The Unfair Treatment of Paris Hilton

“It’s Not Right!”

June 8. I’m in the midst of a column about the planned U.S. attack on Iran, but I have to interrupt that project to comment on the breaking news about Paris Hilton.

“It’s not right!” she shouted to the judge ordering her back to the jail she’d been freed from a day earlier, before she was hauled away weeping.

No, nothing about this is right.

Here’s a young woman who came into our lives in August 2003, just as the mainstream press was timidly beginning to question the Bush administration lies justifying the invasion of Iraq. There were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, and the people were already rebelling against the occupation. In that context of uncertainty, Paris burst onto the scene, a rich heiress socialite party girl, in our faces on the internet, spreading for boyfriend Rick Salomon and pleasuring him orally. Relatively few saw the clip of course, but we all heard about it, and associated this emerging personality with internet porn.

It was perhaps unfair because there is so much more to Paris.

While stating she was “humiliated” by Rick’s posting of the video, Paris accepted the situation with good humor, joking about it on TV as she went on to pursue her career as model, actress, singer, heiress and socialite.

She wasn’t just fellating Rick but all of us, when America needed it most. Those accessing the readily available footage will notice her pubes were shaved. Were they only shaved for Rick, whom she soon discarded? No, I believe they were shaved for all of us, representing childlike innocence lost. A pudendum shining hairless for you, and for me, as the nation descended deeper and deeper into darkness.

Already 22, Paris had dropped out of the prestigious Dwight School in the Upper West Side of New York unfairly hounded by the accusation that “Dwight” stood for “Drunk White Idiots Getting High Together.” But she had acquired her General Education Degree (GED), serving as a role model for other dropouts who have the courage and fortitude to also take the challenging GED exam.

Just as the porn video came out Paris launched a career playing herself in a reality television series about socialites in real-world situations airing on the prestigious Fox network. In that series, she walked through cow manure in stilettos, made sausages, worked as a maid at a nudist resort. Meanwhile she became a Donald Trump model and appeared in minor roles in films and released an album, Paris, on her very own label, Heiress Records, which might some day release a second album by her or someone else.

In May 2004 Paris released her “Paris Hilton” perfume. “I mixed all these scents together…it smells so good,” she explained as she continued to enrich our culture. It is true that her appearance on Saturday Night Life in 2005 (in which she hyped the video with Rick) was panned by some persnickety critics, and Tina Fey later nastily called her a “piece of shit” and “unbelievably dumb.” But she had unleashed a chain of nightclubs, and there were more nude photos of her on the net. So it made prefect sense for Las Vegas mayor Oscar Goodman to proclaim August 29, 2006 “Paris Hilton Day.”

On that day in 1862, the Second Battle of Bull Run began. On that day in 1966, the Beatles performed their last public concert. On that day in 1944, American troops liberated Paris. Surely Goodman had these historical events in mind as he honored our Paris.

It is sad that on September 7, 2006, at the height of her powers, Paris in her Mercedez-Benz was pulled over by a member of the notorious LAPD on suspicion of drunken driving. Her blood alcohol content was just 0.08%. Taking advantage of her low tolerance level for alcohol, and lack of experience driving responsibly after a few beers, the officer arrested Paris. The court suspended her driver’s license and she received a 36 month probabtion sentence plus a $1,500 fine. She was ordered to attend an alcohol-education program but apparently didn’t. This is understandable. It was probably an AA program with a “higher power” religious content and the requirement that everybody hold hands. I can see why Paris would reject that.

Unbowed by this setback, Paris continued to drive through the streets of Los Angeles and on January 15 was pulled over for driving with a suspended license. She signed a document acknowledging that she wasn’t permitted to drive, but didn’t let the Man cramp her style. On February 27 was pulled over for driving without her lights on 70 miles per hour in a 35 mile per hour zone. LA prosecutors threw the book at her, finding her in violation of the terms of her probation.

But Paris’s many admirers campaigned for her freedom of any punishment, posting the following petition online addressed to California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger:

Paris Whitney Hilton is an American celebrity and socialite. She is an heiress to a share of the Hilton Hotel fortune, as well as to the real estate fortune of her father Richard Hilton. She provides hope for young people all over the U.S. and the world. She provides beauty and excitement to (most of) our otherwise mundane lives.

Hilton is notable for her leading roles on the FOX reality series The Simple Life and in the remake of the Vincent Price horror classic House of Wax. In addition to her work as an actress, she has achieved some recognition as a model, celebrity spokesperson, singer, and writer.

