I wanted to say something about that video I'm sure you've all seen where Miss South Carolina Teen USA has her train of thought derail during last Friday's pageant. I just think it's so unfair the way people have been jumping on the bandwagon to publicly mock this poor young woman. So I was going to say something but then Peter David said it better than I could have hoped to. Peter David is a very talented writer of comic books and bestselling novels like "Sir Apropos of Nothing" and "Knight Life". He has a spiffy blog too at http://www.peterdavid.net/ Check it out.
Miss South Carolina Teen
By Peter David
Pundits are having a field day dogpiling on poor Caitlin Upton, Miss South Carolina Teen. Asked in competition, "One fifth of Americans can't locate the United States on a world map; why do you think that is?" her response was rambling and literally incoherent, with non-sequitor observations about Iraq and South Africa. She has since said she froze. Genuine freezing might have been preferable; saying nothing would have been better than what she did say.
I refuse to make fun of her. Personally--and I'm completely serious here--I'm wondering if she didn't have a sort of mini-stroke brought on by the stress of the moment. It makes sense to me. People who have had strokes sometimes find themselves unable to say the words they're thinking; instead random words are tossed out. Circumstances such as those that she found herself in would be enough to burst a blood vessel in anyone's head. They probably did dry runs with her about assorted world topics and her synapses just started spitting out fragments of those replies.
Second, I don't think that a country that has tolerated seven years of a president so characterized by malaprops that entire 365-day calendars are devoted to them--a president whose town-hall meeting questions are carefully vetted before they're spoken--gets to laugh too hard at a scared teenager who had a tough question sprung on her. Caitlin Upton has to do her own damage control; she doesn't have a press secretary to face reporters the next day after a session of babbling incoherence and say, "Okay, what she MEANT to say was..."
And it WAS a tough question, because in thirty seconds she had to try and come up with an answer that was fundamentally upbeat and positive because, hey, that's what beauty pagents are all about. If someone asked me that question and I had to come up with an off-the-cuff response, it would be this...
"One fifth? I'm surprised it's that low. On the quiz show "Power of Ten" it was recently revealed that twenty-five percent of surveyed Americans believed that the inventor of the diesel engine was Vin Diesel. The fact is that obesity is not the number one health problem in this country, it's stupidity. A lot of Americans are stupid. Bone dry stupid. Stupid as a box of rocks. They were born stupid, they were stupid in school, and they became stupid grown-ups. And there's enough of them out there to have a considerable impact on this country, because morons are running for high office and morons are voting for them and putting them in there. Americans are oblivious to the rest of the world, and if that were not the case, then maybe our leaders might have listened when the rest of the world said, 'Stay the hell out of Iraq, you morons.' Many Americans have a fundamental arrogance that stems from a basic lack of intellectual curiosity. They don't read. They don't learn. They don't think. They tune out with television or computer games or Ipods and obsess about what Lindsay or Britney or whatever other troubled pop tart is up to rather than caring about things that really matter.
Our educational system needs to be overhauled beyond the test-centric mandates of No Child Left Behind. If you give a man a fish, you feed him for a day; teach him how to fish and he will feed himself for ever. Students need to be taught HOW to think, not WHAT to think. More money needs to be spent on programs for kids who are already gifted so that those gifts can be fully realized and brought to fruition. We need to remember that the arts enrich a civilization; that science and scientific thinking is not the enemy; that it is more important to care for poor people over here than blow up poor people in other countries.
The fact that one fifth of Americans can't find the country on the map pales beside the likelihood that one fifth of Americans probably couldn't find their own asses with both hands and a flashlight. And that stupidity is going to continue to be a hallmark of our country until we work together to remedy the situation from the top down."
Not an easy thing to sound upbeat about in thirty seconds, is it.
My condolences to Ms. Upton. Now...she needs to strive to be part of the solution, rather than be dismissed as part of the problem.