During the press conference yesterday where Donald Trump announced that Carrie Prejean would not lose her title as Miss California, the new heroine of social conservatives everywhere had this to say:
“I exercised my freedom of speech and I was punished for doing so,” an emotional Prejean said at a news conference. “This should not happen in America. It undermines the constitutional rights for which my grandfather fought for (in World War Two).
As Chris Moody notes, however, Prejean completely misunderstands, or deliberately mis-states, the nature of the rights that her grandfather fought for:
Sorry, Carrie, no constitutional rights were undermined here. To be sure, the government was not involved in any way. You were not censored by a state or by the strong arm of any coercive power. You were ridiculed and attacked by a free people who, yes, were brutal to your character, your religion and your family. But again, no rights were violated.
You agreed to a contract, you were honest, and your views were criticized. You took a national stand on religious principles, and someone legally pointed out that you’re not perfect by bringing up your past. They called you a hypocrite, even though you’re just human. They tried to discredit you, and showed the world a few pictures you might not have wanted anyone to see.
But if your constitutional rights really were undermined, you never would have been able to take those pictures in the first place. Your career as a model would be a crime against the state; your participation in a beauty pageant would have been outlawed; and you would have been thrown in prison for your ideas about gay marriage.
But none of that happened. So please don’t make this about a problem of rights infringement. You fought a voluntary battle for your beliefs and this is the outcome.
Here’s what the First Amendment actually says:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
See ? There’s nothing in there that says that Prejean, or anyone else, can speak out on an issue of public concern but that people who disagree with her can’t criticize her, or use evidence from her past to point out what some might consider a hypocritical appeal to her supposed Christianity.
Carrie Prejean has the right to speak out without fear of punishment from the state, that’s exactly what happened, and that’s the only right she was entitled to.
So, let’s stop talking about this now, okay ?