04/21/09 — Free speech: Pageant 'controversy' suggests prejudice by some critics

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Free speech: Pageant 'controversy' suggests prejudice by some critics

It really doesn't matter what view Miss California Carrie Prejean has on the gay marriage issue.

And it really doesn't matter how any of the rest of us feel about it either, least of all those who run the Miss California pageant system or the questioners at last weekend's Miss USA contest.

Not this time.

How anyone feels about the definition of marriage -- and whether gay and lesbian couples should have the right to marry -- is not what matters here.

What matters today is that there would even be the suggestion that the young woman who was picked to represent California in the Miss USA pageant should not have the right to say what she feels when asked about her viewpoint on gay marriage.

And also, why the question was appropriate for a pageant in the first place.

Miss Prejean did not rant against homosexuality or say anything that could be considered derogatory or bigoted. She even made sure to say that this was just her view, the way she had been raised, and indicated she meant no disrespect to those who believed otherwise.

She was not given the same courtesy.

Miss Prejean simply answered the judge honestly. She did not make up a viewpoint just to win or avoid the question. She gave an honest opinion.

And then the firestorm broke.

There have been all sorts of condemnations since her comment -- including an expression of disappointment from the organizers of the California pageant, who have obviously missed that there is still some debate in their home state about the issue.

That itself is more of an embarrassment than any comment made by Miss Prejean.

Since when is it considered ill-mannered to have a viewpoint that is different from what is considered politically correct -- and since when is honesty a mistake? And also, where in the application process is there an indication that only certain viewpoints need apply?

If truly this is the kind of pageant the Miss USA system is running, Miss Prejean is better off somewhere else, where stifling free speech and squelching different viewpoints are not part of the rules.

Published in Editorials on April 21, 2009 10:05 AM