A poor man's perk?

Legally speaking, sometimes it pays to be poor hence the law may not necessarily - or always - a rich man’s puppet, as some would postulate.

Kobe Bryant, the LA Lakers superstar was recently fined $100,000 for uttering a gay slur, on camera, to one of the officials  during the game. It’s one of those festering mishaps so the aftereffects may invade other aspects of Bryant’s life and career - or very likely nooooot.

But let me put the incident in some context and perspective that may illuminate an issue or two, or at least get our brain neurons bumping and banging.

I am guessing that the ginormous fine - by my standards as a poor man - has been assessed based on Bryant’s celebrity status (hence his prominence and influence in the community), his membership in a professional organization (NBA), and on his monetary worth as well. The fine, by Bryant’s standards - and by most US professional athletes’ - is minuscule. It is a small drop in his multimillionaire bucket.

The perennial lesson, however, is that the basic freedoms that we often preach tout and flaunt as democratic fanatics, have limits. Freedom of speech therefore does not mean you can say anything you want to say and get away with it - OR does it?

Comparatively, Bryant’s mishap means if I - being poor and unknown - say the same slur to someone and caught on a TV or phone camera and even ended up on Youtube, I doubt that I would be fined a hundred grand - if at all. Moreover, if Bryant’s fine is any measure of a broadly applied legal principle and scale, then I guess I would be proportionately fined; and that would be equivalent to a penny or .000001% of a penny based on my monetary worth. Not bad. I can certainly afford that. LOL!

So in other words, if you’re a celebrity - super rich and famous - be careful what you say especially denigrating another person. Conversely, if you’re poor and obscure you may be a bit “freer” to express yourself, even if with malicious intent. Now, under hate speech laws in some places, you may still be found guilty and pay a fine, but surely not $100,000.

And despite the apparent disparity - at least in monetary terms - there’s still some equity in all of this somewhere. For example, if $100,000 for Bryant is minuscule, so is a penny for the poor man. Either that or the huge fine comes as a price of being rich and famous - something along the lines of “where much is given much is required”.

And so who said that the rich - in terms of being favored by the law - have it their way or given more leeway? On the other hand, who wants to be poor?

Okay, make up your mind now. LOL!

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