Last month, I wrote a little thing here on the pathetic position Britney Spears is in - all confined within her celebrity-hood, where any publicity is good publicity, and there are few consequences for even the most egregious affronts to decency and law.
Skip ahead a month, and I read a short little thing here (it's in Portuguese with translation via BabelFish) that offered a different perspective - she is acting little differently from most 25-year-olds, we just get to see photos of her - and I got to thinking about our tendency to assume moral judgements, especially of horrid personal behavior, are universal. Aren't we told that morality is universal, non-negotiable, and the mere thought it might be is a start on the slide down to all sorts of horrible consequences? Except, of course, it's not. Moral judgements are as different as each individual who makes them, or the society in which they are made. Since there is no objective arbiter who can choose whose moral judgements are "correct", wouldn't it be better to withhold all sorts of judgements, especially those we claim are based on "universal moral principles"?
I am not suggesting for a minute that Britney's recent, very public bad bahvior should have no consequences, especially as her divorce moves into the custody stage (always ugly, sure to get uglier). These are legal not moral judgements, however, and there is a difference. Is Britney Spears an unfit mother? How many people have may of us known who occasionally went a bit overboard in their behavior? God Almighty, haven't each of us done this on our own? Are we willing to pass judgements - huge moral judgements, let alone legal judgements - on a bunch of photographs without context, the sources of which are the among the lowest form of human life imaginable? How many of us would want to see pictures of ourselves after a long night of partying splashed across papers? How many of us would listen to the judgements of others based solely upon those photographs?
It is one thing to think that Britney might need to remember underwear when she goes out, unless of course, living inside that strange bubble I wrote of earlier, she honestly believes there is no such thing as bad publicity. It is one thing to think Paris Hilton is not the best choice for pal on a series of post-marital nights about town. It is one thing to think that perhaps Britney might have benefited from a bit more education, so she could have learned the word "discretion". It is another thing, however to take these individual thoughts and string them together as one large moral verdict against the former Not-So-Innocent pop queen. As we have yet to walk even a quarter-mile in her Gucci loafers, I would suggest we withold final verdict, listen to the wisdom we might find across the seas, and look inside ourselve a bit.