Attacks on Miss California reveal intolerance of gay-rights activistsCOLLEEN CARROLL CAMPBELL
"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."
With that mild answer to a beauty-pageant query earlier this month, Miss California Carrie Prejean was catapulted to the center of an international controversy resulting in vicious attacks on her character, intelligence and religious beliefs.
The assault began almost immediately after the 21-year-old college junior answered a question about her views on same-sex marriage from Perez Hilton, a gay gossip blogger and Miss USA contest judge who earned his fame by drawing obscene doodles on celebrity photos and "outing" gay stars on his website. Incensed by Prejean's failure to endorse his views on gay marriage, Hilton took to the airwaves and Internet to call Prejean a string of unprintable names.
The incident would be just another laughable case of a blogger behaving badly were it not for the fact that Hilton's histrionic response was echoed by a chorus of more respectable voices. They ranged from the TV journalists who fretted on air about Prejean's insensitivity and pageant officials who publicly sided with Hilton to the parade of Hollywood celebrities who denounced Prejean and high-ranking gay British politician Alan Duncan, who called her a "silly [expletive]" and said that if she turns up murdered, "you will know it was me."
For all the fuss, Prejean hardly is alone in her conventional view of marriage. Polls show that most Americans share that view and voters in 29 states, including California, have approved state constitutional amendments banning gay marriage. Yet Prejean did something most Americans who oppose gay marriage no longer dare to do: She voiced her beliefs in the public square. And when pressured to recant, she refused.
Prejean's boldness has made her the latest target of a cabal of strident gay-rights activists and their media allies who define even the most muted public words against same-sex marriage as hate speech. These ideologues increasingly rely on intimidation tactics to advance their cause where rhetorical persuasion and democratic means have failed. In an ugly twist for a movement that once made "tolerance" its rallying cry, the most glaring examples of intolerance in today's marriage debate come from supporters of same-sex marriage.
That intolerance was on full display in California last fall, before and after the passage of the Proposition 8 gay-marriage ban. Anti-Proposition 8 TV ads blatantly stoked religious prejudices by depicting wild-eyed Mormon missionaries gleefully terrorizing a lesbian couple. Gay activists published an online blacklist of individual contributors to the Proposition 8 cause so those donors could be targeted for harassment, boycotts and firings. After the election, evangelical, Catholic and Mormon churchgoers faced angry protesters screaming at them on their way in to their respective churches. In Palm Springs, a raucous mob of gay-rights activists was caught on TV ripping a cross from an elderly woman's hands and stomping on it, while shoving her and swatting her with their placards. In Michigan, a band of gay-rights activists incensed by the California vote disrupted an evangelical church service, yelling at churchgoers, pulling a fire alarm and unfurling a gay pride flag from the church balcony as part of their "Bash Back" campaign.
Such boorish behavior typically receives little coverage from the mainstream media. Yet many Americans have noticed the increasing intolerance of the gay-marriage movement and they resent it. Perhaps that's why Miss California has enjoyed a surge of grassroots support in the wake of her media flogging. At a time when many politicians and pastors are too intimidated to defend their beliefs about marriage, a beauty queen willing to stand up to a bully is an inspiring sight.
Colleen Carroll Campbell. "Attacks on Miss California reveal intolerance of gay-rights activists." St. Louis Post-Dispatch. (April 30, 2009).
Reprinted with permission of the author, Colleen Carroll Campbell.
Colleen Carroll Campbell is an author, television and radio host and St. Louis-based fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center. She is the author of The New Faithful: Why Young Adults Are Embracing Christian Orthodoxy. Colleen Carroll Campbell writes for a wide variety of national publications, speaks to audiences across America, and hosts her own television show, "Faith & Culture," on EWTN, the world's largest religious media network. Her website is here.
Copyright © 2009 Colleen Carroll Campbell
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