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Jason Notte

Jason Notte

Posted: May 14, 2009 06:42 PM

How to Live Vicariously Through Britain's Blacklist


After watching California's Carrie Prejean get all choked up after Donald Trump said that she and the bags of silicone she shares skin with will get to keep her state's Miss USA honors, it's difficult not to envy the British.

It's not that seeing a second-tier beauty queen's career torpedoed by Perez Hilton, her stance on "opposite marriage," her dealbreaking work for the National Organization for Marriage and her penchant for putting her prized investments on display hasn't been incredibly entertaining. Nor was Trump's acquittal of her much of a surprise just days after a Celebrity Apprentice series finale that featured the dessicated corpse of Joan Rivers claiming victory over a gambling addict (yes, Annie Duke, that does insult every poker player in Vegas -- you're about as much of an athlete or a celebrity as a bookie is a certified public accountant). However, it must be somewhat comforting to live in a nation where homophobes and other bigots are placed on a blacklist and banned from that nation's shores.

Does Carrie Prejean rank up there with Westboro Baptist pastor and "God Hates Fags" sloganeer Fred Phelps and his family of funeral protesters? Does she represent the immediate danger of skinheads, KKK members, Hamas lawmakers or Jewish extremists? Perhaps not, but these days, she's commanding the same demographic as Michael Alan Weiner (the somewhat more nebbishy name of radio firebrand Michael Savage, who's threatening to sue his way back to the U.K.) and displaying roughly the same intellect and threshold for tolerance.

One could argue that the Brits were kicked out of this country (twice) so that people here would be able to express any belief they chose and that their opposition's freedom of speech was far more effective than any ban could ever be. After all, Phelps and Savage have been marginalized to a nearly laughable presence by public reaction to their views. Yet, if the U.S. had the chance to live vicariously through the Brits' draconian rules of behavior, perhaps there would be some room on the blacklist for these folks:

1. Carrie Prejean: It's not even her original statement that's so troubling: It did cost her the crown and teach her that free speech's true cost comes in defending it amid the consequences that follow. It's hypocrisy with which she approaches her career that's galling. You're willing to fake your breasts, but completely unwilling to fake the answer that will win you the title? Are you kidding? In 2007, Miss Teen South Carolina had no idea why kids couldn't locate the U.S. on a map, but that didn't stop her from making up complete nonsense on the spot to keep her hopes alive. How do you not know your judges or know pageants well enough to diplomatically sidestep questions they're going to roast you for? Then, because you lost the brakes and just decided not to steer anymore, you go sulking off to an anti-gay-marriage group and basically hand the one title you have left to a runner-up who seems to be her polar opposite. Good luck facing Tara Conner in Trump's 2009 Miss Nobody Gives A Damn pageant, Carrie. Just don't ask Shanna Moakler to officiate.


2. Jay Severin:
When the guy who got suspended for calling a women's basketball team "nappy-headed hos" thinks you're a hack, you're already in big trouble. As with Prejean's offense, the Boston radio blatherer's labeling of Mexican immigrants as "primitives" and "criminaliens" and his subsequent suspension aren't the most egregious items on his resume -- which is already flush with falsehoods about winning a Pulitzer Prize and obtaining a master's degree in journalism from Boston University. No, much like Michael "Savage," the only victim of Severin's worst offense is himself. For a man who seemed to have no problems befriending Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin, he was never comfortable enough in his Republican skin to use his real, more ethnically specific name -- Jimmy Severino. For someone so willing to dish out the prejudice to today's immigrant class, Mr. Severino has gone to great lengths to avoid similar prejudices himself. You may have sold your soul, but you could at least buy your vowel back, Jimmy.

3. William Donohue: The Catholic League leader who's never met a communion wafer he didn't eat has been especially jowly and ruddy lately. First, he went after Angels & Demons director and noted blasphemer Ron Howard for making a film in which the Vatican hunts down the Illuminati, based on a book that can be found on the fiction shelves of your local library. Donohue accuses Howard of being anti-Catholic, but it's not like the director is part of some shadow branch of the Vatican whose leader committed acts detrimental to the church that even the Pope apparently had no influence over. That's simply too far fetched. Meanwhile, Donohue and several other hoarse-voiced members of Mother Church have staged apoplectic protestsof Notre Dame, as that university prepares to give President Obama an honorary law degree and let him take the lectern for that university's commencement speech. Never mind that protests of pro-choice Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan's commencement speech in 1992 were equally futile, Obama carried the Catholic vote in November or that American Catholics are skewing more mainstream and moderate on abortion and stem-cell research than their oppressed, zealot mouthpiece. Donohue would be getting off light if the Brits only banned him, considering England formed its own church (now with gay bishops at U.S. locations) and put Thomas More's head on a pike the last time Catholics abroad got mouthy with the crown.

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4. Dick Cheney, John Yoo, Jay Bybee:
Speaking of enhanced interrogation techniques, England can ill afford to lose the Tower of London as a tourist destination. If these three ever showed up on the U.K.'s shores though, the Scavenger's Daughter and The Rack would have a longer waiting list that the Manchester United ticket office. That Bybee is still a judge, Yoo has a columnist gig with the only entity in worse shape than the people in the torture memos he authored and Cheney is still making enough noise to encourage this site to dedicate bandwith to him is unfortunate. That their techniques don't work and weren't used effectively or safely to begin with may be the first step toward forcing this trio to seek the more comfortable environs. Considering the Brits have torture issues of their own, perhaps this isn't the best time to allow a trio of potential war criminals to tour Picadilly Circus.