Now, if that doesn’t move you, you’re just not human. But on May 4, a cruel and biased Judge Michael T. Sauer sentenced Paris to 45 days in jail on this dubious charge of violating her probation.

The day after she appeared on the MTV awards, Paris dutifully reported to the Century Regional Detention Center where she was given a private cell so she would not be sexually abused by any ugly people. She has since thanked the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and staff of for treating her “fairly and professionally.” But confinement was too much for this sensitive young woman, whom a psychologist ascertained, was on the verge of a nervous breakdown within five days of confinement. Accordingly the Detention Center authorities released her, ordering her to serve the remaining 40 days of her sentence under house arrest at her home on Kings Road in Hollywood Hills.

But then, the hate. The pettiness. The unfairness.

The Rev. Al Sharpton denounced the early release, claiming it had “all of the appearances of economic and racial favoritism.” Obviously he had it out for Paris, just because her former friend Brandon Davis told the press that the heiress regularly refers to black people using the n-word. Given protests about the reduced sentence, Sauer ordered Paris back to jail. He gave no explanation at all for his ruling! But obviously powerful and influential people were behind this decision.

Outside the courtroom, Jake Byrd of Chino spoke for the millions whose lives have been touched by this woman who once told the British press “There’s nobody in the world like me. I think every decade has an iconic blonde — like Marilyn Monroe or Princess Diana — and right now, I’m that icon.”

“No! No! No!” Jake screamed as a court spokesman announced the verdict.

Oh, the horror of this. What sort of person, looking at that photo of Paris, hand-cuffed and humiliated, sitting in the back seat of a police car, disheveled, without her make-up, her lovely features contorted with suffering, tears streaming down her face, would not be moved by the injustice pervading our society?

What will become of this candle in the wind?

I, for one, will be unable during these next 40 days to think of Guantanamo or Abu Ghraib without thinking, too, of Paris in the Detention Center. It’s just not right.

Gary Leupp is a Professor of History at Tufts University, and author of numerous works on Japanese history. He can be reached at: Read other articles by Gary.

33 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. Tony Harvey said on June 11th, 2007 at 5:45am #

    I shall rest easy during the next month or so in the knowledge that the biggest threat to a teenage girl’s chance at becoming a one off, smart, independant and individual human being IS BEHIND BARS!

  2. Jose (Spain) said on June 11th, 2007 at 6:08am #

    Dear Mr. Leupp:
    Nowhere in Europe would the judiciary incarcerate a young woman for “violating· these “probationary” terms. Nowhere in Eruope can you speak of Paris as a drunk driver – 0.08 isn’t enough.
    But, in Europe Paris would never be treated as cruelly as she was in your country. Everywhere in Europe, the DA or the Chief of Police (Sheriff) are NOT eelcted, but appointed and are allways career people. They can not and will not and have never (NOT) played the games which Gamberrillo (sorry Rocky Guantanillo or whatever his disgusting name is) or this little traffic judge of right wing new christian funadamentalist neo-fascist origin.
    In ALL European countries, the role of the DA (and of any and all judges) is ABSOLUTELTY over when the case is adjourned. Management of the inmate is the exclusive responsibility of the Corrections Department.
    What I saw friday was suffient to deny my two daughters traveling to the US next month to attend a two month intensive course in the English language at one of your major and most expensive universities. And I did my very best to contact the parents of her frinds to do the same. And they did.
    You are chasing celebrities out of Hollywood, you are bitting the hands that feed you, all in the anme of a bastard of a right wing miserable God (similar to the bastard of this judge).
    I have no doubts whatseover to affrim that this judge and this DA are totally corrupt and are people of the lowest ethical condition.
    Last friday you treated us with a spectacle of the utmost cruelty, you demosntrated how miserable people you are and how little you deserve in our respect, association, business or attention.
    With Kind Raards,
    Jose Martin

  3. krusty said on June 11th, 2007 at 6:35am #

    great post! I am not an American but I am a big fan of the sweet Ms. Hilton. those deranged twisted bastards who derive pleasure and gloating at her sufferings deserve a fate 1,000 times worse!

