M. Kate West
Feb. 22, 2011 — Today, as I browsed the Political Ticker and entertainment news on CNN my attention was grabbed by the latest survey question: Should Lindsey Lohan go to jail for theft?
According to the reported results as of about 8:36 a.m. 89 percent of survey respondents say “no,” 11 percent “yes.”
While I haven’t read the actual police report, I can only make comment on the so-called facts being reported to date. It has been alleged that she visited a jewelry store in her neighborhood and walked out the door with a necklace valued at $2,500, a cost that raises the criminal stakes to the felony level.
Also reported was information that prior to a warrant being issued to search her home for the stolen jewelry, the necklace was turned in, along with the statement that it “hadn’t been stolen but borrowed.”
As the store manager actually reported the theft it seems somewhat apparent that he wasn’t aware of any agreement in which Lohan might have been given permission to legally remove the jewelry from the store.
So … I’m thinking I have more then one issue with what appears to be the latest episode in the life of LiLo and what it says about how times have changed in America.
The first issue goes directly back to one of my pet peeves, the false sense of entitlement that continues to pervade this country. Movie stars are not royalty or heads of state and as such, are not entitled to receive any form of diplomatic immunity from California penal code offenses.
You can bet your bottom dollar that if Joe Schmo walked out of the jewelry store with the necklace he would have been booked at the county jail and required to post bail in order to leave the facility. Furthermore, if he had said, “I just borrowed the necklace,” everyone from here to eternity would have responded, “Yeah, sure you did.”
This begs the question, what makes Lohan different? Does being a celebrity or having wealth mean you are held to a different standard?
Does having a long history of alcohol abuse automatically excuse criminal behavior?
Did the people who voted “no” in the survey do so because they considered Lohan’s behavior to be just ordinary movie star acting out and not worthy of punishment or the court’s time?
If that’s the case I do have to beg to differ. Many children, my own included, have gone through the phase of “I saw it, I wanted it and I took it” but that usually occurred at a very young age when learning right from wrong was still a fairly new concept.
Lohan is a big girl who has been part of the adult world for many years now and doesn’t at her age, in my opinion, have a defensible excuse for not understanding that what she allegedly did was wrong.
To me this is also an issue of personal property rights.
Just because many designers and stores like to dress movies stars for product exposure on the red carpet doesn’t mean that every merchant will automatically give the go-ahead for someone to wear their merchandise, especially without due compensation or permission.
And when all is said and done here, what I find most disturbing about all of this is the message this situation sends.
What I’m hearing is: If you have status, money or even the excuse of alcoholism, you are less accountable for your actions.
The message I would prefer to hear is the one most citizens understand: “If you do the crime, you do the time.”
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