Amanda Longacre and the Rules of Beauty Pageants

Amanda-LongacreThere’s a relatively interesting little case roiling the internet these days about a young woman named Amanda Longacre who won the Delaware Miss America Pageant but had her title stripped when it was determined she would turn 25 before the end of the 2014 calendar year. The pageant has a rule that all contestants must be under 25 by the end of the year in which they win their title.

Longacre has caught the attention of the national media and garnered a lot of sympathy for her cause. She’s planning on looking at legal remedies to her situation.

Her claim rests on the idea that she didn’t falsify her entrance form. It clearly stated her age and yet she was allowed to compete in the pageant. She argues that because the mistake was on the part of the Miss America panel to let her illegally into the contest they should allow her victory to stand.

This seems to me to be a rather ridiculous legal argument but I’m not a lawyer. It’s basically saying the police made a mistake and allowed me to get away with committing a crime but when they realized the situation came back and enforced the law. Certainly the pageant never should have allowed her to enter. I suspect she knew the rule all along and just hoped no one would notice the violation. Even if she wasn’t aware of the age limit it’s not an excuse to say that they didn’t notice my violation immediately therefore it doesn’t actually break the rules.

There have been a number of cases in the golfing world recently where a golfer’s violation was not noticed at the time of the infraction but was spotted later by a viewer on television. The violation is then enforced. It’s the rule regardless of when someone notices that someone broke it.

Let’s take the case a bit further just for the sake of argument. Let’s pretend no one noticed until after Longacre competed in the Miss America Pageant. Let’s imagine she won that pageant and served out her year as reigning Miss America. Would the pageant be wrong to strip her of the title retroactively? I don’t think so. We again have numerous examples in the sporting world of someone whose violations came to light after the fact, Lance Armstrong being a prime example.

Longacre is an attractive and charismatic young woman and this means she is generating sympathy for her cause. Certainly the Miss America Pageant might decide to reinstate her to generate good publicity and that would be within their right although certainly unfair to all the young women who didn’t enter because they understood the age restriction and honored it.

Rules are rules and when one person follows them and is defeated by someone who didn’t there is a problem. I don’t think it’s that big a deal either way but I do think the pageant should stick by their rules and their ruling. What do you think?

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery Fantasy with a Libertarian Ideology
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