I forgot to do my usual scan of the Sun-Times columnists recently–their Web site tends to encourage this by promoting newswire flotsam over the paper’s best noninvestigative assets, such as Mary Mitchell…

(Let’s pause here to reflect on how much Mary Mitchell rules. “I’m in my 50s, and I still keep a box of condoms in the dresser drawer.” That’s her first sentence. That’s how it’s done.)

. . . so I missed this unfortunate gem from Richard Roeper, gunning for the Bob Greene Memorial Voice of the Silent Majority Award (here’s another entry). I think it explains a lot about the Paris Hilton phenomenon.

“You might feel sorry for them, if there weren’t so many stories about them behaving badly, so many videos of them acting as if they owned the world, so much evidence that they walked through life with a sense of entitlement until karma stepped up and smacked them silly.”

It’s worth noting that nothing Paris Hilton has done is outside the range of typical young adult misbehavior, once you factor out the fame and stupid money. There’s no justification for driving under the influence or on a suspended license, obviously, but after reading the Tribune on a daily basis for the length of its anti-bad-driving crusade, I’m just not that impressed.

Not to mention: Illicit sex? Public intoxication? Ugly clothes? A sense of entitlement? You’d rather she went to college?

This is about class, mostly. And while I’m all for class rage, taking it out on Paris Hilton is missing the point. The media’s response to anti-Paris sentiment reminds me of David Foster Wallace’s observation that if you point out something to a dog, the dog will only look at your finger.

And with the Conrad Black trial in town, too. Pity.

Finally, how can you not feel sorry for Paris Hilton? People will do what you praise them and pay them for (sort of like dogs), and she was veritable cottage industry of pretty, stupid, and wild before she could drink legally. Most reasonably well-off people get shipped off to college to be skeezy young adults in a lenient yet protective atmosphere. Most people her age get quietly looked down upon for what she’s done. She got paid. Thinking about the traditional sort of wastrel who pisses away his or her inheritance doing these things, you have to kind of admire that.