Last night, Miss California, the 21-year old Alyssa Campanella of Los Angeles, won the crown of Miss USA and the right to represent the U.S. in the Miss Universe contest later this year. Why is this the kind of news the Los Angeles Atheism Examiner would notice? Because of how she answered a question about evolution during the preliminary rounds.
Asked if evolution should be taught in public schools, Miss Campanella replied, “I was taught evolution in high school. I do believe in it. I’m a huge science geek…I like to believe in the big bang theory and, you know, the evolution of humans throughout time.”
I’m almost sorry I didn’t watch the Miss America Contest on TV last night. I rarely do, but it’s not because I don’t like looking at beautiful women in swimsuits. I just don’t care for all the sappy musical interludes, the invariable glare from the artificially-whitened teeth in the host’s mouth and the airheadedly banal answers so many contestants give to many of the questions.
And there were a lot of the latter.
Out of 51 Miss USA contestants, only two unequivocally supported the teaching of evolution (the other being Miss Massachusetts, Alida D’Angona). Three contestants, Miss Kentucky, Miss Alaska and Miss Alabama, denied the theory altogether.
USA Today’s Cathy Lynn Grossman, who, unlike me, is paid enough not to mind sitting through all 51 contestant interviews, described it like this:
But the evolution answers would make Answers in Genesis — the folks behind the Creation Museum and the upcoming Noah’s Ark theme park — proud.
One after another of the contestants, like Miss Maryland, confused the evolution of species with the origin of life (not the same) or said a variation of Miss Michigan’s line that it’s “silly” and “ignorant” not to know “both sides” including, evidently, religious views in public schools.
Three were flat out opposed: Miss Kentucky, home state of the Creation Museum; Miss Alaska who assures us “each of us was individually created by God for a purpose”; and Miss Alabama who doesn’t believe in evolution.
Only Miss Massachusetts and Campanella stood up for Darwin.
Good grief! Before I read that, I was thinking of saying something positive about the American education system because of Miss Campanella.
Just to dig the knife in a little deeper over the flaws of our schools, here’s the answer 1st runner-up, Miss Tennessee Ashley Durham gave when asked if burning religious books is protected by the same First Amendment free speech rules that cover burning an American flag:
“I know that some people view it as a freedom of speech, however, burning the American flag is not patriotic at all. No American citizen should do that, and you should also respect other religions. I’m a Christian and a faithful person. I would personally not appreciate someone burning the Bible, and that’s just a line you do not cross.” (ibid)
As USA Today’s Cathy Lynn Grossman points out, it’s an answer that makes the US Constitution appear conditional.
So there you have it folks; an epic fail in high school civics to go along with 49 epic fails in high school biology. I don’t think I’ll watch the Miss USA contest next year either. Now that I’m in my 50s, the hormonal rush I experience from looking at beautiful young women no longer compensates me for the disappointment I feel when most of them open their mouths.
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