Saturday, April 25, 2009


This week's non-stop pageant news has made me feel like I should state my opinion more often. A tremendous fear and aversion to confrontation, arguments and people thinking I am either a religious zealot or just weird in general made me very silent when office conversation would turn to controversial subjects. In Manhattan, most of my co-worker friends were extremely opinionated so these conversations would happen a lot, usually leading me to put in my MP3 player earphones so I wouldn't have to hear it. Billing clients for .5 hours worth of "fuming in disbelief at the ongoing political rantings of people around me" wasn't encouraged, after all. So I'd bury myself in work and just hope no one asked me to join in - which they didn't.

These days, Charlotte and I have our own heated debates, mainly about the pros and cons of flying food, but when stuff like the pageant headlines come up a part of me regrets not taking the opportunity when I had it to take part in discussions with lots of friends with opposing views. I think you can always learn something from people you talk to - even if you don't agree with them. And I do like to find out where people are coming from and what makes them believe the things they do. The ugly part in what can be very enriching conversations occur when people forget to respect the other person and wage personal attacks, which is what happened this week and what has always led me to want to hide under a desk rather than face what can be harsh scrutiny.

So, am I crazy? Has this happened to anyone else?

The point of this is that we shouldn't be afraid to state our opinion. With so much going on in the world today, it really is important to hear everyone's ideas.


Pete said...

A. What pageant news? I haven't heard anything.

B. What was your confrontation? You can't just say you had one and not elaborate! It's also hard to judge whether you are crazy or not unless we hear the narrative.

C. I like to keep a low profile until I know other people's general views. I am happy to get involved in controversial conversations, but not if I am outnumbered 10-1. I sometimes will start a controversial conversation, but I like to have a few people on my side at least.

Christina said...

Basically, Miss California stated her opinion during the Q&A portion of the pageant that she believed that marriage should be between a man and a woman. Though favored to win, she ended up being first runner up in the thing. The flamboyant judge who asked the question later went on his blog and called her a "stupid [expletive]" so it's hard to believe he didn't mark her way down and cost her the title. Also right after it happened the media, the pageant officials and even other contestants roundly criticized and condemned Miss California for her opinion, calling her answer "shocking", insensitive, inappropriate, soft bigotry, etc. It's been on the news constantly since she's made the rounds of the morning TV circuit and other programs talking about it.

I was talking about this complete lash-out against this poor girl when I said what happened this week makes me never want to speak up, nothing that happened to me specifically. As you can imagine at the pageant she was outnumbered greatly... or so it seemed.

phil said...

I have a couple responses.
1. Views on marriage being between man and woman: Obviously I agree that marriage is a divinely sanctioned institution when it is kept between man and woman. I believe that the big controversy between 'Prop 8' was not because these people wanted the 'same rights' (I believe they can already enjoy many of the same rights as married people), but that they wanted society to look at them and say, "yes, that's ok." A fellow blogger states it much clearer than I can:

2. Perez Hilton should really never be put in charge of judging anything.

3. One of the articles states that she alienated millions of gay and lesbian Americans by saying that, and that Miss USA should 'represent everyone in the country'. This is quite ridiculous, considering she only had two other options, one to approve of gay marriage and offend millions of Americans who hold marriage to be sacred, and the other to be somewhat political and give a vague answer that really means nothing.

4. People who instigate those types of discussion in the office are rarely looking to find other people's points of view, as you stated you were interested in doing. I have found that they are more interested in arguing their case, so that they can feel more comfortable in their opinions. So while it is interesting to hear other's points of view and perhaps learn something about your coworkers/friends, the result is rarely that you both come away feeling better about the issue.

Christina said...

1. I know, this fact is overlooked a lot in the controversy - gay Americans can get married and live together without prosecution, the only major difference being the state stamp of approval.

