I'm not sure why I feel more pity for Britney Spears than for Paris Hilton, but maybe it's because Spears' perpetual public breakdown feels emblematic of our culture in a way that Hilton's consistently horrendous behavior never has.

TORMENTED BRITNEY SPEARS has been driven to the brink amid fears she could lose her kids, it was claimed last night.

Sources close to the singer — who bizarrely shaved her head BALD at the weekend — say she is struggling following the breakdown of her marriage to KEVIN FEDERLINE.

Her story captures the best of the modern American dream -- not hard work, respect, and success, but a rapid ascent to inconceivable fame and wealth -- and her ongoing crash is intertwined with all the vices our culture permits: divorce, drugs, "partying", and public spectacle. Celebrity obsession has stolen many historically valuable institutions from our culture, but perhaps the one I miss the most is the one that's least Politically Correct: shame. No one is ashamed of anything anymore, no matter how abhorrent. The downside of "tolerance" is that everyone thinks that no matter what they do or how they feel, "it's ok". Well guess what, it's not ok, and Britney and her family should be ashamed of how she's behaving.

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