A recent New Yorker cartoon shows a customer at a fast-food counter being served at a special roped-off lane for executives while kids in a line have to wait their turn. The joke is in the absurdity, but it carries to a risible extreme the idea that power and prominence can trump egalitarian values.
As it turns out, the cartoon is on to something. The Pennsylvania Department of Motor Vehicles has a somewhat similar process for celebrities who come in to have driver's licenses renewed. They can find themselves at the front of the line while the ordinary people look on.
It happened last Friday at the Duncan Manor DMV office in McCandless when Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby arrived to renew his license. Instead of having to wait like everybody else, he was allowed to go to the front of the line and was out in a matter of minutes.
This isn't a criticism of one of Pittsburgh's best hockey players and most loved athletes. Who among us would not have jumped at the chance to get out of a DMV office where the wait can be long and boring? It's not the person at issue here, it's the principle.
We call a penalty on the policy of favoritism that allowed this to happen. A DMV spokeswoman said supervisors across the state decide whether and when to let famous people go to the head of the line. The decision is based on how much potential for disruption there is from having a celebrity in the office -- disruption that could mean a longer wait for everyone.
There is some logic to that, but at the same time it is a sad commentary on the cult of celebrity that people in a DMV office might become unruly in the presence of someone famous. Supervisors should avoid giving preference to a celebrity until such time as a real problem occurs.
America is about equal justice and treatment for its people. It's not about government agencies granting privileges to some, even if they are magnificent skaters.