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Roger Clemens Trial Declared A Mistrial, And Thank God

Those who are familiar with me know that I don't write angry. I don't argue, I don't feud, I don't cast moral aspersions. There is nothing wrong with doing those things, necessarily, it's just that I generally lack both the motivation and, more importantly, the skill, to do so. It's not what I'm good at.

Right now, I'm not quite writing angry, but I am writing while sort of confused and disappointed. Minutes ago, a mistrial was called in a case that could have sent Roger Clemens to federal prison for perjury. The reactions I'm hearing from fans, from writers, from analysts, from everyone, strike me as downright creepy.

I waited a while to gauge whether these disappointed voices in favor of locking up Clemens were impulsive and half-serious, or genuine sentiment, and the needle is moving toward the latter.

Lots of people really wanted to see Clemens found guilty and locked up... for lying to the government. Let's ignore what is legally sound and focus instead on what is morally sound, because the two are pretty damn different. If you lie to the government, you are lying to an entity that -- and there is no room for argument here -- is sometimes guilty of lying to us. Sometimes those lies ruin peoples' lives, and sometimes they kill people. Roger Clemens lied about sticking steroids in his butt.

If you are disappointed that Clemens isn't going to prison, have you given a significant amount of thought to what prison is actually like? Federal prison? I feel that its omnipresence in this country contributes to how commonly the agony of the experience is discounted. Count every single thing about your life that you like, and know that almost every single one of those things will be gone. That is prison.

You want to send this guy there for, what, a year? Longer? What is your deal? Are you insane? It wouldn't be for the public good. Imprisoning him isn't going to prevent him from harming anyone; he never harmed anyone to begin with. Imprisoning Clemens would make us far more of a monster than he ever was or would be.

Clemens cheated and he seems like an arrogant jerk. Shrug. I'm not going to wish prison on him, just as I'm not going to slug you for telling a bad joke.