Thursday, May 07, 2009
Great Article on Carrie Prejean and 17 year old Mistakes vs. 21 year old Mistakes
You know by now the controversy regarding the Miss USA pagent, when the blogger called “Perez Hilton” who has made a name for himself by outing people in Hollywood and tafficing in gossip asked Miss California “do you agree with gay marriage” which should never have been asked in a pagent at all. Now Carrie Prejean has become a spokesperson for the traditional marriage movement, a movement i might add that is still in agreement with about 60% of Americans. Now they have dug up a picture of her from when she was age 17 that is semi-toppless (I will not post to it, as i think it qualifies as lite pornography).
What to make of all this? Well Kathreen Jean Lopez of National Review and Seth Leibsohn of the Claremont Institute have a great piece entiteld “Naked in the Naked Public Square.” You can read it here:
I agree with most of what they had to say (I think they were harder on Miley Cyrus and her dad then I would be, since I think they got snookered and simply trusted the wrong person), but it got me to thinking about Ms Perjean and what good will come of this for her. After the jump you will find the email I sent to Madam Lopez, the queen of Nationalreview.com
Thanks for yours and Seth’s article today. I agree with your most of what you have to say and the things I am not yet in agreement with I am processing through even as I write. In my job as the chief theological and cultural researcher I have spent a lot of time working on the notions of the move from guilt based culture to a shame-based one and the issues of the desire to be a celeb.
The point I am working through right now is whether or not Bristol Palin should be an advocate for pregnancy prevention. Clearly the message that you can be “sexy without having sex” is just stupid. No, young women and men don’t have to wear chastity belts to avoid having sex, but we are living in age where hyper-sexualization is the norm. Instead she should be saying, “Look if all you offer the opposite sex is a preview of sex, then don’t be surprised that you will end up having sex. But if you respect yourself and want to have a healthy and fully integrated life, don’t dress like a tramp, work hard at your passions, and don’t worry about having sex until you are married to someone who wants to see you become your best you and for whom you feel the same way.” Can Bristol do that? I don’t think so, and in light of that, I think you are right – go to school, raise your child, grow-up, and be the best possible parent you can be for the rest of your life.
On the 21 year old Prejean, I think there is one other thing to count in her favour. Clearly she made a big mistake at 17 poising for the pictures in question. I have no idea what was going through her mind that day, aside from maybe “It looks arty and it is not really pornography.” Of course our culture has clearly made a dangerous shift that appearing only in panties and a forearm is not pornography. But here is the good thing – from all I have heard from her and seen, Prejean is not proud of those pictures today. She is shamed by them, which many young women in the same situation would not be. Think for a second of someone like Jenny McCarthy who is only ashamed that she is not as beautiful as she was when she posing nude for Heffner seemingly every other week.
We can take the fact that Prejean is not honoured by those picture as proof of where she is today. Yes, dating Michael Phelps would seem to be a downside, but we don’t know what kind of young man he is, whether the marijuana pictures were like her lingerie pictures, something he deeply regrets. But now she is coming face-to-face with the key fact that it takes many young people years to realize: that your actions have consequences, ones that live on long after the event in question. Not only do we treat adults like children (except for sexuality, where we teach children to think and act like prostitutes), but we teach them to think only of the short-term. Life’s choices usually have long-term implications and we need to help young people think through what those might be. That is what a 25 year-old has usually learned that a 17 or 21 year-old may not have yet realized.
In some people’s minds those pictures disqualify her for being an advocate for the traditional marriage position. Clearly we should be listening to people like Ramesh Ponurru, Pope Benedict XVI, and Maggie Gallagher on this issue, people who have spent years dedicating themselves to study the issue from theological, cultural, sociological and economic perspectives. But our culture is celeb driven, and Ms. Prejean is choosing to use her current fame to advance something other than her own self, and she has already paid the price for having done so, both at the “pageant” and in the MSNBC and blogger attacks.
She is able to present the traditional view of marriage to an audience that simply will tune out egg-heads and grown-ups. On tough cultural battles like these I would look to the words of the New Testament translated for this situation, “the laborers are few” and “for whatever reason, be it the right ones or out of greed, at least the truth is preached.” The Jonas Brothers push abstinence in a cool and winsome way. There are some kids who will hear it from them that won’t hear it from anyone else. If Carrie causes just a few people to stop and think about the gay marriage position and its implications for society, then I applaud her. If the attacks against her helps others to see the ruthlessness of those pushing not only the gay-rights agenda but other liberal causes, then again, if she is willing to play the role of “martyr” I applaud her. And if she can communicate the shame she feels at having exposed herself at age 17 as a semi-nude sex-kitten, maybe it will change the mind of even one girl somewhere not to engage in sexting.
As a Christian I would also add that events in the past, especially when they repented of, do not determine how I look at someone in the present. Again, the consequences may still be with someone, but when I look at Ms. Prejean I evaluate her based on today and her decisions from this point forward. We Christians should operate in an environment of grace and truth, where truth draws us to repentance but where grace allows people to come in from the dark, confess their sins one to another, and live differently from this point forward. From what I can see, she is doing just that, and if the Christian community can embrace her and demonstrate the healing power of grace, again, maybe some people watching on may realize the vast difference between the Christian perspective and the hate-power oriented perspective of the hard left.
There are deep issues at play in our culture – radical egalitarianism, the separating of our country from any historical perspective, and the turning of people into serfs of the state (to name just a few). But in order to help save our culture we need friends and allies across the board, including those who use their celeb to make traditional culture cool again.
Your loyal reader,