A richly deserved comeuppance as Paris Hilton heads to jail

May 13, 2007|By Leonard Pitts Jr.

Are you heartbroken that Paris Hilton has been sentenced to jail? Me neither.

I take it as welcome evidence that occasionally karma gets it right and the universe slaps those most in need of slapping. Rarely has comeuppance been more desperately deserved.

Not just because she is a famous-for-nothing socialite, nor just because she is an empty vessel inexplicably adored by people for whom vacuousness is apparently synonymous with worth. No, comeuppance is needed here because the woman embodies such smug certainty that the rules do not apply to her. More to the point, because of the utter contempt she oozes for those who are not like her, i.e., not monied, privileged, pretty, white and heedless.

I didn't get the depth of that contempt until the online release earlier this year of a video that shows Hilton dancing at a party. At one point on the clip, she describes some unnamed unfortunate as "a f-- hoodlum, broke, poor public school bitch from, like, Compton." Compton is a working-class city adjacent to Los Angeles. At another point, Ms. Hilton describes herself and a friend as "like two niggers." At yet another point, she calls someone a "faggot."

Don Imus got fired for less.

But for Ms. Hilton, it was a one-day story. Fox did not cancel the "reality" show she does with Nicole Richie. No sponsors are known to have pulled their ads. No coalition of blacks, gays and Comptonites demanded her head.

No, she skated away scot-free without really answering for her words or even being questioned for them. Which seems the story of her life. And that's troubling, given that Ms. Hilton is regarded as a role model, someone worthy of emulation, by so many young girls.

Actions have consequences: Isn't that a sermon every good parent has, at one time or another, preached to his or her child? If you dance to the music, you've got to pay the piper: Isn't that a cliche we keep on speed dial?

So, what do you say to the child about these people whose actions don't seem to have consequences, who dance to the music and then leave the piper hanging because they are celebrities, able to do the distasteful and the reprehensible and get away with it because the little people love them?

The little people need to wake up and find somebody worthy of their love. Ms. Hilton is not. A life of privilege, pampering and insulation from consequences has left her a moral cripple, and there's nothing admirable in that. Paris Hilton is a snotty child so besotted with herself, so clueless about the rules that govern life here on planet earth that you almost - but only almost - felt sorry for her in reading news reports about her sentencing.

She was pulled over three times for driving on a suspended license while on probation for drunk driving? She showed up to court 15 minutes late? Did she really tell the judge she can't be bothered to look at her mail because "I have people who do that for me"? When asked if she had understood the terms of her probation, did she really say, "I just sign what people tell me to sign. I'm a very busy person"?

Not anymore, she's not. The judge gave her 45 days. She'll be doing her time at a women's facility in Lynwood, a city just north of Compton. And isn't that poetic justice. No, I have no illusion that any of this will damage Ms. Hilton's popularity; cluelessness is part of her appeal.

Still, as a parent, a person and a public school graduate, I hope the kids who admire her are taking note: Consequences may arrive late, but they almost always arrive. Something for Ms. Hilton to consider as she spends 45 days wearing an orange jumpsuit and taking group showers in a little place I like to call reality.

It couldn't happen to a more deserving person.

Leonard Pitts Jr. is a columnist for The Miami Herald. His column appears Sundays in The Sun. His e-mail is lpitts@miamiherald.com.

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