She Wore a Very Modest Not Demean-y Controversial Sports Illustrated Burkini

Kristin Devine

Kristin has humbly retired as Ordinary Times' friendly neighborhood political whipping girl to focus on culture and gender issues. She lives in a wildlife refuge in rural Washington state with too many children and way too many animals. There's also a blog which most people would very much disapprove of

Related Post Roulette

143 Responses

  1. DensityDuck says:

    “And as if on cue, the “these crazy conservatives and their calls for theocracy have got to be stopped” came from some on the left.”

    Indeed, we had a discussion about that here. (amusingly, that discussion suggests that wearing burkhas is a ridiculous concession to religio-patriarchal hypermodesty.)Report

  2. DensityDuck says:

    And the issue is that liberals see “Muslim = nonwhite” and because reasons by contagion these days they think that criticizing anything Muslim-related means you’re criticizing nonwhite people and DATS RACIST.Report

    • LeeEsq in reply to DensityDuck says:

      There are liberals who seem to tolerate the modesty rules in Islam more than they do in other religions. I can’t see an Orthodox Jewish women becoming a liberal darling like Linda Sansour and Ilan Omar if she decides to adhere to Jewish modesty laws.Report

  3. Doctor Jay says:

    As far as I’m concerned calls of “these crazy conservatives and their calls for theocracy have got to be stopped” are liberal clickbait. I mostly ignore it these days. I am a liberal.

    Modesty is a concept that we have a really hard time talking about, it turns out. Probably because its related to sex, and that’s a subject that is, well, fraught.

    The fundamental idea of modesty is “don’t make yourself stand out – don’t put yourself above others”. Clothing modesty takes this idea to dress, informed by exactly the impression you had when you first saw that older girl showing so much skin. Wow, that attracts a lot of attention – attention that people who aren’t dressed like that aren’t getting. So that’s how it violates modesty.

    These days, telling people not to draw attention to themselves is a bit like telling them to stick their head underwater for 10 minutes. They tend to look at you funny. I’m not sure it’s a good thing, but I’ll refrain from any further “kids these days!” This naturally extends to dress. You can find men dressed less modestly as well, as well as behaving less modestly. You can start looking at the White House, in fact.

    A burkini strikes me as the result of a complex process. A burka was supposed to be about modesty, but it was a practice rather than a concept. The practice got sort of frozen in amber while the culture moved. Now wearing a burka doesn’t make you blend it, it makes you stand out. Not sexually of course, but the core concept of modesty isn’t particular to sexual attention.

    Wearing a burka or just hijab draws attention. It’s a statement of faith, and of culture. It’s being “loud and proud”. So why shouldn’t we have a swimsuit? For many, the concept behind modesty has become secondary to the cultural identifier of the garment. It’s fine for people to be proud of where they come from.

    As for hypocrisy, I have two observations. The first I’ve made here before. Everyone is a hypocrite. Every last one of us. The observation does not pack much of a punch for me. I find it more interesting to try and figure out why. Sometimes it isn’t so hard – the hypocrisy encodes hopes or fears or hostility that is otherwise unexpressed.

    The second is that you use “liberals” as though the term denotes a single person. Who said both X and Not X. But those usually aren’t the same people. Sometimes they are. If so, it might be good to interrogate that person more. Maybe not. Conservatives are a diverse lot in terms of ideas, less so in terms of identity. Liberals are less diverse ideologically and more diverse ethnically. But that doesn’t put us in lockstep.Report

  4. So, why do they call themselves “Burkini conservatives”?Report

  5. Chip Daniels says:

    Sexuality frustrates political movements on all sides because we ourselves, each and every one of us, is deeply conflicted about our own sense of being and sexuality.

    The line between admiration and objectification is very fine and bends in bizarre and contradictory ways, and changes at a moments notice without warning of reason.Report

    • LeeEsq in reply to Chip Daniels says:

      This. To borrow legal terminology, sexuality is what lawyers would call an ultra hazardous activity. Something that can’t be made safe even with the best efforts. Elements across the political spectrum are trying to make sexuality safe in different ways and for different reasons but the ultimate goal is to get rid of the potential for harm caused by sex at its most primal. Both are failing because of the conflicting beliefs people have about sex and sexuality.Report

  6. JoeSal says:

    “we’re pissing all over these peoples norms, why don’t they like us anymore!”

    Conservatism is really NOT just like liberalism.Report

  7. veronica d says:

    Oh good grief. Our vice president has a history of supporting gay conversion therapy. Right now the republicans who get elected do so on a platform of destroying my ability to live in public.

    Just OMFG are you this clueless?

