Last week, we here at The Pageant Planet received an email about a scandal in a local pageant that no one else had reported on yet. That’s right, someone gave me the chance at breaking news and I was so excited. Unfortunately, I wasn’t as scandalized as our tipster, but I am really difficult to rattle (I follow politics too much, apparently). So I’m going to lay out the facts for you ladies and you can decide if this is a scandal or not.
Pageant Scandal Brewing
Our tipster gave this quote,
“A few weeks after being crowned, a photo of drug paraphernalia, a bong, was found posted on her Facebook profile, and was in plain sight on October 13th, the night she won the title, says a source. The following day after visiting [her] profile, the bong photo was found to be hidden or taken down. [She] was tagged in the photo by a friend October 7 with a caption reading “Just another Sunday night, with [titleholder].” Screen shots of the photos before they were taken down have surfaced, and are evidence that she was trying to hide it from the public and Miss [State] officials. What was actually smoked is in question. The photo appears to have tin foil on top of the bong with rocks sitting on top, and a chalky white residue around the bottom of the bong. Tin foil and rocks doesn’t just sound like any flavored tobacco hookah. Photos have also surfaced of [her] drinking alcohol out in public and partying. Hiding those from her profile only makes her behavior look more suspicious.”
She also sent pictures, which I will describe for you. The pictures are of a hookah (what our tipster refers to as a bong), a picture of the titleholder in a bar, and a screenshot of the Facebook profile in question that shows the photos taken down. None of what is pictured is illegal. Hookahs are legal throughout the United States and the substance in the hookah is definitely flavored tobacco. For a hookah to function correctly, the foil is necessary and hookah is covered in white ash once it’s burned (similar to barbecue charcoal). The woman is twenty-three, so being in a bar and drinking is completely legal. And she’s not wasted in the picture, her eyes are clear and she appears put together. The drink could even be a non-alcoholic cocktail, for all we know.
I decided to look on other titleholders’ Facebook profiles for a general reference. The tipster did specify that Teresa Scanlan doesn’t have any pictures of her drinking on her Facebook, which is true. But she’s nineteen, so I looked for older titleholders. I found a couple who did have pictures where they are holding a beer or wine. None look like they’re partying, it all looks like social drinking at a dinner or event, which I felt was appropriate. Some even had a crown on, depending on whether their system allowed drinking at appearances.
Miss America’s Moral Turpitude Clause
The relevant section of the MAO contract is the “moral turpitude” clause, specifying that a titleholder should not have previously engaged in any acts of moral turpitude. This is a legal term of art that generally means “conduct that is considered contrary to community standards of justice, honesty or good morals.” This determination is usually left to a jury when deciding a case, because they are considered the best arbiters of community standards. Congrats, Pageant Planet members, you just got jury duty. Do you think posting Facebook pictures of drinking or hookah constitutes moral turpitude? Should a titleholder have her crown taken because of these pictures? Should she have a grace period after winning a title to cleanse her social media profiles or make them private?
Note: I omitted the name and title of the girl in case her state officials decide not to take action against her. Please don’t post her name, state, or local title if you know who I am discussing in the article.