Tiger Woods And The Prescription Drug Patriarchy

Tiger Woods issued a statement taking great pains to explain that he wasn’t drunk when he was found asleep in his smashed up car on the freeway. Well, that’s a relief. I would hate to think people under the influence of a drug strong enough to induce a mini coma were under the influence of alcohol. When someone careens their vehicle into mine in a head on collision I prefer they be on Xanax or Fentanyl or Codeine or something regulated.

His point of pride in that he incapacitated himself on pills versus a bottle of Jameson is indicative of a nationwide disconnect. These aren’t dangerous, they’re called medicine. Yet isn’t one much more dangerous than the other? Off the top of your head, how many people can you name who died from alcohol poisoning recently? Probably none. Pills? Just recently, Prince. Chris Cornell. Every professional wrestler. Woods released a statement:

“I understand the severity of what I did and I take full responsibility for my actions. I want the public to know that alcohol was not involved. What happened was an unexpected reaction to prescribed medications. I didn’t realize the mix of medications affected me so strongly.”

Ok, you were prescribed painkillers. A hundred years ago, alcohol was widely prescribed as medication for a host of conditions, from coughs to anxiety to blood pressure. Whatever Woods was doing with his medication would be the equivalent of a monocled physician prescribing you a shot of brandy every evening and you taking that as a license to butt funnel a couple of handles worth.

Since the new breed of increasingly strong prescription opiates are a relatively recent development, there isn’t a lot of hard data on exactly what they do to your body over the long term, but they certainly kill your heart and liver. In terms of overdoses, in 2015, the most recent year data is available, there were over 15,000 overdose deaths due to prescription drugs. Alcohol, 2,000. You also have to factor in that 86 percent of Americans drink alcohol and only 35 percent, a shockingly high number, use prescription painkillers. So, not to say that alcohol isn’t dangerous, but prescription drugs are clearly much more dangerous.

So why would Tiger Woods make this a point of pride? No officer, I wasn’t drinking, I was just snorting Oxy. It’s kind of like how people on Adderall don’t realize that they are literally, in the true sense of the word, meth users.

I would posit the reason is because the government has legalized prescription opiates, (and taken a cut of the profits), so people irrationally find them safer than they really are because the government says they’re okay. Most people would disprove of sticking a needle in their arm, yet an increasingly high number are totally fine with taking the same drug by mouth.

I would further propose that this is because people have a patriarchal relationship with the federal government, and that through what amounts to intimidation in the form of taxes, jail time, and propaganda, the government is able to sufficiently threaten the general public into irrationally believing that they have good intentions.

So, a patriarchy. An abusive father, a wife beater. But you need him to keep the lights on, and he doesn’t really mean it.

He fucks with you on a constant basis, but you’re grateful when he cuts you a break.

You’re a battered woman. Or man, for the sake of equality.

As a microcosm of this, I was driving down Sunset Boulevard a few weeks ago, sober, prudent, safe for the conditions, and some pig from the LAPD pulled me over. It should be noted that the LAPD has, inarguably, a history of blatant racial oppression and I would also argue economic oppression in the form of writing people tickets for the financial benefit of the government. Usually, poor people. There aren’t a lot of speed traps north of Montana or San Vicente.

So this dork on his motorcycle pulls me over, based on my speeding per the limits set during the horse and buggy days. He asks me if I know how fast I was going. What purpose this could serve is beyond me. Do they let you go if you know how many people you stabbed in the mall? If I was actually behaving dangerously, why the fuck would it matter?

I can immediately tell he wants me to win him over, to play the game. He wants me to degrade myself by pretending I’m not furious over being pulled over for no fucking reason, and my reward will be that he ‘let’s me go.’

I rattle off some bullshit story about going to see my non-existent brother’s new baby, and the pig buys it. I get off without a ticket.

The person in the passenger seat is ecstatic. He let us go! What a cool cop!

Bullshit. We shouldn’t have been pulled over in the first place.

They’re negging you, and you’re supposed to glow when they throw you a bone.

Or else they will literally beat the shit out of you and take your freedom.

Another example of this could be found in the case of war. It is illegal to kill another person in the United States. Yet every ten years or so the United States embroils another country in a war and sends American troops overseas to kill a bunch of people. If you kill enough of them, or if they kill you, they often give you a medal. It’s probably worth a hundred bucks. It’s your reward for serving them.

Tiger Woods was obsessed with the Navy SEALS, as was detailed in a fascinating article written for ESPN by Wright Thompson. Woods revered the SEALS as the pinnacle of all things honorable even though they have inarguably committed various war crimes, and even went to great lengths to attempt to qualify for the SEALS. This led to him running trails and obstacle courses at high rates of speed in combat boots, which, not shockingly, fucked up his back really badly.

So he got surgery, and was prescribed painkillers.

Woods is a concrete example of what happens when you don’t question the patriarchy.

You’re also much less likely to do so if you are really numb from prescription drugs.

It’s not a coincidence.


Matt Ralston is a comedian and writer based in Los Angeles. Follow him on Twitter @MatthewRalston

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