In Defense of Bristol Palin

I had never thought much about Bristol Palin. When I first saw her on television during the 2008 campaign, I don’t think I thought anything  beyond: “Oh weird, her mom is way cuter than her. I figured Sarah Palin’s daughter would be hotter.”   – Super deep I know, but its what I thought.

I remember all the media frenzy and the way Conservatives lauded her as a hero for “not getting an abortion and choosing life” seemed weird to me. It just seemed like a bizarre angle. Like being given a medal for going to lunch and not punching your friend in the face. Or being commended for your “family values” because you spent the weekend with your sister and didn’t stab her. The vast majority of women who get pregnant keep their baby. Only 21% of pregnancies end in abortion. (yes, I know that number is HUGE) but my point is, no one is noble or heroic for doing something 79% of people do in the same situation. Not aborting your baby isn’t “heroic” – it is normal.

I never thought or saw anything of her again. That is, until we fast forward to 2015 when she announced her second pregnancy and the internet went ballistic. The first thing I noticed wasn’t what a raging monster pious freak she was (as the trolls would describe her), but how beautiful she had become!  Bristol had blossomed from a  chubby round faced teen into a stunning woman. Not just beautiful, but stunning!!

Screenshot_2015-08-02-15-53-32My guess is she had a chin implant, but the fact she was smart enough to get one is a plus in and of itself.

She lost weight, learned how to shape her eyebrows, lost the ugly highlights, and became a better dresser – in other words, she grew into her own!

I will be honest when I say I thought she was hopelessly average looking, and I was both surprised and impressed by her physical transformation over the years. bristol-palin-440stunningdiff

I could not help but feel she was being treated incredibly unfairly by the media’s  response to her second pregnancy. Bristol is a human being not a caricature. People really need to break  things down, and have some understanding before they bash on her. So here goes….

Firstly, Bristol was not raised in some fundamentalist cult. Her mom was busy with her political aspirations and her parents were rarely even home. The family went to church like 5 times a year – if that. Bristol’s first pregnancy is not the outcome of “fundamentalist upbringing” or “abstinence only education” but the outcome of a largely unsupervised childhood.

Secondly, a 17 year old girl getting pregnant by her long-term boyfriend generally is never planned. But it also isn’t absurdly rare or crazy, especially in today’s culture. It really pisses me off the campaign even made a statement about a private family matter.

Going “public” was her mother’s fault, not hers, so don’t blame Bristol for it. Sarah Palin was the one parading herself as some pro-life christian family values spectacle all over the world – not Bristol. Palin should have known her daughter’s pregnancy would be mercilessly criticized and taken actions to protect her daughter from all of it.

A simple “Yes I am expecting my first grandchild from my daughter and her fiance.” If asked if she thought this was hypocritical of her “family values” stance, a simple, “No, we are pro-life, and very excited about this child, they’ve been planning on marriage and children for a while now, so it is sooner than expected, but we believe life is a blessing regardless of circumstances” –  THE END.  It would not have been such an emphasis throughout the campaign if she hadn’t been the one to bring attention to her teen daughter, parade her around on camera, go off on “hard life lessons”, and speak about her so much.

As a result,  the media looked into Bristol’s life, her relationship, Levi’s life (since the family trotted him out into all this as well),  followed the pregnancy, kept asking about “wedding plans”, knew every up and down of the relationship of a 17 year old!, they were interviewed about custody issues. etc. No one, and I mean no one needed to, or had a right to know any of this. What a nightmare, having to parade around on international TV just to be called a whore, “white trash”, and be made into a joke, all while several months pregnant and feeling super gross.

Now, as for the accusation of Bristol throwing stones from a so called “glass house” The vast majority of Bristol’s views were an echo of her mother’s. Regardless of her individual beliefs, she wasn’t in a position to slam her mom’s viewpoints or do much more than stand by and support her mother, as most politician’s children do.

