Darrell Huckaby - 04/22/09

I have said many times, "Don't ask me a question unless you want to know the answer." I have never outgrown saying what's on my mind - nor do I intend to.

Don't you just hate it when folks ask you what you think about an issue and then, when you tell them, start right in and tell you why your opinion is wrong? If you already knew the answer, why did you ask me?

Take my lovely wife, Lisa for instance. Even after 27 years of marriage she is prone to asking my opinions of things over which she doesn't intend to give me any control.

"What would you like for dinner; fish or chicken?"

"I'd like chicken."

"I think we'll have pork chops."

Raise your hand if you've been there.

"Which dress do you like; the blue one or the red one?"

"They both look nice to me."

"Pick one."

"OK. The blue one."

"It isn't dressy enough. I'm wearing the red one."

"Thanks for asking."

These are rather simple innocuous issues, of course. Other people ask more complex issues, which lend themselves to a great deal more controversy. "What do you think of the new preacher?"

"He's long-winded and boring."

"No he's not! He's wonderful!"

"I'm glad I wasn't trying to give your opinion. You asked for mine."

And so on and so forth. The point is, a lot of people avoid giving an answer that might displease the inquiring party. That has never been me. Apparently, it has never been Miss California USA, either. Let me set the stage for you in case you haven't been paying attention.

Monday night the Miss USA pageant was held in Las Vegas, Nev. The Miss USA pageant is different from the Miss America pageant, of course. The Miss USA pageant is the one that has never pretended to be about anything but looks. They award cash prizes, not scholarships. They do not have a talent competition. They encourage their contestants to show lots and lots of skin. They have never considered doing away with the swimsuit competition and, in fact, have all their state representatives wear skimpy bikinis and always have - and they don't pretend that the swimsuit competition is a measure of "physical fitness."

Not coincidentally, they are also the pageant that has survived into the 21st century with a network television contract in hand, unlike the Miss America Scholarship Pageant, which is fighting for its very life on the cable networks.

One thing the Miss USA competition does have, however, is the obligatory "random question" that is supposed to show that the would-be beauty queen is in favor of world peace and has an IQ that surpasses her combined measurements. (36-24-36 adds up to 96, by the way.)

Which brings us to the biggest beauty contest brouhaha since Vanessa Williams posed nude for Playboy. (I've seen London, I've seen France; I've seen Miss America without her underpants.) Well, I haven't - but you get the gist.

When Sunday night's Miss USA competition reached the final round, Miss California, Carrie Prejean, was out front in the points and the clear-cut favorite to sashay away with the title. All she had left to do was smile, avoid a wardrobe malfunction and keep from sounding stupid when she answered the final question.

I was watching the pageant at this point, for purely prurient reasons, understand, and feel very strongly that she accomplished all three of those tasks. The judges disagreed - or at least one judge did.

Perez Hilton, whose claim to fame is blogging and making outrageous claims about Hollywood celebrities on the Internet and on a nondescript cable television show, asked Miss Prejean if she thought all states should follow the lead of Vermont and legalize same-sex marriage.

Miss Prejean began giving a politically correct response, extolling the fact that Americans are able to choose the lifestyle they live. Then she answered the question. She said what she thought. And the question was, after all, began with "do you think ... "

Miss Prejean said that she - and her family - believe that a marriage should be between a man and a woman - which is the same thing that God thought, by the way, if you believe what the Bible has to say on the subject.

She didn't stutter or stumble or hem or haw. She answered the question eloquently and efficiently and left no doubt about her beliefs - her beliefs - which was the object of the question.

And it cost her the crown, the title and lots and lots of prize money. Hilton admitted that he didn't vote for her after that answer because he didn't think she represented "all" Americans. Officials of the Miss California USA contest threw their candidate under the bus, too. They refused to speak to her and lambasted her over the Internet and in interviews.

With friends like those, who needs enemies?

So much for freedom of speech. Miss California obviously wasn't judged on poise and communication skills - the purported purpose of the final question - but on her opinions and beliefs. Shame on the judges for asking her opinion and then judging her for it.

And for the record, I don't care who does what to whom - but my beliefs about that subject are the same as Carrie Prejean, so I guess I will never be Miss USA either.

Darrell Huckaby