Justice blind-sided

Buencamino writes political commentary for Action for Economic Reforms. This article was published in Business Mirror June 13, 2007 edition, p. A6.

The most important issue in America today is Paris Hilton’s fate. Proof of that is coverage of the G8 summit gave way to breaking news about her release from prison and her subsequent return to her cell.

Larry King, the interview king of American TV, devoted two shows to Hilton. He invited two celebrity news reporters, two forensic psychiatrists, a best-selling author, a famous defense attorney, a sheriff from Maricopa County, Arizona, and a former Hollywood madam to discuss “what it all meant” for Paris Hilton, the American people, and the American Way.

Dominick Dunne, the best-selling author and host of Court TV’s “Power, Privilege and Justice,” told King the Hilton affair was “one of the great cultural events of America.”

Robi Ludwig, the forensic psychiatrist, said, “That is the big cultural question. Why is she so fascinating? Because she’s famous for being famous. Listen, maybe she is a very nice, intelligent girl. But she doesn’t stand for anything, except for somebody who is beautiful and does the party scene.”

“So?” King probed.

“I think it’s a reflection of what’s wrong in our society, that this is what’s news….That we’re interested in people because they’re in the limelight….She’s a pretty girl. We’re intrigued by wealth, glamour and fame. And what’s interesting, now it’s taken to a new level, even if you’re not talented and you don’t stand for anything,” Ludwig explained.

Thank God King turned to his other guests before Ludwig could hit her full psychobabble stride.  It gave Mark Geragos, the defense lawyer, a chance to put a little perspective into Ludwig’s remarks.

He said, “You know, when you say she doesn’t stand for anything, she does. She stands for something in America. She stands for being rich and famous. That’s what everybody thinks of when they say Paris Hilton. So what this is, is you—is class warfare in reverse.”

The Great American Divide over what Paris Hilton deserves is Karl Marx’s class war fought American style. Carol Lieberman, the other forensic psychiatrist, Geragos, and Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, the “Toughest Sheriff in the West” played it out.

DR. LIEBERMANN: “I think that—we look like fools, that we’re trying to spread democracy and justice and freedom and all this all over world. And in the meantime, people are seeing that a celebrity, yet again, just like O.J. [Simpson] and many other celebrities, are getting special celebrity justice. And I think that that’s terrible.”

ATTY. GERAGOS : “She did about double to triple what anybody else would have done. Normally what happens—and I’ve got three clients and I think I told you last time, similarly situated clients. I’ve had one within the last week who literally turned themselves in, took the bus ride and were released right from county jail onto the electronic monitoring and then was released from that in six days.

“If you do what Paris did, where you turn yourself into the jail, then they will not—they’ll just turn you around and release you immediately. So when people say was Paris getting special treatment, I say, yes. She got double or triple what everybody else in L.A. County gets.”

KING: “Dr. Lieberman, you are surprised?”

DR. LIEBERMAN: “I’m outraged. I think that this is terrible. Not only is it a bad influence for lots of other people who follow the fashions and whatever else Paris Hilton does, but it teaches people to disrespect the law….”

SHERIFF ARPAIO: “I am rather shocked that this situation (release of Paris Hilton from jail) did occur. It sends a bad message. It’s a bad day for the criminal justice system, a bad day for law enforcement. She should do her time. …Is it because she has—she’s a celebrity and she has a lot of money?”

ATTY. GERAGOS: “No…she’s doing more time because she is a celebrity, Sheriff….”

America’s perennial quest for Truth, Justice and the American Way is a good thing. However, why does the American journey have to begin with Paris Hilton and not with Lewis “Scooter” Libby, US Vice President Dick Cheney’s former chief of staff, who was convicted of two counts of perjury, one count of obstruction of justice, and one count of lying to the FBI over leaking the identity of Valerie Plame Wilson, a CIA covert operative whose husband exposed the bogus claim that Saddam Hussein was trying to acquire materials for a nuclear bomb?

Libby’s friends, his co-conspirators in laying the false pretexts for the invasion and occupation of Iraq, bombarded the court with appeals for leniency for “a patriot, a dedicated public servant, a strong family man, and a tireless, honorable, selfless human being,” to quote from Donald Rumsfeld’s letter.

Fox News complained loudly about celebrity justice but it remained silent on Beltway justice because this time around it does not involve a Democrat president lying about a White House intern.

Why is there an over-abundance of self-righteous indignation over Paris Hilton’s “preferential” treatment, that it teaches people to disrespect the law when Scooter Libby will be giving the same lesson if he gets his leniency and pardon?

Paris Hilton drove a car while she was drunk on booze. She could have injured or killed someone. Fortunately, she did not. Scooter Libby and his friends drove their country to war while they were drunk with power. How many have been injured and killed by their recklessness?

Justice in America is not blind. It was blind-sided by class war.

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