I spent a good part of the last few days arguing about Paris Hilton. Among other subjects of debate, is the issue of why we should be discussing her in the first place. After all, as an individual, she is probably one of the most uninteresting people ever to usurp national interest. Ironically, this is exactly what makes her worthy of discussion. Her iconic status says far more about the country than it possibly could about her. She's a reflection of a culture run off the rails by economic disparity, ignorance, shallowness, and the gullibility of a public too easily distracted by bread and circuses. Or as one of my favorite bloggers Steven Weber put it:
A true-life, virtually unbelievable culture criminal, the embodiment of all that America® and it's affiliates (America-Lite, America Xtra Caff, McJesus, HistoryBeGone!, etc.) export to its citizenry and the world, she is like one of those characters at the end of Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451 walking around endlessly reciting books they have committed to memory in impart [sic] to future bookless generations the ingredients essential to humanity: knowledge, curiosity, imagination, the adhesive substances that bind the bricks of civilization. Only, Paris Hilton walks by herself in an isolated part of the forest, barely able to keep a Bazooka Joe comic in her head, stumbling over the big words and encouraging not mere passing scorn or fringe amusement but outright worship.
It's been said that Miss Hilton received a harsher sentence because of her celebrity status. If so she's been hoisted by her own petard, for she is the walking embodiment of an old cliché; quite literally famous for being famous. I think it's more likely that the Honorable Judge Sauer lobbed a very tiny book at Miss Hilton because she has consistently displayed an attitude that she is above the law.
"I can't believe that either attorney did not tell her that the suspension had been upheld," the judge said. "She wanted to disregard everything that was said and continue to drive no matter what."
What else can one possibly deduce about a person whose excuse for ignorance of the legal documents she signed is that she, "has people who do that for me." How many times does a person have to be cited for driving on a suspended license before some realization dawns?
But according to prosecutors, Hilton violated at least three terms of her probation. First, she failed to enroll in an alcohol education course within 21 days of her sentencing.
Second, she had several traffic violations after receiving probation. On February 27, 2007, she was stopped by L.A. Sheriff Deputies for driving “a new Bentley” at 70 m.p.h. in a 35 m.p.h. zone “in darkness without her headlights on,” and without a valid driver’s license.
The air must be rarefied, indeed, in a place where one can pull such a stunt and remain mystified when the judicial system catches up.
Like I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Paris draws a legion of admirers convinced that she is above the law. Their offenses are too trifling, they say, to merit the statutory penalties for the crimes of which they were both convicted.
Like the George W. Bush, Miss Hilton lives far from the reality-based community.
"I've never lived around poor people," Wallis remembers Bush saying. "I don't know what they think. I really don't know what they think. I'm a white Republican guy who doesn't get it. How do I get it?"
To people like Miss Hilton, even millionaires are poor.
A heated argument erupted last Friday between the two after Lohan approached Hilton, who had been partying with her sister, Nicky, and friends.
But the argument took a nasty turn when Paris and her oil heir pal, Brandon Davis, left a club on Monday night to go home.
As the pair walked to their car Davis - an oil heir worth $A31.4 billion($US24billion) - hurled a tirade of disgusting comments about Lohan.
He said: "I think she's worth about seven million dollars ($A9.16 million), which means she's really poor.
"It's disgusting. She lives in a motel."
He also let loose a racial insult against Lohan's former boyfriend Wilmer Valderrama.
"Is he in a mariachi band?" Davis said.
During the rant, Paris' publicist, Elliot Mintz, walks by her side, helpless and grim-faced.
He has been quick to try and distance Paris from the comments - despite the fact she laughed along and encouraged the rant.
For today, it seems Miss Hilton has hit the limits of what insulation her wealth and privilege could ensure. Screaming to her mother about the unfairness of it all, she was returned to halls of justice very different from those most of us would encounter.
Hilton was housed in the "special needs" unit of the 13-year-old jail, separate from most of its 2,200 inmates. The unit contains 12 two-person cells reserved for police officers, public officials, celebrities and other high-profile inmates. She didn't have a cellmate.
I can only hope that her social peers in the White House meet a similar fate. I won't hold my breath.