    I am well aware that there are plenty of lovely Christians who are not like this. For example, both of my parents, including my mother with her WWJD bracelet. They’re great.

    They also don’t vote for fascist garbage. They aren’t homophobic. They aren’t transphobic. They don’t vote for those who use hatred as a wedge issue to drive votes.

    Stop trying to whitewash manifest hate. It’s not honest. Be honest about what kind of politics you in practice support. And stop with the victim complex. It’s bullshit, from tip to tail. It’s hot garbage. Yes, we call out conservatives, because of what they do when they are in power. This offends you, but take some fucking responsibility.Report

    • DensityDuck in reply to veronica d says:

      this is…not actually a response to the post.Report

    • JoeSal in reply to veronica d says:

      So when do the Social Supremacists get to be called out for their big pile of steaming bull, because this kind of looks like one of those times.Report

      • veronica d in reply to JoeSal says:

        What the heck is a “Social Supremacists”?Report

        • JoeSal in reply to veronica d says:

          Anyone that disagrees with me.Report

          • veronica d in reply to JoeSal says:

            Sometimes you seem to almost have a point, but like … do you have a point?Report

            • JoeSal in reply to veronica d says:

              That white washing hate thing works in more than one direction.Report

              • veronica d in reply to JoeSal says:

                Perhaps, but often people give concrete examples of what they are talking about.Report

              • JoeSal in reply to veronica d says:

                Comment response to a burkini in a issue of SI:

                “Stop trying to whitewash manifest hate. It’s not honest. Be honest about what kind of politics you in practice support. And stop with the victim complex. It’s bullshit, from tip to tail. It’s hot garbage. Yes, we call out conservatives, because of what they do when they are in power.”Report

              • veronica d in reply to JoeSal says:

                Yes I said that. What is your point?

                Clarity of language is possible. It isn’t always easy, but it can be done. Who do you mean to denote by “Social Supremacists,” which actual people? What makes them “social supremacist”? What properties determine a social supremacist? What does that mean?

                The most common use of the term “supremacist” is in reference to white supremacists. Thus, choosing such a term is unlikely to be value neutral. So, if that was your intent, can you rightly draw parallels between “social” supremacy and racial supremacy?

                As an aside, I’ve noticed a pattern where people try to construct a symmetry between bigotry and those who object to bigotry. Are you trying to do that? If so, you need to look in the mirror. Yes, you might abstract things to find some parallels, but so what? The differences remain critical, namely the actual nature of bigotry versus rejection of same.

                “Social” is a pretty broad term. If you want to make this concrete, you’ll need to do some work. If you’re just playing word-games, and nothing more, then cut it out. Speak plainly.Report

              • JoeSal in reply to veronica d says:

                who will guard against the bigotry of the bigotry guardsReport

              • veronica d in reply to JoeSal says:

                I don’t understand? What is a “bigotry guard”?

                If someone is a bigot, that is a material fact. When you observe bigotry, you should call it out. It’s a thing you can point to. You can say, “That person is being a bigot.”

                If someone elects themselves a “bigotry guard,” but then in turn acts like a bigot, you can (and should) call them out on it.

                But you have to show your work.Report

              • JoeSal in reply to veronica d says:

                Someone has to have discernment about the way society “ought to be” to be able to judge another person to be a bigot in a certain way.

                The default position that society “ought to be a certain way” is a form of intolerant bigotry, which makes a population of judged and judgers 100% bigots in one way or another.

                The Social Supremacists presume they can judge what social objectivity universally should be, and therefore those views that don’t align with their frameworks are bigots(while also trying to hold on to the concept that they themselves are not bigots).

                But that leaves no guards to guard against the bigotry of the bigotry guards, because the bigotry guards presume they are operating correctly.

                The other thing that would have to be resolved, is that if there were one true social objectivity, then no bigotry would exist, because there would be no diverging views from the one true social truth.Report

              • veronica d in reply to JoeSal says:

                Dude, what the fuck?

                Bigotry is a material condition. And yes, we can look at hate and know what we are seeing.Report

              • JoeSal in reply to veronica d says:


                intolerance toward those who hold different opinions from oneself

                (what were you using as a definition towards a material condition?)Report

              • veronica d in reply to JoeSal says:

                Oh grow up.Report

              • JoeSal in reply to veronica d says:

                (age bigotry)Report

  8. CJColucci says:

    I’m not sure who is arguing with whom in the real world. Among my very wide circle of ideologically and ethnically diverse acquaintance, the only opinion I have heard anyone express about the SI burkini model is “Damn, she’s hot,” with which I heartily concur. If Muslim women are looking for ways to be both hot and modest, more power to them. Nobody owes me revealing clothing and lots of skin, however much I might appreciate it when offered. How or whether the sexy burkini fits with common — I avoid “correct” because there is no such thing in religious matters — understanding of Islam is for them to work out. That SI might want to appeal to a growing demographic is perfectly understandable and uncontroversial.Report

    • DensityDuck in reply to CJColucci says:

      Hunting is considered by many to be a sporting activity.

