27 April 2009

Miss USA? Or missing the old USA?

NARRATOR: There she is. Miss California. She has everything any woman could want... beauty... intelligence... poise... even a fancy swimsuit — but all that is about to be ripped away. In one moment, she will meet her destiny in the form of an impish, small-minded man with an evil grin and a simple question. The time is now, the place is a crowded theater in Las Vegas, Nevada, and the spotlights are on high, but what Miss California doesn't realize yet is that the darkness at the end of the stage is where she'll be making her debut in ... the Twilight Zone.

FADE OUT ... AS OMINOUS MUSIC PLAYS.

Apologies to Rod Serling, but the controversy over Miss California's public torture at the hands of pageant judge Perez Hilton has all the makings of an episode of his classic TV series that frequently turned expectations upside down and showed how easy it was for the disingenuous to take advantage of the truly innocent.

During the finals of the Miss USA competition last week, Hilton asked Carrie Prejean, the contestant from California, the following question: "Vermont recently became the fourth state to legalize same-sex marriage. Do you think every state should follow suit? Why or why not?"
Seems straightforward enough, but Hilton no doubt already knew Prejean's answer. After all, he had her bio in front of him. He knew she was attending San Diego Christian University and had a religious background that she was proud of. Could it be that Perez Hilton was actually setting her up with his seemingly innocent question so that he could savage her later?

That's my guess. After all, according to the Miss USA website, the interview portion of the competition is intended to learn about the contestants' 'successes, goals and ambitions." Note that there is nothing in there about her opinions on polarizing hot-button political issues, but let's consider Miss California's answer, and see whether she actually said anything so terrible. Here is her response in full:

"Well, I think it's great that Americans are able to choose one way or the other. We live in a land where you can choose same-sex marriage or opposite marriage. You know what, in my country, in my family, I do believe that marriage should be between a man and a woman, no offense to anybody out there. But that's how I was raised and I believe that it should be between a man and a woman. Thank you."

She actually bent over backward to be conciliatory to Hilton, the oddball gay blogger who took Paris Hilton as his personal role model and thus should forever have been disqualified from judging any competition involving the ideal of womanhood. Prejean politely acknowledged that there were different opinions on the topic, somewhat clumsily confirmed that different states had made different choices, and then stated her personal opinion while offering that she meant "no offense to anyone."

Compare that to President Obama's statement during the campaign that "I believe that marriage is the union between a man and a woman. Now, for me as a Christian — for me — for me as a Christian, it is also a sacred union. God's in the mix... I am not somebody who promotes same-sex marriage."

Do you remember anybody calling Obama names because of that? Or arguing that he was not fit to be president as a result of that opinion?

Yet Hilton graded Miss California zero for her answer to his loaded question and said later that he believes she was not worthy to be Miss USA because of her belief that marriage is "between a man and a woman," the same exact phrase used by President Obama. Hilton's score may have cost Prejean the crown, and he later added insult to injury by calling Carrie Prejean several vulgar names, starting with "dumb b---h" and then capping it off by saying he was really thinking of the "c" word, perhaps the most vile epithet ever used against a woman.

So you be the judge. Who should be ashamed? Carrie Prejean for trying to diplomatically step through a political minefield while remaining true to her own moral values and defending a social norm that had stood intact for thousands of years? Or Perez Hilton for planting the landmines in front of her and then detonating them gleefully to see how much damage he could do to her reputation?

Hilton clearly has no shame, but what was surprising is that so many on the far left — the supposed defenders of free speech — gleefully joined him in trying to shame Miss California for defending traditional values and for speaking her own mind. So I guess the truth is this: Unless you are a leftist like Barack Obama, it's no longer acceptable in America to defend traditional marriage. If you try it, you will be subject to ridicule and shame and will be considered unworthy of public honor.

And the fact that the public honor in this case was the title of Miss USA just makes the irony all the more devastating. Let's get this straight — you can't be Miss USA and exercise the right of free speech at the same time?

How weird is that? Let's just roll the "Twilight Zone" credits and FADE TO BLACK.

I mean, I thought the good old U.S. of A. was based on certain rock-solid principles, not the least of which is assuring that everyone has the right to express their own political principles. When I was a child, a common saying was, "I disagree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it." Unfortunately that isn't such a common saying anymore.

Instead, we have the doctrine of political correctness, which defends your right to say anything you want as long as you don't offend anyone with the truth. And let's not forget the basic truth here: Prejean represents a state which just last year voted to define marriage as between a man and a woman, yet she is not allowed to express the same view as a majority of the people in her home state. Unbelievable.

So tell me this? Who is next to be discriminated against for holding a point of view that doesn't fit the militant "politically correct" mentality of Perez Hilton and his ilk? Will it be parents of elementary school students who don't want their children taught that they can grow up to choose whether to marry a man or a woman? Will it be ministers who say the Bible doesn't support a gay lifestyle? Or could it be anyone who believes that marriage between a man and woman is the sacred cornerstone of a healthy society? And what kind of a society are we creating if we just don't care? Finally, when the institutions that made our country great crumble, what will be left?

Perhaps those questions should be asked at the next Miss USA pageant — if anyone dares.

Carrie Prejean is a victim of anti-traditionalist bigotry and I fear there will be many more victims in the years ahead unless we rediscover the freedom of expression and quiet respectful tolerance that were held so sacred in the United States of America where I grew up.