What if they gave a Culture War and nobody, um, came?

Via Rhetorica (who finds wrap-ups annoying), I found an interesting WaPo take on 2004:

In 2004, the New Republic ran a cover story called "God Bless Atheism." Rolling Stone ran an editorial that proclaimed: "Janet Jackson's breast is the 9/11 of the new culture war." Archaeology Odyssey published an article titled "Roman Latrines: How the Ancients Did Their Business." And Details, the metrosexual men's mag, revealed a hitherto undetected social trend: "Marrying a relative isn't just for the trailer park anymore."
Obviously, this blog has no problem with ancient Roman latrines as one of the big stories of 2004. But the Rolling Stone "Culture War" quote is a bit perplexing, because it's really getting around. Just this morning I saw it in mentioned in the Philadelphia Inquirer, where staff writer Daniel Rubin (bless his heart!) was nice enough to counter it with much-needed perspective from Jeff Jarvis:
Was it, as Washington Post critic Tom Shales asked, the "nipple that inflamed a thousand nut cases?" Or "the 9/11 of the new culture war," as Rolling Stone editorialized?

Or was it something else - the dawning of a massive citizens movement?

That's Jeff Jarvis' view.

"I think the theme [of 2004] is about control," said Jarvis, a former TV Guide critic who writes the Buzzmachine blog. "The people are getting control and the big guys are losing control. If you believe in democracy, that is a good thing."

Days after "Nipplegate," FCC Chairman Michael Powell spoke of an unprecedented leap in indecency complaints, from roughly 14,000 in 2002 to more than 240,000 in 2003. More than four times that many have landed this year, according to the FCC.

But those numbers are misleading. Jarvis gained attention in the fall by filing a Freedom of Information Act request that revealed a suspicious pattern in the FCC complaints. Fox's $1.2 million fine for sexual content in Married by America was based on 90 complaints from 23 people - all but two of them using a form letter produced by the conservative Parents Television Council.

Excellent point, and Jeff's groundbreaking story (discussed infra) was infinitely more revealing than the breast thingie. (And, I suspect, much more revealing about the inner workings of the divisive dispute over personal tastes which is so inappropriately called the "Culture War.")

What bothers me is that I failed to keep abreast of what these people are all calling the biggest "offensive" yet in the Culture War. Another 9/11, no less! And I didn't see it! (Although I suspect I still wouldn't get it if I had.)

Shame on me! I'll have to get caught up somehow, folks. But I'd been all caught up in RatherGate, which I thought was a much dirtier affair than NippleGate. Wrong again (at least according to conventional wisdom).

I always miss the breast best parts.

(Sheesh! Some Culture War blog this is turning out to be . . . )

posted by Eric on 12.28.04 at 09:55 AM


Our once-fierce radicals have nothing left to radicalize but sex. The teenagers will become indignant and save the world.

Um-hum. Just like last time.


Personally, I like my sex private.

Anthony   ·  December 28, 2004 10:32 PM

I actually think there is a culture war, but boobies ... Janet's or Girls Gone Wild in Fort Lauderdale ... are not the issue. And it's more than "personal taste."

It's really about those that recognize there is a personal and public societal sphere of behavior and those that blur the line.

Janet's stunt in a Vegas showroom would not have even produced a raised eyebrow.

Indeed, I would posit that most people who found her stunt at the Super Bowl beyond the pale have no problem with Vegas shows, clubs, adult movies, etc.

So why would Shales deem it necessary to broadbrush them as "nutjobs"?

The answer to that is to define the culture war.

Darleen   ·  December 28, 2004 10:51 PM

If you're into those kind of polls, try this.

peter bellone   ·  December 29, 2004 1:01 AM


The way we define 'human' determines our view of self,
others, relationships, institutions, life, and future.
Important? Only the Creator who made us in His own image
is qualified to define us accurately. Choose wisely...
there are results.

In an effort to diminish the multiple and persistent
dangers and abuses which have characterized the affairs
of man in his every Age, and to assist in the requisite
search for human identity, it is essential to perceive
and specify that distinction which naturally and most
uniquely defines the human being. Because definitions
rule in the minds, behaviors, and institutions of men,
we can be confident that delineating and communicating
that quality will assist the process of resolution and
the courageous ascension to which man is called. As
Americans of the 21st Century, we are obliged and privi-
leged to join our forebears and participate in this
continuing paradigm proclamation.

