… but don’t let the facts get in the way of your narrative.
— Christianne Smith (@ChristiAnne67)
June 26, 2015
First of all, let’s set the record straight. Miss Palin, according to one viral talking point making the rounds on Twitter and Facebook, made $262,000 in a single year from speaking fees promoting abstinence after the birth of her first child, Tripp, with whom she became pregnant at the age of 17 – right around the time her mother, former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, was running for Vice President.
Okay, everyone, clutch your pearls. Got ‘em? Let’s go. All together now: “How hypocritical! Why don’t you practice what you preach, Palin?”
Actually, she did. Some quotes:
Speaking to Greta Van Susteren in 2009: “But I think abstinence is, like – like, the – I don’t know how to put it – like, the main – everyone should be abstinent or whatever but it’s not realistic at all…. Because it’s more and more accepted now….[Y]ou should just wait 10 years and it’d just be so much easier.”
Speaking to Dr. Drew Pinsky in 2011: "[I’m not] an abstinence preacher …. I’m not out there saying don’t have sex. I hate that kind of stuff. Birth control needs to be used effectively each and every single time if you’re gonna be having sex. … I’m not advocating [abstinence] for everyone else.”
Bristol Palin: NOT an abstinence preacher. In fact, the speaking fees she made were from her role with the Candie’s Foundation’s “Pause Before You Play” campaign – an anti-teen pregnancy initiative sponsored by a charity that has honored Hillary Clinton, Katie Couric, Jane Fonda and Sex and the City’s Kim Cattrall (none of whom are known as promoters of teen abstinence) as being particularly helpful to the cause. Palin was hired as a speaker not to promote abstinence, but to talk about the difficulties of being a teenage mother – something she was well-qualified to speak on, considering she was one.
I can hear the critics now: “But she’s still a hypocrite! Her whole shtick has been, ‘I’ve learned my lesson the hard way, don’t make my same mistake,’ And now, she’s gone and done it AGAIN!”
Yes, Bristol Palin has made a living, and a rather profitable one at that, discouraging others from making the same choices she once made. That’s a good thing for her and her child, since single teenage moms usually aren’t known for their earning power, but it also highlights the fact that the politically and financially well-connected rarely pay for their mistakes in quite the same way the rest of us do. (Heck, I’m well into my thirties and wasn’t a teenage mom, and I have never had a year that good, financially speaking.)
But let’s think critically for a moment here. First of all, Bristol is now 24 years old, not 17. She makes plenty of money, and until very recently, she was engaged to be married (she and her former fiancé broke it off in May, just days before their planned wedding). Is she in a perfect position to be having a baby? Of course not, but people rarely are. It still doesn’t make her a hypocrite.
Still, human nature being what it is, it’s not all that surprising that a conflation of political gotcha, celebrity obsession and old-fashioned sour grapes have made Bristol today’s recipient of the internet’s official “Kick Me” sign. Bristol herself seems to have expected it: “I know this [pregnancy] has been, and will be, a huge disappointment to my family, to my close friends, and to many of you,” she wrote in a
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