But some celebrities make inexplicable decisions that seem to defy logic -- and their bulging bank accounts. It seems a day doesn't go by anymore when TMZ or Perez Hilton isn't reporting on a celebrity DUI or driving incident. Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan, Nicole Richie, Vivica A. Fox, Haley Joel Osment, Michael Phelps, Kiefer Sutherland, Heather Locklear, Mel Gibson, Joba Chamberlain, Shia La Boeuf...the list goes on and on of celebrities who didn't have the good common sense to employ drivers -- or take a taxi -- to make their night on the town safer for them and everyone else. What's the use of earning $12 million a picture or $1 million an episode if not to make life easier and safer?
Before Britney Spears' life was taken over by the California legal system and her conservator father, we watched her drive herself all over Los Angeles, seemingly to run mundane errands to grocery stores, drug stores and gas stations, making her life virtually indistinguishable from yours and mine, except that paparazzi would fiendishly tail her wherever she went. The madness resulted in a number of psychiatric detentions and the loss of custody of her two kids. If there were ever a case for drivers and security guards, this was it.
Clearly the decision to drive themselves, even if intoxicated, and arm themselves, even if illegally, isn't about money or means. It seems, rather, it's one of invincibility and entitlement. Athletes like Plaxico behave as if they are above the law, and have little problem throwing minions like us under the bus to keep it that way. He asked the New York City nightclub to let him in with his firearm, and asked the hospital that treated him not to report the incident. In what were bad decisions, both agreed, and could now rightly face charges themselves.
For years LA and New York City nightclubs have knowingly allowed underage celebrities to drink in their establishments. After the actor has consumed his weight in vodka, he teeters out the front door and the club valets usher him into the driver's seat of his waiting Escalade. The culpability lies with many, but the solution lies with one. Hire a driver. Hire a body guard. Problem solved.
But Paris Hilton doesn't drive because she has to, she drives because she wants to. And Plaxico Burress doesn't carry a loaded gun because he needs to, he carries one because he wants to.
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said people like Plaxico Burress especially deserve prosecution because they are public role models. That's a lovely thought, but it's misguided. In theory a star wide receiver like Burress could make a great role model, but in practice, there's much evidence to the contrary. Foisting a role model mantle on a celebrity is often an arbitrary, preposterous, and incredibly disappointing exercise in futility.
Indeed, scolding Burress in an attempt to make him want to be a "better person" is the wrong tact, a waste of time, and, frankly, outside the jurisdiction of any elected official. I don't need or expect my celebrities to be saints -- I already have role models in my men and women in uniform, the tireless volunteers I know, childhood teachers and my parents. But I do expect my celebrities to throw their easily-earned money around in ways I cannot afford to do. Celebrities deserve prosecution for episodes like this precisely because they are celebrities -- and it's about time they started acting like it.
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