Beliefnet
Idol Chatter

paris-released_idol.jpgParis Hilton is out of the clink and millions of men and women are still in. But Hilton’s freedom is much bigger news than the freedom of a man that has been incarcerated for 20-years for a crime that he didn’t commit.
It amazes me how much attention the media gives to a woman who could barely serve out the full-term of her 45-day sentence when almost one year ago, rapper Lil’ Kim served nearly 10-months of a year sentence with very little complaint–and no big money offers from the media to tell all (except for a BET program chronicling her days prior to lock-down). Where was Larry King when she was released? Why didn’t we get to hear Kim’s testimony about how her time in jail changed her life, considering that of the two–Hilton and Kim–statistics indicate that black people are five times more likely than white people to be in jail.
But this is bigger than Hilton having the opportunity to feign redemption for an hour on Larry King (which she did last night). The problem is that we–the general public and the media–deemed Hilton’s story—and her mere existence—important enough to be considered nationally ground-breaking news. We rewarded a woman used to being in the spotlight with yet another opportunity to do what she does best–be in the spotlight
And we don’t do it with just with her. We’ve been over-saturating our lives with information about people we will probably never meet in this lifetime. We have let the lives of celebrities eclipse those of our own brothers and sisters fighting extraordinary battles.
While we are busy believing that Hilton’s story deserves to be breaking news, the body count in Darfur is still rising, AIDS in Africa is still spreading, the war in Iraq is still raging on, and many in our own communities are impoverished, under-represented, and disenfranchised. This isn’t to say that we don’t pay any attention to these issues, because we do. But little-by-little, the irrelevant news is what is splashed across the front pages of newspapers and websites while more serious issues get second-billing.
Some would argue that we need news like Hilton’s release to take the sting off of what is really going on around us, but at what point do we stop anesthetizing ourselves? I think we’ve taken one too many shots and need an antidote.

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