Beauty is their Bidness.

In my salad days, I played a bunch of beauty paegants. As a pit orchestra drummer, you get a unique perspective on pageants, much like you do when you get to see a magician’s act from behind the curtain. As an arranger/composer/orchestrator, my father got a good bit of pageant work, too. He did arrangements for some high-profile contestants, the biggest of which was Miss Louisiana, Anita Whittaker, who placed in the top five of the Miss America pageant. So when I talk about pageants, I’m not simply doing the armchair quarterback thing – I’ve been there and done that.

Beauty pageants, for me, anyway, are a lot like parades, circuses, and chautauquas – relics of a bygone era. Between TV and the Internet, I think it’s hard for pageants to compete. When I was a kid, if you wanted to see a bunch of pretty girls in swimsuits, you could go to the beach/pool, or wait for a televised pageant. Of course, today, you can frequent hundreds of websites or channel surf your cable or satellite TV. Still, they have a certain goofy charm, not the least of which is the Q&A session with the contestants.

The latest controversy du jour is between Miss California USA and “celebrity” judge/blogger Perez Hilton. Apparently, Hilton’s claim to fame comes from “outing” gay celebs and public figures without their consent. He strikes me as an angry gay man, who’s purpose in life is to spew vitriol, via his bitchy gossip. And they made this clown a pageant judge. Nice.

Miss California USA’s “crime” was to answer honestly, when Hilton asked her how she feels about gay marriage. She had the audacity to state that she was proud to live in a country where people could choose how they believe, but as for her own personal feelings, she was raised to support the sanctity of marriage between a man and a woman.

Hilton when postal. In two separate, televised interviews, Hilton called her some names George Carlin would insist you can’t say on television. One name he called her rhymes with “witch” and the other with “hunt.” Classy.

Now for my money, you can agree or disagree with anything anybody says (for the record, I agree with Miss California on the gay marriage thing), but it was my impression all this “Freedom of Speech” thing was about living in a country where you can choose to think – and say – anything you like.

Hilton apparently blackballed the toothsome Miss California and she lost the contest. Even worse, a number of the other judges went along with him. And yet more shocking, the two leaders of the California pageant (who are supposed to support Miss California) loudly proclaimed that she does NOT represent the feelings of the people of California and implied that she’d be stripped of her crown upon her return to La La Land.

Just a couple of problems with that. Put aside for a moment the fact that the people of California voted on gay marriage, and a majority of Californians voted to BAN GAY MARIAGE. The simple fact of the matter is that Miss California is supposed to enjoy the same Bill of Rights protections that the rest of us do.

Politically Correct speech has run amok. And it’s killing our country. Miss California seems like a nice, earnest, Christian girl, who has the courage of her convictions. Sounds like just the kind of person I’d like to see represent our country as Miss USA. Thanks to the modern-day Cotton Mathers like Perez Hilton, we won’t get the chance. Political correctness has a chilling effect on free speech. (Just ask the scientists who dare question the dogma of global warming.) And until we get back to supporting – instead of trashing – our Constitution, we’re in for a continual errosion of our fundamental rights.

In the greater scheme of things, I could care less who wears the Miss USA crown. I don’t watch pageants. (Once you’ve experienced a parade of girls calling up your Dad and saying “I need a talent,” you get a wee bit cynical on the whole pageant experience.) But I’m a big fan of the Bill of Rights, and I detest the idea that some talentless hack like Perez Hilton can force his twisted beliefs on the majority, and find a mainstream media complict in this travesty.

Perhaps they should simply move the pageant to a new, permanent home im Salem, Massachussetts, rename it the “Salem Bitch Trials & Pageant” and be done with it.

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