The slew of attacks against Miss California USA Carrie Prejean, who answered a question about gay marriage during the Miss USA pageant two weeks ago, have been nothing short of a systematic "character assassination," her supporters say.
"They're really going after her," Focus on the Family President Jim Daley said of Prejean, whose critics have gone so far as to compare her to a Nazi war criminal.
"She's being attacked for her opinion; she's getting creamed for just giving her perspective. It's just another example of the intolerant left.... There seems to be greater scrutiny on her now that she's given that answer," said Daley, whose non-profit Evangelical organization also does not support gay marriage. "I guess in some people's eyes she's become this pariah."
Village Voice columnist Michael Musto has become the latest outspoken critic of Prejean, joining blogger Perez Hilton and Shanna Moakler, the co-executive director of the Miss California organization, who said the group paid for Prejean's breast implants prior to the pageant.
During an appearance last week with MSNBC's Keith Olbermann, Musto jested that Miss California officials also paid for Prejean to "cut off her penis" and likened her to Klaus Barbie, a Nazi war criminal believed to be responsible for up to 4,000 deaths.
"She's dumb and twisted," Musto said on April 30. "She's sort of like a human Klaus Barbie doll … This is the kind of girl who sits on the TV and watches the sofa. You know, she thinks innuendo is an Italian suppository."
Reports have also surfaced suggesting that Prejean's "origin of homophobia" stems from her parents' divorce, one filled with "homosexual allegations hurled by both sides," according to TMZ.com.
Other Prejean critics in mainstream media have included CNN correspondents Jessica Yellin and Jane Velez-Mitchell, E! News anchor Giuliana Rancic and NBC's Matt Lauer.
“I don’t think it’s just — oh, it’s her opinion," Velez-Mitchell said on April 21. "What if she expressed a racist opinion or an anti-Semitic opinion or a sexist opinion? That would be OK? No. Your opinion isn’t always OK, especially when you want to be the winner of this kind of pageant.”
Just two days earlier, Rancic "tweeted" that while she should be "objective" as a journalist, Prejean is an "ignorant disgrace" who made her "sick."
And during the "Today Show" on April 30, Lauer asked Prejean if she ever considered "holding her fire" on the issue of same-sex marriage.
"No," Prejean replied. "I think that this is a huge issue right now. People are very passionate about this issue and I think that regardless of our opinions, Matt, I think that we just need to respect each other, even when we disagree. It's all about respect."
Maggie Gallagher, president of the National Organization for Marriage, said the "level of hatred" directed toward Prejean has been astonishing.
"Even more astonishing is her personal courage and strength of character in the midst of these attacks," Gallagher said in a statement released Tuesday. "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.
"Through Carrie, we are also learning the lengths some people will go to hurt and harass those who speak up for marriage," Gallagher's statement continued.
Prejean now finds herself in a fight to keep her crown after semi-nude photographs of her when she was 17-years-old were posted on TheDirty.com, and reports of additional nude photographs were reported by TMZ.com. Those reports prompted Keith Lewis, co-chairman of the Miss California Organization, to tell reporters he was "absolutely stunned" and vowed to "revisit the issue" with Prejean.
Beauty queens, including reigning Miss Teen USA Chelsea Gilligan and former Miss Californias Raquel Beezley and Tamiko Nash, have also added their take on the controversy with a public service announcement due out next week, FOXNews.com's Pop Tarts reported on Friday.
The PSA, entitled "I Believe ... The Beauty of California," seeks to promote the diversity of the Golden State with lines like "I believe when I express my opinion I have a responsibility to do it in a way that respects others who may not agree."
Musto, meanwhile, stood by the comments he made during the "over-the-top comedy" segment with Olbermann.
"Prejean rabidly advocates depriving gay people of equal rights, so I don't feel she deserves the kid-glove treatment from me," Musto wrote FOXNews.com. "She's also a semi-nude-posing moralist and someone who apparently doesn't honor her contract. But I also have criticized the pageant itself for being hypocrites — they're the ones who paid for her implants and make her walk in a bathing suit for mass judging, yet they have a problem with semi-nude shots."
Amanda Susskind, regional director for the Anti-Defamation League's Pacific Southwest chapter, said Musto's Nazi imagery was inappropriate.
"The Anti-Defamation League has consistently urged those in the public sphere to refrain from using such Nazi imagery, out of respect for those who perished in the Holocaust, and out of respect for those who survived," Susskind wrote in a statement to FOXNews.com. "The use of Nazi imagery has the effect of trivializing the Holocaust."
Donald Trump, co-owner of the Miss Universe Organization, has scheduled a press conference at New York City's Trump Tower on Tuesday to address the Prejean controversy. Prejean's fate remains unclear, but her father, Will Prejean, told RadarOnline.com he's "extremely excited" for the announcement.
According to Prejean's Miss USA contract, the 21-year-old San Diego native agreed to "conduct activities in life according to the highest morals standards" and recognized that "appearing in public or permitting [herself] to be photographed in a state of partial or total nudity" violated that provision, including photographs on MySpace or Facebook.
Daley, who acknowledged Prejean's "poor decision from a Christian perspective" to pose for the lingerie shots, said she's undoubtedly become the victim of a clear double-standard.
"Here's the irony: she's representing what I believe is the majority of Californians in that regard," said Daley, referring to Californians' support of Proposition 8, which eliminated same-sex couples' right to marry in November 2008. "More people in California agree with her than disagree … If she said she supported gay marriage, would we be talking about her today?"