Great news, defenders of the free press: Thanks to journalists from many major media outlets, if you’ve been dying to see what Justin Bieber looks like while peeing, your prayers have been answered.
Two days after a Miami-Dade County judge relented to the requests of media outlets — submitted under Florida’s rather liberal (!!!) public records law, which allows most evidence in a criminal case to be made available after it’s been given to a defendant’s legal team — video of Bieber submitting to a drug test (you know, peeing) inside a Miami Beach Police Department bathroom was released.
Or, at least that’s what it looks like he was doing; after all, that same judge ordered that Bieber’s genitals be censored in the video, since his “right to privacy is paramount.” So what we’re left with is a clip that’s basically just 110 seconds of a black box in baggy shorts, though that didn’t stop TMZ from posting the footage as “THE MONEY SHOT.”
And while the video doesn’t reveal much, what’s even less clear is what it has to do with Bieber’s DUI case … nothing in it could charitably be described as “evidence.” And as such, it’s also unclear why so many media outlets were determined to get their hands on the footage.
Unless, of course, their intent was to exploit and embarrass him; because in that case, uh, score one for the First Amendment!
No matter how you look at it, there seems to be no other purpose behind the release of the footage, which begs the question: Isn’t all of this a gigantic waste of time and resources? Sure, under Florida law , the media had the right to request the video — and, as a journalist, it’s a right I support, begrudgingly or otherwise — but I’m at a loss for what good it actually does in this case. Were the public’s best interests served here? Based on the comments on TMZ’s site, the answer appears to be “No,” and I’m inclined to agree with those sentiments.
And then there’s the whole issue of privacy. Once again, technically it remains intact here, since Bieber’s genitals were blocked by a black bar … but, really is there anyone who doesn’t think this whole thing sets a slightly troubling precedent? Even the most public of personalities deserves to keep some aspects of their life private, and as far as I’m concerned, that extends to any and all bathroom-related activities (yes, even if said bathroom is in a police station). And if you don’t think this incident puts us on the precipice of a slippery slope, do me a favor and re-read that last sentence again.
There’s plenty about the Bieber video that makes me uncomfortable; on one hand, I understand the rights of the media and the service they provide. On the other, they successfully lobbied a judge to release video of a pop star peeing, for purely exploitive, invasive means. Not to mention, for the second time in a month, I’ve written a column defending Justin Bieber. Once again, we all lose.