So now, a young woman knows that, everywhere she goes, [her sex video] is what people are visualizing, and giggling about. She hasn't a rag of privacy to her name. But this turns out to be only a prelude. Purportedly unaware that her license was still suspended, a result of being found with a whiff of alcohol on her breath, she also discovers that the majesty of the law will not give her a break. Evidently as bewildered and aimless as she ever was, she is arbitrarily condemned to prison, released on an equally slight pretext andâ€”here comes the beautiful bitâ€”subjected to a cat-and-mouse routine that sends her back again. At this point, she cries aloud for her mother and exclaims that it "isn't right." And then the real pelting begins. In Toronto, where I happened to be on the relevant day, the Sun* filled its whole front page with a photograph of her tear-swollen face, under the stern headline "CRYBABY." I didn't at all want to see this, but what choice did I have? It was typical of a universal, inescapable coverage. Not content with seeing her undressed and variously penetrated, it seems to be assumed that we need to watch her being punished and humiliated as well. The supposedly "broad-minded" culture turns out to be as prurient and salacious as the elders in The Scarlet Letter. Hilton is legally an adult but the treatment she is receiving stinksâ€”indeed it reeksâ€”of whatever horrible, buried, vicarious impulse underlies kiddie porn and child abuse.
I think that's about right. Hitchens doesn't use the word "pity", but that's what he's aiming at. His connection to The Scarlet Letter is particularly apt, but he misses the possibility that society may be so eager to condemn Hilton because political correctness has forbidden such condemnation in so many worthier circumstances. We lust for blood, but unable to target our wrath at those who deserve it we settle for whomever we can get away with.
There, but for the grace of God, go I.