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  • Rianne Lambrecht

Popularity Over Punishment

Sid Vicious, the bassist from the Sex Pistols, stabbed and killed his girlfriend on October 12, 1978. He admitted that the weapon was his and that he stabbed her. He changed his story twice afterwards, retracting his confession. Vicious never ended up serving time for his crime. Celebrities and high ruling officials get away with many crimes, unlike the rest of the population. This is extremely unjust, yet it continues to happen.

There are many cases of injustice when it comes to criminal charges against the rich and famous. Those in the top 1% of the nation get away with said crimes all the time. A poll from asked users if famous people get away with crimes. 75% percent of the users said that celebrities were given special treatment for their crimes. The American population doesn’t believe it’s fair that those with power can use their influence to beat to judicial system.

“They get away with it because they have money which I think isn’t fair. They claim to be ‘just like us’ and would like to be ‘treated like normal people’ but when it comes down to legal stuff, they want to get out of it easy, so they use their fame”, said Leslie Herrera Gonzalez (‘21).

Paul Woodlyn III, a normal citizen of Overbrook, Philadelphia, was convicted of manslaughter and reckless endangerment for the death of 8-year-old Jayanna Powell. Woodlyn hit Jayanna while she was crossing the street and he bailed when he realized that she was dead. He was sentenced to at a minimum of 5 years. Rebecca Gayheart, an American model and actress, hit and killed a 9-year-old boy in 2001. Because of her status and attorney, she was not found guilty in court and only had to pay a $2,800 fine. These crimes are very similar, yet only one was charged for what they had done because of their lack of power, money, and influence.

“Everyone should be punished for crimes because that’s how it’s supposed to work. Just because you’re famous, doesn’t mean you should be able to get away with everything, you need to take your consequences. Don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time,” said Cassie Thomas (‘18).

Treating people differently in court because of their status is unjust. Two people could have committed the exact same crime, yet there would be two different rulings on the cases. Impartial parties need to be in charge of convicting someone for their crimes. Personal thoughts and feelings shouldn’t be able to cloud judgement in a courtroom. Judges, juries, and the police need to look past a suspect’s wealth and power and look at the crime they committed. One’s money and influence should have no effect on the judge’s opinion of the person or the case.

“Being a celebrity comes with power, whether deserving or not, and to abuse this power because of a feeling of superiority is completely wrong. Being able to accurately hit a note doesn’t mean you can hit a person and get out of it just because someone’s 3rd grader adores your one hit wonder. It doesn’t make you better than anyone else just to be able to literally ‘pay’ the consequences if you have no morals,” said Rachel Morris (‘19).

The crimes committed by the people that are idolized affect more than those involved. They affect the families of those who are hurt and killed. They can affect the country’s reputation. These crimes are serious, yet those who commit them aren’t always punished. We, the people, need to stand up and be the voice of the victims who are being mistreated by the government. The celebrities responsible for these illegal acts need to be treated as equals to the rest of the population in the courtroom. The American people are justified in saying that the treatment of the top 1% is unfair to the rest of the nation.

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