I want to start by saying it is grotesquely wonderful that America’s least deserving national figure has a daughter who is famous, too. Bristol Palin got pregnant during her mother’s run for the vice-presidency. Now she is a spokeswoman for teen abstinence, star of a reality show about herself, and a returning contestant on Dancing With the Stars. In other words, she is utterly irrelevant to a decent person’s life in America. Don’t think for a second that Bristol Palin is important. Yet although she is insignificant herself, she is instructive as an example of her species—like a termite. On Monday, she published this terrifyingly Orwellian argument on her blog which she apparently has. I think you’ll find its central theme gross and immediately recognizable, also like a termite.
Bris-Pay takes exception to being asked at a Television Critics Association panel whether she would dance with a gay partner on the next season of Dancing With the Stars. First, let’s all take a moment to feel sorry for the entertainment reporter whose job it is to come up with questions to ask next season’s cast of ABC’s celebrity dancing show. She once had dreams. Second, Palin feels that such a question reveals the hateful simplicity of the mainstream media:
In their simplistic minds, the fact that I’m a Christian, that I believe in God’s plan for marriage, means that I must hate gays and must hate to even be in their presence. Well, they were right about one thing: there was hate in that media room, but the hate was theirs, not mine.
She goes on to relate an anecdote about her conservative Christian friend who applied for a professorship and was asked whether he would teach gay students. The friend responded that he would treat all students fairly, although he wasn’t sure they would treat him fairly when they found out he was a Christian.
For example, his students might form a national consortium and spend millions of dollars to keep him from marrying. They might constantly talk about how the creator of the universe dislikes his behavior. They might belittle the president and claim that any disagreement with their views stems from the pernicious influence of television. But they wouldn’t hate that professor—they’d just actively work to restrict his rights and convince people he was immoral.
Bristol Palin and her stupid family have done those things. Her claim that she is not a bigot—that, in fact, the people who ask her about the implications of her public stances are the bigots—is disgustingly hypocritical. That shouldn’t surprise anyone. Her first job was to not get an abortion while her mother ran for vice-president, and her second job was as a spokeswoman for teen abstinence. Bristol Palin is a do as I say, not as I do sort of person. Maybe it’s because she’s twenty and on television despite not knowing a goddamn thing. But that doesn’t matter—I am more interested in the way she is a do as she does, not as she says person.
I’ll bet Bristol Palin does not hate gay people. I bet a lot more of the cast of Dancing With the Stars is gay than the official count would have it, and I bet Palin is very nice to them and slightly nervous when they are all together. It’s one thing to believe that gays across America are plotting to undermine marriage; it’s another to believe that your hairdresser, Curt, will burn in hell. Bristol Palin’s insistence that her own bigot activism does not mean she would hate her costars reminds us that hate is a bad basis for policy positions. We all know it. When you get down to motivations, trying to make laws about a whole class of other people because you don’t like them reflects poorly on your character.
Viscerally, Bristol Palin knows that. It’s why, in her quotes and probably in her mind, she is so careful to distinguish between gay people and any gay person who might be in her presence. I guess that’s better than refusing to dance with a gay man on the TV dancing show, but it’s still disgusting. Whether she’s doing it for the money or to please her family, Bristol Palin should consider that she does a lot to keep gay people from getting married. She goes on TV and urges us not to treat gay people as equals, to regard them as immoral the way we do thieves and pedophiles. If she doesn’t hate them, she should think about what she is doing. Even a life as inconsequential as hers has consequences, if only in the green room before the show.