  4. matts sundin said on June 11th, 2007 at 6:57am #

    I think the spoiled brat should be tossed into the general population.
    I am pretty sure a couple weeks as Butch’s plaything would bring back to reality….real reality

  5. rick said on June 11th, 2007 at 7:02am #

    Hey , europeans, 2500 americans aged 15-20 are killed every year in alcohol related auto accidents, WHAT paris did was not a minor offence, she broke her probation not once but TWICE.
    In massachusetts where i am from , you drive while while your license is suspended for DUI you get 90 days in jail, no matter who you are.
    Get a clue, DUI is a very serious offense , and should be punished severely, you europeans stay in your country if you dont like our laws.

  6. Patsy Smith said on June 11th, 2007 at 7:50am #

    Great post. It is definitely and absolutely NOT RIGHT!!
    It is criminal, unfair, and disgusting what this “justice” is doing to this girl.
    What is the purpose of the justice?
    Make you pay for your “crime”?
    Teach you not to make the same mistake again?
    Well, if that is the purpose, it is done already! Or it is that what they want is the attention and the circus around the case?
    What disappointed they make us feel of our country and its “justice”

  7. Jose (Spain) said on June 11th, 2007 at 8:39am #

    Hey americans: every week end in sapin the police stops about 600 youngsters with alchool levels above the legal limit – none of them go to jail or are detained. Even if theydo that twice or thrice. We do NOT jail people as you do. We do not LIKE to do it,and we will NOT do it. For the poster who clained 2,500 lives a year – this I have to say: “but you manage to kill 30,000 civilian iraquis in less than 3 years”… and the person responsible for that doesn’t go to jail or is charged under the world genocide rules of the UN (which the US does not sign in fear of systematic legal proceedings) …
    Your american mentality is a joke, a danger and like your economy = stay well away form us in Europe. Besides Brits are the ones that really have an educated and articulated go at your justice. One of the most literate law professionals in the UK says that “american judges are so ignorant that they have to spend years with us to learn the basic principles of jurisprudence… their practice is so mediocre that they still follow rules which we (the Brits) introduced in the 18th cventury and removed in the early 20th century (such as “grand jury”).

  8. DetainThis said on June 11th, 2007 at 8:45am #


    Just how powerful and far-reaching are the dumbing-down effects of the MSM (Main Stream Mafia)? Look at the comments section of this article.

    Leupp was only feigning concern for Paris Hilton in order to show, in a subtly facetious way, how ridiculous (or unfair) it is that we’re fed all this fluff nonsense whilst real, dire, political contengencies are omitted from news coverage and covered up by BS like the Paris Hilton nothingness.


    Did you folks miss the reference to the timing of the first P.H. news blast back in ’03? Or the “Paris Hilton Day” historical comparison?

    Nice article, Mr. Leupp, but I think you were a bit too subtle/covert in your commentary (at least for a couple of your readers).

  9. Gary Leupp said on June 11th, 2007 at 9:43am #

    I thank “Detain This” for noting that this is an entirely facetious piece. It’s called SATIRE, folks.

  10. Tim said on June 11th, 2007 at 10:24am #

    Wow, the internet astounds me, there are so many people with an inability to detect sarcasm in the most obvious places.

  11. Joe Ebola said on June 11th, 2007 at 10:45am #

    Dear Mr. Leupp,
    Perhaps you should start ending your pieces with a pseudo-tag to let people know the actual intent of your articles: /sarcasm (for end sarcasm).
    Wonderful piece!

  12. Donx said on June 11th, 2007 at 10:51am #

    This is a serious cultural issue. If she can walk free, it just tells everyone in no uncertain terms that justice can be bought openly in America by the wealthy and connected. Everyone knows this already, but to not even try to pretend anymore would have had a significant effect on the American ethos, continuing the slide of public confidence since Watergate. The issue for me personally is her attitude of unearned privilege, which is what caused all this in the first place. It is fine for the guy from Spain to point out what a nasty draconian system we have, and I agree, but this treatment is happening to myriad regular people all the time too. Let’s be reasonable to the common people as well!

  13. Easy tiger. said on June 11th, 2007 at 11:05am #

    Bravo, Mr. Leupp, for a fine piece of literature that artfully identifies the humor in this situation. I immediately sent this on to several friends who would delight in this great and humorous reading. Unfortunately the responses received further demonstrate the ineptness of the American (and European I guess) public who have made Paris who she is today.

