Miss California vs Perez Hilton

Miss North Carolina, Kristen Dalton, was crowned Miss USA 2009 Sunday, but her win has been greatly overshadowed by the controversy surrounding Miss California, Carrie Prejean, and gossip blogger Perez Hilton. Prejean, the front-runner in the contest, was asked by the openly gay Hilton about her views on gay marriage, and she gave an answer he didn’t like.

“We live in a land where you can choose same-sex marriage or opposite. And you know what, I think in my country, 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.”

Prejean ended up first runner-up in the competition, and Hilton didn’t hesitate to post a video on his blog lambasting her for her reply and citing that question as the reason she lost.

The biggest problem here is not the question; she’s entitled to her view and he’s entitled to his. The Miss USA contest usually avoids politics, focusing more on humanitarian work and the candidates’ goals. The competition is judged on swimsuits and evening gowns, as well as interviews on candidates’ “successes, goals and ambitions.” None of that mentions political qualifications. It’s frustrating to me that she might’ve lost the crown because of her view on a volatile topic, and I would think this way regardless of her answer. Gay marriage is a highly divisive issue in this country, with supporters on each side of the fence, so I certainly hope the panel of judges had other reasons for choosing Dalton over Prejean.

Speaking of judges, the part of all this that frustrates me most is that Perez Hilton was even a judge. He has made a name for himself by degrading celebrities and those in the public eye on his blog, bitterly criticizing, calling offensive names, and making crude insinuations. Perez Hilton is a jerk. He spends his time cutting down those who are more successful, famous and respected than he. And although beauty pageants are inherently somewhat degrading and objectifying to women, the Miss USA program has been working to elevate its reputation, making activism and world issues more important and choosing “savvy, goal-oriented and aware” candidates, according to the Web site. Candidates compete to “advance their careers, personal and humanitarian goals, and as women who seek to improve the lives of others.” These women are supposed to be positive role models. So why would someone as bitter, rude and crude as Perez Hilton be given a role in their selection?

That said, I do have one qualm with Prejean: she said “no offense.” This statement needs to be removed from the English language. For one, people sound immature and unprofessional saying it. For two, it doesn’t work. Obviously her answer was going to offend Hilton and many others watching the contest. No one should use this line. Just because you say “no offense” does not mean those around won’t be offended by what you then say. In fact, those two words make the following statement that much worse because it shows you are aware what you’re about to say is offensive. It’s basically like saying, “I don’t want to hurt your feelings, but I’m about to say something that will hurt your feelings.” It’s useless and absurd.

Okay, can we focus on the winner now?

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