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Should This Miss America Titleholder Lose Her Crown?

by / Monday, 12 November 2012 / Published in Pageant News
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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.

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About Olivia Adams

I am a law student in Washington, DC who has competed in the Miss America system for several years.
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8 Responses to “Should This Miss America Titleholder Lose Her Crown?”

  1. Nina says : Reply

    If she is of legal age and the activities in question were participated in while she was of legal age (holy runon sentence, Batman!) I see NO problem with it. If she were underage when the pictures were taken that would be a different story altogether. As the titleholder is of age and legally able to partake, there is no problem. I applaud her for removing or making private those images after she won her title so as not to influence younger girls who will look up to her as a role model.

  2. fiestycaligirl says : Reply

    A hookah can be found in several Middle Eastern restaurants and as far as I know is NOT illegal. If she is of legal age to smoke and was not seen with the hookah in her mouth/hand, then why should she lose her crown?

  3. tianna says : Reply

    Some girls are just seriously jealous. She deserved whatever she won. Clearly and someone just can’t let that be realty to themselfs. I know that in Canada both those things are legal and unless it was in the contract she sighed who cares. Girls will be girls.

  4. Shelby says : Reply

    If she took them down, then it shows she is acknowledging her duty as a titleholder to be a leader. She can’t help the fact that someone took a screen shot of them. (That sounds like blackmail!) If it’s hookah and it’s legal, then there isn’t a problem. It may not be PRAISED by society, but it’s NOT worth losing a crown over. Let it just be a warning that she needs to be on [extra] good behavior during the rest of her reign..

  5. Becca says : Reply

    While a title holder has certain responsibilities, as long as the activities were legal I see no issue. With technology being what it is, it is almost impossible for ANY girl who doesn’t live under a rock to be in what maybe a “compromised” situation. Title holders are no more perfect than any other human being.

  6. This wouldn’t even be a question in any other system. The drinking wouldn’t be a question in virtually any other country on Earth, and the hookah wouldn’t be a question in any Middle Eastern country or a country that has a lot of Middle Eastern immigrants–OR, indeed, in Michigan!

    I’m pretty sure that the REAL issue here is the tipster’s motive (Did she take part in the pageant where the local titleholder won? Maybe she was a runner-up? Hmm?), as well as how rigid and outdated some pageant rules in general, and MAO rules specifically, are.

  7. Heidi says : Reply

    I agree that she she never did anything wrong, but I strongly believe that if you are competing in pageants, you need to be aware of how your free time is being portrayed by others. I am 22 and compete in pageants, and I do not go to bars for the fact that someone I may have a future engagement related to pageantry may see me there. These young women serve as role models for many younger girls and while all her decisions were legal, I don’t find it appropriate and as a potential role model for young women. I do applaud her for removing the photos though.. although if she didn’t I don’t believe she would have a title anymore.

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