  14. elf said on June 11th, 2007 at 11:12am #

    I’m also a European, but have to disagree with most of the europeans who have posted here.
    DUI is serious as Rick has alreadfy said. I was in an accident and hit by a drunk driver, thank god nobody was killed, but it was close! Paris didn’t make one mistake she made several. I can understand some people who continue to drive on a suspended license (if they rely on it for work or something) but even these people would accept their faiths if they were caught.
    You break your probation twice there is nothing else that can be done. A fine would be useless and she obviously, despite being in court and the media attention it recieved, did not get the point. She was warned, she ignored it and probably figured that because a lot of other rules don’t apply to her, that this one didn’t either. Now she is learning the hard way – and this was her choice, she could have easily just hired someone to do her driving, she chose to risk peoples lifes instead and speed with no headlights on when the courts had already found her unfit.

  15. David said on June 11th, 2007 at 11:26am #

    Hey Jose,
    I’m glad your country is allowing your teenagers to drive intoxicated without any punishment. Might as well let them get it out of their systems now, since once they have to start attending mandatory friday prayers, your access to alcohol is going to be severely limited.

  16. non-american in america said on June 11th, 2007 at 11:45am #

    “Hey americans: every week end in sapin the police stops about 600 youngsters with alchool levels above the legal limit – none of them go to jail or are detained.”

    what is the death toll from drunk driving in Spain?

  17. Steve said on June 11th, 2007 at 11:52am #

    Haha, that was good. Paris supporters thought you were serious…hmm…perhaps that is indicative of something…

  18. Theo Delight said on June 11th, 2007 at 11:56am #

    Let’s look a bit more closely at that Judge. From Wikipedia ( we can learn that, after some eight yoers working for the LA city attorney’s office, in 1972 he was appointed a judge of the LA Municipal Court by Ronald Reagan – then the Governor of California. Sauer was elevated to the Superior Court bench in 2000 when the two courts combined. In 2003, he was moved from criminal court cases to misdemeanor arraignments — a posting heavy on traffic violations and DUIs.

    He is reported as having been “shocked” or “startled” at that move, but it really is not difficult to understand. In 2003, he reached the age of 65 which, for many people, is retirement age; as he could not be sacked or forced to retire, the Supreme Court probably hoped that a year or two of such boring, humdrum cases, day after day after day would make him reckon he’d had enough. Well, it didn’t work; four years on, he’s still there, doing his damndest to make lives unpleasant for those who appear before him. Perhaps he might not like to play golf, but has he really not got a life outside the law?

  19. Angel said on June 11th, 2007 at 12:44pm #

    Free Paris!!! She doesnt deserve jail she should be free people dont like her bceuz she prettier and richer than them so stop hating on her and free her !!!!!!!!!

  20. Hue Longer said on June 11th, 2007 at 1:53pm #

    Though the article was about something different, I remember seeing in California, striking grocery store workers ridiculed by the general population for “making too much money”. Instead of demanding that justice for themselves, and being angered at those removing it for others, they attacked the victims. It’s similiar to hoping and demanding that people be raped inside prison because, “it would happen to me if I did it”.

  21. Not from Europe... said on June 11th, 2007 at 4:16pm #

    No one in Europe gets treated like Paris Hilton?!!! What the hell is Jose from Spain smoking? I think you had better do some more research. Go to Sweden my friend and you will see that with ANY alcohol in your system you will go to jail AND you will NEVER drive again. The same thing happens in Germany. Spain, as you admit, does have a drunk driving problem; however, Germany – famous for its beer – does not seem to have the same problem. I can attest to that after living there for years.

    As for the law, she broke it. She had plenty of attorneys who could have told her that driving under the influence will get you in trouble, but most Americans are smart enough to know that you don’t need an attorney for that… perhaps in Spain? Unlike in Spain the Americans actually uphold the law and enforce it. Please do not try and say that her “disabilities” should keep her out of jail. If that keeps you out of jail in Spain then that is the last place I will send my kids.

    Paris caused her problems and ignorance of the law is not an excuse. Most places in the U.S. driving under the influence will land you in jail. Will she learn from this? I am willing to bet no. Will anyone else learn from this? I bet Lindsay or Brittany will be out drinking this weekend wishing their friend was with them.

  22. Jack Daniels said on June 11th, 2007 at 5:09pm #

    Paris Hilton is nothing more then a spoiled little brat who does not deserve to be treated any different then us regular folk. She broke the law she got off with probabtion then she broke that and now she has to pay the price (Going to jail) and to say that Paris does not deserve to go to jail is complete and total bullshit and I hope that the voters of Los Angeles County get rid of that corrupt and office abusing Sheriff Lee Baca.

  23. Brandy Baker said on June 11th, 2007 at 7:12pm #

    The TMZ crowd has come to Dissident Voice!

