Skrip - tyur' - i - ent: adj. Possessing the violent desire to write.

6/12/2007

WHORE BORE S'MORE

So I’ve been doing some more thinking about Paris Hilton. I’m starting to wonder if I’m being too hard on her. Maybe because I’m a softy at heart, or maybe because that last time I was excited about something bad happening to a celebrity I got shit on pretty badly.

Then I read this article in Slate about the media circus surrounding her arrest. The writer sounds a bit like a pompous jackass, but some of what he wrote hit home. Namely:
…Those gloating and jeering headlines, showing a tearful child being hauled back to jail, had the effect of making me feel sick. So, you finally got the kid to weep on camera? Are you happy now?
Jeez… did I want to see her cry? I’m a little ashamed to admit that I did. Mostly because I wanted to see some real responsibility to her actions, not the usual vapid sound bites that define her entire personality. If I was in that situation, I certainly would take it seriously. But she never did. Until she was actually sent to jail. So, yeah, a few tears finally allows me to believe that she understands the severity of what she did.
Evidently as bewildered and aimless as she ever was, she is arbitrarily condemned to prison, released on an equally slight pretext and—here comes the beautiful bit—subjected to a cat-and-mouse routine that sends her back again. At this point, she cries aloud for her mother and exclaims that it "isn't right." And then the real pelting begins. In Toronto, where I happened to be on the relevant day, the Sun filled its whole front page with a photograph of her tear-swollen face, under the stern headline "CRYBABY."
Hmm… that is a little shitty. But I’ve been doing the metaphorical equivalent of pointing and laughing for some time now. So I guess I’m as shitty as the rest.

So I started feeling rather bad about my attitude, thanks to this article. But then I decided to dig a little deeper. Couple other points from Slate:
… a result of being found with a whiff of alcohol on her breath…
A whiff? Okay, let's look at that. She blew a .08 on a Breathalyzer, this is the bottommost threshold to be considered “impaired” in California. However, it’s important to note that in California, there are two separate charges that apply: “driving under the influence” and “having a BAC (blood alcohol content) higher than .08.” Apparently you can be charged with both, but only punished for one (and the punishment is the same for both). Surfing around some legal websites, I came across a succinct explanation of why the law is this way:
Q: "So then what is the purpose of being above or below a 0.08 if they can still prosecute you for a DUI?"

A: Because driving with a BAC above 0.08 is a separate crime. The law was written this way because many people, especially those who drink regularly, were proving able to pass the field sobriety tests while above 0.08, thus indicating that they are not under the influence.
 Conversely, other people, especially those who seldom drink, may be measurably impaired even with a BAC well under 0.08.

23152(a) is driving under the influence. No BAC test result at all is required to get a conviction under this - if the cop testifies at trial that you were impaired, that may well be enough to get a conviction under (a).

Obtaining a conviction under (b) would require a BAC result over 0.08.

Please notice that all of the news stories report that Hilton was spotted "driving erratically;" that’s why she was stopped. The police officer would have been completely within the law to arrest her even without her failing a breathalyzer. Which she did anyway.

To those reporters (and especially the Slate guy, who I’m now pretty sure is a douchebag) who read that Hilton was at the bottom of the BAC scale and make the jump in logic that she barely had a “whiff” of alcohol on her need to do their homework. Like I just did. In 10 minutes of surfing the Web. And I’m not even a professional journalist.

So, was she drunk or not? Maybe she’s just a poor driver. Maybe she’s such a party girl that .08 is nothing to her. Or maybe she was minutes away from driving into a pole and killing herself and/or someone else.

Back to the Slate article:
…So now, a young woman knows that, everywhere she goes, this is what people are visualizing, and giggling about. She hasn't a rag of privacy to her name.

…she should be left alone to lead such a life as has been left to her.
Is this a joke? You’d think from the tone of this article that Paris Hilton is just trying to live her life in obscurity, and is besieged on all sides by paparazzi invading her life. While the truth that we’ve all seen played out time and time again is that Hilton courts the media, that she’s a media whore. She wants to be famous, and has taken every opportunity to embrace publicity (good or bad--she wasn't exactly enraged about the release of her weird sex tape). Now that she is famous, should we feel bad that magazines are plastering her photo across every tabloid? I argue that you can’t invade someone’s privacy when they discard that self-same privacy in the name of being a star.

But I will say this. If Paris Hilton, after she is released from jail, removes herself from the public eye and leads a low-key life, I will eat every single word I’ve written here. Literally. I will print this out and eat it. I'll even video it and put it up on YouTube. But I feel pretty confident that she’ll be back on the party circuit within the week, if not the same day.

And a final bit from Slate, the part that burns me up the most:
Purportedly unaware that her license was still suspended, a result of being found with a whiff of alcohol on her breath, she also discovers that the majesty of the law will not give her a break.
The law wouldn’t give her a break, huh? I point you to this timeline of Hilton's run-ins with the law; below are the most relevant points:
  • Sept. 7: Spotted "driving erratically" and arrested.
  • Sept. 26: Charged with driving under the influence.
  • Jan. 15: Pulled over by California Highway Patrol and informed that her license is suspended. She signs a document acknowledging she is not to drive.
  • Jan. 22: Hilton pleads no contest to a reduced charge of alcohol-related reckless driving. She is placed on three years probation, ordered to enroll in alcohol education and pay $1,500 in fines.
  • Feb. 27: Hilton is ticketed for misdemeanor driving with a suspended license. A copy of the document signed Jan. 15 is found in her glove compartment.
Okay, so she is pulled over for driving with a suspected license (which is, by the way, a crime) and basically given a warning. Then, less than two weeks later, she is pulled over again. With the “do not drive” document--WITH HER SIGNATURE--in the glove box. Also, she never enrolled in the court ordered alcohol education course.

She drove with a suspected license and was pulled over. TWICE. She broke probation. She disobeyed the court. Maybe it was all a series of misunderstandings as Hilton’s lawyers would like you to believe… but to me, it seems like a pattern of behavior from an overly-privileged young woman who doesn’t think she needs to worry about the laws that affect other, lesser people. She brought all of it (the crimes AND the media attention) on herself.

I was afraid I was being too hard on her. Maybe I’m not being hard enough.

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1 Comments:

Anonymous sylph said...

totally with you on this one... what a brat.

12:34 PM

 

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