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Sean Hannity, Miss California, & the Dangers of Hero Worship

November 10, 2009

Ms. California

The future of the conservative movement has been a topic of particular interest here at NewsReal: Where should we compromise, and where should we draw the line?  How do we best advance our ideas?  What has the Right done wrong?  Last night, Sean Hannity interviewed former beauty queen Carrie Prejean, and unfortunately demonstrated a lesson many conservatives have yet to learn: be wary of right-wing hero worship.

Prejean, of course, gained fame during the 2009 Miss USA Pageant, when the ever-insufferable Perez Hilton asked for her position on same-sex marriage, and she dared to give the same answer as President Barack Obama.  Of course, the Left figured Prejean actually meant it, so she had to be destroyed in the court of public opinion.  Conservatives rallied to her defense, and rightly so: belief in traditional marriage is a legitimate opinion, not an act of bigotry, and deserves better than demonization—especially when given by someone who never asked to wade into the controversy, but merely answered a question honestly.

However, the Right’s response went well beyond that—though Prejean lost her crown (due to disputed reasons that may or may not include her political views), she became a right-wing heroine, complete with a gig with a major Christian PR firm, a scholarship offer from Liberty University, numerous Fox News appearances, a speaking slot at the Family Research Council’s Values Voters Summit, and a book deal.  With so much invested into Prejean as a representative of traditional values, revelations of topless photos, not-so-Christian emails, and a sexually-explicit video she once made for a boyfriend cannot help but embarrass those who rushed to embrace her.

Last night Hannity asked Prejean about the nude video, which she admitted was a mistake from her youth, but stressed that Christians aren’t perfect:

Prejean: “And I’m 22 years old.  People forget about that.”

Hannity, agreeing: “We go back into my teenage years, and when I was in my early twenties…if anyone looks at those moments when they’re young, you’d never want this to become public.”

I understand that young people make mistakes.  People change.  I don’t think Carrie Prejean should be branded with a scarlet letter and cast out of society, nor do I want conservatives to begin a witch hunt for everyone with a troubled past.  Christianity is a religion of humility and redemption, after all, and if Prejean’s experiences make her an effective spokeswoman for that message, more power to her.  But casual sex is a very real problem in American culture, and using youth as an excuse for bad behavior is exactly the wrong message to send the next generation (indeed, her only advice to young girls in love is, “be careful; nothing is private anymore”—not “respect yourself,” not “sex has consequences,” not abstinence).

Moreover, there’s a very big difference between welcoming somebody into the conservative family and putting that person on a pedestal, and there’s a very good reason we generally don’t lionize our youngest (with a few notable exceptions, such as the incredible Lila Rose).  Hero-worship is dangerous—at best we risk setting expectations no human being can possibly live up to. At worst we invest so much emotional capital in an individual that we are tempted to ignore or excuse his failings or misdeeds—and when the object of our worship is someone we don’t even truly know, the dangers increase exponentially.

I don’t know what really happened behind the scenes of Miss USA 2009, and for all I know, Carrie Prejean’s book contains a heartfelt message that our culture needs.  But while she may deserve the benefit of the doubt as to what’s in her heart, that’s a far cry from entitlement to adoration and accolades as a champion of conservatism.

_____

Hailing from Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, Calvin Freiburger is a political science major at Hillsdale College.  He also blogs at the Hillsdale Forum and his personal website, Calvin Freiburger Online.

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42 Comments
  1. F. Swemson permalink
    November 10, 2009 2:39 pm

    Her frequent appearances on Hannity, almost make it seem as if he’s infatuated with her….

    Could Sean possibly be having impure thoughts ?

    • Brad Lytle permalink
      November 11, 2009 5:52 am

      I’m reminded of Sergeant Friday’s popular admonition: “Just the facts, ma’am.”

      Your supposition and innuendo are unwarranted.

  2. James T permalink
    November 10, 2009 3:55 pm

    The problem I have had from the beginning with lionizing Carrie Prejean as a conservative Christian apologist may be summed up in this, and many other similar photos.
    While I agree with her statement against homosexual marriage, her completely unchristian dress, or lack of dress, discredits her integrity. It’s disappointing to have this video turn up but not totally surprising. The point is no one calling themselves a Christian who dresses so immodestly should have ever been put on this kind of pedestal.

