Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Bigotry and Intolerance

I was somewhat dismayed today by a BBC News article on Sunday's televised Miss USA competition. During the contest Carrie Prejean - Miss California - was asked for her views on same-sex marriage by one of the judges, celebrity blogger Perez Hilton. She replied, "We live in a land where you can choose same-sex marriage or opposite marriage. I believe that a marriage should be between a man and a woman. No offence to anybody out there, but that's how I was raised."
Those aren't words I have a problem with. As the transcript clearly shows, Miss Prejean wasn't attacking anyone; she simply stated her personal opinion in a polite and respectful way in response to a direct question.
No, what bothers me is the reaction she got.
Hilton said he was "floored" by Ms Prejean's answer, which, he said, "alienated millions of gay and lesbian Americans, their families and their supporters". What!? I'm sorry Mr Hilton, but just because an individual differs from you doesn't give you grounds to say their identity alienates a whole section of society. I'm white, but I don't feel alienated because America chose a 'black' president. I'm heterosexual, but I don't feel alienated because someone else chooses to be gay. I'm a Christian, but I don't feel alienated when other people disagree with my views.
Mr Hilton, and those who hurried to agree with him, clearly have a problem here. Their rhetoric is far more reminiscent of a petulant, pouting child in a primary school playground than visionaries seeking to lead the ignorant from darkness into light. Campaigners for gay rights have spoken out passionately for many years against bigotry and intolerance, yet here we see them committing the very same sins they have condemned in others for so long. I'm afraid that rather undermines the credibility of your comment, Mr Hilton.
Needless to say, Miss California didn't become Miss USA, but in my view she still left the contest a winner. "It did cost me my crown," she said after the competition, "but I wouldn't have had it any other way. I said what I feel. I stated an opinion that was true to myself and that's all I can do."
What should she have said, Mr Hilton? Would you have given her more points if she'd prostituted herself for the crown and told you what you wanted to hear? What kind of a judge would that have made you? Integrity used to be prized, a precious diadem of virue crowning any young woman's character. But when people trample it underfoot to further their own agenda in the midst of a beauty pageant that's the ugliest thing you could ever hope to see.

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