Bristol Palin, the oldest daughter of former Gov. Sarah Palin, has signed up with a speaker’s bureau and will command up to $30,000 to give speeches on the virtues of abstinence before marriage.
At first blush, it would seem that Ms. Palin would be the perfect candidate to spread the message that one should not have sex before marriage, especially if it is unprotected sex with a clod of a jock like Levi Johnson. Bristol Palin has certainly gone through many of the unpleasant consequences of being an unwed, teenage mom and more than the usual ones, owing to the high profile fame of her mother, Sarah Palin. And if Bristol Palin can earn a little money to make a future for her child and herself, then more power to her. This is America, after all, and no mistake is so dire that it cannot be made into an opportunity.
Not everyone is happy with the prospect of Bristol Palin, spokesperson for sexual propriety. A columnist, Dr. Jim Taylor, for the San Francisco Chronicle looks askance at the idea.
“Now I am sure that Ms. Palin is a perfectly nice young lady. And I don’t begrudge her the choices she made to have sex or give birth to her son Tripp before she was married. I’m sure that she has learned some difficult lessons about life that hopefully will help her navigate her life in the future. But, at 19 years old and with almost nothing on her life’s “resume,” can she really offer anything of substance to any reasonably intelligent audience?
“And isn’t there a bit of hypocrisy in having Ms. Palin be a spokesperson for sexual abstinence and against teen pregnancy. That is like having BP advocate for environmental conservation. The fact is that if she hadn’t gotten pregnant and had a baby, she would be just another child of a celebrity. Instead, she is likely to make tons of money from the decisions she made. And things have worked out pretty darned well for her, haven’t they? Though I also don’t begrudge her that either (okay, I do a little), she is not exactly an exemplar of how those decisions would typically impact a young woman’s life. To the contrary, giving birth as a teenager out of wedlock is usually associated with a lack of education attainment and a life of low-paying jobs.”
One does not know how to begin to respond to this.
In the first place, Bristol Palin may be 19, but she is something of an expert on what she proposes to talk about: the trials and tribulations of being an unwed, teenage mother. It is not as if she were proposing to lecture about astrophysics or Russian literature. She will do, in my judgment, just fine.
In accusing Bristol Palin of hypocrisy, Jim Taylor misses the whole theme of repentance and redemption. It is not as if Ms. Palin is continuing the behavior that made her pregnant to start with. Her next sexual experience is likely to be on her wedding night. Someone who has made a mistake and has learned from it is the perfect person to impart that experience to others, so that they may not make the same error.
And it is true that Bristol Palin does not look forward to a life of poverty, the fate of many unwed teenage moms. On the other hand most unwed, teenage moms don’t have dirty jokes told about them by David Letterman or vicious rumors about them spread by political operatives. In many ways, life has been just a tad harder for Bristol Palin than for most.
So this is not the end of civilization or the fall of Rome. Rather it is an affirmation of certain values that uphold civilization.
Source: Bristol Palin: Speaker for Hire, Dr. Jim Taylor, San Francisco Chronicle, May 18th, 2010