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Opinion

Lance Armstrong’s metamorphosis from one of the greatest and admired athletes of all time to one of the greatest cheats in sports history, is fascinating. His Mount Olympus sports-world residency exceeded the quality of his perceived character.

If Lance had simply been lying concerning his constant denials of doping, I could be more sympathetic. However, he wasn't content with merely circumventing the cycling rules like many of his competitors had done. Armstrong was as aggressive using the media and legal system to squash those who dared tell the truth about him as he was conquering the mountains in his numerous Tour de France victories. Excuse me – non-victories. Now, with a measure of poetic justice, the Armstrong lawsuits are not being initiated by him but against him.

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Are you willing to wear a surgical mask during the winter to help prevent the spread of influenza? Since I've not seen a single mask in public, I'll go out on a limb and say the answer is no. While a mask may be of limited value in preventing the wearer from coming down with the flu, it serves as a barrier for the infected. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "Most experts think that flu viruses are spread mainly by droplets made when people with flu cough, sneeze or talk." The CDC also says that the flu can be transmitted up to six feet away. To be sure, there are probably people you would like to maintain that distance from, but for the most part, it would be a sad way to conduct your everyday affairs. Rather than adopt a germophobia outlook, most people take a prudent and rational approach to the flu that may include a vaccination as well as good personal hygiene and staying home when ill.

This year's prospect of a severe flu season is but one of a myriad of dangers that each person evaluates and eventually is tallied on a collective scorecard of perceived threats to society. In the aftermath of the Newtown shooting, school safety is one such threat that is once again being scrutinized. Renewed arguments for limiting or banning firearms are converging with calls for putting guns in the schools, usually in the form of placing law enforcement officers on site to protect students.

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“The Fourth Amendment was designed to stand between us and arbitrary governmental authority. For all practical purposes, that shield has been shattered, leaving our liberty and personal integrity subject to the whim of every cop on the beat, trooper on the highway and jail official. The framers would be appalled.” —Herman Schwartz, The Nation

If you want a recipe for disaster, take police officers hyped up on their own authority and the power of the badge, throw in a few court rulings suggesting that security takes precedence over individual rights, set it against a backdrop of endless wars and militarized law enforcement, and then add to the mix a populace distracted by entertainment, out of touch with the workings of their government, and more inclined to let a few sorry souls suffer injustice than to challenge the status quo.

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“We need to look more closely at a culture that all too often glorifies guns and violence.” — President Barack Obama

It didn’t take long for the tragedy of the Newtown, Connecticut shootings, which left 20 schoolchildren and six adults dead, to be co-opted by politicians and special interest groups alike, all eager to advance their ideas about how to prevent another deranged madman from taking innocent lives. President Obama is calling on Congress to issue gun control legislation that would limit access to assault weapons. The National Rifle Association (NRA) wants armed guards patrolling every school in America. Legislators in several states, including Florida, want to allow teachers to carry guns on school grounds. Others are clamoring for a lockdown of the schools, complete with metal detectors and guard dogs.

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