Editorial: Social status should not determine treatment in the legal system

sheldon

Shailene Woodley, environmental activist and award-winning actress starring in productions such as “Divergent” and “The Fault in our Stars,” was arrested as a result of trespassing and protesting the construction of an oil pipeline. Woodley described her treatment by the authorities as unfair due to the fact that some other protesters were allowed to leave the scene with no consequences following them. Woodley characterized the protest as “peaceful,” however, authorities refuted it saying it was actually a considered a “riot.”

The protest was originally orchestrated to act as a peaceful objection to the North Dakota Access pipeline. The sheriffs that arrived on the scene, however, viewed this in a completely different fashion. According to sheriffs on the scene, the protesters were seen as individuals encouraging others to break the law and stir up commotion.

Woodley’s arrest, followed by a court hearing, was viewed as one-sided, as her role in society may have affected her treatment and punishment.

According to the Morton County jail, Woodley was strip-searched and put in an orange jumpsuit as a result of her affirmation on the pipelines.

Unjust treatment of celebrities has been a continuous problem in present-day society. Whether it is in a positive or negative manner, celebrities are almost always viewed and approached differently compared to ordinary human beings.

According to Woodley, the reasoning behind her being victimized was due to the fact that she is well known. Adding to the fact, this trend is exhibited for many other celebrities. One example is pop-sensation Justin Bieber. As a result of Bieber attracting a massive amount of press in previous years, people tend to make a more monumental scene, when presented with the opportunity, in order to attract attention to the story. However, differentiating from Woodley’s case, Bieber was not penalized by being sent to prison. This scenario represents the contrasting extremes of the punishments of celebrities.

The distinction between the prejudiced and biased treatment of celebrities versus that of an ordinary person is simply wrong at the end of the day. No matter what social status a person possesses, they too, are a part of a country that bases its basic principles on equality.

In scenarios such as Woodley’s protest about the construction of the North Dakota Access pipeline, Woodley stood up for something she believed in. She occupies the full right to do this under the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States, which grants everyone the right to freedom of speech. Yet, the controversy emerges due to the fact that the press has the right, under the First Amendment as well, to portray Woodley in whichever demeanor they choose, potentially twisting the story to have her appear as the bandit.

The bias behind the motives of the authorities dealing with Woodley’s case was evident. Although celebrities do carry a certain fascination along with them, it is pertinent that they be treated as equals in society in order to avoid any disruptions to social order and peace.

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