Like most Arizonans watching the Olympics, I am rooting especially for the athletes who have Arizona ties.
There are a whole bunch of them, but I’ll not bother to suggest a number. I’ll leave that to the media, which appears to be obsessed with that sort of thing. Perhaps as a means of justifying the expense of sending reporters to China to cover the event “from an Arizona perspective,’’ some of the media have really gone to extremes to pronounce as many athletes as possible as having an Arizona connection.
Rest assured, if an Olympic athlete’s sister-in-law’s third cousin once went to NAU for a semester, that athlete is considered to have “Arizona ties.’’ Well, there is one Arizona athlete I simply can't root for.
Her name is Amanda Beard, a four-time Olympian and multiple medal-winner in swimming. Without question, Beard is a phenomenal talent. But I simply cannot cheer her on because she represents much of what I believe has gone desperately wrong in our culture.
Beard was making news long before she began her Olympic competition by posing nude, with an American flag as a backdrop, for a PETA ad. Beard explained that she posed nude to call attention to the cruelty of the fur industry.
Beard is an expert on this topic by virtue of having watched some PETA-produced videos about the subject.
I can only assume that before watching these videos, she was a wholesome, modest, decent young woman who - when confronted with the cruelty of the fur industry - did what any clear-headed, idealistic person would do - take all her clothes off and adorn herself with the invisible cloak of Bimbo-ism. I thought the American flag was a nice touch, too. It speaks so eloquently of all that is good and decent and virtuous in our country, don’t you think?
Now, this sort of distasteful extremism is only to be expected from PETA, whose president once wrote a letter of complaint to Palestinian leader Yassar Arafat when a suicide bomber committed the unspeakable atrocity of using a donkey in a bombing that - oh, by the way - killed a dozen or so innocent “non-animals.’’ The letter didn’t object to the human carnage, of course, since those victims were considered by PETA as merely collateral damage.
Yes, I think it is safe to say that there is no depth of poor taste PETA will not plumb in an effort to promote its agenda.
That is why I would like to have given Beard the benefit of the doubt by considering the possibility that she - being young, attractive and naive - was merely an unwitting pawn in PETA’s army of kooks.
There is no question she was an easy target for PETA recruiters, having grown up so very blond in Southern California and going to college at the University of Arizona in Tucson, otherwise known as Raza-ville. The girl never had a chance.
But, on the other hand, this was not Beard's first venture into exhibitionism. In a culture where Paris Hilton is the Queen of Empty-Headed Sexpots, Beard is obviously angling for a prominent place in her court.
Beard says she posed nude for PETA to support a cause. Well, I wonder: What cause she was advocating when she posed nude for Playboy and various other magazines that exists for primarily as an aid for men’s acts of, uh, self-gratification?
If you are female reading this, I hope you will take time out to enlighten me on this subject: What is it about the female gender that makes young girls consider being the object of lust for some greasy middle-aged truck-driver grunting in a restroom stall such a great achievement? I am reminded of a quote attributed to the late British journalist Malcolm Muggeridge: "How do I know pornography depraves and corrupts? It depraves and corrupts me.''
Some of you might be inclined to quibble over whether or not Beard's photos are pornographic. To clarify, here's what I have adopted as a reasonable standard for determining what is or isn't pornography: Would you be comfortable showing it to either your child or your mother?
Of course, in our Western culture, no one even bothers to ask that sort of question anymore. As the esteemed Hilton might say, “There’s nothing better than being hot.’’ Poor deluded soul.
So, no, I’ll not be cheering on Arizona’s favorite exhibitionist when she hit’s the pool in China. I don't believe in her "cause.'' In fact, I don't even believe in her sincerity in supporting it.
Beard can pontificate all she wants about the fur industry, but I’ll bet if Nike developed a swimsuit made from the hides of baby seals that would shave .01 seconds off her time, she’d be out there balancing a beach ball on her nose and barking “Gimme!‘’