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Bomb Garden 

by LUKE BAUMGARTEN & r & & r & Gold Record Shower & r & & r & Somewhere in the neighborhood of a decade ago, R Kelly allegedly peed on a 13-year-old while having sex with her. Six years ago, legal proceedings began in his child pornography case. Last Friday, he was acquitted of any and all wrongdoing.

There was a tape of the incident. It was shown, in repetitive detail, to the jury. The jury said it was reasonably sure it was Kelly in the tape, but couldn't tell if it was the girl in question.

This is R Kelly, who sings about peeing on people, and who married singer Aaliyah when she was 15. The dude who's been sued four other times by women, three for underage sex and one for videotaping without permission. I know this is what the justice system considers irrelevant information, but damn kids, let's do a little inductive reasoning. There's a pattern there.

These are moot points, though, because R Kelly is a huge celebrity. Huge entertainers (Michael Jackson, Phil Specter) -- even minor celebrities like Robert Blake -- never get convicted of serious crimes. Ever.

They always get off. In Kelly's case multiple times (all puns intended).

The usual factors were in play, of course: a high-powered defense team and a ton of cash to toss at the victim and her family. More troubling, the world seems OK with this. There's something totally beguiling about entertainers. We seem to value them in a way that causes our ideas of justice and morality and ethics to distort, a person's place in the pop canon or in the annals of cinema becoming as important as the alleged crime.

Because of this, an absurdly high number of pundits I've read are in a moral quandary over the Kelly verdict. People almost uniformly assume he's guilty, and way, way, way too many of them react with relief that he's going to still be able to make music.

Think about that: After weighing the social benefit of locking up someone who urinates on children while having sex with them against the social benefit of letting that person off to continue his (admittedly exceptional) career, a plurality think society is better off with R Kelly than without.

In short, our priorities are all f***ed up.
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