If you haven’t seen the “scandalous” new photo yet, feast your eyes. It’s been many moons since I’ve looked at the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue but I remember shots like that being in there even when I was a kid. (Or even sometimes on the cover.) Which is to say, it’s very late in the day culturally to be feigning shock at material like this — and yet NBC, the network that aired photos and video of the Virginia Tech killer glorifying himself, has decided that the pic’s simply too hot for the Peacock to handle. A cynic might wonder if they want viewers to imagine that it’s worse than it is. Good thing I’m not a cynic.

There’s an open question of when the photo was taken — she says it was several years ago, others say it’s more recent — which may be relevant to whether she was a Christian or a pageant contender at the time but doesn’t much matter to her critics. Their goal, using the pretext of “hypocrisy,” is simply to try to make her radioactive within her own political and religious communities by painting her as some sort of fallen woman. It didn’t work with Palin vis-a-vis Bristol’s pregnancy and it won’t work here, but presumably they’re drawing some gratification from the mere thought that they might be causing her discomfort. Pure vindictiveness, but then what did you expect?

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Update: Maggie Gallagher from the National Organization of Marriage issues this statement. I told you it wouldn’t work.

Because Carrie honestly said what she believed in answer to a question–marriage is the union of a man and a woman– she is now the subject of ongoing character assassination. The level of hatred directed at her is astonishing. Even more astonishing is her personal courage and strength of character in the midst of these attacks. Of course Carrie is not perfect. On a personal note, as a former unwed mother, I want to say to Americans: you don’t have to be a perfect person to have the right to stand up for marriage. Nothing gay marriage advocates can do can change the fact—we all saw it on national TV—that Carrie is a young woman who surrendered all the glitter Hollywood has to offer, because she would not become the kind of person afraid to say the truth.

Through Carrie, we are also learning, the lengths some people will go to hurt and harass those who speak up for marriage.