Redemption is divine. And so quick
By Michael M. Bates
Hallelujah, brothers and sisters. Paris Hilton has already seen the light.
In a collect call to Barbara Walters, herself most recently known for playing straight man, if you'll pardon the expression, to Rosie O'Donnell, the hotel heiress, party girl, and aspiring theologian poured her diminutive heart out.
She's gotten, like, much more spiritual, and is, like, even reading the Bible. "God has given me this new chance," she said.
Paris also avers a spiritual adviser – she has a spiritual adviser other than Britney Spears? – senses that her spirit or soul didn't like the way she was viewed and that's why she ended up in the pokey. Talk about tough love.
Now I don't pretend to know what, if anything, truly is in Paris' mind. She hasn't called me collect in weeks. But I do find it interesting that she's made such an extraordinary turnaround in so short a time.
I find it reminiscent of how quickly a certain spiritual adviser recovered after getting in trouble. Jesse Jackson ministered to Bill Clinton when the former president struggled with the eternal moral dilemma of the meaning of "is" and its application to a young White House intern.
So it was a shock to some when the Chicago holy man and veteran extortionist was nailed in 2001 for his own recklessness. He had fathered a 20-month-old baby girl out of wedlock. Jackson's family, knowing who brings home the swag, rallied around him. According to the Chicago Sun-Times, his wife of 38 years, "petite but with an upswept hairdo and plush fur coat contributing to her regal carriage, was at his side, a serene smile on her face."
The National Enquirer intended to publish the Jackson story in a Friday edition. Beating the tabloid to the punch, Jesse issued a press release near midnight on the preceding Wednesday. He began by manfully accepting "full responsibility." Where have we heard that before?
Reverend Jackson also stated he would "be taking some time off to revive my spirit and reconnect with my family before I return to my public ministry." The hiatus appeared sensible considering the circumstances.
It isn't what happened, of course. Setting a new indoor record for reviving his spirit and reconnecting with his family, Jackson was operating at full blowhard speed in Chicago by the following Monday.
He claimed his affair with a subordinate 20 years younger than he didn't weaken his moral authority and used that purported moral authority to criticize the appointment of John Ashcroft as attorney general. The Reverend Jackson took no questions concerning his child, calling on morality in government and saying "It is in that light that we put this matter in perspective and put this matter behind us." How convenient.
The next day he spoke in Harlem. Touching on capital punishment, Florida's electoral votes, and other interests, he finished with his boisterous "Keep Hope Alive" mantra, a sure sign of his exploration for a contemplative experience. I would have preferred a more appropriate selection, maybe Rick Springfield's "Jessie's Girl," but wasn't consulted.
Jesse's announced seclusion was as fleeting as his opposition to abortion, which he once described as "'too nice a word for something cold, like murder." The self-styled country preacher appeared just weeks later at an archetypal venue for country preachers, Hollywood's House of Blues. There he received a Rock the Vote award for his political activism. It wasn't as prestigious as the Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor, that counselee Clinton gave him a few months earlier, but at least he was keeping his name in the paper.
In no time at all after his 2001 embarrassment, he was rested, relaxed, revived and reconnected. So perhaps Paris Hilton has already undergone a life-changing conversion. Maybe she'll hunt for a really chic convent when she graduates from gray bar city.
We all owe Ms Hilton so much. No, not for, as her fans argue, bringing beauty and excitement to our mundane lives For uniting so many of us.
Rich, poor, black, white, brown, yellow, Republicans, Democrats, conservatives, liberals, straights, gays, we're almost all joined by our yearning to see Paris in the slammer.
We believe Lady Justice is blindfolded for a reason. Even the most spoiled of party girls should be subject to the system. Special treatment for the rich and famous flies in the face of what we expect.
Al Sharpton, who's never met a camera he doesn't like, is milking the Hilton episode for all it's worth. He's denounced the revolving door of justice. The Rev is wrong about almost everything, but not about this.
I hate when that happens.
This Michael Bates column appeared in the June 14, 2007 Reporter Newspapers.