I didn't know Chris Guerra, but I’m reasonably certain his death was counted a tragedy by many who did – his family, his friends, his editor. Certainly I haven’t any reason to suppose that the world wouldn't be a better, or at least a more-photographed place, with Guerra still in it. But I didn't know Guerra and, in any rational society, his death would have negligible impact on me.* And so it will. Unless, that is, this Bieber fellow has his way.
In response to his pursuer’s death, Bieber did what many Americans, most television pundits and all of our legislative overlords always do in response to events as mundane as the invention of the Big Gulp and as tragic as a school shooting. Bieber reflexively proposed new, sweeping, get-tough legislation:
Hopefully this tragedy will finally inspire meaningful legislation and whatever other necessary steps to protect the lives and safety of celebrities, police officers, innocent public bystanders, and the photographers themselves.
The mind reels at the possibilities. Perhaps, henceforth cameras will be sold with a hard hat bearing a revolving amber caution light, which headgear will be mandatory whenever the camera is in use. Perhaps motor vehicles will be electro-mechanically limited to speeds below 15 miles per hour, ensuring that even those laden with bulky camera gear have ample opportunity to leap – well, stroll – to safety. Perhaps teen pop stars will be restricted to fenced preserves in the desert southwest, where they can safely be observed from blinds constructed to look like Starbucks kiosks. After all, if we can save just one Bieber. . .
But none of those laws could have kept Chris Guerra alive so long as he considered a grainy photo of Bieber’s car – since Bieber wasn't actually in the vehicle – more than his life was worth. Sadly for Guerra and paparazzi to come, even powerful pop stars and wanton statists cannot repeal or override the laws of nature, among which is Robert’s Rule that “The law is powerless before the fact” and its corollary that “You cannot outlaw stupid.”**
I freely confess that my Bieber knowledge is scant.*** From the available evidence I conclude that he is a twelve-year-old (possibly a boy) with very large feet who is employed as an air traffic controller or a Time/Life operator. (How else to explain the ubiquitous headset?) So maybe I’m wrong to assume he is not a Constitutional scholar or a public policy expert. In fairness, he probably knows as much about the serpentine interplay of the First Amendment and traffic safety as Diane Feinstein and Chuck Schumer and Sheila Jackson Lee know about firearms. And if the weight of Twitter followers is any measure – and believe me, it is**** – I wouldn't be the least surprised if his call for “meaningful legislation” and “necessary steps” finds some traction.*****
* Except in a John Donne-ish sort of way.
** Which is not to say that stupidity – as a far wiser and older commentator than I has said (will say) – doesn't carry a severe penalty.
*** Once again, I have to thank my lovely bride for bearing sons.
**** Bieber has more than 32 million followers. By comparison, Barack Obama has a paltry 25 million.
***** Too soon for an automotive pun? Maybe we need meaningful legislation and to take necessary steps to ensure smart-aleck bloggers are forced to observe a waiting period before making such tasteless remarks.