January 7, 2008 6:03 AM

Guilty until proven innocent

Like a lot of Americans, I watched last’s episode of 60 Minutes with more than a passing degree of interest. Mike Wallace’s interview with Roger Clemens was interesting, but not for the reasons I might have expected. I was impressed with Clemens’ passion and his conviction, and after the piece had aired, I found myself thinking what I have been all along: until proven otherwise, Clemens should enjoy the presumption of innocence. An accusation does not ipso facto translate to a conviction, no matter how many conclusions one might be willing to jump to.

Clemens is, at least in my mind, justifiably upset that he’s already been tried and convicted in the court of public opinion. His brilliant 24-year career notwithstanding, Roger Clemens is in the minds of millions of Americans already irrevocably branded as a druggie and a cheat. He deserves better.

OK, so perhaps I’ve got my head in the sand. Perhaps I so desperately want to believe that the greatest living pitcher this side of Nolan Ryan did it the right way- with talent, hard work and sacrifice. I just cannot see how any reasonable person can try and convict Clemens on so little information- and what information that was provided in the Mitchell Report was provided by a man caught up in a federal steroids investigation. Brian McNamee had every incentive to implicate Clemens- he was trying to keep his own sorry ass out of prison. That fact may or may not speak directly to McNamee’s credibility, but until and unless a credible corroborating source confirms McNamee’s allegations, I’m still on Clemens’ side.

At one point, Mike Wallace asked Clemens if he would be willing to take a lie detector test, a prospect at which Clemens understandably and, I think, justifiably balked. Since when does an American citizen have to prove his innocence? If someone comes forward with clear, undeniable, and incontrovertible evidence that Clemens took steroids, then by all means hoist him up the yard arm and let him twist in the wind. I see no good reason why Roger Clemens (or any other American) should have to take a lie detector test in order to prove his innocence. Even in a court of law, an American citizen is innocent until proven guilty. Why does a prominent professional athlete not deserve the same consideration from the general public?

Call me naive, but I’m going to continue to believe that Roger Clemens’ career and his accomplishments are the product of talent, hard work, dedication, and love of the game. I’ll believe that until credible evidence becomes available that proves me wrong. I’m sorry, but accusations levelled by a man trying to avoid jail time does not to me smacks not of credibility, but of self-preservation.

Come back when you have some real evidence, ‘kay? Thank you; that’ll be all.

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This page contains a single entry by Jack Cluth published on January 7, 2008 6:03 AM.

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