"WHAT IS MAN...?" God asks - and answers:

Many problems in human experience are the result of false
and inaccurate definitions of humankind premised in man-
made religions and humanistic philosophies.

Human knowledge is a fraction of the whole universe. The
balance is a vast void of human ignorance. Human reason
cannot fully function in such a void, thus, the intellect
can rise no higher than the criteria by which it perceives
and measures values.

Humanism makes man his own standard of measure. However,
as with all measuring systems, a standard must be greater
than the value measured. Based on preponderant ignorance
and an egocentric carnal nature, humanism demotes reason
to the simpleton task of excuse-making in behalf of the
rule of appetites, desires, feelings, emotions, and glands.

Because man, hobbled in an ego-centric predicament, cannot
invent criteria greater than himself, the humanist lacks
a predictive capability. Without instinct or transcendent
criteria, humanism cannot evaluate options with foresight
and vision for progression and survival. Lacking foresight,
man is blind to potential consequence and is unwittingly
committed to mediocrity, averages, and regression - and
worse. Humanism is an unworthy worship.

The void of human ignorance can easily be filled with a
functional faith while not-so-patiently awaiting the foot-
dragging growth of human knowledge and behavior. Faith,
initiated by the Creator and revealed and validated in His
Word, the Bible, brings a transcendent standard to man the
choice-maker. Other philosophies and religions are man-
made, humanism, and thereby lack what only the Bible has:

1.Transcendent Criteria and
2.Fulfilled Prophetic Validation.

The vision of faith in God and His Word is survival equip-
ment for today and the future.

Man is earth's Choicemaker. Psalm 25:12 He is by nature
and nature's God a creature of Choice - and of Criteria.
Psalm 119:30,173 His unique and definitive characteristic
is, and of Right ought to be, the natural foundation of
his environments, institutions, and respectful relations
to his fellow-man. Thus, he is oriented to a Freedom
whose roots are in the Order of the universe.

At the sub-atomic level of the physical universe quantum
physics indicates a multifarious gap or division in the
causal chain; particles to which position cannot be
assigned at all times, systems that pass from one energy
state to another without manifestation in intermediate
states, entities without mass, fields whose substance is
as insubstantial as "a probability."

Only statistical conglomerates pay tribute to
deterministic forces. Singularities do not and are
therefore random, unpredictable, mutant, and in this
sense, uncaused. The finest contribution inanimate
reality is capable of making toward choice, without its
own selective agencies, is this continuing manifestation
of opportunity as the pre-condition to choice it defers
to the natural action of living forms.

Biological science affirms that each level of life,
single-cell to man himself, possesses attributes of
sensitivity, discrimination, and selectivity, and in
the exclusive and unique nature of each diversified
life form.

The survival and progression of life forms has all too
often been dependent upon the ever-present undeterminative
potential and appearance of one unique individual organism
within the whole spectrum of a given life-form. Only the
uniquely equipped individual organism is, like The Golden
Wedge of Ophir, capable of traversing the causal gap to
survival and progression. Mere reproductive determinacy
would have rendered life forms incapable of such potential.

Only a moving universe of opportunity plus choice enables
the present reality.

Each individual human being possesses a unique, highly
developed, and sensitive perception of diversity. Thus
aware, man is endowed with a natural capability for enact-
ing internal mental and external physical selectivity.
Quantitative and qualitative choice-making thus lends
itself as the superior basis of an active intelligence.

Man is earth's Choicemaker. His title describes his
definitive and typifying characteristic. Recall that his
other features are but vehicles of experience intent on
the development of perceptive awareness and the
following acts of decision. Note that the products of
man cannot define him for they are the fruit of the
discerning choice-making process and include the
cognition of self, the utility of experience, the
development of value-measuring systems and language,
and the acculturation of civilization.

The arts and the sciences of man, as with his habits,
customs, and traditions, are the creative harvest of
his perceptive and selective powers. Creativity is a
choice-making process. His articles, constructs, and
commodities, however marvelous to behold, deserve
neither awe nor idolatry, for man, not his contrivance,
is earth's own highest expression of the creative process.

Man is earth's Choicemaker. The sublime and significant
act of choosing is, itself, the Archimedean fulcrum upon
which man levers and redirects the forces of cause and
effect to an elected level of quality and diversity.
Further, it orients him toward a natural environmental
opportunity, freedom, and bestows earth's title, The
Choicemaker, on his singular and plural brow.

