Above The Law

by derek on August 28, 2007 · 21 comments

No, this is not going to be a movie review of the 1988 Steven Segal movie Above the Law – although that might be entertaining as watching Nico Toscani in action can make you feel like a bad ass yourself.
The topic for today is how so many public figures, primarily athletes, think that they are above the law that us common folk live by every day. Whether it be the recent situation with Michael Vick and the charges related to his dogfighting ring or the latest drug controversy with any one of numerous athletes, we witness time and time again how these public figures live outside the law.

Lance Briggs Lamborghini Murcielago

Earlier today I was listening to sports radio and they were discussing the latest incident with Lance Briggs, linebacker for the Chicago Bears.
The other day he smashed up his 2007 Lamborghini Murcielago and then decided to leave the scene of the accident without reporting it to the police. Briggs released the following statement to the media in his first public comments:

“When it happened, the first thing I did was, obviously, I panicked,” Briggs said. “I didn’t want there to be a big scene there. And so I left the scene. When I left, I called the tow truck. I also was startled, and I called to report that my car was stolen. Within probably 10 minutes, I called back and accepted responsibility for what I did because it was ridiculous in the first place.”

As a result of the accident and leaving the scene, Briggs was cited for failure to give immediate notice of an accident and improper lane usage. Will he be penalized for filing a false police report? In Illinois I believe that this carries a potential Class 4 Felony charge but will the police department bring these charges against Briggs or will another athlete find themselves living above the law?
There are many assumptions that one can make as to why Briggs left the scene of the accident and I would have to imagine that at least one of those assumptions would have some merit. Have athletes been conditioned to think that the law does not apply to them? One would think so when you see the frequency with which some athletes find themselves in trouble.

Lindsay Lohan

Don’t get me wrong – it is not only athletes that seem to have this attitude as many celebrities fall into this category as well.
Pick one of the hot young celebrities such as Paris Hilton or Lindsay Lohan and you will likely see a story about them being found driving under the influence or carrying illegal drugs. Yet how many of these people end up in jail?
If you were arrested for driving under the influence with cocaine in your pockets and an unregistered gun in your car, how long do you think your family and friends would be visiting you in prison?
But if you are a high-status public figure, you would likely walk away with not much more than a slap on the wrist. I’ve lost count of the number of athletes that violate their league’s substance abuse policy and they might get suspended for a few games but there aren’t any repercussions with the law.
Are these athletes and celebrities at fault? Or is it our society that gives these people a pass because they are responsible for entertaining us on a regular basis?
I certainly have my opinions on this topic but I’d love to hear what you think.
Tribune photo by Candice C. Cusic
Lindsay Lohan photo @ AskMen.com

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{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

Damien Riley August 28, 2007 at 10:08 pm

The Golden Rule: “Those with the gold, make the rules.”


Steven Kaminski August 28, 2007 at 11:44 pm

It’s most definitely our society that allows celebrities to be above the law. It’s appalling the we make it seem like a DUI or drug possession is not a big concern because we let them slide.


Saman Sadeghi August 29, 2007 at 12:24 pm

This really does irritate the hell out of me, I am quickly losing respect for our justice system….


Blogging Mix August 29, 2007 at 12:06 am

Sad to say that this really exists in our society.


derek August 29, 2007 at 12:20 am

@Damien :: It is unfortunate but so many times that truly does seem to be the case.
@Steven :: Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Do you think there is anything that our society can do to reverse that behavior?
@Blogging Mix :: It is quite sad. It would be interesting to look back in time to see if previous generations experienced similar trends with celebrities living above the law.


Nick August 29, 2007 at 10:53 am

My thoughts are that it is ridiculous that they get away with all that crap. I am always amazed at how they can get by with something that the average person would spend years in jail for. I think it’s their fault that they do these stupid things but society’s fault that they don’t get punished because they are on some sort of pedestal.
The other thing that gets me about celebrities and the crap they do is how much attention they get for it see my post on this topic. When the average person would be given two sentences on the news or in the paper, these people get mentioned over and over again.