    • November 10, 2009 4:01 pm

      This is a good point. And I’d further add: I’ve known plenty of allegedly socially conservative girls who talk the Christian talk but walk the promiscuous totally non-Christian walk. Just because someone advocates Christianity and sexual sanity make no assumption that they actually practice it.

      • F. Swemson permalink
        November 10, 2009 4:45 pm

        David;

        I think it goes even further than how she comes across as a christian, and say that to me, any woman who parades herself around like a piece of meat like that is degrading herself as a woman and a human being. To me, beauty pageants themselves are a terrible reflection on our entire society, and this floozie is just a shameless opportunist.

        I’m by no means a prude, but that phony pneumatic appearance that we see so often in women like Pamela Anderson, and to a lesser extent with Ms Prejean, really just turns me off.

    • The Inquisitor permalink
      November 11, 2009 5:09 am

      Lighten up folks. What’s wrong with showing off a beautiful body? Looking at that photo makes me want to be a Christian.

      • James T permalink
        November 11, 2009 5:52 am

        If that’s all you know about Christianity, then you don’t know what Christianity is really all about.

  3. David Forsmark permalink
    November 10, 2009 4:15 pm

    “Hypocrisy is the tribute vice pays to virtue.”

    People who lie don’t advocate lying, people who steal don’t want to be stolen from, etc. I love how only perfect people should be allowed to make obvious statements about morality.

    What’s worse, is that liberals now openly admit that they have no standards and therefore should be held to none.

    Though I thought the Prejean 15 minutes should have ended long ago– but not as long as we have Sean Hannity.

    • November 10, 2009 5:58 pm

      Some people who lie advocate lying.

      See: Richard Nixon.

  4. Michael van der Galien permalink
    November 10, 2009 4:27 pm

    I’ve got to admit that I don’t necessarily understand the argument against Prejean because of a video she made, or because she likes to wear sexy clothes. To me, religion is something wholly private. This means that she can have a great bond with God, a great spiritual bond, and care deeply about it, yet participate in pageants, for which she has to walk around in a (very small) bikini. You also have to wonder whether her being a ‘sinner,’ as religious Christians would word it, disqualifies her from giving her opinion on spiritual matters – and it’s clear she sees marriage as a spiritual rather than merely a material contract. What’s more, I don’t get the impression she wants to ‘outlaw’ everything she considers sinful, but that she believes certain things are divinely ordained, and worth ‘conserving.’ In this case, this means that she doesn’t want to outlaw relationships between homosexuals, but simply that they cannot get married, because she considers marriage as a divinely ordained spiritual and material contract between a man and a woman. Or something. Lastly, if she made the video in the last year or so, you could argue that she was being a hypocrite or perhaps even ‘fake.’ But that’s not the case. This happened five years ago. She had plenty of time to change her behavior in the meantime – behavior that’s more in line with what some regard as ‘Christian behavior.’

    • David Forsmark permalink
      November 10, 2009 6:13 pm

      Well said. I’m glad she took her stand. But I don’t really see anything new or particularly brilliant about her. She’s playing her moment for all it was worth and getting a little martyr mileage, and I’m bored already.

      She is in many ways, the quintessential Hannity guest.

      But in her favor, she did not talk about U.S Americans.

      • F. Swemson permalink
        November 10, 2009 6:17 pm

        ROFLMAO BT !

        🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

    • Adheeb permalink
      November 11, 2009 4:39 am

      Your statement, “I’ve got to admit that I don’t necessarily understand …” is well taken.

  5. Bondagebreaker permalink
    November 10, 2009 4:36 pm

    How a person dresses is not the issue of Christianity for gosh sakes . Its a matter of personal choice . Nor dose it effect our service for God. Its the legalistic s that ruin Christianity and there parasitic rules and drive people away from coming to and knowing the real God Jehovah , They want to place ignorant taboos such as how a person dresses on the shoulders of people that Jesus Christ freed them from . How sad mant Christians want to carry on the pharrises Burdens . God looks at the heart and not the person . Get a grip .

