Your place, as anachronistic, culturally embarrassing meat shows, is to be as unobtrusive as possible while feminists and people of taste figure out a nice, fair way to wipe you off the face of the United States. But until that happens, you have a duty not to be deliberately annoying, not to wave your ignorance like it is a bloody shirt, and also not to make the undeniably stupid people who watch you even dumber than they already are.
Perhaps I am getting ahead of myself..
Two nights ago, we were treated to the finals of the inexplicably still-televised Miss America beauty pageant, the grandmommy of them all. The traditionally risible interview portion of the competition, which has for as long as there were turnips on earth featured open-ended general questions conducive to virtue-signalling blather, usually features puzzlers like (from a list of such queries)
What do you think is true beauty?
What would you do differently if you could start your life over?
Who is your greatest role model or hero?
What does it mean to be a beauty queen?
If you could be granted one wish, what would it be?
What is the greatest challenge facing humanity?
What makes you happiest?
…and so on. The idea once was that anyone with a mouth is capable of answering these questions relatively competently, and they are not traps or invitations to attract criticism. Oh, once in a millennium a finalist might answer “What would you do differently if you could start your life over?” with, “Well, I would sure skip all those years I was a crack whore,” or “If you could be granted one wish, what would it be?” by saying, “I’d wish for boobs the size of El Capitan!,” but these are pretty easy questions to ace. They are also well within the intelligence levels and expertise of the pageant administrators, judges and the contestants, so employing them isn’t political, or divisive.
A beauty pageant should not be divisive or political, just like an NFL game shouldn’t be divisive or political. I shouldn’t even have to write that.
Miss America 2018 decided to ditch the tradition of one question per finalist in the final round of competition, and ask two questions of each. The final five questions to the last five finalists were all “serious,” we were told.
Here they are, with the answers they evoked, and my observations.
Question 1, from judge former “American Idol” victor Jordin Sparks:
“There are multiple investigations into whether Trump’s campaign colluded with Russia on the election. Well, did they? You’re the jury: guilty or innocent? And please explain your verdict.”
Miss Missouri, Jennifer Davis:
“Right now, I would have to say innocent, because not enough information has been revealed. We are still investigating this and I think we should investigate it to its fullest extent. And if we do find the evidence that they have had collusion with Russia, then they should — the justice system should do their due diligence and they should be punished accordingly.”
Ethics Foul I. This is a pure Trump-hate question, inappropriate in this forum. The “Miss America” pageant should not be weaponized to attack America’s President. Ethics Foul II: Davis was being asked to form an opinion that she lacks the knowledge and background to have. What do you mean by collusion, Jennifer? What do you mean by collusion, Jordin? What evidence are you considering that justifies you to even ask this question? The question is an invitation to answer, “I think he’s guilty,” which only means, “I want him to be guilty.’
Davis’s answer wasn’t bad (though it got some jeers from those in the audience who were especially stupid). At least she showed us that she understands the presumption of innocence construct, at least a little. She should have said, however, “Jordin, I have seen nothing but innuendo and accusations regarding alleged collusion, and so have you. The better question is ‘Should we be investigating the President for collusion, which isn’t a legal term, in the absence of any apparent evidence, simply to harass our duly elected leader?’ I’ll answer that; it’s easy. NO.”
Miss Texas, Margana Wood, then was questioned by Jess Cagle, the new editor of that public affairs staple, “Entertainment Weekly.”
Question 2, from judge Jess Cagle:
“Last month, a demonstration of neo-Nazis, white supremacists and the KKK in Charlottesville, Va., turned violent and a counterprotester was killed. The president said there was shared blame with ‘very fine people’ on both sides. Were there? Tell me yes or no, and explain.”Cagle: Last month, a demonstration of neo-Nazis, white supremacists and KKK in Charlottesville, Virginia turned violent and a counter protester was killed. The president said there was shared blame with quote very fine people on both sides. Were there? Tell me yes or no, and explain.”
Miss Texas answered:
“I think that the white supremacist issue, it was very obvious it was a terrorist attack. And I think that President Donald Trump should have made a statement earlier addressing the fact, and making sure all Americans feel safe in the country. That’s the number one issue right now!”
Before 2017, no beauty pageant contestant was asked to second guess the President of the United States, because beauty pageant contestants have no business whatsoever making such judgments. The question is leading with its bias: the demonstration didn’t “turn violent: an opposing demonstration with many violent members prompted it to become violent, hence the President’s correct statement that both groups were at fault. Now, if you are going to be President, Margana, you should be aware that when you say things like “I think that the white supremacist issue, it was very obvious it was a terrorist attack,” you will be justly attacked for speaking about complex issues inarticulately. If Donad Trump made that garbled a statement, he would have been justly mocked.
