A part of me feels sorry for Brooke Mosteller, the much-maligned Miss America contestant who uttered the disastrous beauty pageant bon mot — “From the state where 20 percent of our homes are mobile, because that’s how we roll.” The South Carolina beauty queen is a young girl with a promising future, who in one split second, made a mistake that will stick with her for the rest of her life. I know where she’s coming from. I have children, and my life has been one long series of indignities ever since they were born.

I’ve been pissed on, puked on, and shat on. I’ve been kicked, clawed, and nearly castrated. Over the course of four years of sleep-deprived nights, soul-shattering temper tantrums, and inconsolable tear-fests, I’m less a father and more of a brain-dead member of the living dead shuffling from one task to the next. I wouldn’t wish this fresh hell on even my most dreaded enemy — not even Steve Perry for crafting the worst song ever made and for giving Gleetards the ability to karaokill anyone within a 10-table radius with off-key renditions of “Don’t Stop Believing.” Because of this song, I now know there is no God. 

Regardless of my thoughts on the Almighty, the Singing Schnoz, and Ryan Murphy’s pop music necrophilia, I love my daughters enough to know that if Phish’s Mike Gordon ever approached my wife and I and asked if he could take “art photos” of my children, I would not only kindly say “no,” I would send him on farewell tour from which he would never return, and if that meant sending the rest of his bandmates and a few hundred fans along with him, so be it.

But when it comes to Miss Mosteller, no matter how much my heart goes out to her, I must also remember that she is a proselytizer of antiquated conformity, a shallow sense of self-worth, and a meritocracy where the mediocre can rise to the top if they can only hold a smile like a string of defenders hold their sweaty crotches during a fútbol free kick.

As a beauty queen, she is the epitome of all that is hollow and false in our society. Every dress she wears, every hairstyle she chooses, every pose she makes is scripted and scrutinized by her handlers. And chances are, the very words that she says and the opinions she expresses are not her own — they are the products of groupthink marketers who only want her to say what they believe other people want to hear her say.

In Mosteller’s case, these vacant-eyed PR androids were with the Miss S.C. Scholarship Organization. In light of the backlash, the Scholarship Org released a statement yesterday, and in it the group admitted that Mosteller didn’t come up with her heavily criticized quip:

“The introductory statement for Miss South Carolina Brooke Mosteller was decided collectively with the Miss South Carolina Scholarship Organization in an attempt to be creative and humorous. We regret that it was perceived as insensitive and we apologize to our fellow South Carolinians who may have been offended.”

What makes all this even more tragic is the fact that Mosteller reportedly had misgivings about the carefully crafted statement but went along with it anyway, telling Dave Munday of the Post and Courier:

“The state organization wrote it for me, and when I first heard it, I thought, of course, I can’t say that, because it could be taken as demeaning and insensitive … But everybody recommended that I say it, and they took it as a joke.”

Mosteller added:

“When I really think about how it has affected people, it’s absolutely nothing to laugh about, and it really just teaches me when it comes to your values, every second counts … This was a seven-second mistake that is nationally defining my Miss America experience, seven seconds where I compromised my values. That’s what everybody is remembering about me right now, and that’s what I will do the rest of my time as Miss South Carolina, to show people where my true values lie and how great our state really is.”

Hopefully, if this situation has taught Mosteller anything, it’s that speaking honestly and from your gut is more important than maintaining a perfectly crafted image. 

I would be surprised if this was the last we hear of Brooke Mosteller. If she’s anything like her mother, Cyndi Mosteller, an SCGOPer who isn’t afraid to speak her mind, Brooke might enter politics one day, and while I doubt that she and I will ever be on the same page politically, I hope that she always remembers the lessons of the 2013 Miss America Pageant. Our country needs more public figures who ignore the advice of focus groups and who don’t attempt to read the whims of the populace in the tea leaves of push polling and the petty whims of a disconnected and pay-to-play punditry.

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