Wesley Snipes is in jail. That’s right, Blade is behind bars. Passenger 57 is now known as Inmate 224567.
And this friends, is a travesty.
It’s not just a travesty because we’re going to have to wait at least three years for the next poorly conceived direct-to-video action film starring the Shotokan Karate master. It’s a travesty because of the deafening silence surrounding his trial and incarceration.
Where are the legions of race hustlers and political opportunists who can’t wait to make every issue in our society about racism and social justice? I haven’t heard much from Reverend Al or Jesse Jackson. And where is the outcry from Snipes’ co-stars and the usual suspects like Danny Glover and Susan Sarandon? Both of those actors, for instance, have been quite vocal in their support of convicted cop killer Mumia Abu-Jamal. Yet, when they frog march Simon Phoenix nobody says a word.
It’s not surprising that the automatons in Tinsel Town are mum on the subject. After all, they usually reserve their impassioned pleas and soap box orations for child rapists and wife beaters. Wesley Snipes got into this mess not because of a shady accountant or a “rounding error.” He didn’t even use Turbo Tax. No, Wesley Snipes is actually a tax protestor. His legal and accounting team challenged not the amount Mr. Snipes owed, but the legitimacy of the Federal Government collecting ANY income tax. Mr. Snipes is a card carrying member of the “taxes are illegal, and immoral” crowd.
Wesley Snipes clearly is outside the Hollywood mainstream. Folks like Bill Maher and Aaron Sorkin are bemoaning Obama’s sellout by granting “tax cuts for the rich.” Let’s save the whole tax cuts vs. not raising taxes distinction for another day. Let’s just focus on the fact that nobody in Hollywood is required to hire an army of accountants and lawyers to protect them from the IRS. Bill Maher’s taxes would be a lot different if his HBO check was made out to him personally instead of the corporation that he undoubtedly has. There is no written law that says that you have to take deductions to which you are entitled. On top of that, even with the exploitation of loopholes and maximizing deductions, there’s nothing that says you can’t add a couple zeros to the checks you write Uncle Sam. Why can’t rich, Obama supporting celebrities simply put their money where their mouth is and help pay down the debt?
Perhaps the Wesley Snipes’ harsh prison sentence stems from the fact that we, as a society, treat our celebrities in the legal system tougher than we do average citizens. You know, like the life sentences that Lindsay Lohan, Paris Hilton, and Charlie Sheen are now serving. Wait. They got disproportionately light sentences for their transgressions? Even Snoop Dogg walked on an accessory to murder charge. And OJ had to kill people, and then commit armed robbery and kidnapping before we locked that sociopath up.
This is about the government letting you know, through a high profile target, that while they may not enforce laws regarding immigration, corporate bookkeeping, or the conduct of our elected officials, they are dead serious about this tax business. The flunkies in Hollywood haven’t said boo because Snipes isn’t one of them.
People may object to me calling Wesley Snipes a victim. He knowingly broke the law and must now pay the price. Fair enough. But in the context of our media and government, where there is a new outrageous outrage everyday and the rule of law is bent and broken by lawmakers and judges every hour, one can’t help but find a little irony in this situation. In a world where we fret about the legal rights of men who try to blow up airplanes with explosive stocked tighty whities, isn’t it a bit ridiculous to be sending a harmless thespian to prison? Even if he does fancy himself a modern day Henry David Thoreau, wouldn’t an expensive fine and a “censure” insure that he ends his dangerous tax avoidance crime spree?
We should save the harsh celebrity sentences for people who drug and rape thirteen year old girls. We should lock up actors who violate State Department mandates so they can hang out with and perform for murderous despots. We should throw the book at celebrities who act above the law and put the lives of others at risk when they hop behind the wheel of their $500,000 car jacked up on coke and vodka (and by “coke” I mean the really, really good kind. Not the good kind that you drink). And, there should be a special wing at Leavenworth for anybody and everybody associated with the film “Birdemic.”
But not Wesley Snipes. He’s a talented guy who, unlike the rest of the bloviating windbags in our industry, actually puts his money and his freedom behind his political views.
So Wesley, if the prison that they sent you to is as nice as Gitmo, you should have the Internet. I hope you read this and know that some of us out here, even people who work in the entertainment industry, think you got a raw deal.