Sat, February 11, 2012
Entertainment > Celebrity

Celebrity status is no defense before the law

2012-02-11 03:02:14 GMT2012-02-11 11:02:14(Beijing Time)  Xinhua English

BEIJING, Feb.11  -- Life's not fair. No one says it is. But that doesn't stop people from feeling a sense of anger when justice is not done. Which brings us to the firestorm that has exploded about the pretty head of singer/actress Makiyo in Taiwan.

The facts of the case, so far, seem to be that last Friday the 27-year-old celebrity, born to a Japanese father and Taiwan mother, went out drinking with her friends in Taipei. On their way home or to another bar, they flagged down a taxi and got in.

The driver asked them to buckle up, but Makiyo and her friends refused to do so and instead got angry and told him to drive more quickly.

When he didn't do so they made him stop the car because they wanted to get another cab with a more compliant driver.

What is at dispute is what happened next and is the subject of a court case. But the outcome was the taxi driver ended up in intensive care, with serious head injuries, two fractured ribs, a brain hemorrhage and a concussion.

What made the situation worse was that the male friend in the group of four (along with two female starlets) was Japanese and a rumored gangster with links to the yakuza.

Takateru Tomoyori admitted he was the one who had beaten up the taxi driver, which gave the story a race dimension and provoked a storm of anti-Japanese comments - regrettable and unfair, of course, as one man doesn't make a country.

What was even worse was that Makiyo called a news conference on the Sunday and, dressed in a slinky, off-the-shoulder black dress, tried to play down the seriousness of the incident.

There was a huge public reaction, and hundreds of thousands of people went online to condemn her.

Makiyo brought in her mom, who has cancer, to try and apologize to the cab driver's wife - but it didn't help. The damage was done.

Now, it is a generally accepted fact that justice is rarely done in the court of public opinion.

But Makiyo thought she could get out of the situation by showing up at a news conference, putting on a cute smile and coming up with some tall tales.

She blamed the taxi driver for pushing her, while Tomoyori suggested the cabbie touched Makiyo's breast when he was handing over change for the fare.

She also claimed she did not call an ambulance for the driver because she left her money and purse in the cab.

Police charged Makiyo for malicious destruction of property and aggravated assault, and she was released on bail.

Then, a few days ago, prosecutors said they had video evidence from an onboard camera that allegedly proved Makiyo had lied about the incident.

Allegedly, Tomoyori wasn't the only one kicking the cab driver all over the floor. Makiyo did so, too.

Makiyo claimed she was drunk and couldn't remember anything. But the taxi driver who picked them up afterward said they were all talking and laughing in his car, totally compos mentis.

Most people would agree there shouldn't be one rule for one and another rule for others.

While Makiyo deserves her day in court, the fact that she went public with the case, tried to use her celebrity status to get out of it and blatantly lied suggests the court of public opinion should have a say, too.

It would be a brave judge who doesn't listen to the public's condemnation in this case.


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