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On Tuesday evening, celeb photographer Chris Guerra died tragically while trying to capture paparazzi photos of singer Justin Bieber. But these weren't just any photos.
According to TMZ, Guerra made a call shortly before his death to alert his photo agency that Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez were staying at the Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills, that he had spotted their cars there, and...that he thought he'd seen Bieber smoking pot in one the said cars.
Shortly after this call, Guerra was hit crossing a busy street and killed while pursuing the image.
The pointless death of a young guy in his prime (Guerra was 29) is truly sad, but--in our aggro-paparazzi times--it's hardly surprising. An exclusive Bieber-pot-toking pic could fetch a photographer well into six figures and get picked up by thousands of gossip-greedy tabloids the world over. Guerra was just being good at his job, even if his job was to hunt teenage celebrities.
The larger question here is: Why the hell do we care if Justin Bieber smokes weed? Because, if the possibility of a photo of JB inhaling could cause the fatal/reckless paparazzi pursuit it did on Tuesday, it's only because of one thing: ALL OF US WOULD LOOK AT IT. Your grandmother would look at it. And your boyfriend. People would make 3 million jokes about it on Twitter. You'd talk about it at parties: "Didya see that? Turns out Biebs is a pothead!" or "I guess Justin Bieber just smokes pot all the time now." [Insert disappointed stink face here or chuckles, depending on who's doing the talking.] It would be cultural currency for like a day, or until another Kardashian got pregnant.
Here's the thing: Justin Bieber is 18, he has more money than a Trump, and he's been crazy-making famous since before he had hair on his armpits--really, smoking a bit of marijuana is almost the least-bad thing we can expect from the kid. And, though I totally get the role model aspect--we don't want our tweenage girls looking up to a doper--it's not like Justin Bieber is Snoop Dogg. He's not being flagrant with his alleged weed-loving. He's just being a normal teenager, trying things out, be they bad overalls or girls or possibly an-illegal-in-many-places plant that you smoke. And if news of Bieber's pot use actually broke, surely parents could use it as an educational moment ("Don't do drugs or wear overalls--both make you look stupid," or something to this effect).
In the wake of Tuesday's tragedy, Bieber's camp is calling for stricter paparazzi regulations, which would be great and also around a decade-plus overdue. But you know what would be even greater? If all of us--you, me, your boyfriend, my grandma--would collectively decide that Justin Bieber smoking pot just isn't worth looking at and simply, mercifully turn away.