WHENEVER my children tell me they love someone famous, I try to burst their bubble and talk them back down to earth.
The message in our house is that it's impossible to love people we've never met, and that way we're never disappointed when said person falls from grace.
It's human nature for folks to revel in other people's downfall. If we didn't, there'd be way fewer folks working in our newsrooms. People glorify movie stars and athletes because they accomplish feats that most of us can't even imagine, but when they stumble we act surprised.
But they are only human, just like the rest of us, and I can't, for the life of me, understand why so many reporters spend so much time trying to either peek behind the walls of Celebritydom, or relay their latest acts of contrition like they were late-breaking news from the front.
Allen Iverson's tears, Tiger Woods' marital infidelities, both human acts and front-page news. But - since tabloid reporters are peeking - why not go all the way?
WHOOPI Goldberg made a great point on "The View" when she said that Woods' sexual transgressions don't put any food on her table, which is my sentiment exactly.
If he were a politician scratching his itches on the taxpayer's dime, then I'd care who he's zooming because I refuse to pay for other people's playtime, especially that of elected officials.
Woods may be the greatest golfer in the world, but I think his fall from grace goes far beyond his serial infidelities. (Besides, I don't believe that men are monogamous by nature anyway, but that's a different column.)
I shared those sentiments with Philadelphia criminal lawyer Michael Coard to get his legal perspective, and his response surprised me. Apparently, Woods has more serious reasons for being so protective of his carefully sculpted image.
"Whom he chooses to have extramarital sex with may not be anyone's business, but I think there's a much bigger Tiger story that is the public's business - his role as a spokesman for the government of Dubai, which has paid him many millions for a golf course he designed in a country that has been condemned for modern-day slave labor of dark-skinned people and for the sexual exploitation of women and girls."
David Zirin writes in his column "Edge of Sports" in the Nation: "Paid foreign laborers work in more than 100-degree heat for less than three dollars a day. Dubai also has a reputation as ground zero of the global sex trade." Coard calls that "the big story, the real story," and I agree.
If Woods was dumb enough to get caught running with his gold-digging hoochie mamas, it's up to him to clean up his own mess at home. But this issue goes far beyond that.
When people call him a "fallen hero" and say his brand may have been compromised because he's a womanizer, I think they're missing the real deal on his ethical and moral behavior. Meanwhile, the reported buyoff offer to his wife, Elin, is further evidence of his disrespect for women.
What a person fails to stand up for (in this case, human rights in Dubai) speaks volumes about his character, and Woods' lack of conscience is apparently deficient on several fronts. No one gets out of this life without being judged by God, and in my house, hero worship is considered one step short of idolatry.
The only entity we allow our children to worship is a religious one because, even though we can't physically see or touch the Creator, he touches us every day.
Too much time has been spent on Woods' transgressions and not enough on what's really important to most Americans: jobs, the war in Afghanistan and the great debate on health-care reform. I denounce hero worship because it's dangerous, especially when it's blind.
Fatimah Ali is a journalist, media consultant and an associate member of the Daily News editorial board.