    • James T permalink
      November 10, 2009 5:47 pm

      Bondagebreaker,
      Was the Apostle Paul a legalist when he wrote, “In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety, 1Ti 2:9”? How one dresses does reflect on one’s profession of Christianity.
      Based on Prejean’s confession of faith in Christ, I am satisfied that she is a sinner saved by grace. But her manner of dresses disgraces the Christian religion. It is hypocritical to claim the name of Christ and then dress in a manner that ill reflects on the religion you profess. This is not a matter of legalism as you suggest. Legalism sets a standard of the law one must meet in order to have eternal salvation. That is not the issue here. The issue is, Did Prejean’s conduct on the night of the pageant correctly reflect the Biblical standard for modest dress? Because the answer is no, even though her answer to the question was right, and honest, and courageous, she should not have been set up as the standard bearer for conservative Christianity.

  6. Lamar permalink
    November 10, 2009 4:49 pm

    Carrie is still a hero to Christians! She has stood up for tradetional marriage when most people have backed down because they question whether marriage is a “right” It ISNT!! Carrie has more morals in her little finger (sex tape included) than all of the sick HOMOS in this country trying to endorecate our children!

  7. themadjewess permalink
    November 10, 2009 4:50 pm

    America, the “Christian Army” and the only army in the world that wounds its own.. She is 22 years old,* was* brainwashed by Marxist schooling.

    She stood her ground, and they sought to bury this Christian young lady…THAT is the issue.

    At least she has come out of the indoctrination, but as for now, she is probably having a mental breakdown of either relief, or total depression that she is now thought of as “Miss slut America”
    This is sad.

  8. Revnant Dream permalink
    November 10, 2009 5:15 pm

    David Swindle

    Is correct. No matter what Denomination, perhaps a third of those who claim Christ really know what Christianity is, or follow the faith in humility. Just ask any Priest or Minister. Most folks do not go to Church for their Faith. Its tradition, business, good works, social community. For those who can’t get status any other way.
    Hey! You can always be an Usher?
    Christians are just refugees of sin in a fallen World, with a surety of Messiah’s salvation through His sacrifice on the cross period.
    Kathy is absolutely right. Never make an Idol of any Human. They will always let you down. I do it regularly to God.
    Men are a thin reed to rely on. We as Human beings seem to always bend in the direction of least resistance.
    Its the character of the individual with the pattern of their life that one should observe. Words are cheap. As I say if you can’t trust yourself in certain situations why trust a
    stranger? Be discerning.

    People are people, no matter the label . With all the warts & heroics.

    • Steve R permalink
      November 11, 2009 7:35 pm

      All you need to know about that is that Simon Peter — the Rock upon which Christ promised to build His church — denied Jesus three times on the night He was crucified. Matthew was a money changer. Thomas had doubts. And so on, and so on. Point is — we’re all works in progress, we all let God down. Christians aren’t perfect, just forgiven.

  9. Mark J. Koenig permalink
    November 10, 2009 5:29 pm

    I consider myself a Christian and am not about to condemn Prejean for anything we’ve learned about her. She seems to be a decent, if somewhat self-absorbed and publicity-hungry person. Having said this, Freiburger’s point is well-taken. Why anyone would put a beauty queen on a pedestal as some sort of conservative standard-bearer is beyond me. While I find Perez Hilton to be an insufferable bitter queen, I also think Prejean gave a very bad response to the question he posed. She played the game poorly and she lost, period. Whether one agrees with her opinion on gay marriage or not, her response was downright bone-headed. What could possibly be more obvious than that responses to questions at beauty pageants MUST be as bland and neutral as possible if one expects to win? These pageants aren’t about intellectual honesty or taking a political stand. Hello? They are primarily (nearly entirely) about T&A. That’s the reality, and that is unfortunately also the primary reason Sean Hannity continues to obsess over this bimbo LONG past what should have been her time in the spotlight. I agree it’s become very tiresome. Enough of her already. Who really CARES what she has to say? Why should anyone care?

    • November 11, 2009 6:56 am

      Perfect.

  10. November 11, 2009 7:19 am

    Lots of interesting points here. Again, I don’t think her past makes her a terrible person (if the truth behind the he-said/she-said of her *current* disputes with the pageant could be ascertained, that might change things, but who wants to wade into that?). And again, maybe her past experiences can make her an especially compelling role model for young girls. But in her “besides, I’m only 22” line and the bit about privacy rather than the moral/psychological ramifications of promiscuity are definite red flags as to where her heart really is, as well as her potential effectiveness in that role.

    And whatever we ultimately make of her topless posing or nude video, it’s ridiculous for conservatives to lionize somebody before we even *try* to know them well enough to determine the possibility of this sort of thing coming out.

