Justin Bieber, surrounded by controversy and scandal, has an interesting new champion — Toronto Mayor Rob Ford.
Yes, on top of his recent DUI drama in Miami Beach, being charged with assault in Toronto on Wednesday related to an alleged incident involving a limo driver last month (his lawyers say he is innocent and it’s been claimed his entourage were to blame), now Bieber’s tipping point has taken on the city’s portly grandstander.
Ford’s show of solidarity came when he phoned into Washington, D.C.based Sports Junkies radio show Thursday to offer his take on hosts’ views that Bieber is “Canada’s worst export.”
The Mayor weighed in, saying,
“Well, you know what, he’s a young guy. At 19 years old I wish I was as successful as he was. He’s 19 years old, guys. Think back to when you were 19.”
Of course, it’s possible Ford feels empathy for Bieber for self-serving reasons.
Scrolling back through some of his best moments: that time he admitted smoking crack is still gold. His 2007 gem when he said cyclists’ deaths were their own fault. A 2010 a phone call during which Ford told a constituent he’d get them OxyContin also ranks up there. As is, pun intended, his alleged groping of political rival Sarah Thompson, and countless viral videos of him evidently baked out of his tree at council meetings and events.
But Ford does make the beginnings of a good point.
Bieber’s likely addiction issues – highlighted by a just released toxicology report taken after his DUI arrest when police stopped the star and a pal allegedly drag racing a Lamborghini and Ferrari in Miami Beach – may well be the dominant reason behind the Jacob’s Ladder journey he’s been on for well over a year.
The teen singer tested positive for marijuana and the anti-anxiety drug Xanax but showed no trace of heavier drugs. Arresting officers in the DUI case said Justin admitted he had been smoking marijuana, consumed a beer, and taken prescription medication.
Yet there’s little compassion or serious discussion to be found as to why a 19-year-old with no privacy, no defense to false claims or the widespread hate and mockery he received well before his charges, is so anxious and appears to be accelerating into tragedy.
It’s assumed he’s a punk, a douche-bag, and a brat, when it’s clear Bieber’s judgment and behavior is exacerbated by self-medication amid acting out in the glare of uber fame and uber scrutiny at a young age.
And it seems even a Miami police officer wasn’t above attempting to violate a vulnerable moment.
— Lisa Hendry (@LisaHendryCBS4) January 30, 2014
Ford, who is currently being sued for allegedly ordering the jailhouse rough-up of his sister’s ex-boyfriend, is obviously no example-setter but his defense of Bieber is a welcome change from the gaining collective vitriol thrown at this kid.
In the wake of comments by Universal Music Group chief Lucian Grainge, who said the pop star needs “help” and “intervention,” an exponentially signature-gathering deportation petition (now over 200,000), and mounting legal challenges – singer Ariana Grande offers a more humane perspective on the Bieber debate.
“I think it’s really serious. I’ve seen tweets of people making fun of the mug shot and all this stuff, and it’s so ignorant.” the Sam and Cat star told MIX 104.1. ”
Grande added, “It’s gotten to a point where I just want him to be okay.It’s this very serious thing. And it’s not just like a kid who’s, you know, screwing around. It’s dangerous. It’s very serious and upsetting.”
She continued, “I don’t think it’s something to make fun of any more. I don’t think it’s funny any more …He’s a great person and a very talented boy and I want the best for him. He’s the most visible and yet isolated human being I’ve ever met.”
Currently under investigation for felony vandalism in Los Angeles after his neighbor’s house in Calabasas was egged – prompting a Force 10 police raid at Bieber’s home on January 14 in search of evidence (they found none) – the singer recently pleaded not guilty to charges of DUI, resisting arrest without violence, and driving without a license.
After retreating to Stratford, Ontario, to spend time with his family, including his oft-criticized father, Jeremy, E! News reported Bieber is “being very positive” in spite of the media and legal firestorm engulfing him.
“He’s happy to be with family,” a source told the outlet. “He’s going to spend some time with them and is doing his best to keep focused and not be distracted.”
— Jeremy Bieber (@JeremyBieber) January 30, 2014
“He’s learning from the experiences of the past couple of weeks and knows it’s time to move on and refocus his attention on work and family,” they added.
However, another source revealed Bieber is still driving the train, “Neither of his parents are calling the shots. That’s the problem.”
So, when are we going to ask the right questions?
Instead of when can we deport Bieber and turn our backs on someone who has contributed positively to this country in the past, how about when are we going to see his behavior and that of all other “at risk” teens – it doesn’t matter how rich or poor they are – as real cries for help?