…I don’t understand why it’s apparently such a scandal that he’s flying the flags at half staff for Whitney Houston. Wait, let me rephrase that: I do understand the concern that the half-staff tradition is technically supposed to be reserved for our servicemen and servicewomen who’ve given their lives for our state and/or country and/or freedom, and that flying the flag at half staff for a mere celebrity sort of trivializes that. That much I understand. What I don’t understand is, why wasn’t everyone all up in arms when Clarence Clemons’s passing was honored in the same manner? Apparently we as citizens of New Jersey are supposed to be absolutely appalled that our governor has chosen to respect the legacy of a — gasp! — drug addict. Won’t someone please, please think of the children?!
See, the thing is, we can’t be too sure that no one else for whom the
bell tolled flag was lowered has ever had a problem with drugs. If one of our late servicemen/women just happened to have struggled with an addiction at some point in their life before they died heroically, would we give a crap? Would we negate what good they’ve done for their country and their state just because they happened to have moments of weakness that proved them to be less than angelic? Hell no. And let’s just imagine for a second that Clarence Clemons, being the high-profile musician that he is, maybe had a brief period in his career during which he struggled with some addiction or other. Would we suddenly forget that he played a pivotal role in the E-Street Band if we ever discovered that he once had a serious drug problem? I don’t think so. So why do we care that Whitney Houston, another of New Jersey’s undisputed musical gifts to the world, had a long, meticulously documented struggle with drugs?
Oh, wait, the answer’s in the question. The difference between Whitney Houston and every other person who ever made a difference in New Jersey is that her weaknesses were publicized about as often as her strengths, and what’s more, they were held under a disproportionate amount of scrutiny. See, the tabloids just love it when talented, successful people — particularly beautiful, talented, successful women — are spotted acting like flawed human beings because it gives them license to twist and embellish the details for their own profit. Really, though, Whitney’s drug addiction is much less relevant to her career and her fame as the trash media wants us to believe. The only reason why we make a big deal about it is because it’s well known, and the only reason why it’s well known is because that’s what all the magazines have been screaming at us while we stand captive in the check-out line at the supermarket, and it’s what the TV’s been telling us while we sit in wait for the actual news, or whatever show’s on next. I’m not saying we shouldn’t care that Whitney had a serious drug problem, just as I don’t think we shouldn’t care if we know for a fact that someone is cutting themself or suffering from an eating disorder. What I am saying is that we shouldn’t act as though Whitney was a horrible person for doing something that — let’s face it — hurt her more than it hurt anyone else. And we certainly shouldn’t make the mistake as defining her as an addict rather than as the superstar she was. I recognize that not everyone is going to be a fan of Whitney Houston’s music, but we should all at least give her the respect of seeing her as an artist and a significant human being before we scrutinize how she may have chosen (or not chosen; felt as though she had to) to spend her personal life.
So in short, all I really have to say is this: LEAVE WHITNEY ALOOOOOOONE! Or, as a really smart guy in a book a whole bunch of people have read once said, whoever is without sin, etc., etc.