Saturday, June 17, 2006

A Paucity of Categories

"Is there really no middle ground between Coulter's little black dress and a big black burka?"--Rebecca Merrill Groothuis.


chris said...

I'm with you guys here. Americans often have trouble distinguishing freedom from license. Modesty is not culturally relative any more than justice is culturally relative. A culture may have ideas of modesty, but they must be held up to Modesty itself.

nancy said...

LOL - thanks Rebecca!

Tom Wanchick said...

Surely, there are more categories.

But if Coulter was not immodest in her outfit on the bookcover, then why should she opt for any other "category"?

Of course, Dr. Groothuis will insist that she WAS immodest. He hasn't given good reason to think so, though.

Tom G said...

It's not just a question of modesty. The rest of the problem is that her approach is self-defeating.

If you listen to her being interviewed, she is a quick, facile thinker with strongly held principles. What she is promoting and provoking, though, is not quick, principled thinking, it's just reaction.

The dress is part of it. On Leno (wearing the dress she wore for the book cover photo) she said, "I am not trying to attract attention to myself. If I were trying to attract attention I would grow my hair long and wear a sexy dress."

Tom Wanchick said...

"What she is promoting and provoking, though, is not quick, principled thinking, it's just reaction."

Where do you get this from? Did you read the book? It's full of salient insights.

For goodness' sake, it contains like three chapters on science and Darwinism -- and they aren't just babbling discussions. They possess real content and refute real arguments coming from liberals.

It's unfair to mislabel Coulter's book with such comments.

Dr Mike said...

Jesus hangs naked from the Cross and we're talking about Ann Coulter's attire?

Am I missing something here?

Tim said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Tim said...


Yes, you are missing something here -- probably lots of things. Start with the question of voluntary control over one's wardrobe and proceed from there.

When Coulter came and spoke at my campus recently, she wore a dress that came down barely far enough to cover her underwear. It was, frankly, somewhat embarrassing for me, as I had brought my 13 year old daughter to the event. Ann was funny, caustic, opinionated, and very fast on her feet. But her attire was definitely a distraction from the legitimate points she made.

Laura L said...

Modesty is an interesting subject to me, as I have recently been recovering from having joined a mennonite cult.
Chris said "Modesty is not culturally relative"
I would vehemently disagree. One of my hobbies is historical costume. Modesty in victorian, Roman, medieval, ancient egyption, or modern times is wildly different. Modesty in an amazonian indian tribe is not the same as modesty in Saudi Arabia. Modesty has shifted in this country within the last 60 years considerably, and in the 60 years before that shifted even more drastically. Clothes that even the most conservative of modern christians today wear would have been viewed as scandalous by our great grandmothers. Showing your ankles was something trollops did not so long ago. Wearing lipstick or any makeup of any type was also only for whores not so very long ago. My own conservative Baptist grandma certainly thought so. My Mennonite friends certainly think so today. The idea that there is an objective standard for modesty is the road to legalism and searching the cults to find the one group who does it "right". The word translated as modesty is kosmios, which means orderly, decent. I think this means appropriate to the circumstance. I would like to hear more on this subject though as I am still trying to come to grips with it from having gone overboard into legalism. I am struggling with allowing my girls (4 & 7) to wear swimming suits.

Tom G said...

Tom Wanchick,

I may have spoken a bit carelessly when I said "what she's promoting is . . . just reaction." I'm sure her book actually is full of salient insights, as you said. That's why I used the term "self-defeating" to describe the effect. I know she can be and is a very good thinker, yet she uses techniques--including the LBD we're writing about here--that promote reaction rather than thought. This undermines what would have thought to be her purpose, which is promoting good thinking. (And selling books--at least she's accomplishing that.)