She is called a “hypocrite” often because she worked with organizations aimed at preventing teen pregnancy by promoting “safe sex” and abstinence. Just imagine you are Bristol. Your mom is Sarah Palin. You are an 18/19 year old. You have a kid and organizations such as Candies Foundation approach you and offer you hundreds of thousands of dollars to talk about your experience with teen pregnancy. Would you really not take the offer? Would you even really care what the hell they asked you to talk about so long as it wasn’t evil?  The money was a ticket to independence and I don’t blame her for taking it.

Her PSAs and speeches were hardly “judgmental” or pious. And were generally no more hardcore than a basic “think about things before having sex.” ..oh wow, what a moral crusader! Example of one below. The only thing offensive about them is how lame and cheesy they are.  

She never acted morally superior or slammed people who didn’t practice abstinence. The accusation of her “shaming others” for doing what she did, simply is not true. Even a prostitute could factually say the only 100% effective way to prevent pregnancy is with abstinence – because it is a true statement regardless who says it.  Even the PSAs themselves recognized many wouldn’t want to use abstinence, and gave alternatives (as shown above). Bristol was an advocate for preventing teen pregnancy by using herself as a cautionary tale, and to be fair, she never had another child as a teen. The accusation of her being a hypocrite because of her work with the Candies foundation is simply untrue.

Yes, she went on TV with her mom by her side, and said she “would wait till marriage to have sex again.” But what else was she supposed to say? “I plan on sleeping around”???  Plus, she probably said she was waiting – because she genuinely planned on waiting! And at the time, believed she would.

Life happened, the cameras went away, years passed, relationships came and went, and it became something she probably still supported the idea of, but just didn’t believe that strongly in anymore.  Do you realize how many teens plan on “waiting till marriage” or “waiting till love” then don’t? How many of us said things when we were 18 that as we aged went out the window?

Never get married? – now you are married with 3 kids. Become a doctor? – decide you hate the medical field and now you are a lawyer.  Wait til you fall in love or marriage to have sex? – ended up sleeping with a loser who cheated on you.

Really, if nothing of the sort has ever happened to you, then you must be the most psychic person ever. I personally believed all sorts of stuff I am straight up embarrassed by today, and I said I wanted to do all sorts of things I changed my mind about and never did.

I would wager the vast majority of those condemning her are actually the ones in glass houses throwing stones – not Bristol. Are the people attacking her all virgins? I highly doubt it. And given the vast majority of those criticizing her are probably basement dwellers with NO life, I would guess if they are virgins – it isn’t by choice.

If I were Bristol and Sarah Palin were my mother I would have a lot of animosity toward her for a myriad of reasons. So when I came across this clip of Bristol getting into a public altercation where she defended her mother (and looked super hot and badass while doing so), I couldn’t help but be impressed. She is a better person than I would be. After all this public condemnation caused by her mother, she still stands by her mom and defends her. Fight:

She doesn’t deserve to be called a whore and a slut by a slew of degenerates or gross 47 year old losers perusing bars with nothing better to do than be obsessed with her.

From what I can tell she is a normal woman. She had a child with a long term boyfriend. And now as a grown woman, she is expecting another with a man she was planning on marriage and having more children with. Nothing about those pregnancies make her any less “moral” than the vast majority of Americans. As a result – the vast majority of Americans have no room to bash her!

She is her own person. She has a chill personality. She doesn’t have the scary glassy stare her mom does, or the strange way of speaking with strings of one-liners and talking points in a weird accent. If you are mad at Sarah Palin or do not like her, then take it out on Sarah Palin, not her daughter.

She has handled the onslaught of criticism with grace. She has a way cooler life than most of those bashing her will ever have. Yes, I’m sure this gorgeous woman with show offers, close friends, family, a son she loves, another on the way, faith, book deals, private jet vacations, and a million other things is really just a ” white trash loser with a totally lame life”  just because she broke an engagement. Seriously, the fact people think a breakup is that much of an end all be all as to whether someone’s life is good, makes me question them way more than it makes me question her. Get real and grow up.

