Justin Bieber Argentine Flag Furor Gets Legal, 'Outrage' Overkill?

Justin Bieber's extraordinarily contrite Twitter apology for "disrespecting" two Argentine flags at his Saturday concert in Buenos Aires may need to be repeated in a legal setting following the filing of a criminal complaint accusing the singer of defiling Argentina's national symbol.

It follows reports of "outrage" over Bieber's actions amid calls for a formal apology and widespread criticism of his treatment of the emblems at the River Plate Stadium show on November 9.

An Argentinian lawyer has filed the complaint, which centers on video footage showing the teen superstar sweeping two national flags off the stage with his feet and a microphone stand after they were thrown by audience members.

If tried and convicted, he could face up to four years in prison, The Associated Press reports.

That hypothetical is remarkable given Bieber's subsequent, lengthy apology on Thursday, Nov. 14 and the context of the incident.

Over nine tweets, the 19-year-old first expressed shock then repeatedly apologized, explaining he thought the thrown items were shirts and adding he typically removes things thrown onstage for safety.

Justin tweeted,

"I love Argentina and have had some of the best shows of my tour there. People throw stuff on my stage all show and I get it to the stage hands to get off so no one got hurt. That video I saw a bra and thought it was a shirt. I'm being told by my team it was a shirt, but even if it was a flag, I would never do anything to disrespect Argentina or the people of Argentina or the fans. I'm so sorry for anyone who took my actions the wrong way and I hope you can forgive this mistake."
The singer added,
"So once again to the people of Argentina. Im sorry if that was taken the wrong way and im sorry for my mistake. I hope u can accept this... And I loved my time there performing for you and look forward to coming back. I gave my all and I know the fans did there too. Te amo. I would never do anything to disrespect my fans. I dont like having to defend myself but this time it was needed as I mean no disrespect."
Looking at footage of the concert moment, and the crumpled state of the flags (or alleged shirts), it's reasonable to imagine Bieber would think the items were just like others thrown at him over the years --- these include bras, iPhones, scarves, teddy bears, and underwear --- which by the very act of being thrown implies they can be casually handled. One could ask, is the thrower of the item showing "respect" for it?

At past shows along his tumultuous Believe tour, the Canadian has often asked his mostly young, frenzied fans to "refrain" from lobbing objects because of the dangers of slipping onstage. Ironically, Bieber cut short his recent Sao Paulo, Brazil show when a plastic bottle hit him in the arm with such force it knocked the microphone from his hand.

Bieber joking with fans throwing iPhones at the stage at Madison Square Garden, New York, Nov. 29, 2012.

Bieber has an "interesting solution" to an iPhone thrown onstage at his Newark, New Jersey Show in August 2013.

The singer cut short his Sao Paulo show in Brazil, Nov. 2, 2013, after the penultimate song.

While the criminal complaint over the Argentine flag incident is at an early stage, it seems astonishing that a clearly penitent performer who has given a reasonable explanation on why he thought the onstage items were discarded clothes, should now be under a possible threat of jail time.

Meanwhile, Bieber has been named in a second incident that occurred after he visited the ink nightclub in Buenos Aires last weekend. Paparazzi captured his bodyguards escorting someone, allegedly the teen star under a black sheet, into a van containing what AP reported were "young girls."

The security team were filmed allegedly assaulting the club's house photographer, which resulted in a court order being issued to prevent the guards from leaving Argentina. The photographer is claiming Bieber approved of the assault.

The next day, the singer cut his Sunday (Nov. 10) Buenos Aires concert in the Argentine capital citing food poisoning.

Previous dramas in Brazil have also hit headlines. Bieber is now on a short break before he wraps his South and Central leg in Mexico City with two shows from Nov. 18th. From there, the Australasia leg of his equal parts concerning, fun, farcical, bewildering, and entertaining odyssey finally draws to a close on Dec. 8.

The singer apologizing onstage for cutting short his Nov. 10 Buenos Aries concert over food poisoning.