Sunday, January 20, 2013

Lance Armstrong cheats with cheat

I haven’t seen anyone else point it out, so I will: Lance Armstrong’s definition of cheat is pure nonsense. In other words, he cheated even when offering what he claimed to be a dictionary definition of cheat. Here is the relevant exchange, from the BBC transcript of his interview with Oprah Winfrey:

Did you feel in any way that you were cheating? You did not feel you were cheating taking banned drugs?

At the time, no. I kept hearing I’m a drug cheat, I’m a cheat, I’m a cheater. I went in and just looked up the definition of cheat, and the definition of cheat is to gain an advantage on a rival or foe that they don’t have. I didn’t view it that way. I viewed it as a level playing field.
To cheat is not necessarily to gain an advantage over an opponent: one can cheat at solitaire. And one can gain an advantage over an opponent with a killer move on a gameboard, with a skillful choice of words, with a wicked backhand, none of which is a matter of cheating. What Armstrong fails to mention is the element of dishonesty that any dictionary’s entry for cheat will include. Here for instance is the New Oxford American Dictionary’s entry for cheat:

Try some Google searches with the words of Armstrong’s definition of cheat. Try searches that exclude lance and armstrong too. The only references to this pseudo-definition that you’ll find will be references to Armstrong’s interview.

Someone who cheats even when it comes to defining what it means to cheat is, well, a real cheater.

[I’ve added a comma to the interview excerpt for clarity and italicized Winfrey’s question and the word cheat (used as a word).]

comments: 4

Elaine Fine said...

I suppose that kind of thinking might be related to what the definition of "is" is, or might once have been.

Michael Leddy said...

Hmm. Yes. I didn’t even point out the absurdity of (supposedly) consulting a dictionary to figure out if what you’re doing is cheating.

Berit said...

"...look(ed) it up in a dictionary, and (insert zinger here)!"--isn't this such a common piece of ill-formed rhetoric? Television is just a fount of evangelists and other charlatans who tirelessly pour this type of equivocation into the ears of any who will listen. Disgusting.

And what is this, "Went and looked it up"? Is grabbing a dictionary to consult or affirm so like a pilgrimage to Mecca? Perhaps he does not have such a tome handy in his home or workspace, so a particular journey was needed to quench his thirst for a true understanding of what it means to cheat. It invites the listener to sit at his feet as a disciple and soak up Real Truth.

Elaine said...

I suppose it's entertaining to imagine the contortions Lance Armstrong had to go through to justify (in his own mind) what he was doing. I suspect he is just hoping to be seen in a more sympathetic light. Right now could he even get a job as a used-car salesman?