4.21.2009

When 'Dumb' becomes 'Evil'

I'm sure by now some of you have seen this:



I remember a couple years ago when another one of those air-headed mannequins made news for being verbally challenged (no, Wishydig, we aren't all equally advantaged). But let's pause for a moment to consider the difference between mental retardation and focused moral hypocrisy. This year's Miss America runner-up is being rightfully trashed for resorting to a Biblical defense of homophobia -- unfortunately, I doubt whether any of the women in the pageant would have answered differently.

But they would have answered homophobically not because they actually feel that way -- rather, they would have answered that way in an attempt to spit-out the least controversial answer. Only guess what: they've all got it wrong, at least if their audience consists mostly of Americans under-50 who aren't snake-handling evangelicals. It's currently more offensive to be a bigot than it is to... not paraphrase Leviticus. I'm sure if she had been asked about whether or not Americans should be free to blaspheme she would have cited Leviticus and demanded that blasphemers be taken outside the camp and stoned to death.

Said Miss California: "We live in a land that you can choose, same-sex marriage or opposite marriage..." Uh, no we don't. We live in a land where very few of us can make that choice. The look on Perez Hilton's face says very clearly what he thinks, but this follow-up including a clip of Miss Homphobia on the Today Show is worth a glance.

And all of this is just another fine example of what I mean by my efforts to reclaim the territory of religion. In other words, I'm not saying that dumb-Beauty should be stoned to death at the edge of the village for using the LORD's name in vain. I'm just sayin' she's a dumb-Beauty.

But that makes me wonder about my standard of Beauty. I mean, look at this:

But can beauty not be truth? I'm feeling pretty sure that Miss California wasn't speakin' the Tr-th. On the other hand, Susan Boyle really can carry a tune, despite looking... different... than Miss California. Maybe it really really really is time to reconsider what we mean by Beauty. Maybe my reclamation-of-the-word-Religion-project needs to be a reclamation-of-the-word-Beauty-project too.

7 comments:

Wishydig said...

she gave a lame and noncommittal answer. she said it's great that people have the choice (you're right -- not everyone does) but that her view of marriage is traditional.

horrible. except that's what obama has said. that's what biden has said. that's what clinton has said. that's what every major democratic candidate in 2008 other than kucinich said. so pick on them all. her statement went to her personal view not her view of policy. we have no idea what her policy view really is.

her moral view is not for me to judge. even if i know i don't share it. her policy view is fair game. that's a public concern. and what she said about policy was bland and vague and not worth judging.

and regarding miss south carolina -- do you really think that was about language ability? i really doubt it. it was about nerves. i've heard other interviews in which her facility with english grammar was every bit as good as yours. every. bit. and you know it.

c'mon. let's separate the language from argument. words from the ideas. native grammar from valid syllogism.

Casey said...

Yeah you're right -- but Miss S.C. sounds dumber than me, and that's important to me.

But yeah, I hear what you're saying about moral views and policy views and personal views... doesn't this point sharply to how difficult it is to imagine a "state" that is, in practice, separate from "religious" foundations? I mean, it's a rare bird who can be morally against something and "legally" for it. I mean, if I believe it's immoral to hire workers on the other side of the globe for 17 cents/hr., then I'll very likely favor a law that demands what I believe to be a moral wage (or something).

But I won't even bother to defend that statement -- Words are all so out-of-whack these days that I can't even put together a simple sentence without having to define and qualify every phrase. Maybe I'm wrong. Whatever. I'm frustrated.

Rectification. Of. Names.

Insignificant Wrangler said...

The only thing that prevents her answer from completely echoing the stereo-typical terrible freshman essay is the concluding line "but that's just my opinion."

What her response fails to do is to actually answer the question--to answer whether all states should follow the four states that have endorsed same-sex marriage. This would require translating her moral views into a policy statement (and, as such, would make her moral view fair game--I think we need to approach public discourse as irrevocably linked to our individual morality, as problematic as that is).

Casey said...

Wrangler:

My freshmen precede everything they say with, "Well, everyone's entitled to their opinion..." I find that to be an incredibly annoying language-bit, and I'm pretty certain it reflects an unwillingness to speak truthfully. "But that's just my opinion" translates as "Please don't pick on me or make me clarify, because I don't know what I'm talking about" almost every time.

But I do agree with what you're saying about individual moral perspective being translated into policy... let's have that debate. Back to epistemology? If you think that's not the right question, let me phrase it Levinasian: how do we know what's "moral" or ethical when there are two Others, two who disagree about what my action should be?

Can I be face-to-face with the homophobe and the homosexual at the same time? I think Walt Whitman could've... I'm not confident enough that I want to steop into that position yet.

Wishydig said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Wishydig said...

"This would require translating her moral views into a policy statement."

but can we do that? at that point it becomes a guessing game about how she sees her personal views shaping her willingness to impose those views on others.

there are many many behaviours that i believe are fundamentally immoral. that i believe are the face of evil. almost none of those do i believe should be addressed by law or state policy. (it doesn't matter what those are.)

i'm not going to simply assume that she's incapable of the same.

Casey said...

Yeah I guess you're right, Wishydig... I mean, I think something like infidelity is immoral, and so is hypocrisy, but I don't think the state needs to penalize those kinds of things.

So I take back everything I said about Miss California except the part about how she's pretty.