04/27/2007 12:55 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Justice for Paris Hilton

Denim is always guilty when it comes up against velvet. -- Gogol

That doesn't really have anything to do with anything, I've just been thinking about Paris Hilton, and I wanted to class things up before I get down on all fours and root around in the muck.

By this time next week, Paris Hilton could be in jail. On Friday, May 4th, she'll be sentenced for reckless driving, driving with a suspended license, and violating probation from a previous drunk driving arrest. All Californians being equal in the eyes of the law, she's looking at 90 days.

It could happen. Really. Just yesterday, the state legislature approved $7.4 billion for more prison beds. Maybe they know something we don't.

(The state will be selling lease review bonds to pay for the beds, so the final cost will be closer to $15 billion, but that's a small price to pay to... no, actually that's a shitload of money. There are 160,000 people in prison in California, and they each cost $30,000 a year. There could be 200,000 in prison by 2012. Wouldn't you rather talk about Paris Hilton?)

I'm not saying Paris Hilton is actually going to do time. I'm just saying, if you send enough people to prison, sooner or later you'll convict a celebrity. Even in Los Angeles. The tenets of justice can fail, but not the laws of probability.

If not her, then, I dunno, Scott Baio.

Prison has a way of evening things out. If Phil Spector gets convicted, too, Paris will only be its second least convincing blonde.


If Paris does go to the pokey, it could be the sign that a grotesque era is over. The way Ivan Boesky's plea bargain signaled the end of the 80s.

(I don't actually believe that for a minute, but I wanted to say it before some other hack (Maureen Dowd) does.)

(Idea for Maureen Dowd's next column: How the Democratic Presidential Debate was Like Grey's Anatomy. See, Hillary's Ellen Pompeo, and Barack Obama...)

(Why do people read her?)


I have to admit I've never gotten Paris Hilton at all. When the guys talk about her, as a universally acclaimed figure of guilty lust, I edge away slowly.

I feel like I'm not getting the gag. Like it's a new version of that old high school trick, where you tell the joke with the punch line "No soap radio!" and everyone laughs, to see if you'll laugh too, just to fit in.

Don't get me wrong. I could stand around the water cooler objectifying women until the cows come home. But Paris Hilton gives me the willies.

It's not that she's stupid. Although she does make Jessica Simpson sound like Jessica Mitford. And it's not that she's useless and bad. Lots of people are useless, stupid and bad. Look at Alberto Gonzales.

It's that her only job is to be a sex symbol, and she's about as attractive as Norman Bates dressed as his mom, drunk.

What am I missing?


Hey, speaking of Russia literature -- and if I say we are, we are -- what should Paris Hilton read in jail? I'm thinking she might enjoy Ilf and Petrov's The 12 Chairs. She might get a kick out of meeting Ellochka Shchukina.

Like half of all characters in Russian literature, Ellochka Shchukina is married to a civil servant with money problems. She's also pretty, vain, and has a taste for the good things in life. And she only knows thirty words. They translate as:

"You're fresh!" "Ho-Ho!" "Great" "Gloomy" "What gloom!" "Uncanny" "Fellow" "Don't you teach me how to live" "Like a baby!" "Bee-utiful!" "Fat and handsome" "Let's take a horse cab" "Let's take a taxi" "The back of your coat is all white!" "My, my!" "Oho!" and "Oh, go on!"

You get the feeling, after they created her, Ilf looked at Petrov and said, "Isn't this getting a little broad?"

And she still knew 29 more expressions than "That's hot."


What should Paris Hilton read in jail? I open the floor to you.