Susan Boyle's story is a parable of our age. She is a singer of enormous talent, who cared for her widowed mother until she died two years ago. Susan's is a combination of ability and virtue that deserves congratulation.
So how come she was treated as a laughing stock when she walked on stage for the opening heat of Britain's Got Talent 2009 on Saturday night?
The moment the reality show's audience and judging panel saw the small, shy, middle-aged woman, they started to smirk. When she said she wanted a professional singing career to equal that of Elaine Paige, the camera showed audience members rolling their eyes in disbelief. They scoffed when she told Simon Cowell, one of the judges, how she'd reached her forties without managing to develop a singing career because she hadn't had the opportunity. Another judge, Piers Morgan, later wrote on his blog that, just before she launched into I Dreamed a Dream, the 3000-strong audience in Glasgow was laughing and the three judges were suppressing chuckles.
It was rude and cruel and arrogant. Susan Boyle from Blackburn, West Lothian, was presumed to be a buffoon. But why?
Britain's Got Talent isn't a beauty pageant. It isn't a youth opportunity scheme. It is surely about discovering untapped and unrecognised raw talent from all sections of society.
And Susan Boyle has talent to burn.