  11. Jack Hampton permalink
    November 11, 2009 7:26 am

    Mr.Freiburger
    I never considered her a hero and I am baffled why anyone would she was a beauty queen. Some people seem to think that a Christian never sins. We all sin daily and fall short of the glory of God. Her film made to impress a boy while she was an underage teen can be forgiven by God but I do not know if he will be so forgiving of those that try to destroy this young woman. Christians fail just as everyone else do we are sinners and seek redemption for the left or anyone else to hold us to an impossible standard of never failing or doing wrong is an old trap as old as evil it’s self. There may be a career for this young woman and there might be a good purpose that God has for her but at least when asked a question about marriage she had the guts to speak her convictions despite what she had to know would be a merciless backlash from homosexuals and there supporters.

    • November 11, 2009 7:48 am

      Agreed. She didn’t try to pick a fight with anyone or inject politics or religion into the pageant, but answered honestly when asked. She doesn’t deserve the hate campaign Hilton, Axelrod & Co. have engaged in.

  12. SanePerson permalink
    November 11, 2009 8:57 am

    Since she has publically described her ‘ordeal’ ad nauseum, I don’t know what her book is about. Perhaps she’s reminiscing about elementary school.

  13. Anneke permalink
    November 11, 2009 9:55 am

    What bothers me most about the Carrie Prejean case is just how quickly conservatives and Christian groups jumped on the Pro-Prejean bandwagon without vetting her. They didn’t bother to check into her background or find out what steps she took to advance her career in the dog-eat-dog world of beauty pageants. They took one look at her and saw an effective propaganda tool: a pretty, young girl victimized and martyred on the altar of Evil (Left, MSM, culture, et al). To all of them I say: Fool rush in…

    • David Forsmark permalink
      November 11, 2009 12:31 pm

      There was no problem with praising her for her moment of courage. But I’ve heard nothing from here that didn’t relate to that moment, and the heat afterwards. The attempt to destroy her is instructive, but a whole book? Can we say “taking advantage?” Life is too short.

  14. Michaelle Maloney permalink
    November 11, 2009 10:41 am

    Christians arn’t suppose to walk around looking like the lady of the night but are suppose to dress in a modest way. They are suppose to be a light on a hill to the world and a person in a high profile or low profile position really needs to act upon this. Your faith is suppose to affect all areas of your life.

    Agree James T.

  15. themadjewess permalink
    November 11, 2009 11:30 am

    Mark “I consider myself a Christian and am not about to condemn Prejean for anything we’ve learned about her. She seems to be a decent”

    Mark: she IS a decent young lady. She was probably brainwashed into believing that sex is healthy, normal, etc.. things they shouldn’t be teaching in H.S., but before a woman is getting married (but I am very old-fashioned, so thats me)

    She then became a Christian- that is the redeeming value.

    I remember an old quote;
    “When we do right, no one remembers…When we do wrong, no one forgets”
    I like Ms. Prejean. I wrote a post about her, because I believe that the judge, that abominable creature; Perez Hilton was biased, because she believes that gay marriage is wrong.

    What he did to her, is silence her from freedom of speech, and religious expression. Yet, that punk does what he does, and nobody says a word.

    G-d Bless Carrie Prejean. I wont think of her as anything but a decent individual with conviction.

  16. Tom permalink
    November 11, 2009 12:29 pm

    By their fruit ye shall know them. So from the above let us start a nudists for Christ. OR. Child Preds for Christ. OR Rapists for Christ. OR Athiests for Christ. It is all blasphemy. It will keep you separated from Christ. You can only serve one master. That is mammon or Christ. Make your choice.

    • themadjewess permalink
      November 11, 2009 1:06 pm

      Tom: She became a Christian * AFTER * this sex episode.

      She is now 22 years old. Her ‘fruit’ is that she stood up and called evil what it is; EVIL. Homosexual marriage is an abomination against G-d. Leviticus 18:22; Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination.

      I dont believe in sex before marriage, thats me, but does not the Christian bible teach Christians to forgive? If you cannot forgive this young woman, how can G-d forgive you?

      “When we do right, no one remembers, when we do wrong, no one forgets”

      Tom, you are befitting of that mold. Sad. Christians are being denied their rights all over America, and even Christians can’t stand with each-other. This is so depressing to me.

