Friday, September 4, 2009

Vilifying Opponents

Carrie Prejean and Sarah Palin are again in the news. One just turned upon her tormenters with a lawsuit; the other was driven out of office. One women ran for Miss USA; the other ran for Vice-President. For both women, it was not enough that they were defeated in their respective contests; they had to be humiliated, ruined, and stigmatized for all time. Both are part of a disturbing phenomenon in American culture.

Let’s take the two cases one by one.

CP was a beauty contest winner – and looser. As Miss California she lost the contest for Miss USA. She was ambushed with a gay-marriage question in the final moments and answered against it. The judge bragged afterwards how he used that answer to defeat her.

But that was not enough.

The pageant officials denounced her. An investigation targeted her – just her, not any of the other beauty contestants – and found some bad things. Not anything very bad, mind you, but bad stuff, nevertheless. This was the excuse for a new round of denunciations.

They even went after her Miss California title! A straight-up attempt to remove her from that failed. (The firestorm from the left triggered a backlash of negative publicity on the pageant.) Trump caved. (Donald Trump owns the beauty pageant.)

But as many of may know from much experience, there’s more than one way to get rid of someone. After a length of time, the officials who had denounced CP so vociferously, announced their excuse: she had failed to make 75 appearances. So they fired her and Trump okayed it. Now she’s suing.

Sarah Palin underwent a similar ordeal. Her family was targeted, the parentage of her children was questioned, and worst of all, so many ethics complaints were filed against her that she ran up $500,000 in legal fees just to defend herself. Then the newspapers announced she was getting divorced (false).

Both women did not handle the onslaught very well. Thrown into minefields, they stepped on a few. But did that justify the vilification that they both endured?

- And remember: Carrie Prejean was only a beauty contestant!

In the end, it was not these two women that were hurt the most; it was our culture. Whatever happened to the kinder, gentler America?