A drunken woman starts mouthing off in a vile, classless, repellent way against a police officer who kept his composure in the most exceptional (even superhuman) manner, and it pushed the Bill Cosby trial off the front pages of local news. It became a national story, and the online version went viral. The woman lost her jobs, became a public pariah, and retreated to an “undisclosed location” which is reachable only by Seal Team Six. Until they get there, she is recovering with the help of her family and an attorney.
Frankly, I feel no sympathy for Colleen Campbell, late of PHL17 and a bar. Her actions on video were so disgusting and her harassment of the policeman was so offensive that only the most forgiving (or equally depraved) people would find it in their hearts to feel sorrow. Despite her protestations that she was drunk, and possibly drugged, there is no question that 95 percent of what was depicted on that viral video was Campbell herself. I’ve always been told that alcohol cannot make you do things you otherwise wouldn’t do. It can’t make you say things you haven’t already formulated in your brain. It simply lowers the barrier between unexpressed but repulsive thoughts and enunciated (albeit slurred) words.
After all, Mel Gibson’s anti-Semitic rant wasn’t caused by three bottles of Jack Daniels. It was just translated for us from Aramaic into Aussie-accented English. So it is with Campbell, who exhibited all of the attributes of a mean girl in the high school cafeteria with her rants, her offers to provide sexual services (for a hefty fee), her expletive-filled soliloquies and her attempts to sprinkle a comedy club employee with her bodily fluids.
This type of behavior is not caused by alcohol. Booze just exacerbates the natural personality tics and qualities of the drinker. What was on that tape was just Colleen Campbell, 2.OMG.
That said, I don’t think her entire life should be measured by this one incident. Yes, it’s pretty clear she will never work in television again, at least not before she enters the witness protection program and has major reconstructive surgery. It is also clear that she will never fully escape that video, which will live forever on the internet. When we are all ashes and dust, some evolved alien being hundreds of years from now will marvel at the amazing patience of the cop and the amazing mouth on that woman.
But we are all about redemption. If Casey Anthony, who we all know murdered her child, has been able to fall back into obscurity, a woman who had a mental and physical breakdown at a comedy club should be able to do the same thing. I hope she can, because I’m not at all a fan of the way social media has the awesome power to destroy lives, even when the lives weren’t all that awesome to begin with. I myself have been the target of some vicious treatment online, and while I know it comes with the pundit territory, it still scares me when I see how poisoned some people are.
But the thing that really bothers me about this whole Campbell scenario is the unexpected yet totally predictable attempt to make this a political issue. No sooner had the media picked up the story (most notably Philadelphia Magazine’s Victor Fiorillo,) did the comments start coming fast and furious about how she was either a “liberal skank from New Jersey” or a “conservative from a wingnut Rizzo loving family in South Philly.” All of a sudden, people started suggesting she had no morals because she was a loose “libtard,” or she was “white trash” who “voted for Trump” and was also probably racist.
I couldn’t believe it as it happened in real time before my very eyes. I responded to an online comment (note to Christine: Do not do this again) and was assaulted by some fellow with a bizarre screen name about how I was attacking this poor girl because of my vicious, uncaring conservative Trump-loving sickness. Then, on Facebook, I saw someone implying that people who were showing the girl compassion (not me, never me) were weak-spined social justice warriors.
This is craziness, people. Being disgusted by a vile tirade against a police officer is not something limited to conservatives. Empathizing with her predicament is not the sole purview of liberals. The personal might be political, but not all the time, dammit.
It would be disingenuous of me to say I hope I never hear about Colleen Campbell again. I just wrote a whole column about her. But I do hope she fades into the obscurity she richly deserves, gets sober, falls in love (her catatonic date at the comedy club was worthless) and finds a great new career in a soup kitchen ministering to the “least of these.”
I say that as a woman who wears her “I Love Rizzo” button proudly.
Christine Flowers, an immigration lawyer, can be heard from 8 to 11 p.m. Sundays on WPHT-AM (1210).