Three people for whom I don't feel sorry:
• Plaxico Burress. The former New York Giants wide receiver, who caught the winning touchdown pass in the stunning Super Bowl win over the then-unbeaten New England Patriots a couple of years ago, was sentenced to two years in prison for gun-related crimes. He was taken immediately from the courthouse to a penal institution, where he'll be receiving different kinds of passes.
For those who missed it, last November, Burress, who has a long history of being stupid while famous, took a loaded, unregistered gun into New York City (a crime), then into a crowded night club (a crime), and then discharged the weapon (a big crime). He shot himself in the leg, which may or may not be a crime, but is certainly entertaining.
The evolving approach taken by Burress and his high-priced attorney was precious: No crime was committed. Well, maybe it's against the law, but it shouldn't be. It's a dumb law. The bouncer let him in the club. He's a celebrity and needs protection. He didn't hurt anybody but himself. The mayor's out to get him. He's a scapegoat. He's being picked on because he's a) famous, b) black, c) an athlete, or d) all of the above.
I have some knucklehead gun-nut friends who claim that New York City's gun laws are too harsh and that they don't work, but statistics tell a different story. According to the 2007 FBI report on crime statistics, New York City has a murder rate of about six per every 100,000 population. That's lower than the rates in Anchorage, Alaska; Wichita, Kan.; Colorado Springs, Colo.; and, yes, Tucson. By comparison, places like Detroit and Baltimore have nearly eight times as many murders per capita as New York City. Nearby Newark has six times as many murders per capita. Even relatively pastoral settings like Memphis, Milwaukee and Buffalo, N.Y., have rates that are around three times as high.
To be sure, not all murders are committed with guns, but most are, and so when it comes to being shot to death, New York City is actually one of the safest big cities in America.
You know the seven steps of grief? A similar scenario plays out when celebrities and/or athletes, who have skated by for most of their lives without any sense of responsibility, all of a sudden get popped. I'm sorry, but it's a lot of fun to watch. You could tell that, just like Michael Vick before him, Burress felt there was no way in the world the charges were going to stick. Somebody would do something to get him off the hook.
Yeah, well, not this time.
I was talking to a member of the hip-hop generation the other day who cited all of the aforementioned things as reasons for Burress' arrest/harassment/tough plea deal/harsh sentence. I said to him, "Burress showed up to his sentencing with his young son and pregnant wife. If he's got a family, what's he doing hitting the clubs on Thanksgiving weekend? Or don't familial responsibilities apply if you're: a) famous, b) black, c) an athlete, or d) all of the above?"
If you want to hit the clubs, don't get married. If you want to be married, don't hit the clubs. If you think you're above it all and that rules don't apply to you, shoot yourself in the leg, and then spend the next two years of your life not showering.
• Cyrus Yazdani. You probably don't know the name, but there are probably tens of thousands of people who are thrilled that this little punk is going to prison. Going by the name "Buket," this mental giant posted videos of himself on YouTube spray-painting graffiti on freeway overpasses and city buses in Los Angeles.
The San Jose State University graduate was already on probation for graffiti vandalism when he got busted again. This time, the judge threw the book at him, fining Yazdani more than $100,000 for the cost of cleaning up the damage he'd done, and sentencing him to four years in prison. Not jail. Prison. And knowing how the prison hierarchy is determined, he's got problems.
"What are you in for?"
"Spray-painting misspelled words on public property."
I can hear the limericks in his honor already.
Too bad he didn't realize that in felony vandalism, as in real estate, it's all a matter of location, location, location. If he had done that stuff here in Tucson and gotten caught, the City Council probably would have given him an arts grant.
• Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. He's strutting around the world stage, lyin' and denyin' and sticking his chest out like the little Napoleonic bantam that he is. It's his brief moment in the sun, although it does take the sun longer to reach him than it does normal-sized folks.
But the time is coming, and it's coming soon, when Israel will deliver to him a cruise missile in suppository form. And when that happens, I'm really, really not going to feel sorry for him at all.
However, I will feel sorry for whoever has to scrape what's left of him off the walls. Or they could just leave it there and call it a fresco.