In case you’ve missed it, Justin Bieber got arrested last night in Miami.
It’s not funny that he broke the law, or that he was charged with a DUI and could have hurt someone while driving drunk. But it is kind of fun to, well, poke fun at how we talk about Bieber’s legal troubles, particularly now, in light of the “thug” conversations we’re having thanks to Richard Sherman’s impassioned sideline interview last Sunday.
Take a look at some of the responses to Jesse Taylor‘s claim that Bieber is a thug.
Of course, he’s really just a brat, or a wannabe thug—not a real one—because he’d have to be black or brown to qualify. I suppose we could talk about the history of the word and its etymology (Don Lemon makes a thin case for what he sees as the word’s racially impartial nature here).
But as literate adults, we know that because context matters, words change and take on multiple meanings over time. And right now it is a word overwhelmingly reserved for black and brown men whose behavior makes people uncomfortable.
Also, what an injustice it would be if Bieber’s actions represented the wayward, criminal ways of the entire white race! Jamelle Bouie’s wit:
And then the fun began: