In this corner, weighing 110 pounds and standing 5-feet 7-inches tall, 18-year-old pop star Justin Bieber. In the other corner, some guy who was aggressively taking his picture in a California shopping mall.
Los Angeles County police are investigating accusations that Justin struck a photographer, which, if true, would violate California Penal Code 242 even if the striking blow was, well, glancing. Detectives want you to call them if you saw the brawl or if Justin attacked you, as well.
So far Bieber is not talking.
Apparently, the photographer called the Malibu-Lost Hills Sheriff’s department last Sunday afternoon. The victim says he was “battered” by the singer, who was accompanied by his girlfriend, Selena Gomez. The victim complained of “pain” and was transported to a local hospital where he was treated and released into the custody of a lawyer who immediately contacted the media.
Now, I am certain being attacked by Justin Bieber is no laughing matter. If the guy ever got a haircut and a neck tattoo, he could look menacing. Perhaps Justin knows kung fu.
But the odds are that this is yet another shakedown generated by a loser and his sleazy attorney who will game the system hoping Bieber will throw some money at them in order to make the annoyance go away.
There are now legions of lawyers who will file lawsuits against famous and rich people for just about anything. Lawsuits cost money to defend, and the media are overjoyed to publicize any and all alleged “transgressions.” No evidence has to be provided to the press; a lurid accusation is enough. This is now an industry: Fleecing the Rich and Famous. In fact, it could be a reality show. Paging Robin Leach.
But if you really look at what’s happening, it’s despicable. Legalized extortion and blackmail are now epidemics in America. Famous people are routinely slandered, libeled, followed and menaced in public. And there’s little they can do about it. If you are a public figure and/or have money, you are a huge target and will get little sympathy from the court or from the court of public opinion.
Recently, I took three young teenagers to see the play “Jesus Christ Superstar.” Upon leaving the theater, a guy who identified himself as an “Occupy protester” was waiting for me with a camera and recorder. He began screaming nonsense. I told the guy to knock it off because he was scaring the kids. He actually yelled louder and even chased my car down the street. The girls were unnerved.
I truly wish Bieber had been with me that night so he could have smacked down that guy. I guess I could have done it, but the line of attorneys responding would have stretched from Broadway to Michigan.
We absolutely need tort reform in this country, and we need to adopt a brand-new slogan, as well: “Free Justin Bieber.”