Derrich August 29, 2007 at 1:51 pm

Pretty ridiculous. Briggs definitely did the wrong thing. It’s funny how we talk about the more high-profile guys like Briggs, Vick, etc. but we don’t have any criticism for relative unknowns like Houston Rocket, Rafer Alston, who allegedly stabbing some poor schmuck in the neck.
Let’s look at the severity of the crime…I think stabbing another human being in the neck takes the cake.


derek August 29, 2007 at 10:54 pm

@Nick :: So many people are obsessed with celebrities so the media has learned to cater to that obsession. Look at Owen Wilson and his suicide attempt – how many average people attempt suicide and you never hear one peep about it. But the story about the average person doesn’t sell.
@Derrich :: I actually contemplated mentioning Alston as obviously his alleged crime is much more severe. I went with Briggs primarily because all the local media attention was what sparked me to write about it.


Derrich August 30, 2007 at 10:56 am

Well, if it means anything, you definitely sparked some thought in my brain. That’s why I decided to write about it as well. I hope you don’t mind, but I did throw you a mention. 🙂 Seriously, though. This is ridiculous. Kinda takes the luster off of the upcoming season. I’m sure I’ll get over it though.


derek August 30, 2007 at 12:05 pm

I don’t mind at all, actually I was very happy to see that because that tells me my post caught someone’s interest enough for them to post their thoughts about it.


Rose August 29, 2007 at 11:19 pm

That is because Celebrities use their money and fame to get away with breaking the law. Great post!


Derrich August 30, 2007 at 10:57 am

Now, if only blogging would pay off. 😛


????? (Jason) August 30, 2007 at 2:08 am

This is one of the many reasons why I have little respect for most legal systems. Unfortunately, it’s the same in most westernized nations, including Japan (despite it’s far eastern locale).
The adage that Damien wrote about the Golden Rule is certainly true in most cases, though it didn’t work for Microsoft or Enron 😛


ms danielle August 30, 2007 at 2:46 am

who wants to be the bad guy and take down lindsay lohan, a woman that provides endless amount of eye candy and water cooler gossip?? 😉
but really, when is the last time a celebrity was made an example of? i don’t see any of this changing anytime soon. there’s too much money floating around… too many cowards in the justice system. i’m almost sure i wouldn’t be let off the hook if i had cocaine and a gun in my car…


????? (Jason) August 30, 2007 at 3:03 am

Lindsay Lohan provides eye candy? Since when?
Seriously, though, I don’t think you would get much more than a slap on the wrist, Danielle. Your legion of loyal fans wouldn’t allow jail time 🙂


derek August 30, 2007 at 9:35 am

@Rose :: Thanks, money and fame seem to be the golden ticket.
@Jason :: It didn’t work for Martha Stewart either, as that is one of the few cases where a celebrity did not get out of hot water based on their fame.
@Danielle :: I think they tried to make an example out of Paris Hilton but I think that turned into more of a joke with her getting out of jail and then going back. Nonsense!


Steve Elliott May 12, 2008 at 4:23 pm

Just browsing some old posts and this happened to be on my birthday last year, so thought I ought to comment.
The funniest incident that I recall on the topic at hand was Paris Hilton and her recent stay in jail. She obviously wasn’t above the law in getting behind bars but the whole thing was a might fiasco by all accounts.


Los Angeles lawyer April 10, 2009 at 6:05 pm

When I first read the section about the auto accident with Lance Briggs leaving the scene to call a tow truck I did not see the problem…until he called to report the car stolen. Im not sure how reporting his vehicle stolen falls into ‘I panicked’ unless there was more to the story than being reported.


Kai Lo@DUI Law Philadelphia May 9, 2009 at 12:10 pm

They will never learn their lesson. They always say to the media that it will never happen again. DUI happens all the time.
Kai Los last blog post..Rising Rate Of Arrests


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