Michael Tortorich: The Carrie Prejean effect

Michael Tortorich

Standing on stage during the Miss USA pageant on April 19, judge Perez Hilton asked Miss California Carrie Prejean a whopper of a question.

Hilton, an openly gay blogger, asked Prejean, a Christian college student, her opinion on the legalization of same-sex marriage.

The answer she gave set off a firestorm of controversy and conversation around the country when she said she believes marriage should be between a man and a woman.

Hilton said after the pageant that she lost the title because of her answer.

“I knew he had a hidden agenda,” Prejean said of Hilton in a recent Associated Press interview.

The floodgates really opened, and the media had a field day as the plot thickened. Topless photos taken by a professional photographer leaked, which Prejean claims were taken without her knowledge. She also claims Playboy and Vivid Entertainment have made offers, which she’s turned down.

Aside from pageant fans, the contestants in such pageants are virtually unknown after their appearances. North Carolina’s Kristen Dalton ended up winning the pageant, yet she’s not exactly a household name now. Prejean, on the other hand, has been thrust into the spotlight, something pageant owner Donald Trump seems to be happy to prolong.

Prejean pointed out that President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton both hold the same beliefs on the issue.

Many came to Prejean’s defense in the aftermath of her comments, and rightfully so. Such a question would be difficult for anyone to answer in such a setting, especially since it’s such a highly polarized subject. Whether she supported same-sex marriage or opposed it, she ran the risk of being offensive with any answer. It would have been rather difficult to somehow conjure up the golden “world peace” pageant answer.

Even Trump said “she was going to get killed” no matter which way she answered the question.

Whether or not she is right or wrong on the issue doesn’t matter. She stated her opinion. Hilton asked the question and he should respect her answer regardless of how he feels about it. He asked a personal question and she gave a personal answer. Her honesty should be commended. Had she lied only to win over the judges she would have been a phony and a fraudulent winner.

“I chose the truth in my heart over a tiara,” Prejean said in a recent interview.

Prejean did the right thing and she should be proud of staying true to herself. Every day I listen to talk shows and hear a variety of views. Sometimes I agree with the opinions I hear, sometimes I don’t. Just because I don’t agree with an opinion, doesn’t mean I want it to be stifled in any way. Free and open discussion makes America a great country.

I make sure to listen to a variety of programs. Some stringently conservative, and some progressively liberal. I’ll listen to Air America one minute and Glenn Beck another, then mix in Adam Carolla for good measure. On any given night I’ll watch a little Rachel Maddow then switch over to Sean Hannity before falling asleep listening to a committee meeting on CSPAN.

I believe it’s beneficial to collect an assortment of information and opinions before forming an opinion of one’s own. We should all make it a point to actively seek out the opinions of others and try to see things from their view. That doesn’t necessarily mean we should try to think like them, but simply try to understand why they feel as they do.

Michael Tortorich writes for the Weekly Citizen in Gonzales, La.