25 April 2009

No contest.

According to the Guardian website, American conservatives are all agog over the latest celebrity bigot, some runner-up in a beauty contest. The story is banal as far as I'm concerned. First, you've got the beauty contest...a sad anachronism that has tried to keep up with the times by instituting a whiff of an "intelligence" component through a question and answer period. Then you have the questioner, Perez Hilton, whose credentials demonstrate what a decidedly low-rent affair this event actually is. This contest usually is a throw-away blurb in the smaller papers that carry news about beauty contests, so you might say that both Prejean and Hilton did their parts by injecting a little afterlife into an inherently dead genre.

So the question was something along the lines of gay marriage and whether the erstwhile beauty queen supported or opposed it. She opposed it, it turned out, but her answer was so inarticulate that it took a while to figure it out. Here's the transcript:
I think it's great that Americans are able to choose one or the other. We live in a land that you can choose same-sex marriage or opposite marriage and, you know what, in my country and my family I think that I believe that a marriage should be between a man and a woman. No offense to anyone out there but that's how I was raised and that's how I think it should be between a man and a woman.

Um, so she's for choice (leaving out the fact that choice is only available in 4 of 50 states, so she needs to qualify that American's are able to choose in only 8% of the United States). She reinforces that statement with another misconception that federal law covers same-sex marriage and something she calls "opposite marriage." But then she says that in her country she thinks that she believes -- so uncertainty enters in: she isn't actually sure of what she believes, but she thinks she believes something -- and then she finally comes out contradicting (slightly -- it's not a direct contradiction) her initial support for marriage choice with opposition to marriage choice.

To be generous to Ms. Prejean, one could argue that while she supports the ability of every individual to "choose same-sex marriage or opposite marriage," she thinks she believes that it should only be between a man and a woman. In that iteration, it's not unlike some politicians' support for abortion rights while believing personally that it's not for them.

But, hey, she's not exactly trying to land a Rhodes Scholarship...she's trying to win a tiara and a sash, so let's forgive her confused answer to attention-hog Hilton's question. The interesting although entirely predictable thing is that blowhards like Sean Hannity and other bigots feel that she's a cause worth rallying around. It's true that their forebearers made hay and won a few elections for a while with bigotry directed against women and then, following the 19th Amendment's demolition of that strategy (at least as a national platform plank), bigotry directed against Blacks, but the larger lesson they should learn -- but apparently can't -- is that they are on the losing side of history all the time. Every time. They couldn't stop the march of women's rights; they couldn't stop the march of Black rights (and every other flower of the Civil Rights movement); they won't eventually be able to stop the march of gay rights. They've already lost so many of these battles, and soon the war.

Carrie Prejean is nothing more than a deckchair on the Conservative's Titanic.

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