What do the theory of relativity, homosexual rights, and East India Pale Ale have in common, asks Bernard Darnton? Bizarrely, it turns out to be bugger all.
She became an instant hit with the born-again family-values crowd who had her all over their talk shows to discuss her down-home traditional views on gay marriage (and stuff). With perfect comic timing, just as her moralistic Christian fêting peaked, the nudie pics were released.
I assume this matters because of some version of the authority fallacy. Commentators across America were scared silly (or wildly excited) that the opinions issuing from Prejean would be persuasive because of her exalted position.
Usually the authority fallacy attaches itself to someone who has achieved great things in some field and who then decides to make utterances in another. No doubt Albert Einstein’s opinions on gay marriage, if such an institution had even been thought of a hundred years ago, would be treated as argumentative gold if they existed.
“Einstein was a clever bugger,” the argument would go, “way cleverer than you. He invented relativity which is just the height of cleverness and so when he says that homosexuals should be allowed to marry he must be right.” Nonsense. Reinventing the law of gravity was a work of genius but it gives him no special authority to comment on our connubial arrangements. His laws of universal attraction aren’t that universal.
If the authority fallacy doesn’t apply in Einstein’s case it certainly doesn’t apply to Miss California. No doubt she’s an expert in shoes and lip gloss and where the double-sided sellotape goes in the swimsuit round but she probably knows as much about moral philosophy as she does about using tensor calculus to describe the curvature of the universe.
All this discussion of logic, ethics, and politics, however, misses the main point of the story – that it got Donald Trump on TV for a few minutes (and a picture in this column). Donald Trump, who neither knows where the double-sided sellotape goes in Annals of Physics nor how to use tensor calculus to describe the curvature of Miss California, is the ultimate authority here because he owns the Miss USA pageant.
Not a million miles from the Trump Tower, but quite a long way nonetheless, is the Mangatainoka Brewery where Kristina Vergis has just been crowned Miss Tui.
Miss Vergis’ biography reveals that she came sixth in the New Zealand Monopoly championships a few years ago. Dominion Breweries is hoping that punters dreaming of landing on the Community Chest will be persuaded to take her advice on what to drink. Here again the authority fallacy is alive and well. She may be a legend at passing Go but she clearly knows nothing whatsoever about beer.
Accept the winners of beauty pageants for what they are – decoration. I don’t expect anything more and happily ignore their opinions on everything. Likewise, the winners of other popularity contests like elections. They may be good at chatting up voters but that doesn’t confer any great expertise in health, education, welfare, or finance. So don’t expect too much from them. And for God’s sake don’t ask them about world peace.
* * Bernard Darnton appears every Wednesday here at NOT PC. There is no room for a picture of him here this week. We are all the richer for that * *