Journalists have always been thoroughly interested in other people's lives and I'll admit I enjoy my share of gossip.
While sitting in the newsroom last week I saw an online news story about singer Bobby Brown's arrest at an Alpharetta restaurant.
"Did you see this about Bobby Brown getting arrested again?" I called out to anyone who would listen.
I suppose it's interesting because Bobby Brown is one of those serial offenders who just can't seem to do the right thing and is just too stupid to avoid getting caught. And of course, it heightens the gossip that he's married to the once-angelic pop diva Whitney Houston.
"What's Whitney Houston doing with him?" I asked, again to no one in particular.
"Crack," a sportswriter called out from another room.
I laughed, but that's probably not a bad guess.
I suppose what interests me about the Bobby Brown situation is that it's a good old-fashioned train wreck. Here we have a musical prodigy, who started his career as a member of the pop/R&B group New Edition, which if I recall correctly was a group of clean-cut young men who wore matching white suits. He then gets arrested over and over and over again, Robert Downey Jr. style, and he does some pretty dumb things that have provided public entertainment throughout this process. For example, at one point when Brown was pulled over and arrested for possession of marijuana, he told the officer, "It was just one joint." As if possession of "just one joint" of marijuana lessened his offense.
And the story gets better as Atlanta-area residents rush to protect this guy. While dining at an Alpharetta restaurant a week ago, someone spotted Brown and his wife Whitney Houston and, remembering that the DeKalb County Police had issued a warrant for Brown's arrest, the woman called the cops. The next day, dozens of residents called up a radio talk show that I listened to on the way to work, complaining that this woman was "player hating," which I'm guessing is not a phrase that means "doing her civic duty." Just about everybody who called in to the radio program said the only reason this woman called the police was because Brown is a celebrity. "Why can't she just mind her own business?" outraged callers asked.
Well, I don't know whether I would have called the police, but the point that we're missing is that Bobby Brown, celebrity or not, has drug and drunk driving convictions on his record. Is this a person we want roaming the streets of Atlanta, even if all he's got is just one joint?
And the only reason he's considered a celebrity is because he's married to one. Bobby Brown hasn't made a decent album (if any) since I was in elementary school. And even if he was a legitimate celebrity, the argument just doesn't work. Celebrities don't deserve special treatment, especially when the safety of others is at risk.
April Avison is the city editor of the Daily Herald. Her column appears on Mondays. She can be reached at (770) 957-9161 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.