  24. john said on June 11th, 2007 at 7:29pm #

    There is an irrationality in this country and many others when it comes to DUI. The MADD propaganda has been most effective. Look at how easily the main stream media just spews back the MADD message without questioning (and investigating) whether or not the 45 days in jail is indeed usual and customary for all low-BAC first-time offenders who violate terms of probation. What about the rationality of the “0.08 per se”-law itself given that studies have shown that a DUI driver at that level poses a risk similar to a distracted-driver on a cell phone (who maybe gets a $50 fine)? Crazy laws driven by propaganda. Sentencing that is inconsistent, to say the less. OK … I’m concerned about what is happening in Darfur too … but if you’re trying to tell me that I shouldn’t be concerned about this as well … then you are seriously full of shit.

  25. Deadbeat said on June 11th, 2007 at 10:49pm #

    Free Paris as well as all the other prisoners. I find it interesting that I’ve seem argument from the “left” that want to see Paris in prison rather than arguing for the release of ALL prisoners.

  26. Laura said on June 12th, 2007 at 10:09am #

    Hmm, I wonder why so many Europeans are getting their panties in a twist? She did something wrong, she should serve a sentence like everyone else. And it’s not just about a DUI, it’s that she broke her probation because she was caught driving on a suspended license. Paris Hilton is nothing like the icons of Marilyn Monroe or Princess Diana, even more so for saying that she is!

    Anyhow, shouldn’t it be obvious this article is more funny than serious? Come on, people wrote a letter that included the phrase “so she wouldn’t be sexually abused by ugly people”, that’s hilarious! I do think people bash Paris a little more than necessary, but her having to serve her sentence is neither cruel nor unusual. I think this article was merely pointing out, sarcastically and very well, that something like Paris being sent to jail is *gasp* not that important and it shouldn’t even make national news. I couldn’t believe some of the comments on here either. On the other hand though, if we have people commenting on here who won’t let their kids come to America because Paris is going to jail, well then it’s obvious why they missed the even *more* obvious lack of concern he really has for Paris Hilton. And this article is filed under “humor” in case any of you failed to notice.

  27. Philip V. said on June 12th, 2007 at 8:26pm #

    Justice would be to release the other non-violent inmates and keep Hilton there. They shouldn’t have to be subjected to her presence in their midst. She’s not worthy of them.

  28. cowboyneok said on June 13th, 2007 at 10:17am #

    If only our judicial system had a way of forcing NEWS BLACKOUTS on celebrities who are incarcerated or in rehab!

  29. Hue Longer said on June 14th, 2007 at 6:24am #

    Laura, are you saying Paris should serve because the rest of us would? Have you asked yourself if the rest of us should?

  30. looking_for_a_real_culture_nota_reel_culture said on June 14th, 2007 at 6:32am #

    First of all I’d like to thankyou for this humorous article.

    Second of all… I really hope the would be supporters of Paris that posted here were characters conjured up in jest and in the spirit of the article.

  31. Anna-Maria Jyrisson said on June 14th, 2007 at 7:58am #

    I will never sent my children to USA because what u did to Paris Hilton. NEVER in erope this kind of treatment happens. That is just sick how you americans hate and envy beautiful girl like paris hilton…I just cant belive u…

  32. Ceti said on June 14th, 2007 at 6:51pm #

    Uh, Actually Gary points to something even more disturbing, as if the entire phenomenon of Paris (and Britany and Lindsay, etc.) was in fact manufactured to distract the American public (WMD — Weapon of Mass Distraction) away from the darkness enshrouding DC. The fact that FOX spends only a fraction of its newscast on Iraq anymore when compared with MSNBC and CNN, and O’Reilly’s recent blather about ANY Iraq reporting being actually treasonous, points to a very tight linkage here. Whether by design, or by chance, this is at least what is going on.

  33. Sarah said on July 9th, 2007 at 2:57pm #

    I’m glad she was sent to jail to be quite honest.
    I’m not sure who said it, (rick maybe?) but up there someone mentioned that a DUI is a serious offence and I couldn’t agree more. I live in Washington State, and it is also taken very seriously if you are over the legal limit. I don’t understand how some of you can say that DUIs aren’t important. It’s endangering the lives of all those around you. The people you share the road with, the people in the car with you.
    Paris belonged in jail for that time to serve her sentence. She didn’t follow the rules the first few times around, maybe she (and those who look up to her) will follow the rules now.