Teacher Takes Action Against Student Who Refused to Stand for Pledge of Allegiance

14 year old Middle School student Fatima Smart of New Hampshire was allegedly forced by her teacher to leave class after refusing to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance.

Smart claims she was later lectured in front of all the other students.

“She kind of used me as an example in front of the class to say that, ‘You have to stand for the flag salute, or you can be like Fatima and wait outside,’” Smart said.

“I don’t like our government at all,” she said. “I think they are making bad decisions, and I didn’t stand. I don’t like pretending to believe in something I don’t believe in to please others… They have their rights, and I have mine.”

I would not be able to hide my pride if my child got in trouble for this. It’d be one of those signs you are winning at the parenting thing. Fatima’s parent’s raised a daughter who stands by what she believes in, who is engaged and interested in the world around her, and who is intelligent enough to question the merit of robotic (and frankly creepy) traditions.

So of course her school authority figure can’t have any of it and attempts to  “fix” her immediately. Check out the smirk of clear pride on her Dad’s face in the background in this new clip..  I don’t blame him.

Smart’s parents rightfully stand by their daughter, and have asked for an apology from school officials. Smart had every right to stand by her conscience.

In New Hampshire it is voluntary for students to stand for the pledge. Smart’s parents believe she was singled out and her rights were violated for personal reasons. Her teacher said as the daughter of a military man she found Smart’s position to be offensive.

Being offended because someone won’t idolize a flag doesn’t give someone the right to force flag worship down their student’s throats, nor does it give them the right to bully students into submission. I salute this young lady for standing her ground and living up to her last name of Smart!

In Maine more heads explode over this issue when local politicians refuse to stand for Pledge of Allegiance.  In the wake of the completely over the top uproar over Cecil the lion, I think its time folks stop calling for people’s heads and take a step back to look at what is actually taking place before becoming so vitriolic over issues.

A human didn’t want to say a creepy pledge to a piece of cloth.

That’s it.

They didn’t spit on your dead grandfathers grave who served in WW2, and no, your dad/secondcousin/uncle/great grandpa didn’t “die for that flag”  –  He didn’t need to, you can buy them at Walmart for like ten dollars.

Many soldiers have died for freedom, liberty, free speech, and the security of their families. Many soldiers have died for corrupt leaders, greed, and ethnocentrism. A plethora of reasons,  good and bad, that have very little to do with a piece of cloth dyed different colors and put into a starry and striped design. So take a chill pill.

While I personally do not partake in flag burning, it is merely for the reason I don’t randomly burn pieces of cloth to prove my point, so i don’t see why I would start now.  However, I truly have no issue with those who do, nor do I have an issue with those who refuse to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance.

If the actions of one’s government becomes a danger to, and constrains the freedom of, its nations citizens, I would say it would be immoral to pretend the flag still represented a country noble enough to pledge one’s allegiance.

Even if you lived in the perfect country, ten years from now it could devolve into an incredibly evil place.  Is it ok to claim your allegiance is justified  because the country “used to be cool like 200 years ago”?

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This makes blind patriotism and nationalism rather illogical concepts. The leaders you are directed under could instruct you to do horrible things, such as worship them or commit mass murder. ( ie Nazis and North Korea with their 99% government approval rating) – the most patriotic of all nations I would say.

Surely this shows such visceral reactions concerning a flag are for those without enough  intelligence or depth of thought to recognize its absurdity.

Patriotism would be great if we lived in a Godly righteous nation with just laws and a peaceful society that strongly valued liberty, freedom, and individual rights. But that is not the case nor is it even realistic. No faith should be put into something as fallible and changeable as a nation and its governing body.

Let people be guided by their morals & values. If you want to fight or stand or pledge to something make it God, liberty, justice, freedom. The timeless and eternal principles and truths that can never change or be corrupted, and save your outrage for a real issue. 

