What do actor Wesley Snipes, Country singer Willie Nelson, Baseball star Darryl Strawberry, and hip hop icon Lauryn Hill have in common? They're all common criminals. Because tax evasion is hella illegal.
Today, Complex .com reported:
"Earlier this month, Lauryn Hill explained why she went three years without paying taxes. Instead of going along with the system she pursued a very alternative lifestyle, and giving a cut of her money to the government wasn't part of the plan.
In 2005, 2006, and 2007, Lauryn made $1.8 million, and she didn't file tax returns on any of it. Ms. Hill admitted to the judge that she intentionally and willingly failed to file and she entered a guilty plea that could earn her three years in jail and $75,000 in fines. For now, she's out on bail."
And the Twittersphere has already resorted to making jokes about it, too. Even Rashida Jones has taken shots at Lauryn:
Damn Rashida. You just lost HELLA cool points.
Fact is, I don't think it's a laughing matter. I know that everybody has to pay taxes. I know it's illegal not to. By definition, someone who commits a crime is a criminal, I know that nobody is above the law. But the idea that Lauryn Hill could potentially go to jail doesn't sit right with me People have been calling her crazy for years, but real talk, everything she ever feared is happening right now. Maybe she brought it on herself. Maybe her reasons aren't understandable. It just makes me feel sick when someone like her becomes a punch line of a joke.
Thanks to the Freedom of Information Act, it is totally legal to not only expose a celebrity's legal troubles, but it's also legal to publish it in blogs, magazines, or wherever else you wanna. Celebrities don't get to handle their affairs in a private way like most people, their faults and failings get publicized right alongside the rest of the day's entertainment news. the masses are able to instantly pass judgement, in their most human moments celebs are exposed to intense scrutiny, conjecture, judgement, and labeling. It's the cost of celebrity. I'm an entertainer. That scares the hell out of me.
Failing to file taxes isn't exactly hardened criminal activity, but it is highly illegal. And it seems especially careless that a women who is a mom could think she'd get away with not paying taxes on 1.8 million in income. However, as an aspiring recording artist who has been influenced by Lauryn's music since I was a kid, I am saddened by this. No major news outlet seems to be sympathetic, and that is why she is being aired out in the media like a common criminal.
I don't believe that there is anything common about this situation. The same media that is mocking Lauryn's legal troubles today are the ones who have been accusing her of being crazy for years. So...I dunno... if you truly believe she is crazy then is it fair to be airing her out like this? If you are really concerned that she has mental issues then is it right to tear her down for showing such poor judgement?
I voiced my feelings about this on my Facebook fan page. People are taking this very personally, on both sides of the issue.
People these days complain about how "conscious" artists are lacking in the music industry, but in all honestly there is no longer any incentive to be a conscious rapper. The people who support your political views and fist-in-the-air righteousness in your music don't condone your radical beliefs in real life, when it leads you to doing something like this. For everything Lauryn contributed to hip hop culture and the image of minority women in America, has she not at the very least earned the right to not be made a mockery of? If rappers who quote Bible scriptures in their lyrics and disappointment in our government are bashed for being equally as imperfect as everyone else, then I don't wanna hear anyone bitching about how "unconscious" Nicki Minaj or Iggy Azalea's lyrics are, because it's been proven that people will pass judgement on them either way. Lauryn pled guilty. She had her reasons, but what she did was wrong. Yet, to me, that still doesn't justify the media treating her like she's nothing but a common criminal.