I’ve been very disappointed as of late. No, disappointment doesn’t even begin to cover it. There are no words for the outrage and bitterness I feel. I’m talking about this recent controversy regarding Miss California’s comments on gay marriage, and the aftermath that has sadly ensued.
You know the story by now, if you keep up with such things (if not, consider yourself very fortunate!). At a recent Miss USA Pageant, Miss California was asked by judge Perez Hilton her position regarding gay marriage. Miss California politely but unequivocally made her position clear–she was against gay marriage. Mr. Hilton, looking visibly disappointed and deflated, nevertheless admirably maintained his composure. At the end of the night, another contestant took home the crown. The Miss USA pageant was over, everyone went home, brushed their teeth, petted their dogs and went to bed. End of story.
Well…It should have ended there. I mean, Mr. Hilton’s question was well structured and relevant to the lives of American citizens (though perhaps a trifle out of place at a beauty pageant). Miss California’s answer was diplomatic and considerate to the feelings of all concerned (its motivation perhaps a little confused, but I’ll discuss that later). In every respect, this exchange was everything we should hope for in an intelligent exchange between two citizens of the USA debating a hot button issue. It should have been heralded and celebrated as a shiny example of how two human beings can disagree but still respect each other’s feelings.
It should have been all those things…but because we are fatally flawed human beings, this was not the case. Following the contest, Mr. Hilton chose to further fan the flames by going on his video blog and make disparaging and sexist remarks about Miss California for all the world to see.
In the weeks that followed, other media figures joined the fray, insulting Miss California’s faith, intelligence, even physical appearance. Women’s groups weren’t much help; a so-called “feminist” appearing on FOX News made the amazingly catty comment, “She should get a heart transplant, rather than a breast transplant.” (Rowr!) And as if that wasn’t enough, “racy” photos of Miss California have now mysteriously surfaced and could cost her her crown.
To all these people, frankly you need to go back and reexamine what it means to be liberal. It means you stand up for freedom of speech and equality for all. Not just for the opinions you like, but for all opinions. I can understand why Miss California’s views were offensive to you and your ideals. And if you honestly feel an opinion is damaging to the equality you hold dear, by all means you speak your mind. You advocate, you protest, you make your voice heard. That’s what makes you liberal and a vital asset to this country.
But you do not engage in this kind of wanton bullying, hazing and gossip more commonly found in a school playground. You are punishing this young woman, not because she used bigoted or inciteful language (quite the contrary), but simply because you didn’t like her response. It’s wrong…and it’s definitely not liberal. 😉
I consider myself liberal on many issues and I have often engaged people in debate. But no matter how frustrated and annoyed some people make me feel, I always at least try to remain tactful and sensitive, seeing all points of view and using logic to back up my own claims. If I feel like denigrating someone (and let’s face it, we all do sometimes, we’re human), I do it in the privacy of my own home. Not on my Blog, not in a newspaper, not on Television, not anywhere where my emotions could potentially harm the feelings of a fellow human being. That’s not being fake, that’s being an adult.
Now it may surprise you to know that I actually support gay marriage. We make provisions for long-term unmarried heterosexual couples and most importantly their children, and I see no reason why homosexuals shouldn’t get the same consideration. And frankly, while I was impressed with Miss California’s diplomacy, I was not as impressed with her actual answer.
To be specific, I had a problem with this section, “I believe that marriage should be between a man and a woman … that’s how I was raised.” Now maybe I’m being nit-picky, but I wish she’s given a more substantial answer rather than “that’s how I was raised.” If she is honestly against gay marriage, it should be because she honestly believes it, not because she was always told to.
A similar issue was addressed recently on the Tyra Banks Show; young people with somewhat racist views using the excuse “I come from a small town, that’s how I was raised.” Ms. Banks wisely pointed out that nowadays, especially with the World Wide Web (emphasis on World), there really is no excuse for ignorance. As you grow into an adult, it is no longer your parents responsibility to choose your opinions for you. You have to learn to make the choices yourself and live with them. Especially when it comes to issue that could harm your fellow human beings and infringe on their rights. Maybe you’ll end up still agreeing with your parents. Maybe not. Either way, it must be you.
Knowing this, it might also surprise you that I consider myself a Christian (and a Catholic at that!). I believe God cares for all of us and that we’re all here for a reason, hetereosexual and homosexual. And while I wish liberals were just as concerned with the rights of unborn children as they are about gay rights, I try to keep the doctrine of loving my enemy close to my heart. Jesus had many enemies, mainly for the crime of speaking his mind. But he never stopped caring about people.
Now religious people don’t have the monopoly on morality. Religious or atheist, we are all capable of being decent people. It’s not religion or atheism that gets in the way of morality. Time and again, it’s our own flawed humanity. Again, I take you back to that stage of the Miss USA Pageant. Both parties involved are not that different. They’re human beings simply trying to find their way through life and trying to do the right thing. In these uncertain times, sometimes it’s hard to know what that is. But perhaps one thing is certain…
As the legendary Captain Kirk once confidently put it, “We’re the same. We share the same history, the same heritage, the same lives. We’re tied together beyond any untying. Man or woman, it makes no difference. We’re human. We couldn’t escape from each other even if we wanted to….the only thing that’s truly yours is the rest of humanity. That’s where your duty lies” (Star Trek, “Who Mourns for Adonis?”).
It’s not too late. Even if these public figures can’t get their acts together, we can learn from their mistakes. We can disagree. We can speak our minds and express our frustration. But we must never forget that we are all part of this world. As someone once said, either we stand together, or together we will fall.