Sunday, September 7, 2008

Some Thoughts on the Bristol Palin pregnancy

By now, there's been a lot public discourse on the recently revealed pregnancy of a 17-year-old girl named Bristol Palin, who happens to be the daughter of GOP Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin.

An initial observation I had was how much of the rhetoric seems to boil down to little more than: "SHOCK AND SCANDAL!! Somebody Related to VP Candidate has Pre-Marital Sex!!!!" (And that's amazing in this day and age because ... why?)

John the Methodist has a good post responding to the suggestion that this revelation may somehow "drive off Christian voters."

At another level, many of us have been impressed by the powerful pro-life witness of Bristol's decision to not "hide" it but rather keep the baby and marry his or her father. Many have also noted the obvious contrast with Senator Obama's groundbreaking extremism on abortion and his callously saying that he would support the killing of his own grandchild.

There's been a good deal of sometimes acrimonious debate over whether or not Bristol's pregnancy is "fair game" for media coverage related to evaluating Governor Palin as a VP candidate. While Republican talking heads have understandably been taking the line that this is a private family matter that is NOT fair game, I cannot help but recall how in the 2000 election (the first in which I voted), some conservatives seemed eager to make an issue of a run-in with the law by Al Gore's son, suggesting that it showed that the Democratic nominee hadn't raised his son right and therefore lacked the requisite character for the White House.

On the one hand, there is some biblical warrant for the behavior of children reflecting on their parents (though the context of that passage seems to be with younger children). On the other hand, how many of us would really want ourselves to be held personally responsible for mistakes our offspring may make in their late teenage years?

The election season is heating up with the majority of voting Americans having already decided who they will vote for. An inevitable part of this process involves making criticisms of the candidate who we plan to vote against. May this be a reminder of all of us to not do so without first asking ourselves: if folk from the other side were criticizing my candidate on similar grounds, would I consider this to be fair?

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