11 June 2007

Not the Hilton

Poor Paris Hilton. Dehydration, claustrophobia, hyperventilation – that’s the nasty little trio of medical ailments which got her out of jail after just three days.

Poor Paris Hilton. Dehydration, claustrophobia, hyperventilation – that’s the nasty little trio of medical ailments which prompted the sheriff to spring her from jail after just three days.

Imagine if someone tried that in Pollsmoor, where even a combination of HIV and tuberculosis may fail to get you a slot with the day nurse, let alone a bed in the hospital section. You’d be laughed out of your cell – into one with 60 people in it.

Someone’s being made a fool of here, said the sentencing judge, and put Paris straight back behind bars. He has a point.

A dangerous condition, which – especially in developing countries – leads to many infant deaths. So what was the problem with Paris? No water in the prison? No. Apparently Ms Hilton did not want to sully her behind by using the toilet in the prison. One that has – horrors – been used by other people. So she stopped drinking water.

Then she also did not eat for three days. The reason? The self-same toilet that would have to be used.

But wait a minute. How much weight did she lose? I see a business opportunity here. Want to lose five kilos? Just drive on a suspended licence and the rest will be taken care of.

The fear of narrow or confined spaces. It’s a scary and socially inhibiting phobia. Claustrophobics will go to some lengths to avoid the narrow confines of an aeroplane, and they’re hopelessly bad at crowded parties.

That doesn’t sound like our Paris.

The last time I looked, prisons were not meant to be spacious. They are meant to be narrow and confining. That’s why they put people in there who have broken the law.

This has to do with breathing faster or deeper than necessary, thereby reducing the carbon dioxide concentration of the blood to below normal. A panic attack can cause someone to hyperventilate. Reducing the amount of oxygen someone is breathing in, puts an end to this condition. How is this done? A paper bag over the nose and mouth for a minute or two should do it. So, sorry Paris. No highly publicised visit to the emergency room today. Nice try, but no cigar.

Poor little rich girl?
It’s difficult to muster sympathy for a Barbie doll whose claims to fame are an inheritance, home porn movies, and partying. She has succeeded at something, though: making a generation of teens, who’re growing up in a materialistic and consumer-driven society, feel inadequate.

So I take my hat off to the magistrate who would fall for none of the histrionics. Even her fellow celebrities would agree. "I think all heiresses should be put in prison on general principle," said actor John Cusack, star of Being John Malkovich, High Fidelity, and The Ice Harvest.

And now it’s time for the world media to do their bit. There’s a real world out there – and a pretty harsh one at that for many people. Wars, famine, prison torture (don’t give me ideas), malnutrition. Maybe it’s time for us to focus on these things more and a little less on a vacuous blonde and her problems with the traffic department.

(Susan Erasmus, Health24, June 2007)


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