Monday, April 20, 2009

Miss California, Gay Marriage, and the Problem with Being Honest

Get this: there is political controversy surrounding, of all things, this year's Miss America pageant. While I'm not one to tune into the pageant, I came across a report on a comment made by Miss California, who finished as the first runner-up (sadly edged out by Miss North Carolina).

Here's the report from FOXnews:
When asked by judge Perez Hilton, an openly gay gossip blogger, whether she believed in gay marriage, Miss California, Carrie Prejean, said 'We live in a land where you can choose same-sex marriage or opposite. And you know what, I think in my country, in my family, I think that I believe that a marriage should be between a man and a woman. No offense to anybody out there, but that's how I was raised.'
And of course, backlash immediately followed.

Which is ridiculous on a number of levels. Consider first that she was asked a question by a gay person. The natural response to a question is an answer, hopefully an honest one, which Miss California gave. She even couched it in "In America you can do what you want, whether I like it or not" type language. And yet, for giving an honest answer to a question she was asked directly (which, apparently unbeknownst to her, only had one right answer), she gets skewered.

There was even an argument in the lobby after the pageant. Is it sinful that I think a fight in the Miss America lobby is one of the funniest things possible?

But check out the comment from Keith Lewis, the man who runs the Miss California pageant: "Keith Lewis, who runs the Miss California competition, tells that he was 'saddened' by [Miss California's] statement. 'As co-director of the Miss California USA, I am personally saddened and hurt that Miss California believes marriage rights belong only to a man and a woman...'"

Here's why this actually matters: we have come to a point on this issue where in the court of public opinion, there is only one answer if you don't want to be convicted as a bigot. Even Miss California's honest and tempered response is considered ignorant and saddening. As usual, there is no attempt to actually discuss why one does or does not believe that gay marriage should be allowed. No: it is multiple choice, not an essay. Pick your answer and don't tell anyone why you think it. Just make sure you pick the right one.


Vik said...

I deeply dislike that she used the phrase "no offense" offense miss california? no offense has to be one of the most offensive statements in the english vocabulary. No offense, but you're ugly. teenage girls use phrases like that all the time. Actually Miss California, I am offended. I am deeply offended that you believe that the laws of the state should be upheld to the way you were raised and biblical principles. There is a striking difference between a country being founded on christian principles and a country full of people who call themselves christians. We are a nation that prides itself on the separation of church and state, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. So Miss California, you're answer was not wrong, it was your answer and that is what was asked for. However, to many in this country--specifically the judge you attempted to impress--it came across as only unloving and marginalizing.

Johnnie said...

I think it does cut both ways, though. If its true that "the court of public opinion" holds that there is only one correct answer, its also true that in the "court of Christian opinion", there is only one correct answer. Why on this blog, and many others like it, is there no acknowledgment of the many Christian denominations that support gay marriage, gay ordinations, etc? Why when this blog--etc--talks of "Biblical principles" is it assumed that all Christians are in agreement on those principles? I think the very same thing is going on here among the Christian right as among the court of public opinion.

And maybe that's even ok. The public opinion ought to count for something, no? Surely the public isn't entirely made up of dupes? Let's say their opinion is formed by thinking....But surely Christians--particularly certain fundementalist/pentacostal/evangelical/etc Christians--have always set themselves up as opposed to the mainstream. So its ok for the two groups to stand opposed now. No need to hide behind calls of "political correctness" as if the "public opinion" isn't real.

Ryan said...

Ok, I know this issue has been shot to death, but in hearing all the "controversy" I feel like I've been given car oil and told it was coffee.

I'm sorry, but who really cares what Perez Hilton thinks? To assume that he speaks for the rest of the pro-gay marriage population is absurd, and it was your first mistake.

Now, the response by Keith Lewis seems more reasonable. He didn't call her terrible names like Perez, he just expressed his sadness, which he has a right to, just as much as Prejean has a right to her own opinion, he has a right to his.

However! The idea that somehow Prejean is now an "honest and tempered" conservative hero just about blows my mind.

You said: "As usual, there is no attempt to actually discuss why one does or does not believe that gay marriage should be allowed. No: it is multiple choice, not an essay. "

Well, it IS a pageant, with timed answers. And I believe she got her chance post-pageant to explain herself.

You also said:
"Miss California's honest and tempered response is considered ignorant and saddening."

Fox News' pretty little edits make it sound much better than it did when it happened...
See it here:

I mean, "Opposite marriage"? I don't care who you are, that's freaking hilarious. And not exactly the peak of intellectual thought.

Listen, this was a beauty pageant, and he was Perez Hilton. We don't claim him as a hero for pro-gay marriage, please don't claim her as yours.

It's just sad.