Deterministic systems, ideological symbols of abdication
by man from his natural role as earth's Choicemaker,
inevitably degenerate into collectivism; the negation of
singularity, they become a conglomerate plural-based
system of measuring human value. Blunting an awareness
of diversity, blurring alternatives, and limiting the
selective creative process, they are self-relegated to
a passive and circular regression.

Tampering with man's selective nature endangers his
survival for it would render him impotent and obsolete
by denying the tools of diversity, individuality,
perception, criteria, selectivity, and progress.
Coercive attempts produce revulsion, for such acts
are contrary to an indeterminate nature and nature's
indeterminate off-spring, man the Choicemaker.

Until the oppressors discover that wisdom only just
begins with a respectful acknowledgment of The Creator,
The Creation, and The Choicemaker, they will be ever
learning but never coming to a knowledge of the truth.
The rejection of Creator-initiated standards relegates
the mind of man to its own primitive, empirical, and
delimited devices. It is thus that the human intellect
cannot ascend and function at any level higher than the
criteria by which it perceives and measures values.

Additionally, such rejection of transcendent criteria
self-denies man the vision and foresight essential to
decision-making for survival and progression. He is left,
instead, with the redundant wreckage of expensive hind-
sight, including human institutions characterized by
averages, mediocrity, and regression.

Humanism, mired in the circular and mundane egocentric
predicament, is ill-equipped to produce transcendent
criteria. Evidenced by those who do not perceive
superiority and thus find themselves beset by the shifting
winds of the carnal-ego; i.e., moods, feelings, desires,
appetites, etc., the mind becomes subordinate: a mere
device for excuse-making and rationalizing self-justifica-

The carnal-ego rejects criteria and self-discipline for such
instruments are tools of the mind and the attitude. The
appetites of the flesh have no need of standards for at the
point of contention standards are perceived as alien, re-
strictive, and inhibiting. Yet, the very survival of our
physical nature itself depends upon a maintained sover-
eignty of the mind and of the spirit.

It remained, therefore, to the initiative of a personal
and living Creator to traverse the human horizon and
fill the vast void of human ignorance with an intelli-
gent and definitive faith. Man is thus afforded the
prime tool of the intellect - a Transcendent Standard
by which he may measure values in experience, anticipate
results, and make enlightened and visionary choices.

Only the unique and superior God-man Person can deserved-
ly displace the ego-person from his predicament and free
the individual to measure values and choose in a more
excellent way. That sublime Person was indicated in the
words of the prophet Amos, "...said the Lord, Behold,
I will set a plumbline in the midst of my people Israel."
Y'shua Mashiyach Jesus said, "If I be lifted up I will
draw all men unto myself."

As long as some choose to abdicate their personal reality
and submit to the delusions of humanism, determinism, and
collectivism, just so long will they be subject and re-
acting only, to be tossed by every impulse emanating from
others. Those who abdicate such reality may, in perfect
justice, find themselves weighed in the balances of their
own choosing.

That human institution which is structured on the
principle, "...all men are endowed by their Creator with
...Liberty...," is a system with its roots in the natural
Order of the universe. The opponents of such a system are
necessarily engaged in a losing contest with nature and
nature's God. Biblical principles are still today the
foundation under Western Civilization and the American
way of life. To the advent of a new season we commend the
present generation and the "multitudes in the valley of

Let us proclaim it. Behold!
The Season of Generation-Choicemaker Joel 3:14 KJV

"I should think that if there is one thing that man has
learned about himself it is that he is a creature of
choice." Richard M. Weaver

"Man is a being capable of subduing his emotions and
impulses; he can rationalize his behavior. He arranges
his wishes into a scale, he chooses; in short, he acts.
What distinguishes man from beasts is precisely that he
adjusts his behavior deliberately." Ludwig von Mises

"To make any sense of the idea of morality, it must be
presumed that the human being is responsible for his
actions and responsibility cannot be understood apart
from the presumption of freedom of choice."
John Chamberlain

"The advocate of liberty believes that it is complementary
of the orderly laws of cause and effect, of probability
and of chance, of which man is not completely informed.
It is complementary of them because it rests in part upon
the faith that each individual is endowed by his Creator
with the power of individual choice."
Wendell J. Brown

"Our Founding Fathers believed that we live in an ordered
universe. They believed themselves to be a part of the
universal order of things. Stated another way, they
believed in God. They believed that every man must find
his own place in a world where a place has been made for
him. They sought independence for their nation but, more
importantly, they sought freedom for individuals to think
and act for themselves. They established a republic
dedicated to one purpose above all others - the preserva-
tion of individual liberty..." Ralph W. Husted

