So, Carrie Prejean’s been in the news again lately. I’m not desperately interested in why, but having reminded myself of why I’ve heard of her in the first place, I wanted to try articulating some thoughts.
I wrote something in my other blog yesterday about this, which might be funny, but it was a bit rushed, and by the end of it I’ve more or less lost track of what I was supposed to be satirising. But I think the point I was trying to make, initially, was that what she said doesn’t seem to be much of a big deal, the furore it caused seems way overblown, and a lot of people on the liberal, progressive, “compassionate” side of things could really do with backing off.
Here’s the actual quote when she was asked about the state legalisation of same-sex marriage:
Well I think it’s great that Americans are able to choose one or the other. Um, we live in a land that you can choose same sex marriage or opposite marriage and, you know what, in my country and in, in my family, I think that I believe that a marriage should be between a man and a woman. No offense to anybody out there. But that’s how I was raised and that’s how I think that it should be between a man and a woman.
BURN THE HERETIC!!!
Okay, I know that was some pretty radically inflammatory rhetoric there, but let’s all take a breath. Obviously this kind of hate-mongering needs to be responded to firmly and mercilessly, but there’s no need to sink to her deplorable level of, um… hoping not to offend anybody by expressing a personal opinion and supporting people’s freedom of choice.
Yeah. Actually I still see no good reason why I should have heard of this person.
I mean, the entire first two declarations are about choice being good. And even when she talks about being in favour of marriage being only between straight couples, it’s couched in the most gentle, careful, unintrusive way you could ask for. It’s how things are “in her family”, implying that it’s a personal thing which she’s keen not to seem like she’s imposing on anyone else. She’s not claiming absolute authority. It’s how she was raised, and how she thinks it should be, but she’s also aware that this might offend people who disagree – and she doesn’t vilify those people as immoral purveyors of depravity, but implicitly apologises for any offense she might be causing them by expressing her opinion in response to a direct question.
Does anyone else think that this basically seems mostly okay? I mean, I do disagree with her, but I disagree with a lot of my friends on a number of things, and so long as nobody gets too zealous about it, it needn’t be the cause of much drama. And she really wasn’t being fanatical here. I have no idea of her broader views on homosexuality; maybe she’s all in favour of gay people generally, but just didn’t bring that up at that exact moment. But a lot of people in America agree with her about gay marriage, and a whole lot of them aren’t nearly so tactful or considerate in telling the world precisely how they feel about gay people.
Carrie Prejean looked to me like someone who’s essentially compassionate and good-natured to people, doesn’t wish anybody any particular ill, is broadly tolerant, and is just a bit behind the times in this one regard, or holding onto some religious notions of morality with a slightly unhealthy fervour. There are far worse things you can say about a genuinely intolerant and spiteful bigot than that.
And you can say most of them about Perez Hilton, who responded to Prejean’s comments by calling her a bitch, then took that back and said he’d meant to call her a cunt.
Not helping, guy.
Seriously, what do you expect people who aren’t currently on your side to do, if anyone stepping even slightly out of line of the accepted way of things is going to be treated like such an abomination? Don’t the odds of winning people over dwindle rapidly to zero if all anyone sees of your side of the argument is you being a dick and hurling abuse at everyone not already with you? And isn’t that, y’know, exactly what you’re pissed at them for in the first place?
I’m not saying calling out genuine homophobes and bigots isn’t justified and important, but have a little perspective. Sure, Fred Phelps can fuck off and die, we don’t want him. But there are also a lot of people out there generally in agreement with your progressivism, who haven’t quite come all the way over to your side but agree with you on a lot of things, and it’s worth not alienating them. Both strategically, because they might be swayed further one day, and because it’s a dick move in its own right.
Apparently she’s gone properly wacked-out lately and has said and done a few more things genuinely worthy of scorn and derision. I haven’t seen her Larry King interview, and I don’t think I want to wade into all that now, but I do wonder if maybe she wouldn’t have retreated to the safety of crazyland quite so much if the liberal, progressive, tolerant world hadn’t seemed quite so uninviting.