Monday, April 20, 2009

Miss California isn't very progressive.

I've never really understood the appeal of beauty pageants.

When I was little, I had some idea that they were supposed to be glamorous and watched by many, but even as an 8-year-old whose interest in women was jump-started at an early age by none other than Alyssa Milano (when you're 8 and she's 13 and her TV dad is possibly "The Boss," well, that's a pretty irresistable combination), I didn't get it. It seemed pointless then, and it seems pointless now. Besides, these days, with pornography readily available at the click of a button via the Information Superhighway, the swimsuit competition seems more suitable for a church luncheon than prime time.

Beauty pageants try to give themselves a veneer of credibility by having the contestants answer various questions on various topics. But, as the geographically-challenged Miss Teen South Carolina showed a couple of years ago, that can turn out really badly; we all know that Susan Boyle wouldn't stand a chance in one, and we all know why (though she'd do well in the talent portion of the contest, I'd imagine). I normally don't care about (a.) beauty pageants or (b.) Perez Hilton — you may know of my general disdain for all things "celebrity" — but this weird confluence of the twain produced an interesting moment.

You see, the reigning Miss California (Carrie Prejean) was competing in the Miss USA pageant recently, and Mr. Hilton, acting in his capacity as a judge, asked Ms. Prejean if she believed same-sex marriage should be legal. Prejean's reply: "In my country, and in my family, I believe that a marriage should be between a man and a woman." Prejean lost to the eventual winner, Kristen "I Loves Me The Fags" Dalton, from North Carolina.

Prejean feels her answer cost her the crown. Her thoughts:

"It is a very touchy subject and (Hilton) is a homosexual and I see where he was coming from and I see the audience would've wanted me to be more politically correct. But I was raised in a way that you can never compromise your beliefs and your opinions for anything."

I don't normally mine the responses of (failed) beauty queens for interesting ideas, but there's a real corker buried in that quote. I'll go out on a limb here and suggest that Ms. Prejean is religious — why else would anyone want to hate the gays, anyway? — and that her position is based on the traditional, Christian, missionary-position view of relationships, and what they can and can't be.

To say that you "can never compromise your beliefs" strongly suggests, to me, that these beliefs shouldn't even be questioned, much less changed (i.e., compromised; see how the political right in the US is having a shit-fit over a bit of change that's gone on recently. For a lot of folks like that, "change" is synonymous with "capitulation"). Beliefs and opinions and ideas, though, should always be up for re-evaluation, especially based on new evidence that you receive. I don't want to toot my own horn here, but that's the Scientific Method in a nutshell.

In a related train of thought, this video is a great (if dense) examination of the idea of open-mindedness and willngness to change one's beliefs and opinions. The author/narrator is much better at winning these arguments than I ever could be, so I'll just defer to him and watch this instead.

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