Friday, February 15, 2008

What counts as a mistake?

In this week's ESPN the Magazine, Stu Scott, an ESPN broadcast personage and writer says of Roger Clemens that "even if it is shown that he did do steriods, I would still have him in [the Houston Astro's "mini"] camp [as an instructor], because making a mistake shouldn't make you a pariah." The mistake would have been taking steroids and human growth hormone in an effort to allow him to train more effectively and thereby increase his strength to a degree not possible with normal weight training.

Now there are mistakes of all sorts. I suspect I will have a spelling mistake in this blog or make some grammatical error. These would not be intended and would count as mistakes. Should they be the result of an inability to spell the word correctly or not know that the grammatical error was an error, one of you would surely chastise me. After all, am I not The Language Guy?

So, we have unintentional mistakes made out of, say, negligence or ignorance. Let us suppose, however, that some young woman is induced to try ecstasy (X) at some club even though she knows that it may not be the smartest thing in the world to do and then manages to get inveigled to go to a young man's apartment where she has sex though in her right mind she would never have done this. Suppose further, that she gets pregnant. I think one could fairly describe her decision to take X as a mistake, an error in judgment. However, if she were to routinely take X at parties and routinely end up the evening having sex with some guy would we say that she has made a mistake? Surely something one does multiple times, knowing it to be a problematic action, shouldn't be described as a mistake or even a bunch of mistakes. She would have crossed over into the domain of irresponsible behavior.

Similarly, calling Roger Clemens' steroid and HGH use over several years "a mistake" seems to me to be a gross misuse of the term. This is a not uncommon occurrence these days. Hardly a week goes by when some young man, often an athlete, does something that violates the rules of the NCAA or gets in a bar fight or sexually or physically abuses some woman. Usually, the young man's defenders call the actions a mistake, hoping I think to minimize the offense.

I shall cut this a bit short (for me). I am struggling to overcome the aftermath of a hip replacement. I think that the hip replacement was quite successful. However, I managed somehow to screw of the knee on that leg and my spirits are a bit low. Mostly because I suspect I did something I shouldn't have done and should have known not to do. Such is life for the mistake prone elderly man.

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Blogger Rita said...

Well I'm glad you made it through what ever hell a hip replacement involves...

What counts as a mistake? What counts is a matter of hindsight plain & simple.

11:26 PM

Blogger Le vent fripon said...

Starting to take steroids might seem like a mistake, now that he's been caught, but while he was doing it, it was probably a rational decision made for the benefit of his career.

I like seeing the more-human bodies of baseball players from decades ago.

6:09 AM

Blogger The Language Guy said...

I hear you le vent fripon. If one watches an old game of a big time college football team some 20 years ago, the bodies are not even as bulky as those of lesser athletes today. Some of that is due to an increased emphasis on weight lifting. But I fear steroids may be giving an assist.

Can you imagine someone asking to testify before Congress? We're talking a serious death wish, something that only someone with an overweening ego might bring down on himself. A 95 mph fastball doesn't work well when thrown at Congressmen. Perhaps he thought it did.

9:11 AM

Blogger concerned citizen said...

aka handmaiden

sometimes commenting on your blog seems to be a mistake. Why is that I wonder?

10:24 AM

Blogger The Language Guy said...

I am dumbfoundedly laughing at your comment. Was that a mistake?

12:03 PM

Blogger concerned citizen said...

I try to respect everyone and recently that has been very easy.Why ever that is I don't know but it has to be a good thing.

Well If you are willing to forget past snarly events so am I.

BTW, it's appears you might not realize handmaiden & Concerned citizen are both me. When I started the concerned Citizens group blog, I dropped the L>T blog. Having a public political blog was to restricting so, I started the handmaiden blog. I didn't mean to intentionally confuse you. I just assumed you knew that. The two personas are on different accounts & I tend to use which ever one I'm in at the moment.

If I had common sense, I would just not come over to this blog & that would save us both annoyance. But, reading this blog is about a three year habit & you frequently have interesting & thought provoking posts.

9:57 AM

Blogger Rita said...


9:59 AM


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