Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Ain't That Tuff Enuff?

MTV News asks who got a worse deal from the justice system: Paris Hilton, Lil Kim, or Scooter Libby?

The truth is each of these figures received more lenient treatment from the justice system than any average person would ever see. Mind you, I don't think society benefits much from any of these people being incarcerated. When Hilton got out of jail the episode put her on the cover of People Magazine - so what does she care? Lil Kim actually turned the run up to her confinement into a reality TV show. And we all know Scooter Libby received a commuted prison sentence from a chief executive who's presided over more than 150 executions as Governor and President without commuting one single sentence even to life.

For folks like this, justice would be better served in nonviolent offenses to make them pick up trash every Saturday and Sunday for some period, e.g., or perform menial tasks at public facilities. For Lil Kim and Paris Hilton, their encounters with the justice system just gave them more exposure. My guess is that by the time Libby makes his inevitable book deal, he'll come out ahead of the game, too.

It's no wonder the public clamors for tough on crime laws - the justice system they read about in the newspaper every day simply fails to hold the rich and powerful accountable, and justifiably it makes people angry. So they support politicians who promise to jack up the laws. But even when penalties are harsh, as evidenced in these cases, they only apply to the Average Joes and Josephines of the world, not to the folks we most often see on TV or read about in the newspapers.

Perhaps the problem isn't that the system isn't "tuff" enough, maybe it's that it's corrupt and rife with inequities, deferring to privilege and power while squashing the powerless as brutally as possible, "to send a message," we're told, even as the messages sent from celebrity sentencing make the opposite point.

The fact that anyone would compare these three cases and ask who had it "worse" is almost laughable - the answer is "Everyone who isn't a rich celebrity."

For a more learned discussion, Doc Berman has been all over the Libby commutation and all his posts so far are linked here.


a friend of justice said...

Right on Scott

Anonymous said...

Well said Scott! Picking up trash would have had a lot more impact on those people - and cost the public less money. They could have used the money to buy books for a few classrooms. of "SnitchCraft"