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American Law, Morality, & ARod

In 1985, the Department of the Treasury had a hunch there were a huge number of Americans who cheated on their tax returns, only a small percentage of whom were caught by random audits.  In order to narrow in on specific small-scale cheating practices, they gave citizens a $10 tax credit for filling out an anonymous survey that asked if the citizen had ever skirted the law on their taxes, and if so, how?  The results of that survey greatly improved the IRS' ability detect and prevent tax fraud, saving the government billions of dollars each year, and providing a moral victory for the non-cheaters.

In 1992, however, nearly all of the anonymous survey participants who admitted to cutting corners on their taxes were audited.  Many were fined and some were jailed for tax returns filed before 1985.

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In 1973, mobster Joey McLane was arrested and tried for eight counts of murder and organizing a huge ring of drug traffickers.  Pivotal to the case against him was the testimony of Carlos Fuentes, a member of McLane's inner-circle, and a man who ended up admitting to carrying out two murders at the request of McLane.  For his uncensored testimony, the government prosecutors arranged for Fuentes to plead guilty to 2 counts of manslaughter and would not bring any other charges against him.  McLane was found guilty and sentenced to life in prison without parole.

Two years later, however, Carlos Fuentes was charged with four counts of first-degree murder and a number of drug trafficking counts all related to the McLane crime group.  He was found guilty and sentenced to life in prison without parole.

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Hopefully it's obvious that neither of those two stories are true.  You see, in America, we have laws against entrapment.  When you're told you can share information freely without having to face punishment for it, that's the final word.  If asked, police officers have to tell you they're police officers.  In questios of moral and legal authority, citizens and government officials cannot lie.  This why Barry Bonds may end up in hot water, if the government can prove he did use steroids -- not just because of the steroid use, but because he lied about it under oath.

When MLB players were told that they would be tested for steroid use, but that the results would be kept anonymous and private, they -- and we -- should have expected exactly that to happen.  Baseball fans should not only be outraged that ARod and others used steroids, but that a system of honesty and legality has been destroyed.  Maybe ARod cheated.  But the system definitely cheated ARod by making his test results public.  And we, as citizens who uphold strict entrapment laws, should uphold the same moral code in this situation.  Sure, it's difficult given the evidence, but given the situation in which the evidence was gathered, it's tainted and should not be admissable to our moral judgments.