The last time I saw Paris

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Forgive me. I thought I could avoid writing about the ironies of Paris Hilton. Alas, popular demand (my persistent wife) thought otherwise.

Immigration, the G-8 summit, global warming, “the missile shield,” the Pentagon’s shakeup, the runaway tuberculosis guy and the congressman caught with thousands of alleged bribery dollars in his freezer can hardly compete for public attention with the many ironies of the naughty hotel heiress.

You might think a publicity magnet like Paris, for whom privacy is but a rumor, would carefully abide by the rules of her 36-month probation from last year’s drunk-driving arrest. Wouldn’t you? At least, in public?

But, oh, no. That would require some common sense, one of the few luxuries Paris apparently has been denied.

This time, the pretty poster child for unearned privilege and entitlement has outdone herself for arousing public outrage.

In February, the adventurous star of the leaked sex tape “1 Night In Paris” was caught driving 70 miles per hour in a 35 mph zone. Her headlights were off, police say. It was after dark, her license was still suspended after the earlier arrest and she had — oops — failed to enroll in a court-ordered alcohol education program. If you wonder why people keep picking on the poor girl, this night of adventure gives you some idea.

The result is a weird situation in which the judge wants her in jail, but the sheriff wants her out. Judge Michael T. Sauer sentenced her to serve 45 days in jail. The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department trimmed that back to 23 days, citing sentencing guidelines.

Her screaming fans, aptly dubbed “Paris-ites” long ago by the Los Angeles Times, want her free. Then she can return to the clubbing and party scene with her “BFFs,” which my son tells me is “best friends forever” in text-message-speak.

But Paris wants to serve her time “like everyone else,” she said before she actually served any of it.

Before she turned herself in, Miss Hilton appeared to be going through the sort of life-changing epiphany on-camera that leads many addictive personalities to cures, “Oprah” interviews and best-selling memoirs.

She wanted to serve her jail time “like everyone else,” she told a firing squad of cameras and microphones outside the MTV Awards, even though “I did have a choice to go to a pay jail.”

Pay jail? What, I wondered, is “pay jail?” Even O. J. Simpson, with all his wealth and fame, didn’t get “pay jail.”

“Pay jail” turns out to be a California thing for minor offenders with major cash in their pockets. Think of is as the prison equivalent of flying “Upper Class” on Virgin Airlines.

For about $100 a day, you can get a little room with a regular door instead of jail bars and a roommate who is not a large, tattooed enforcer for a violent street gang. You might even get to keep your cell phone, iPod and computer, but don’t expect to find a nightly chocolate mint on your pillow.

Could it be one of those legendary perquisites that many black people believe only rich white people know about? Judging by news accounts, apparently so.

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