Lessons From A Beauty Pageant
Donald Trump, who apparently owns all the controversial beauty pageants in America, ruled this week that Ms. California, Carrie Prejean, will not be de-crowned for speaking out in favor of the status quo on marriage during the Ms USA competition and having “semi-nude” photos unearthed as a result. By now, we all know the story, but what can we learn from it?
Beauty contests aren’t vehicles for social change. The judge in question, gossip columnist Perez Hilton, said that he won’t tolerate anyone infringing on his personal rights as a homosexual. He must have had Ms. USA runner-up Prejean confused with Obama’s next Supreme Court nominee. Go dig up nude pics of that person, if you’re bent on affecting change. If television variety programs were important catalysts for societal reinvention, then Susan Boyle would be knocking Angelina Jolie off magazine covers.
No one tells Donald Trump what to do. Trump has de-crowned beauty queens before, upon release of photos. I suppose Prejean may have technically broken pageant rules by not disclosing them, but contrary to what the magnitude of media coverage suggests, this isn’t a murder trial. This is The Donald’s world, in which he is judge, jury and executioner. I doubt that his foremost consideration, in determining Prejean’s fate, was to safeguard the integrity and good name of a skin parade. It would be safe to presume that his loyalty in this case would be to his bottom line, however he feels that might be served, and he isn’t exactly the type of person to be swayed by lobbying groups or fear of media controversy.
Nudity isn’t immoral, unchristian, or un-conservative. I often read during this controversy, that it’s “not Christian” to pose for “semi-nude” or “nude” photos. Some have even argued that the photos represent an unfortunate sin. The only sin here is that kind of talk! Christians not only get naked, but they also have sex. There’s nothing immoral or unchristian about the human body or its functions.
Christianity and conservatism are being treated as one in the same here, and that’s limiting. Would NIKE or McDonald’s or any other popular brand hitch itself to a particular religion? It’s just bad business if you’re trying to build mass brand appeal. I’m not the first person to say this. Author and philosopher Ayn Rand said the exact same thing many years ago. Conservatism isn’t synonymous with religion, but it makes sense that some might think this way. That’s because Christians generally try to be moral people. They’re at least aware of the Ten Commandments, which are really just basic rules for treating others respectfully — and something of which I wish a lot of atheists would at least have minimum comprehension.
Conservatism, in its truest and most individualistic form, is the more respectful ideology: Do what you want as long as it’s not disrespectful and doesn’t infringe on others’ individual rights. We don’t go dressing like we just jumped out of a dumpster and shoving signs in people’s faces. We tend to prefer to work through the more traditional channels, earning our right to make meaningful decisions. But some people have stretched this equivalence between Christianity and respect to redefine conservatism and Christianity as one in the same. It says a lot that we don’t even know if Prejean is really conservative, just that she’s Christian. Liberals have Christians in their club, too. We don’t own the market on them. Nor should we try to use it to define our ideology. People can be moral without being religious. I’ll take those ones too, thanks.
Conservatives come in surprising packages – all of which should be welcomed. In the absence of any real ideological declaration, various conservatives were quick to either claim or reject Prejean as conservative. Who knows if she is or not – but if she wants to be one of us, she should be welcomed into the fray regardless. As should any person who doesn’t fit the typical or traditional image of a conservative.
As much as I may respect them, not every conservative has to look and sound like Newt Gingrich or Rush Limbaugh. Nor do we all have to subscribe to the full meal deal of conservative talking points and values as constantly brayed by those who consider themselves the self-appointed arbiters for our entire movement. We need to stop looking for a “leader”. How ironic that the ideology of individualism and grand ideas, which ought to pride itself on being comprised of the millions of little individual think-tanks that each one of us represents, should be now be fretting over who will be telling us what to think as we move forward.
We can be a pro-choice conservative because we assign a value to life as opposed to mere existence. We can be in favor of gun control within cities because we understand that any perpetrator will always have the benefit of foresight, and because we’ve witnessed the TRAINED idiots at the shooting range and cringe at the idea of everyone packing heat while contending with the frustration of navigating New York City streets on a 100F summer day. Those of us who have lived in Canada can accept that some aspects of that country’s health care system work wonderfully in light of its improvement by the incumbent Conservative Party, and shouldn’t automatically be dismissed with scare labels when exploring solutions and alternatives.
And as conservatives, we reserve the right to change our minds as situations and issues evolve, and more information becomes available. Because being conservative means being thoughtful and issue oriented as the waves of change crash up against our own personal unwavering core values and principles — not, as one friend of mine put it, “just zombies looking to eat liberal brains”.