The freak show is getting freakier by the minute

When the sick spectacle known as Paralympics finally kicks off, I won’t be watching any of it – the idea of people debasing themselves for cheap notoriety doesn’t appeal to me. And in any case, just reading about the Paralympics provides all the fun one can handle comfortably.

First came the news of three Jordanian ‘athletes’ being thrown out of the Games for serious sexual offences. Details needn’t detain us here, but I do think the organisers missed a trick.

Paraplegic sex ought to be turned into another competitive event, for no one can deny that participants would have to display the kind of dexterity that would be nothing short of acrobatic. The competitors could be judged on technique and artistic impression, like figure skaters. And if you think this would be an affront to good taste, then what about the whole thing? One can hardly abuse the participants more than they’ve already abused themselves, along with our aesthetic sense and the very notion of human dignity.

And think of the sell-outs, something that’s vexing the organisers so. Apparently, they’ve been unable to corral enough voyeurs to watch the cripple jump, or whatever delights they’ve got on offer. Paraplegic sex would take care of this commercial problem nicely, for we know from history that the combination of sex and deformity has much popular appeal.

During the French naughty Belle Epoque, Paris brothels and streetwalkers were doing brisk business, with hordes of men joyously floating from one to the next and in due course dying of syphilis. Many would eventually get so sated and blasé that they would seek crippled prostitutes to whip up their ardour.

Apparently the legless ones (and I don’t mean the ladies were drunk) were in particularly high demand for the attractive ballistic possibilities they opened up. Now though my proposal features only vicarious thrills of the Peeping Tom variety, they would be thrilling nonetheless, and I’m certain this kind of titillation would generate huge turnouts.

The second bit of news has to do with ‘boosting’, and chances are you’ve no idea what that is. In short, if the very idea of Paralympics is sick, ‘boosting’ is sickness squared. According to some authoritative reports, up to 30 percent of the parathletes rely on this trick to gain a competitive edge.

As any able-bodied athlete knows, vigorous physical exertion drives up the blood pressure and heart rate, which in turn improves performance no end. Alas, quadriplegics, those with severe spinal injuries, can’t get that response by natural means. Yet we all know that winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing, don’t we?

Acting in that spirit, the poor sods resort to unnatural means to produce the same effect. They crack their toes with a hammer, strangulate their testicles, administer electric shocks to their legs, fill their bladder and don’t empty it to make it really painful – that sort of thing.

‘Boosting’ is against the rules, and it can be dangerous, leading to strokes among other things. But then blood doping is illegal too, yet that didn’t stop Lance Armstrong, America’s great cycling hero who was yesterday banned for life and stripped of his record seven Tour de France cups.

Personally, I’d let him get away with it, for he won his first Tour a mere year after several cycles of brutal chemotherapy for testicular cancer. That’s a huge handicap, and a little doping to offset it seems fair. Armstrong, however, didn’t compete during chemotherapy, a notion that would have appealed to the Paralympics organisers, had they thought of it at the time.

In an anonymous survey during the Peking* Paralympics, 17 percent of the respondents owned up to ‘boosting’, though the experts believe the real number is twice as high. How desperate can one get?

Anyway, what can’t be forbidden must be allowed. Again, the situation is replete with commercial possibilities. One idea that springs to mind immediately would be to allow ‘boosting’, provided it’s done in full view of the paying public. Since 100 percent of the participants will be doing it, the only way for them to get a jump on the competition would be to come up with more creative techniques, and surely this is something we’d all like to see.

I could offer a few possibilities, but won’t. It’s lunchtime, and I don’t want to turn you off your food. Just think of the torture tools exhibited at the Tower of London or the nearby Museum of Horrors and you’ll get the general idea.

Modernity, don’t you just love it? We’ve come a long way since the Book of Job taught us how to handle suffering and what it means.



* I refuse to call that city ‘Beijing’ because it hasn’t changed its name, the way, say, Leningrad has. It’s always been pronounced ‘Beijing’, and we’ve always spelled it ‘Peking’. Now the Chinese insist on the different spelling, but it’s not up to them to issue diktats on English orthography. Incidentally, the French spelling of the name hasn’t changed since time immemorial. 

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