Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Hanoi Hilton

By Carl

Y'know, I was all set to
let this go when I first read about some bizarre contretemps at the Miss USA pageant this weekend.

I figured one stupid insignificant person asking another stupid insignificant person a loaded question on a stupid insignificant made-for-TV event (produced by Donald Trump, the king of all things false and plastic) was nothing to care about.

And then I saw this on The Today Show:

Uh. Yeah. Suddenly I gave a crap.

I found myself in the odd position of feeling empathy for the person whose views I found more odious.

Both people are in the wrong here, but it's Perez Hilton... um, who?... who has gotten my dander up the more.

Carrie Prejean carried herself admirably and so far has carried herself admirably in what has to be a particularly uncomfortable instant. Nobody expects a beauty pageant... a beauty pageant!... to turn into a political debate.

I'm surprised Tom Brokaw didn't appear and grab a judge's mic and turn into Instant Moderator.

She spoke her heart and as offensive as her opinion is to me, it was refreshing to hear someone put on the defensive on national television not hem and haw and calculate an answer, although she clearly gave herself enough time to decide that was what she had to do, altho she admits later that she had prepared for that question.

As Voltaire said, "I may not agree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it." And having been in front of large audiences and live on national TV, I can assure you, no matter how much preparation you do, when you know the moment you dread is coming, you can guarantee your answer won't be as smooth as you rehearsed it.

She did this likely knowing full well her answer would cost her one judge's vote and therefore, the title. Kudos for balls, babe.

Now, onto Perez (who?) Hilton.

There was a time when confrontational activism in the pursuit of gay rights was called for, a time when getting in the face of ordinary people to wake them up to oppression.

That time is long past. As your own question demonstrates, four states have already passed a gay marriage law. Another two states have one in or ready for the legislative hopper.

Gay marriage is progressing.

If Arnold Schwarzenegger had been on that stage, your question would have been appropriate. If Rick Warren, the odious pastor who gave the invocation at Obama's inauguration had been up on stage, your question would have been appropriate.

Hell, if Obama, who opposes gay marriage, had been on that stage, your question would have been appropriate.

But to single out some poor kid from California?

Ms. Hilton, the self-proclaimed "queen of all media," you set the cause of gay rights back about a decade.

Fucking idjit. Fucking FUCKING idjit! The idea is to make homosexuality plausible to the large number of Americans who pretend they don't know a gay man or a lesbian.

The idea is ACCEPTANCE & TOLERANCE, you fucking idjit, and that means it HAS to work both ways. And if you can't deal with the fact that a significant number of Americans are uncomfortable with who you are, well, get the fuck out of this nation, son, because it's going to be long after both you and I are dead before gay marriage is not only accepted, but commonplace.

To bully some kid just because you have the spotlight is idi-fucking-otic! The "all about me" trope is something Republicans engage in. Our side is better than that. Or maybe you're
not really on our side? There's an awful lot of Bible-thumping red state right winger in you, isn't there?

Then to go on and call her a "dumb bitch," just because she didn't recognize the magnificence that is Ms. Hilton? (Hilton goes on later to apologize, altho my suspicion is the apology ran along the lines of the famed Republican "If I hurt her feelings, I'm sorry" kind)

Ms. Hilton, your fifteen minutes are calling. They're up.

(Cross-posted to
Simply Left Behind.)


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  • I have to disagree, at least in part, here.

    The larger acceptance the LGBT community has achieved comes in no small part from decades of that "in-your-face" confrontational activism. Without Randy Shilts, Larry Kramer, Mark Segal, Jill Johnston and a host of others, reaching a point where an openly LGBT judge is even possible in a beauty pageant, let alone in a position to ask such an indelicate question, would have been unthinkable.

    Conversely, the resurgence of the anti-LGBT movement can be attributed to a relaxation in LGBT advocacy during the 1990s as acceptance became more common and larger goals were reached.

    I doubt that, had the question been about civil rights, and posed by Jesse Jackson or Janet MurguĂ­a, you would have had the same reaction.

    I respect Prejean's right to hold her opinion, and I respect her ingenuous delivery in her reply. But given that, even as other states have legalised same-sex marriage, California has recently taken a prodigious step backward on the subject, Hilton's question posed to a Californian remains relevant.

    I do not consider Hilton a spokesperson for the LGBT community at large by any means, any more than I consider Prejean an authority on California law or civil rights. But Hilton has the right to ask his questions just as Prejean has the right to her response.

    And I cannot accept your proposition that the side of the argument most oppressed must needs show acceptance and tolerance of the culture that seeks to oppress it (in however minor a form). That sort of thinking would have prevented the entire Civil Rights movement, the organisation of (Latino) farm workers, even early Suffragism. Civil rights are achieved, not by accommodating the establishment, but by challenging it to expand.

    And considering that as many states recognised domestic partnership in 1999 as recognize marriage in 2009, and about twenty fewer had anti-SSM language on their books and in their state constitutions than do now, perhaps resetting LGBT rights that far back may not be as bad as you suggest.

    By Blogger Boatboy_SRQ, at 9:07 PM  

  • I understand and accept your disagreement, of course, but it's incumbent upon me to point out that Shilts, Kramer et al had their moment in the 90s.

    This is a different generation, a different time, and the call is for new tactics.

    No, I don't believe Hilton is a responsible spokesperson for the LGBT movement.

    The trouble is, I'm not the general public who sees this man beating up on a young girl.

    And my suspicion is, if it had been Kramer or Shilts or Johnson asking that question, the perception would be no different on the part of Americans we still have to persuade that the cause is just and right.

    By Blogger Carl, at 10:04 AM  

  • Perez Hilton makes a living off of destroying other people. He's a parasite. This incident with Miss California is simply him being himself.

    By Anonymous Nomad, at 2:23 AM  

  • You don't really believe Obama is against gay marriage any more than I do. That campaign position was always with a wink to the Gay community. There was never any doubt where Obama really stands.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:46 AM  

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