Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Save the Children!

I didn’t plan on posting anything this morning, but thanks to The Today Show, I am morally obligated to freak out, literarily (is that even a word? If not I hope that it at least makes sense…hard to tell at 8 AM). Why the hell do you watch that show, you say? Given the sparse (like food in an Ethiopian drought) fare that makes up morning television, this at least gives me ranting ammunition as I peruse the web for some actual news.

Upon hearing the word ‘poker’, my eyes shoot up from the laptop as my fingers work to turn up the volume. Woohoo! This sounds Howitzer class stuff as far as ranting ammunition goes, and Today didn’t disappoint. All I can say is, Thank God for the “Teens Playing Poker” segment, as I was truly unaware of it’s dangers until they brought it to my attention.

Here are some actual quotes from the ‘experts’ (I don’t have names, as I was trying to make sure I got their words correct):

“Letting teens play poker is tantamount to letting them play with a gun..”

(My favorite)—“Teens who play poker are 50% more likely to binge drink, 75% more likely to smoke marijuana, 15% more likely to use tobacco, and 4-6% more likely to develop a serious gambling problem.”

Oh dear, where to begin? A gun? I have yet to hear of anyone needing to be rushed to the hospital because the poker game accidentally discharged. Anyone with an IQ above 10 hopefully recognizes this statement as probably the most ignorant thing that will escape from anyone’s mouth on December 22, 2004.

Let’s deconstruct the second statement. “50% more likely to binge drink”. As any good past/present binge drinking degenerate will tell you, it wasn’t ‘the poker’ that made them do it. As I see it, you haven’t really lived until you’ve been binge drinking at least one time in your life. I’m certainly not advocating making it a regular habit (especially for teens), as you are pretty worthless for a while during the aftermath, but I digress…I would submit that if one takes poker seriously, it actually increases personal sobriety as concentration and discipline are paramount, especially for the beginner.

75% more likely to smoke marijuana and 15% more likely to use tobacco”—Once again, I’m pretty sure that the decision to do either of these things is quite separate from the decision to gamble. The reasons behind this assertion was that poker encourages ‘risky’ behaviors. What is life in general, if not a risk taking gamble every time you step out of the house? I’d think that poker would be a one of the more 'safe' arenas in which to learn how to deal with and manage risk, but then again, I’m not an ‘expert’. With the ever increasing adoption of non-smoking poker rooms, could it not be argued that poker actually promotes healthier living? By logical extension, if I hold the above statement to be true, and considering the fact that marijuana is widely held to be a ‘gateway drug’…..should I expect to be shooting heroin within a relatively short time frame after learning to play Hold’em?

Teens that play poker are 4-6% more likely to develop a gambling problem.”—All that can really be said here is, “Flapdoodle”. If someone is heading towards any kind of addiction, gambling or otherwise, they are going to get there regardless of what anyone does or says. Making narcotics illegal certainly helped decrease the number of addicts out there, didn’t it? War on Drugs, indeed. War on Terror, indeed. I think I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that I foresee a War on Gambling in our near future.

These ‘experts’ also derided those who promote poker as extremely irresponsible, unlike those companies who produce alcohol. As though spending money on PSA’s starring actors fresh out of rehab, and putting Gamblers Anonymous telephone numbers on anything poker related somehow makes them more responsible. Is their definition of responsibility airing commercials (similar to every beer commercial you’ve ever seen) to try and convince you that the amount of poker you play is directly proportional to the amount of beautiful big-breasted models inclined to fuck your brains out?

I just realized, after much hand-wringing and cries of “Won’t someone PLEASE think of the children?” launched heavenward, I need to stop writing and shoot up because just thinking about poker is making me feel like the risk-taking, boozing, narcotics slugging degenerate I quite obviously am. I’ll probably end up discharging my firearm a few times as well in the process. All because of poker. If only I had seen The Today Show earlier….