Sunday, June 10, 2007

And Justice For Some!

First Paris Hilton. Then Lindsay Lohan. Then Paris Hilton. Then Lewis Scooter Libby. Again, Paris Hilton. What’s the world coming to? The rich and powerful and stupid are being sent to jail – Hilton for 45 days for violating probation and driving on a suspended license and Libby 30 months for obstructing a federal investigation. It's mindblowing to me the coverage that the whole Hilton thing has gotten. Of course, that's just my opinion, I could be wrong!

With all the hype, and I really can't believe how much there is, I am wondering if the treatment of Hilton and Libby will finally end the idea of community service and probation. I hope so. I take no pleasure in the incarceration of either of those notable lawbreakers, but I think it’s a good thing. People need to be responsible for their actions. In Hilton's case, if she'd done some time for the DUI and didn't have her whole friggin' life spoon fed to her like a baby eating baby food, maybe none of the would have happened. With her recent statement, maybe she's learned something. No Appeals. Do the time. Finally, a smart statement.

So where did this "celebrity example of justice" really start. Was it Hilton? Nope. It all started with Martha Stewart’s one-year jail sentence for lying to investigators. Thereafter, we’ve seen a parade of handcuffed multimillionaires, celebrities and idiots go to prison for precedent-setting long terms. Lets look at some: WorldCom’s former chairman got 25 years. Tyco’s former CEO Dennis Kozlowski and his CFO Mark Schwartz got 25 years. Enron’s Jeff Skilling got 24 years while his CFO Andy Fastow, who got leniency in return for testifying against his colleagues, only got 10. Adelphia’s CFO Timothy Rigas got 20 years and his father John Rigas, who founded the company got 10...and he's an old man! And we get upset that Paris got 45 days? Or 23 days? Or 5 days? Hell no!

What good does it do to lock up these dumb (but smart in some ways), rich, powerful executives and wannabe celebrities? There are two possible benefits. First, these punishment serve justice and vindicates the law. Secondly, it may possibly be and example to other, especially our kids, to think before breaking the law. That's the real issues and question here. Do examples work? We've all seen them, we all preach them. But do we heed them? I still drive 80 mph and I've seen car accidents. But I've paid my debt to society (through fines and such) and that's the way the system is set up. It may not be, in some people opinion, the best justice system but heck, it beats some of the cruel laws other countries have for crimes.

Let there be no doubt, sending Paris Hilton, Scooter Libby, and all those corrupt businessmen to prison sounds a very loud warning siren to others who have lied, or might think they are above the law by lying, to investigators or investors. It may finally be a wake up call to America's elite that their crap really does stink...just like mine. Our legal system needs reform. That's a given. And if judges like Judge Sauer in the Hilton case, use their power to enforce the laws and dish out justice for the crime committed, my hat's off to them. As for LA Sheriff Vaca, he's got a tough job to do in one of the biggest cities, with some of the worst offenders. The whole Paris Hilton debaucle is probable one big pain in his ass...both in the political arena and the media. I mean, come on, would you want to meet with Al Sharpton? I can only imaging how that conversation is going to go!

Commentator Michael Josephson said it best on his radio blurb last week on KNX here in Los Angeles.

"Character should be what motivates people toward virtue, but sometimes we need coercion."

And in Paris Hilton's case, it's time to grow up, run you own life, and learn to like hot dogs. They'll be your favorite jail food for the next 40, 39, 36, 32, 28, 25, 22, 21, 18, 15, 14, 12, 9, 7 days or so! (pick your favorite number...pretend it's the lottery!)