What was obviously a terrorist attack?” The march itself? WRONG. Do you mean the single participant who drove his car, perhaps spontaneously, into the crowd? That’s not obvious at all. Talk to Miss Missouri about the importance of investigation, evidence, and presumption of innocence.
The President “should have addressed” what “fact?” That people holding certain views should not have the same rights to demonstrate and protest? What do you mean by “safe”? Safe from what? Words you don’t like? Protests you don’t like? Opinions that disgust you?
You’re supposed to be a “Miss America” candidate: Do you support the Bill of Rights or not?
The term “Way over her head” comes to mind, and the Entertainment mag editor put her there. I read the latest edition of Jess’s magazine on my flight to Boston. After a summary of the next episode of cable’s horror show, “The Strain,” in which humans battle infectious vampires who shoot tentacles out of their mouths and are trying to enslave humanity, Entertainment commented, “But the vampires had permits! The anti-vampires don’t have permits!”
That tells me where Miss Texas’s question was coming from. You see, people who hold really unpopular political and social views are like vampires. They should be killed. They don’t deserve civil rights. Please, someone, tell me that this isn’t how people like Jess regard civic discourse.
Next, Maria Menounos, who is most notable because she was fired from “The View” for being too dim-witted—!!!!— gave the third “serious” question to Miss North Dakota, Cara Mund.
Question 3, from judge Maria Menounos:
“195 countries signed the Paris Agreement, in which each country sets non-binding goals to reduce man made climate change. The U.S. is withdrawing from the agreement citing negligible environmental effects and negative economic impact. Good decision, bad decision? Which is it, and why?”
Miss North Dakota said:
“I do believe it’s a bad decision, once we reject that we take ourselves out of the negotiation table. And that’s something we really need to keep in mind. There is evidence that climate change is existing so whether you believe it or not, we need to be at that table and I think it’s just a bad decision on behalf of the United States.”
Mund has no basis upon which to evaluate Trump’s decision, unless it’s just to ape typical progressive mantra. Does she know what the substantive results of the U.S. pulling out are? There aren’t any. Could she explain how current climate models inspire confidence, or not, in climate change projections? No. Does she understand principles of negotiation even slightly as well as the President, being that negotiation is one of the few areas he really does have special expertise in? Absolutely not. Does she know what, if anything, is being negotiated? No. In fact, she has no legitimate background, knowledge or expertise to answer this question at all.
And what is the ethical answer when you are asked a question you cannot possibly answer fairly, competently or intelligently, especially live on national TV?
“I don’t know.”
The last of the political questions was asked by ice-skater and wannabe actress Tara Lipinski, and was directed to Miss New Jersey, Kaitlyn Schoeffel.
Question 4, from judge Tara Lipinski:
“A recent poll found slightly over half of Americans favored leaving Confederate statues in place while others want them removed. Keep them or get rid of them? What’s your vote and why?”
Miss New Jersey’s reply:
“I don’t think the answer is to get rid of these statues. I think the answer is to relocate them into museums. Because we are truly defined by our country’s history, and I don’t think it’s something we need to forget. We need to always remember it and honor our history of America because it truly makes us who we are as Americans. But they should be moved to museums. Thank you.”
No quarrel here with either the question or the answer, which isn’t great, but I’m considering the forum.
Finally, a non-political “serious question” was asked Thomas Rhett, the country music singer-songwriter, of Miss D.C., Briana Kinsey.
Question 5, from judge Thomas Rhett:
“Given the evidence that concussions from playing football can cause brain damage, would you support legislation that outlaws full-contact football in elementary and high school? Yes or no, and why?”
Miss D.C., Briana Kinsey, answered:
“I do believe that I would. As someone who wants to go into the medical profession, I know how important it is to keep our kids safe so that they can have a quality education. And when they’re getting to high school and they’re playing these sports, they’re able to do so at the best of their ability and they’re not limited because they chose to play football at a young age.”
Again, this isn’t a terrible question, and the answer wasn’t terrible either.
Nevertheless, three of the five final questions were intended to evoke partisan criticism of the President, which is not the purpose of a beauty pageant, and also put contestants into the impossible position of having to choose between making a public pronouncement they were not sufficiently informed or qualified to make, passing on their opportunity to succeed in a portion of the competition, or reprimand the judges for unethical conduct, never a good strategy.