JOHNNY FLORES JR/Coachella Uninc
COACHELLA – Underage drinking, smoking pot, popping pills, resisting arrest, alleged drag racing…it seems Justin Bieber just can’t stay out of trouble or out of the headlines.
If I were pulling the same stunts here in the Eastern Coachella Valley, the amount of trouble I would face would be greater than the seven seas combined. I wouldn’t have to wait for the legal proceedings in order to be punished. (It’s my parents I would be most worried about!)
Why should it be different for Bieber? Could he be the latest victim of affluenza?
The term “affluenza,” derived from the root word “affluent,” received national attention last year during the Ethan Couch case. On June 15, 2013, the wealthy Texas teenager killed four people and injured two others when he plowed into them while driving drunk. Hours after the crash, Couch was still three times the legal drinking limit. His defense attorneys asked for leniency due to their client’s affluenza, arguing that Couch was given “freedoms no young person should have” without setting limits; therefore, he should not be held entirely accountable for his actions.
As a result, his sentence was reduced from 20 years behind bars to 10 years of probation. Couch won’t spend a day in jail. Instead, his parents will pay $450,000 for their son to spend some time at a private treatment facility. And, just like that, the deep pockets of a rich kid’s parents helped him avoid the consequences of a crime that devastated several families.
Meanwhile our prisons are filled with men and women whose poverty and limited resources may have led them to commit crimes, yet they were still held accountable despite these circumstances.
Which brings me back to Bieber. Although his exploits have not reached the level of Couch’s, he has spurred a lot of the media attention. It’s not just entertainment news outlets like TMZ, either. Legitimate news organizations are reporting on everything Bieber. In fact, veteran journalist Andrea Mitchell interrupted a member of Congress on live television in order to report the “breaking news” of Bieber’s arrest.
Some people justify Bieber’s out-of-control behavior by saying that he, like Couch, has far too much money and freedom to make good decisions.
Bieber and I are both young, yet our lives and upbringings couldn’t be more different. Although he had a poor childhood, he shot to superstardom at an early age and is surrounded by yes-people who enable and coddle him regardless of his behavior.
I am not privileged like “The Biebs.” I don’t get what I want, whenever I want. I have parents who keep me on the straight and narrow. Maybe this is why I don’t engage in underage drinking, smoke pot or drag race on Harrison. Growing up in Coachella, I have not had things handed to me simply because I wanted them. Everything I own is because I’ve worked toward it or for it.
I’m not saying Bieber has not worked for his material wealth. I’m just saying that it is hard for someone like me to imagine being so wealthy that consequences don’t apply. We are a nation built on the fundamentals of equality and justice, although this isn’t always the way things play out for the have-nots. Privilege and wealth should not be a get-out-of-jail-free card.
In 2013, the United States deported 368,644 undocumented people — many of whom I believe came to this country in search of a better life and to do the work most Americans won’t. But some of these were people who committed crimes. Bieber hasn’t been convicted of anything, and with his resources, there is a good chance he will not do any time.
This hasn’t stopped nearly 250,000 people from signing a White House petition asking for the deportation of the 19-year-old Canadian singer. This requires the White House to respond, just as they did when a petition asked for the creation of a real-life Death Star, just like the one from the Star Wars films. I was crushed when the White House struck down the request.
I realize the likelihood of this happening is slim, but I hope this time the White House’s response doesn’t let me down and we send The Biebs back to Canada.