LOOKING GOOD FOR THE GRAND OLE PARTY
By Cody Gault
The Cornell Daily Sun
November 13, 2009
BEAUTY QUEENS have put world peace on the back burner.
In an interview on MSNBC’s Today show this week, former Miss California Carrie Prejean said that she has been “Palinized” by the media for voicing her opposition to gay marriage during the Miss USA pageant in April.
To be “Palinized,” she explains, is to be unfairly scrutinized because you are a conservative woman. This is not to be confused with “Palinated,” which is to be propelled to the forefront of conservative politics despite being incompetent because you are a former beauty queen.
Prejean’s assertion that “marriage should be between a man and a woman” certainly attracted heavy scrutiny from gay rights activists and left-wing commentators like Keith Olbermann. But she attracted her share of supporters, too. Donald Trump defended the comment, applauded her for speaking “from her heart” and pointed out, as many others have, that her stance on gay marriage is identical to President Barack Obama’s. And Prejean emerged from the controversy a rock star among social conservatives who admire the courage it takes to agree with the leader of the Democratic Party. As the actual pageant winner receded into obscurity, Prejean became a talk show circuit favorite and a household name.
Things were looking good for Miss California. But then things began to go wrong. I’m talking The Stepford Wives meets Westworld wrong. She began skipping scheduled pageant events, which she was contractually obligated to attend. She began attending anti-gay marriage events, which she was contractually obligated to avoid. She was accused of sending hostile e-mails, of hindering normal business activity and of having an “inability to work in a civil and mutually beneficial manner.”
In other words, Prejean took a page from Sarah Palin’s upcoming memoir and went rogue.
However, Prejean claims that it was her religious beliefs, not her inability to do her job, which led to her eventual firing. Accordingly, she filed a lawsuit against the pageant for “libel, slander and religious discrimination.” The pageant, in a classy retaliation, counter-sued Prejean for the cost of her breast augmentation surgery. The legal battle raged for a couple months until last week, when Prejean mysteriously and abruptly settled out of court as news leaked onto the Internet of a “sex tape,” which she admits to starring in, following closely on the heels of a string of semi-nude photos.
On Wednesday night, when CNN’s Larry King asked her why she agreed to the settlement if she really felt she’d been fired for her religious beliefs -- as opposed to incompetence -- she pulled the plug on her mic and threatened to walk off the show in the middle of the segment. It was reminiscent of how Palin pulled the plug on her governorship and walked away from her Alaskan constituents in the middle of her term. As for the exploitative images and “sex-tape,” rather than blaming a sleazy photographer and an even sleazier ex-boyfriend for violating her trust, Prejean has insisted that she is the victim of a sinister conspiracy to humiliate her perpetrated by the “liberal media.”
“There is a campaign against me trying to silence me,” she proclaimed on the Today show. “Since when does freedom of speech not exist? Since when is someone [such as Keith Olbermann] able to go on national TV and call someone the most awful names you can call a woman and get away with it?”
To answer the second question first: Since freedom of speech was enshrined in the Constitution. And to address the implication behind the first question: No one has said that freedom of speech does not exist or tried to punish Prejean for exercising this right. She also exercised her freedom to enter into a popularity contest, said something unpopular, and got dumped. End of story.
Yet some Republicans are convinced there is a liberal plot to revoke civil liberties and destroy America as they know it. They are the people who have been protesting Obama’s public health care initiative in town hall meetings across the country because they genuinely fear that Obama will introduce death panels to pass sentence on their grandmothers. They are the people who have been sporting guns at anti-Obama rallies to defend preemptively their second amendment rights -- so zealously championed by organizations like the NRA that Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, the alleged Fort Hood shooter, was able to walk into his local Guns Galore store and legally purchase a tactical pistol affectionately known as the “cop killer” -- because they genuinely fear the government could turn on them at any moment.
They are the people who, as Obama infamously and accurately suggested, “cling to religion or guns.” And now, with Palin at the helm and Prejean her prodigious protégé, they are clinging to an idyllic fantasy about an America that never really existed, opposing progress because they are so stuck in their own ruts that they can’t imagine anything better.
If they really are committed to returning to traditional conservative “American values,” how about starting by returning to a time when the Republican Party took its cues from thoughtful conservatives, rather than from vapid ex-beauty queens?
I’m looking at you, Sarah.
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