In My Opinion

Fabiola Santiago: Bieber’s follies an only-in-Miami act

 
 
These police booking mugs made available by the Miami Dade County Corrections Department show pop star Justin Bieber, Thursday, Jan. 23, 2014. Bieber and singer Khalil were arrested early Thursday for allegedly drag-racing on a Miami Beach Street. Police say Bieber has been charged with resisting arrest without violence in addition to drag racing and DUI. Police also say the singer told authorities he had consumed alcohol, smoked marijuana and taken prescription drugs.
These police booking mugs made available by the Miami Dade County Corrections Department show pop star Justin Bieber, Thursday, Jan. 23, 2014. Bieber and singer Khalil were arrested early Thursday for allegedly drag-racing on a Miami Beach Street. Police say Bieber has been charged with resisting arrest without violence in addition to drag racing and DUI. Police also say the singer told authorities he had consumed alcohol, smoked marijuana and taken prescription drugs.
Uncredited / AP

fsantiago@MiamiHerald.com

Some revelations from the Tale of the Velvet Biebereen in Miami:

Justin Bieber showed us how readily you can rent a Lamborghini for $700 a day without a valid driver’s license. A bargain, if you believe the report that he dropped $75,000 in singles at a strip club.

He proved that enough money and fame can procure Roy Black – heralded by people who know better than me as the best criminal lawyer in South Florida – to handle idiocy: a traffic offense, confessed intoxication, and cursing to police.

Hiring Black to clean up after a malcriado is sort of like asking President Obama to handle a dispute in Islandia. If you don’t get the geographical reference, think of the cliché swatting a fly with a bazooka.

No one was hurt in the short-lived drag race along residential Pine Tree Drive with his rapper buddy. He didn’t flee the scene, as is customary around here. He was just another entitled, imperiled driver putting lives at risk.

Unlike Bieber, however, who bonded out of jail (another bargain) after too-brief a stay and left waving goodbye to fans from atop an Escalade, when DUI charges are levied upon people without resources, there’s usually a different and unhappier outcome.

For the poor farm workers I encountered during an entire year of Sunday mornings spent observing the assembly line of justice called “first appearance” in a Palm Beach County courtroom, more often than not, a young public defender with a huge caseload delivered a guilty plea in exchange for time-served.

The criminal record landed the immigrants in a deportation list.

People are joking on social media that the misbehaving Bieber, who could be facing felony charges in California for egging a neighbor’s house, should be deported back to his native Canada. But if the pop star were a working-class immigrant, they wouldn’t be joking about it.

They’d mean it.

Lastly, the coverage of this story is making the veteran wolves of journalism howl from their retirement Ivory Tower.

But feel no shame, modern scribes.

Although they call the Bieber coverage “what passes for journalism these days,” this is the kind of Miami story they would have been all over in their time – and God help the reporter who didn’t out-report the South Florida Sun-Sentinel (now, news partners).

This is the kind of “only-in-Miami” story they would have later spun with relish over beers with friends from the Northeast and the Midwest.

This is the kind of urban legend they used to promote on recruiting posters to lure top-tier young journalists, the best and the brightest from the Ivy League, because back then, they rarely recruited local.

So take a deep breath, everyone, and curmudgeons, turn off the “news” alerts if they bother you.

Feverish Bieber believers, my condolences for the tears, the shakes and shrieks, the stand-by-your-man statements you’ve had to make these last two days.

I know how you feel.

I never forgave the BFF who kissed my Donny Osmond poster.

But, as you’ll probably learn soon enough, idolatry is seldom worth it. Life worked out much better for me when I got an education and developed a brain.

And to you, Miami journalists covering day-to-day this chapter of the Bieber’s public unraveling – you multimedia platform workhounds, you, with more readers than any of us ever imagined – I say, go for it.

Enjoy your day in the sun.

Read more Fabiola Santiago stories from the Miami Herald

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