Friday, April 03, 2009

Bending the Rules for the Rich and Famous

Musical diva Madonna’s application to adopt a child from a third-world country failed today. She previously adopted from Malawi before – and one would have thought she would have no problems again.

Under Malawi laws, in order to adopt a child, the adopter must have resided in the country for a whole year. This law was overlooked on Madonna’s first adoption, because of her celebrity. But not this time – this time the judge cited her lack of residence in the country as reason for denial of the three-year-old girl she’s gone all gaga over.

No one is saying Madonna is an unfit parent, but the law is the law and that is that. Or is it?

Should the laws be flexible for the rich and famous?

Celebrity status does put an enormous amount of pressure upon a person – with screaming fans stalking your every move, going to the corner store for a jug of milk is almost impossible. And then there are those who get so involved in their characters, that they have trouble separating reality from the roles they portray. Then there’s all the money, what to do with all that money . . .

Okay, so being a celebrity isn’t all that bad. But because these people are constantly under the public’s microscope, should we cut them a break when we can – so long as it doesn’t harm anyone else?

But then, who are we to determine what does and doesn’t harm someone else?

If Madonna were to be granted her adoption, despite the laws, what about all us normal, non-celeb-types that still have to abide by the laws? If I wanted to adopt a child in Malawi, and knew the law said I had to reside there for a year, I’d be fuming – while swatting flies and mosquitoes – living there to follow the rules of the game.

And in a sense, that is what the law is – a game rule. These rules are there to protect us, and in the case of child adoption, to protect the child.

There is nothing wrong with Madonna’s motives; she’s trying to build a family, while saving a child from poverty. And Madonna has donated money to Malawi for those she can’t adopt, as well as already adopting a child from the region – so her heart is in the right place.

But a good heart, a thick bank book, and lots of paparazzi following your every move are not valid reasons to change the rules of the game for just one person. The good of the many, must be considered over the good of the few.

Because if we change the rules even just once for one person, then pretty soon we’ll be expected to change the rules for others. And that may have a negative impact on the many.

Case in point, when Canadian actor famed for movies and his lead role on the FOX hit 24, Keifer Sutherland was busted for drunk driving this past summer – he went to jail. This wasn’t his first offence, and he didn’t kill or injure anyone, so it was a short time, in a minimal correctional facility.

Could you imagine the public outcry had he been given a slap on the wrist, fined a small fortune, and asked for his autograph?

Just because someone is rich and famous doesn’t put that person above the law – so the rules of the game should apply to them just as they apply to you and me.

That way, no one passes “GO” unfairly.

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