Yes, there was other news. Yes, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs. Yes, Guantanamo. Yes, Iraq. Yes, Albania (Albania?!). Yes, a lot of other "more important" stuff. But that doesn't mean our fixation on Paris Hilton was trivial.
We Americans like our morons. We love to argue about them, applaud them, boo them, Google nude pictures of them, and generally hate to love to hate them. But we also have a limit. And that limit is often when the person we've given our attention to starts giving us the finger. We'll tolerate hubris to a point but we stop the minute it crosses a line, a line you recognize the minute you see it. And last week we all saw it at the same time.
Our collective outrage was about inequality, plain and simple. The spoiled rich kid thumbed her nose at us. Drunk driving with a suspended license again because the rules didn't apply to her. She kicked and screamed and eventually got her way.....until we said no. We said no, then the city attorney said no, then the judge said no. That's usually how it works. Public officials don't respond to their conscience with the same speed with which they'll respond to ours. Perception, votes, and public outcry are the flames under their fat asses. We light that flame and things tend to happen. Yes, it's harder to do that with Iraq, Guantanamo, and the rest. But Americans have done it over and over again. Would Libby be going to jail if not for public perception? Would Rumsfeld be playing shuffleboard right now if it weren't for our collective outrage? Would Bush be so weakened by poll numbers if not for those being polled?
If you think the Paris episode was a blight on cable news, you're right. But you'd be wrong to say that it was entirely meaningless. Equality in our justice system is important. And, no, I'm not stupid enough to think that Paris Hilton brought us to the judicial promised land. Maybe I just like seeing so many of us on the same side of an issue for a change. Equal Justice For All. That's what it says outside the court. Last week we all felt it at the same time. And oddly enough, it took an idiot.
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