Thursday, February 25, 2010


An item you perhaps have seen online:

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. – Less than a year after dethroned Miss California USA Carrie Prejean stirred up controversy with her remarks against gay marriage, a similar war of words is brewing in Beverly Hills.
Beverly Hills Mayor Nancy Krasne said Wednesday she is outraged over a Miss California USA contestant who is claiming to represent the city in the upcoming pageant and who spoke out against same-sex marriage in recent media interviews.
Krasne said in a statement that 23-year-old Lauren Ashley does not live in Beverly Hills or represent the city in any capacity. Krasne said she was shocked to see statements made by a beauty pageant contestant under the name of Beverly Hills, "which has a long history of tolerance and respect."
Ashley recently told Fox News and other media outlets that same-sex marriage goes against God and the Bible.

This is intriguing to me, beyond the issue of free speech (It’s OK to be vocally in favor of gay marriage if that is what you believe, but it is wrong/offensive to be vocally against it, if that is what you believe?).

I am glad that Beverly Hills “has a long history of tolerance and respect.” And I have no interest whatsoever in any beauty pageant, nor do I know if Lauren Ashley lives in Beverly Hills or with the Beverly Hillbillies. I really don’t care.

But what does the phrase “tolerance and respect” mean in the final analysis? We do not tolerate child sex abusers; we do not tolerate drug users/dealers; we do not tolerate (or tolerate less and less) cigarette smokers. Why not?

It’s because we are convinced that these are behaviors that not only violate laws (perhaps all laws), but we find them socially unacceptable. Yet who are the “we” who find these behaviors so offensive?

Most 17-year-old boys dating 15-year-old girls would not; most drug users would not; most cigarette smokers would not. But “we” do not accept their points of view to the extent of re-writing the laws for them. This is true since the girls’ parents object, when drug-using spouses are angry, when diners at restaurants protest because of 2nd-hand smoke from the bar areas. We decide that the second groups' views are more important than indulging the behaviors of those of the first groups.

In our society as it is now, the issue of same-sex marriage is not one on which the “jury has spoken” in favor. Decisions (and referenda) throughout the country have produced mixed results. Beyond that, the behavior is (in most of the US) still not legally sanctioned. So why should someone be pilloried for expressing her view? After all, same-sex marriage does indeed go against the texts of the Bible. Or does the Mayor of Beverly Hills think that the only people who should be allowed to enter such contests and speak be proved beforehand of being at least non-Christian, if not agnostic? The Mayor of Beverly Hills is welcome to disagree with this girl. But why should she be “outraged”?

This is a sad example of an egotistical narrowness of viewpoint. It represents a lack of engagement in the principle of dialogue. Public opinion should not be formed on the basis of shouting down an opposing viewpoint.

The view of the Church (primarily I am speaking of the Catholic Church, but until recently of many other “mainline” Christian Protestant denominations as well) has consistently been to oppose things like divorce/remarriage, adultery, prostitution, abortion, same-sex marriages, birth control, sexual abuse of minors… It can be argued that in this realm of sexual issues there has been a constancy of teaching, even when there have been lapses of practice. It may be true, as the adage says, that “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds,” but it is not patently obvious that the Church’s consistency here is “foolish.”

Why not let the girl express herself honestly? The only alternative (as politicians well know) is to say what you think the given audience wants to hear, in order to succeed. But perhaps this is another form of “prostitution” that some folks think we should be content to wink at?


  1. Are you equating a 17 year old boy dating a 15 year old girl with a child sex abuser? What is your definition of "dating"? Why would the girl's parents object?

  2. My point is precisely that legally if they were involved in sexual activity it would be "2nd degree rape." And it's not "my" definition of dating that's at issue here...

    Perhaps I should have written, instead of "since" the word "if." As a former HS teacher I have seen 12th graders "dating" 9th graders, to the latters' shame and damage.

  3. But just because a boy is dating a girl, doesn't presume that they are engaging in sexual activity. 17 year old boys can (and have) dated girls (even 15 year old girls) properly. Dating means spending time with each other i.e. dinner and a movie or an evening bowling. Which is why I asked about your definition of dating. Your original statement about 17 year old boys not being offended by the actions or behaviors of a sex offender because they are dating a 15 year old girl are somewhat presumptious, it seems to me. I agree that some relationships can be damaging and detrimental, usually to the young lady involved, but as a mother of sons (one of them being a 17 year old)I can say that all boys are not like that. And while I realize that this doesn not relate to your point (with which I agree completely) I wish you would have phrased your original statement differently.