BOSTON (CBS) – For whatever reasons, Roger Clemens appears to have made plenty of enemies during his Hall of Fame pitching career. And every last one of them seemed to make a cottage industry out of mocking Clemens in recent years as a flagrant liar for telling a congressional hearing he never used steroids to enhance his performance.
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The anti-Clemens chorus persisted throughout no less than two federal perjury trials, the first one ending in a quick mistrial due to prosecutorial misconduct, the sequel ending Monday in complete exoneration of Clemens on all counts.
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Typical of the venom-peddlers was a columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times, who delivered this untimely opinion on Sunday: “Lance Armstrong and Roger Clemens are the same guy. Oh, they look different, lead different lives and dominated different sports. But they share the same deadly strain of arrogance that allows a person to believe he can fool an entire planet.”
As Clemens’ lawyer put it after his client’s acquittal Monday: the new definition of arrogance “is when a man says he didn’t do it.”
Actually, Lance Armstrong and Roger Clemens do have something in common – no one ever offered any credible evidence to support the charges against them.
It’s troubling that federal prosecutors were so eager to squander time and tax dollars going after Clemens on such thin, single-source evidence. But, we have safeguards in place to check prosecutorial arrogance and excess.
I’m not so sure we have protection against gullible onlookers so eager to scratch their own itch they will swallow and parrot dubious charges against someone they don’t like, and not especially care if the evidence is flimsy.
It’s bad enough when we see that in our political culture, where no one’s motives ever go unquestioned. But there’s something especially wrong with a culture that’s increasingly saying it’s eager for a witch-hunt at any time, and please don’t let any talk of truth or fairness get in the mob’s way.
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