  17. John Davidson permalink
    November 11, 2009 1:07 pm

    Got a lot of comments which should make someone happy, I’ve other things to worry about than reading another book. I’ve sick of seeing them waved about on every commentary show I watch.

  18. November 11, 2009 2:09 pm

    She wears skimpy clothing and doesn’t like gay marriage. Neither of those things are on us to pass judgment on her for. She certainly didn’t deserve the character assassination that she’s gotten from the Left.

    And if this video is the worst mistake she’s ever made, she’s lived a pretty damn good life.

    http://www.donthetrucker.com

  19. John Wangsgaard permalink
    November 11, 2009 3:35 pm

    I am not very comfortable with judging her with her past actions, in that we all have made many mistakes in our youth. I believe that she was attacked viciously for her conservative viewpoints, just as Sarah Palin was. No mention of Joe Biden, who has made plenty of major gaffs. I really object to double standards which the media consistently applies in its treatment of others and I will always rise to defend anyone who undergoes such a dastardly treatment.

  20. Tom permalink
    November 11, 2009 4:05 pm

    TheMadJewess,
    You do not know my heart. Your comment concerning who I am or what i believe does not warrant any further response. Anybody that breast implants is vain. Solomon said in the Bible “Vanity of vanities, saith the preacher; all is vanity”. (Eccl 12:8) It is not a good Christian winess to parade more naked than covered. Would any of the righteous women in the Bible do the things she has done considering she was brought up in a Christian atmosphere and knew right from wrong. I am certainly not questioning her salvation. That is between her and God. I am only raising questions about putting her on the pedestal that she has been placed on.

    • themadjewess permalink
      November 11, 2009 7:18 pm

      ‘Would any of the righteous women in the Bible do the things she has done considering she was brought up in a Christian atmosphere and knew right from wrong’
      ——-

      Was not Mary Magdalene forgiven in the New Testament, Tom?? Was not the Prodigal son forgiven?
      ——–
      ‘By their fruit ye shall know them. So from the above let us start a nudists for Christ. OR. Child Preds for Christ. OR Rapists for Christ. OR Athiests for Christ. It is all blasphemy. It will keep you separated from Christ. You can only serve one master. That is mammon or Christ. Make your choice.’

      ——-
      Tom, nothing ^ here ^ mentioned a ‘pedastal’

      No, I dont know your heart, but your words justify my position on your condemnation of this young woman. Is this what the New Testament preaches to the world? I thought it said that He didnt come to condemn?

  21. Wayne permalink
    November 11, 2009 4:38 pm

    Time for FoxNews to call in Tanya Reiman, O’Reilly’s body language expert and she’ll separate the wheat from the chaff in Hannity’s interview with Prejean. They’ll both be working for MSNBC …

  22. Katie permalink
    November 20, 2009 11:12 am

    I am a student at Liberty University and I have to say that she’s right Christians aren’t perfect. That being said, I do hope that my University took back her scholarship in light of recent news about Prejean. I’m not impressed with her, she isn’t be attacked because of her views on gay marriage but she is being asked to answer some very difficult questions about her behavior. She doesn’t seem willing to step up and answer those.

    • themadjewess permalink
      November 20, 2009 12:33 pm

      Kate; it would be very interesting to see you in an old tape, having it smeared all over the MSM… I wonder, dear girl, how YOU would handle it..

      You are too young to GET that she absolutely is being attacked from the getgo re; her stand on homo-marriage.

      • November 20, 2009 8:23 pm

        Carrie’s absolutely been targeted because she took a stand the Left didn’t like. But the enemy of my enemy isn’t always my friend – as unfortunately demonstrated by the latest revelations that Carrie hasn’t been honest with her conservative benefactors about the full extent of her wild side:

        http://www.nydailynews.com/gossip/2009/11/13/2009-11-13_former_miss_california_carrie_prejean_made_7_other_sex_tapes_dozens_of_nude_pics.html

        And I’m sure a Liberty U student is far more in touch with the way the world works than the average college kid.

        • themadjewess permalink
          November 20, 2009 8:54 pm

          Possibly, Calvin, but the young lady above has not been though what this young lady who was a victim of universities that preach our young daughters to DO ‘wild things’ because it is correeeccctttt…
          So, really? Who’s fault is it? I blame the people who were supposed to be leaders, and failed.

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