I have in the space of this blog, previously bitch-slapped Martina Hingis for having tested positive for cocaine. I have also been less harsh on Gasquet for the same offense, not because I have double standards -- although I will fully accept if some readers believe that I do -- but because I honestly felt that there were differences between their situations that made the one less excusable than the other.
A friend called me after I posted that last column to say that he thought that I was talking crap. He doesn't mince words, my friend. He felt that I was making the old psychological argument that crime should not be judged independently of the perpetrators but that the nature of the person committing the crime should be taken into account. “In other words”, he reasoned somewhat bitterly, “drug use isn’t drug use. It matters who is using the drug”.
Did I mention that my friend happens to be a prosecuting attorney? Did I say that we sometimes have different views on justice? It makes for a sometimes volatile friendship, full of stimulating arguments and endless debates.
At the time I was so persuaded of my position that I refused to concede. I pointed out to my friend that for both players, I had gone on the assumption that they were guilty as sin. I pointed out that I had assumed that they would be equally punished. My point, I reasoned, had less to do with crime or punishment [which I assumed would be identical], but much more so with the issue of recovery and rehabilitation. Where Hingis had retired, I had felt that Gasquet should consider a different path.
But I also did comment on the differences in their circumstances at the time they entered into self-destructive mode. I had essentially argued that Hingis being the older and wiser should have been held to a higher standard of behavior than the novice Gasquet who had reportedly been raised under more crippling psychological circumstances.
I cringe in shame when I re-read that article. It is a clear admission of double standards. It is the age-old problem of holding women to a higher standard of behavior than men. I am as indoctrinated into the sexism inherent in this culture as any man. I was wrong.
So this is an article about contrition, an admission that I was indeed guilty of double standards. That in making excuses for Gasquet’s youthfulness and assumed stupidity at the time of his drug use, I may have been unfair to Martina Hingis. And for that, I apologize.
But understand one thing. At no point did I expect Gasquet to get away with his crime. At no point did I ever argue that he should. I had assumed that, like Hingis, he would have been banned from tennis for two years. I had assumed that Gasquet would have faced the identical punishment as Hingis. The point of my article was never to say that his punishment should be any different or that it should be less, but that this did not have to signal the end of his career. My point was that he ought not to feel that he needed to retire as Hingis had done, but that he could still make it back following his expected two years of purgatory.
Allow me to repeat: I did, with every ounce of my being, expect Gasquet to face the exact same punishment that Hingis did. So you can imagine my shock that he was able to get away using the argument that he kissed a girl with cocaine on her lips. Is that all that Hingis needed to do? Instead of saying that she did not use cocaine, should she have said that she was in slut mode and had kissed some random man in a party with cocaine on his mouth or wherever he had chosen to put it?
I have been as blind-sided as the next person by the sexism inherent in the difference between their punishments. But I will understand if you believe that I have lost all credibility on this issue. After all, I am as much a part of the problem as the tribunal that has concluded that the Katy Perry defense was a reasonable option for Gasquet while Hingis was allowed no such leeway.