On June 5th, after a concert in Paris, someone stole Axl’s necklaces. That has been widely reported, usually with a snide remark, and often the articles conclude with some mention of all the other “trouble” that has occurred on the tour thus far. The resultant impression that people are left with is that, somehow, Axl is at fault for the theft of his own property. Kudos to CNN who managed to report just the facts without offering their own commentary on the situation. Worse than the shoddy journalism are the reader comments left after the articles. Many people do actually seem to believe that “Axl had it coming,” “It serves him right,” “He’s rich so it doesn’t matter.”
Let’s turn the tables then, shall we? It’s a nice weekend, you’re having a barbecue at your house and invited a bunch of friends and neighbors. It’s going to be a great party! Everyone is getting along and having a lot of fun. You’re glad you had them all over. When the last guest leaves, you go back to the bedroom and find that there are no blankets left on your bed. Odd. What could have happened to them? You ask your family if anyone took them off, put them in the laundry or something. No one knows. You all begin to look around the house and can’t find the blankets anywhere. The only conclusion is that someone stole the blankets. Now, really, it’s not that big of a deal, right? You have extra blankets so you don’t have to go without. Blankets don’t cost that much, so you can go to the store tomorrow and buy replacements. But the thought keeps eating at your mind, Someone came into my room and took something that belongs to me! I invited these people here, shared my food and home and this is what they do?!
It’s a purposely absurd example, but I hope it illustrates my point. Someone took advantage of Axl’s generosity and trust and he had every right to be angry. What bearing does it have on the situation that he’s wealthy and can buy more necklaces? What does it matter if people think he’s a jerk (the large majority of whom have never met him)? If Queen Elizabeth — a fairly benign public figure — was a victim of theft, I doubt the reaction would have been the same. “Oh, she’s got lots of jewels.” “Serves her right for being queen for so long.” I have a hard time imagining people would say such things about her. Leave out the personal rancor; it just smacks of immaturity and bitterness. Axl could sneeze more money than I will ever see in my lifetime, but it doesn’t make me jealous. He lived in squalid conditions, beat the streets for years, and worked hard to achieve his goal. If he wants to spend $200,000 on jewelry, that’s his prerogative.
Having something taken from you is a horrible feeling. A little over a year ago, someone stole my husband’s little Honda from in front of our house, in broad daylight. At the time, my husband worked across the street from our house, so it wasn’t unusual to hear the car start in the middle of the day if he had to run errands. I noticed that the car was gone when I got home from picking my oldest daughter up from school. When my husband came home from work a couple of hours later, I asked him where he had gone that afternoon. He said that he had been in the office all day. Well, where was the Honda, then? That’s when we realized it was stolen. Look, it was a cheap, crummy little car and we didn’t have any great personal attachment to it, but what a sick feeling we had in the pit of our stomachs when we realized it had been stolen.
I found it interesting that the French press and commentary (I’m fluent in French) were much less concerned with Axl getting karmic payback than they were about the reputation Paris would hold in American eyes. Many feared that this news would discourage American visitors to their city. Don’t worry, Paris — the Americans are all too busy ripping up a person they don’t know to think about how it reflects on your fair city.
The following day, the girl who stole the necklaces turned herself in and the necklaces were returned to Axl. He addressed the situation on his Twitter:
Got my things back (really just an excited fan.) Thank you to the person for returning them n’ big thanks 2 the Paris police.
Axl may not be the most sympathetic persona in the world, but on a human to human level, we should be glad for him. And I hope that his necklaces were in better shape than our Honda was when we got it back two months later.