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Paris and Other Pariahs

06/12/2007 03:47 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Okay, so maybe we can all sleep a little better tonight knowing that Paris Hilton is neatly tucked away in jail in Los Angeles. Justice has been served. After all, she violated the terms of her parole, so why not take her in handcuffs in the back of a squad car, and show her what law and order is all about? Yes, and while we're at it, why not put her in the middle of the public square, subject her to ridicule, whip her with headlines, and purge ourselves of all that evil envy we all, to some degree, possess.

Oh, don't get me wrong, I hate Paris Hilton, too, because she's young, blonde, and beautiful, because her breasts are firm, and her dreams intact. Yes, yes, why not feed her to the gladiators because she was born with a silver spoon in her mouth, and will return to a palatial estate in West Hollywood while the rest of us serfs can only stutter at her opulence, and say "pass the remote"?

But explain something to me: how is it that Augusto Pinochet, a man who killed many thousands in his native Chile, was allowed to serve out his days in his mansion, and not a peep was said by anyone? How is it that Richard Nixon was pardoned, and left to walk, after masterminding the break-in of Democratic headquarters known as Watergate? How is it that war crimes, and massacres, are taking place every day both here at home and in Iraq, in secret terror cells, and in state penitentiaries, and no one is saying a damn thing? Instead, the news media can't get enough of the mug shot of a young girl whose freedom, or incarceration, in the final analysis, doesn't mean a bloody thing to anyone but herself, and those closest to her.

We have made a national pastime of scapegoating those who do the least damage to us, as a society, while letting the real criminals walk free, unscathed, and without scrutiny. While Scooter Libby may be next to cry his eyes out in the back of a squad car, and the media blitz will convince us that, once again, justice is being served when those who most deserve to be handcuffed, and carted away will finish out their terms of office with feckless, and tearless impunity.

So, while those who feel vindicated by the equalizing of stigma, and penalty as applied to Ms. Hilton are taking a huge sigh of relief, and thinking that, at last, the system works, think about this, for a moment, we have destroyed a human life. Yes, it isn't just her short sentence in a county jail that Paris must put behind her, but the miserable memory of having been subjected, and eviscerated, by ongoing deprecation, and communal venom, and this from this most Christian of countries.

What's happening to Paris Hilton is a crying shame for any of us who have ever known what it is to be ridiculed and despised, to have your dreams dashed. Anyone who thinks that even one day in jail is a good thing deserves to be there themselves. Moreover, anyone who thinks that the disparity between rich and poor, right and wrong, has been addressed by incarcerating, and humiliating this young girl will be hugely disappointed when they discover it hasn't accomplished a thing.

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