How a Novel Can Change the World

penswordEver since I was a little girl I have loved novels. A ferocious reader,  In grade school I committed myself to reading an entire fiction novel per day. I would come home from school and rush to my room brimming with excitement at the opportunity to escape into the world created for me by an author.

With each literary work I finished,  I felt a sense of awe toward its author – the book I had just read, existed only because the author had written it.

I told myself I wanted to be one of them. That one day, I too, would write novels that change the world.

Today as a grown woman,  I am only more certain in the power of a novel to change the world. Literature inspires people to see the world from a new perspective. Heroes and Heroines of great stories inspire us with their faith, their sacrifice, and their capacity to love. Living through their eyes and envisioning their greatness make us better people.

Novels grant us a look inside the most hideous of horrors within the human condition. We feel the pain inflicted by vice and cruelty.  We experience the magnificence of man in his most virtuous form. Through literature, we live a life, experience a world, and are shown acts of love beyond what we thought was possible. Novels give us hope.

Yet, when I say novels have the power to change the world,  I am not simply referring to the  content of the stories themselves, nor am I referring only to those specific and rare “great works of literature.” – but to the very act itself of reading a novel.

Readers are Empathetic. As thoughtfully discussed in the linked article, science has shown reading activates the same part of the human mind associated with expanding our capacity for empathy. Readers of novels literally have consistent practice seeing the world through another person’s eyes. It is imagination that allows us to understand what life may be like for someone else. What it may feel like to be the victim of injustice, heartache, illness, unjust imprisonment, torture, genocide, and various forms of barbaric & totalitarian regimes. This capacity is what separates us from animals. We can think ourselves into another person’s shoes. Those who read do not just have an understanding about any particular story, but because of this consistent practice in empathy, they have a greater capacity for a greater understanding of the world around them.

This perspective given to us through reading is so unique, I believe there are some things a person can not possibly know any other way than by written word. While many believe fiction is unimportant or frivolous,  it is through literary fiction we are able gain the wisdom and experience of 100 different lives. The books which have had the greatest impact on my life were not non-fiction. Being told information can certainly be useful to one’s life. But stories do not merely tell you something, they show it to you. You have the opportunity to live it. Even the bible itself, a believer’s “instruction manual” for life,  does not consist of only a long list of rules. We are not only told, but also shown a life wasted in cowardice. We are shown a life lived righteously. We learn by example, through the mistakes and victories of others.

This is beautifully expressed  in  J.K. Rowling’s Harvard Commencement Speech on the importance of imagination and empathy in changing the world.

In a world marred by war, cruelty, and injustice. We have never needed the capacity for empathy more than we do right now.

Through literature, I have seen the world through the eyes of a hero, a monster, a murderer, a neurotic, a young boy, and an old woman. Through reading, we are given the unique intimate power to know the thoughts and feelings of another person, while simultaneously void of any power to influence or change who they are. This expands and strengthens our ability to entertain thoughts without accepting them.  We can better see the world through another viewpoint without adopting that viewpoint as our own. We become less threatened by the opposing views of others.

It is the readers of this world who will change it. They are the ones who utilize one of man’s singular greatest tools  for increasing our capacity to think – not only about the pain or joy within our own life, but that experienced by others. Novels increase our ability to care about the suffering endured by those drastically different from ourselves.

“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” is the golden rule. The act of reading a novel is in itself, an exercise in caring beyond oneself.

When our hero succeeds we feel what it is like to truly, genuinely, be as happy for another person as we would be for ourselves. We cry and feel pain when our hero suffers. We love them, we see their beauty, we wish we could comfort them. We love and see them in a way so many who are suffering in this world desperately need to be loved and seen.

This is why a novel changes the world.  The ability to transform is not exclusive only to a few select great stories throughout history. The power of transformation is in every novel, picked up by a person who  made the conscious decision to see the world through the eyes of someone else. Once we change our inner world – how we view ourselves, the people, and world around us. The world around us changes.