Posts Tagged ‘celebrity’

A couple of years ago I was perusing the newspapers. In the span of eight days three deaths were reported. Two of the men were one time notables from my small state. The third was a celebrity who was well known in the United States and beyond.

Here goes.

The man who married me passed away. No, not my husband.

It was the judge who married us thirty-six years ago at an intimate gathering which took place in my aunt’s living room on a chilly November afternoon.

He also happened to be the Chief Justice of Rhode Island’s Supreme Court. Due to ethics violations he would resign from that position in 1993.

So, this is what happens when someone who has experienced a state of disgrace dies. The crimes and misdemeanors are unearthed and once again splashed across the front page.

Their death appears to be a perfect segue into a rehashing of past sins.

In that same newspaper, as one slowly thumbs their way toward the back pages where the obituaries reside, another story awaits. An entirely different rendition. Parentage, place of birth, education, family, hobbies, organizations and religious affiliation. A listing of beloved survivors left to mourn the loss. Nowhere is there even a whisper of any wrong-doing. Nor should there be. The family pays for the obituaries. By the line!

That same week another Rhode Islander, of a good age, also died. A fellow who embezzled, destroyed evidence and ended up serving prison time. That was back in the 1980s. But we were reminded (although we already remembered) of his dastardly deeds when we unfurled the newspaper that landed on our front step. Informing us of his passing. When we finally make it to the back, once again where the obituaries rest, another description emerges. He was a World War II volunteer at the age of eighteen. Had a strong faith and believed in supporting Catholic education. Was a community leader. Worked until he was ninety-two years old. Missed by so many. Is this even the same person described on the front page?

Yes, it is.

Front page. Back page.

One more death occurred during that span of eight days. This one received non-stop national news coverage. It was a tragic accident. He was a sports superstar. A breaker of records. In the prime of his life. A loving husband and father of four. Beloved by fans and celebrities alike. His front page story did not allude to any misdeeds. Not one.

It only focused on the tragedy and loss. The shock that his family, friends, fans and others felt. Story upon story of his accomplishments filled newspaper and magazine pages. His role as a loving father and concerned community member.

He also was accused of a crime many years ago. A very public apology and a cash settlement. Yet, when that was even mentioned, tweeted or discussed it was immediately squashed. People got ugly and threats were unleashed. Fury. People were afraid to talk or write about it.

Why? Was it the tragic circumstances of the death? The age of the deceased? The national stage versus the local stage?

None of us are saints. All of us are sinners. There is absolutely no doubt about that. But no one should be on a pedestal. We all have our own front and back page.

Each of those three men already paid for their crimes-literally and figuratively.

If the front page is a listing of failings then shouldn’t it apply to all? Shouldn’t it be a fair and honest reporting across the board? No matter the level of stage presence?

Or why don’t we just delete that front page and enjoy the scrubbed up version. Hidden somewhere on the back page.

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