2. Yes this judge was a joke and the pageant should be embarrassed by his actions, not Ms. Prejean's.

3. Here's the crux of the issue: I don't believe millions of Americans who do not support gay marriage would have been offended if Ms. Prejean had stated that she supports it. This is the difference between the two sides of the debate - those who hold a traditional view of marriage in general also respect people's opinions and do not condemn them for voicing them. However, the defacement of church property, Sean Penn's speech at the Oscars saying that those who voted for Prop 8 should be "ashamed" of themselves, Perez Hilton's nasty words about a very nice young woman, and countless other examples indicate that the other side does not offer such respect for an opposing opinion or belief -- leading to what I believe is a very large silent majority on the subject.

4. Very good point. No one wants to lose friends or alienate themselves from people they work with.

Ellen said...

I totally agree. As long as people are respectful and don't assume things about me, I love discussing issues and learning from others. I actually thought "what's the big deal" when Prop 8 was going on. Equal rights, sure, sounds fine to me. But it has become very clear that the gay/lesbian community is not satisfied with equal rights, but is now fighting for marginalization of anyone who doesn't agree with them. Perez Hilton, the brainless airhead that he is, said Miss California should have been more like Miley Cyrus when she cryptically said that people have the right to be happy. So in essence, he values being politically correct over being open and honest. The G/L community needs to rethink their agenda.

And Miss California actually is representing the half of the voters who voted for Prop 8. Is that so hard to comprehend?

lrbodine said...

I almost did a similar post. I actually caught the end of the Pageant last week and Rob and I both said that she lost it because of her answer. But I was so impressed with her reponse and standing up for what she believed in. Although I feel bad for her that she has gotten slammed! It makes me constantly think of the sprial of silence theory from Comms and wonder if there are a lot more people that agree her point of view than we realize....

And where on earth did they get those judges?! If I have to hear one more comment from Perez Hilton on how much he hated Miss California's comment.. I will scream!

Holly said...

So true. I must admit I have never been afraid of controversy or of stating my opinion, but as I have a lot of friends, more and more each day, it seems, that are a part of the GBLT community, it certainly brings up some hairy discussions. Those of us who have a deeper understanding of the principle of the sanctity of marriage should be grateful that we have something to hold onto when the winds of persecution blow, as they are beginning to blow harder and harder these days.

Pete said...

Ok, now I'm up to speed. Thanks Phil for posting the link to my blog, but it is a private blog, so if you want access, please email me at pete_broadbent at hotmail dot com.

This issue is a tough one, because it is very tough to defend marriage in a sound byte argument - it requires a more thorough discussion of the role of government, legislation of morality, religion, etc. Whereas on the other side, it is very easy to attack marriage - all you have to do is say "equal rights" like we are in the Civil Rights era and people are tricked into thinking they are equivalent ideas.

One significant difference from the Civil Rights era is that previously, whites and blacks were prohibited from being married (in some states). However, the definition of marriage was never in dispute - it was always between a man and a woman. You rarely hear pro-gay marriage advocates couch their argument as "The definition of marriage should be changed to include same-sex partnerships" because that would sound a good deal more radical than "equal rights".

Also, tradition is not brought up enough in this argument. We are disregarding thousands of years of recorded human history in which marriage was a central part to just now say "They were wrong"? For good or ill, tradition doesn't hold much weight in today's society.

A friend forwarded me the following article, which I thought was interesting:

The crux of it is that the insitution of marriage has been battered in the last century - witness the high divorce rates, changed laws making divorce very easy, etc.

Since the media is largely pro-gay marriage, they will continue to push their agenda and it seems inevitable that most states will adopt it. In fact, economists have run models and they show that Mississippi will be the last hold out and adopt it in 2022.

The Funky Bunch said...

Very very good post! I do feel like that sometimes, but unfortunately I have a very opinionated large mouth and have the tendency to blurt things out. Sometimes I am glad I said it, and sometimes I regret it. Sometimes however, I think It is good to just keep quiet. But I think Miss California did the right thing voicing her opinion on such a controversial subject. Anyway... here I go blabbing....

Malesa said...

That was a good read. I love reading peoples opinions. When it comes to "controversial" topics with my coworkers, I will openly state my views if I feel like we have even somewhat of a friendship, but if it's someone I really don't know or someone I feel is kind of abrasive, I usually keep to myself. I agree with you though, I should probably stand up for what I believe more often.

Grandma Pam said...

Good for you Christina.

Luv Mom Erickson