olympic and world level and the decision to select any athlete anywhere who is ineligible for the Olympics is a big and complex decision."

So he did see it as a big and complex decision, but only because Chambers is ineligible for the Olympics and so this interferes with his future plans. British athletics is rubbish again, I gather, and with this kind of attitude I can see why. Without jumping up onto my high horse, what I really want to say is that rules and ethics are not the same thing. Being technically covered by the rules doesn't make what you're doing OK, any more than the legality of any particular act excuses you from all moral obligations. Needless to say I have seen dozens of instances at the poker table where people have done nasty things to each other, either believing or putting up the front that it's OK because it's not techically against the rules.

At least be honest with yourself. Think about it and decide for yourself. If you want to be a black hat, that's up to you, but in my book it's the people who hide behind the rules who are the most pathetic of all.


Blogger David Young said...

It's funny that you should write this piece because I've felt for some time that blindly following 'international law' was the way to ruin for the West.

In your previous post, you wrote about 'illegal invasions'. Since you now appear to accept the idea that things should be illegal because they are wrong and not the other way around, isn't it better that you should base your criticism of the invasion of Iraq on reasons that don't depend on 'illegality'.

It's now illegal to serve soup to the homeless in Las Vegas. But is it wrong?


4:03 PM  
Blogger Andy_Ward said...

Hi David,

I was half anticipating that point from someone :-). It's a fair point but the comment about the invasion was simply a throwaway one-liner and I could just as easily have said immoral instead of illegal.

I hadn't thought of the Vegas soup thing when I wrote this post, I would have used it as a great example if I had done.


4:50 PM  
Blogger Fred Titmus said...

"If you want to be a black hat, that's up to you..."

Doesn't bother me.

6:02 PM  
Blogger Andy_Ward said...

You're the greatest Fred :-)

I had to stare at that for 10 seconds before the penny dropped.


6:15 PM  
Blogger danmonkey said...

No grey area, Chambers has served his 2 year ban and is eligible for every athletics competition except the Olympics, which excludes drug cheats for life in every sport. First offence is a 2 year ban in athletics and 2nd offence is a life ban.

Campbell's strop is because when Chambers got caught he was prosecuted retrospectively for a couple of years. This meant that his performances in relays at major championships were struck from the records (as well as individual events). Campbell was one of the fellow team members who had to hand back their respective Gold and Silver medals. Thats why he's a tad grumpy, nothing in particular to do with morality, he's just pissed off because his shiny medallion was take away because of Dwain.

8:03 PM  
Blogger Andy_Ward said...

Thanks Dan,

I knew I was missing the background on this.


9:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Actualy isnt the quote from Douglas Bader?

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