"We have the gift of an inner liberty so far-reaching
that we can choose either to accept or reject the God
who gave it to us, and it would seem to follow that the
Author of a liberty so radical wills that we should be
equally free in our relationships with other men.
Spiritual liberty logically demands conditions of outer
and social freedom for its completion." Edmund A. Opitz

"Above all I see an ability to choose the better from the
worse that has made possible life's progress."
Charles Lindbergh

"Freedom is the Right to Choose, the Right to create for
oneself the alternatives of Choice. Without the possibil-
ity of Choice, and the exercise of Choice, a man is not
a man but a member, an instrument, a thing."
Thomas Jefferson

Q: "What is man that You are mindful of him, and the son
of man that You visit him?" Psalm 8:4
A: "I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against
you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing
and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and
your descendants may live." Deuteronomy 30:19

Q: "Lord, what is man, that You take knowledge of him?
Or the son of man, that you are mindful of him?" Psalm
A: "And if it seems evil to you to serve the Lord, choose
for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the
gods which your fathers served that were on the other
side of the river, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose
land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will
serve the Lord." Joshua 24:15

Q: "What is man, that he could be pure? And he who is
born of a woman, that he could be righteous?" Job 15:14
A: "Who is the man that fears the Lord? Him shall He
teach in the way he chooses." Psalm 25:12

Q: "What is man, that You should magnify him, that You
should set Your heart on him?" Job 7:17
A: "Do not envy the oppressor and choose none of his
ways." Proverbs 3:31

Q: "What is man that You are mindful of him, or the son
of man that You take care of him?" Hebrews 2:6
A: "I have chosen the way of truth; your judgments I have
laid before me." Psalm 119:30 "Let Your hand become my
help, for I have chosen Your precepts."Psalm 119:173

Genesis 3:3,6 Deuteronomy 11:26-28; 30:19 Job 5:23
Isaiah 7:14-15; 13:12; 61:1 Amos 7:8 Joel 3:14
Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 Psalm 119:1-176

Sir Isaac Newton
The greatest scientist in human history
a Bible-Believing Christian
an authority on the Bible's Book of Daniel
committed to individual value
and individual liberty

Daniel 9:25-26 Habakkuk 2:2-3 KJV selah

"What is man...?" Earth's Choicemaker Psalm 25:12 KJV

An old/new paradigm - Mr. Jefferson would agree!
(There is no alternative!)

+ + +

"Man cannot make or invent or contrive principles. He
can only discover them and he ought to look through the
discovery to the Author." -- Thomas Paine 1797

Jim Baxter   ·  December 29, 2004 10:23 AM

Lots to think about -- particularly in that last collection of comments.

But unless I'm missing something, I just don't think Janet Jackson's nipple was really the 9/11 of the Culture War.

Eric Scheie   ·  December 29, 2004 10:57 AM

One of the villains in the Marquis de Sade's "120 Days of Sodom" (a book you probably would not want to give to your child on his 6th birthday) remarked: "A tit is an infamous thing."

Having no television in the 18th century, he knew not how prophetic he was.

The thing that comes to my mind when I think of Janet Jackson's infamous tit is how Matt Drudge expressed shock and indignation at the display, and then, to show us just how indignant and outraged he was, showed a big close-up of that breast, which I saved to my disk as a .jpg file. I'm also turned on by the way Tammy Bruce, a Lesbian, a woman turned on by another woman's breasts, was mad at them showing that breast on TV. Her _style_!

I have to agree with Darleen. A football game on TV in prime time is a different setting than a strip club in Las Vegas or a Web site or blog. There are laws in every town against taking off your clothes on the sidewalk. When I pulled down my pants in the lunchroom for a banana in 1st grade, my Mama gave me a good spanking. I was a naughty boy.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: Taboos are necessary. The mystery and forbiddenness of sex is what makes sex sexy. I'm against the liberals or Naturalists trying to break down all barriers between "everyday reality" and erotic/aphroditic reality".

I get stiff thinking of holy Dawn and her holy Negro wife Norma and their stiff laws against adultery. Discipline. The bondage of holy wedlock. Captivating. Tight and High. Conservative Lesbian Individualist Theology.

And I love the _style_of Jim Baxter's comment here. Individual Freedom within Divine Order.

Enter Grudge   ·  January 16, 2005 4:59 PM

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