Celebrities breaking laws that shouldn't exist 

I don't follow the lives of Tobey Maguire or Leonardo Dicaprio very closely, and I don't think I had heard of John Galliano before today, but I've got these celebrities on my mind today because they all seem to have broken laws that really shouldn't exist.

We'll start with the truly innocent potential crime: playing poker.

Tobey Maguire (Spiderman) is being sued for beating someone at poker too badly. According to reports, there was an awesome-sounding poker game among really rich, and often famous Hollywood types. Some hedge fund guy lost more than he could afford and then started allegedly embezzling money to pay his debts. Now he's suing Maguire and others, partly on the grounds that this poker game was illegal.

You know what else involves putting up lots of money with the risk of losing it all? Investing in hedge funds. The federal government actually prohibits you from investing in certain funds unless you meet the wealth and income thresholds to count as a sophisticated investor. The thinking: if you've got enough money, the government has no business holding your hand to ensure you don't lose money.

Well guess who else had stringent participation standards? Here's Yahoo's description of the game: "invitation-only, no-limit clandestine poker games were held twice a week with a buy-in of $100,000." It's hard for me to see why government should be protecting hedge-fund managers from willingly losing their money to actors.

Now for a defendent who's unsympathetic, but whose prosecution is even more upsetting. John Galliano was a designer. At a restaurant in France, he reportedly went on an angry tirade that included anti-semitic insults and the declaration "I love Hitler." This is the sort of action, that, in America, leads to widespread shaming of the celebrity, and probably some loss of income due to a harmed reputation.

But in France, where "Liberte" doesn't extend to Freedom of Speech, they might lock you up for this. Reason's Mike Riggs has more.


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Timothy P. Carney

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