      If the swimsuit issue had a bikini model carrying a shotgun, would you consider that to be a provocative statement? Or would you consider it no stranger than a women carrying a fishing pole or a volleyball?Report

      • CJColucci in reply to DensityDuck says:

        Depends on how hot the model is. I’ve seen and enjoyed plenty of pictures of gun-toting bikini models elsewhere and have hunted myself, though not in a bikini. I leave to SI whether it thinks gun-toting bikini models would appeal to its audience.Report

        • Morat20 in reply to CJColucci says:

          Guns are a sport, but it’s a rather strange sport to have on the beach, and the SI swimsuit edition has always been pool-and-beach oriented.

          So I suppose the average viewer would be a little “Why does she have her rifle at the beach?”, so it’d be a bit weird, but if the issue had her in a bikini at the range, or in the woods, or whatnot, it wouldn’t be weird.

          It’s just plain contextual — I’m sure there are some people that bring guns to the pool or the beach, but it’s not really what the average person considers a normal prop for such places. (Whereas, of course, a surfboard, volleyball, or even a fishing pole would work.).

          it’s kind of a weird argument in the first place. Finding pictures of women in skimpy swimsuits with guns is no more difficult than finding them draped over cars. It’s a really common image. Sex sells, whether cars or guns or magazines.Report

          • Oscar Gordon in reply to Morat20 says:

            Why does she have her rifle at the beach?

            It’s the SI Eldritch Emergence Special Swimsuit Edition. One has to defend the beachhead with the proper gear, while looking sexy.Report

  9. Jaybird says:

    You know how Christianity was destroyed in this country? Sex, drugs, and rock & roll.

    You think we can destroy Islam using the same dosage that the remaining Christians today require? Heck no! They’ll puke it out immediately. You have to go back to much smaller doses and start with the Camel’s nose, not his whole dang neck and head (which, may I point out, can be drawn to appear quite phallic).

    Start with burkinis today. We’ll show ankles tomorrow.Report

  10. dragonfrog says:

    There is a lot to this piece, and a lot to think about. I’m going to address only two parts right now.

    1) What does it say about conservatism, if the experience of seeing a photo of a perfectly nice looking model, at the beach, smiling, who happens to be wearing a burkini, feels like an attack to them, and hey, that’s because it is one. ?

    Like, what is the value being attacked here?

    I think this is a rather interesting piece – an interview with Halima Aden, in SI, about her appearance in the SI swimsuit edition

    2) I don’t know a lot of conservative people, and I don’t know a lot of people who liked the Robin Thicke song “Blurred Lines” – but the people I know who like the song are ALL among the more conservative ones. I don’t know a single politically left / progressive person who to my knowledge likes that song, and I haven’t seen a single piece complaining about conservatives condemning it – the only things I’ve read about it are (a) coming from the political “left” and (b) condemning it as a part of rape culture.

    Among the hippies who are most of my friends, that song was seen as disgusting and rapey. These are a very sex-positive group of people – they’re just very strong on consent absolutely required.

    I personally hate the song viscerally to the point that if it comes on, I will either change the music or walk out depending on whether it’s a situation where me interfering with the music would be appropriate. I’ve left a wedding dance to walk off my panic reaction when it came on in the past.Report

    • dragonfrog in reply to dragonfrog says:

      Also a slightly related thing about “including people to make a point”

      There’s a commentary thing, but really the comic makes the whole point reasonably well.Report

    • Mike Dwyer in reply to dragonfrog says:

      “What does it say about conservatism, if the experience of seeing a photo of a perfectly nice looking model, at the beach, smiling, who happens to be wearing a burkini, feels like an attack to them…”

      I have to agree with this. I take the inclusion of this model as political, sure, but not necessarily an attack. I know lots of conservatives that literally cannot have a conversation about Muslims without making a bad joke about terrorists or cutting off people’s heads or whatever. It’s honestly one of the things I like least about the post-9/11 Right.

      I will also say that I very much agree with the couple of Twitter posts Kristin linked to. Burkinis and SI feel counter-productive to my understanding of Muslim modesty, but as CJ says above, “…understanding of Islam is for them to work out.”Report

      • dragonfrog in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

        Sure the inclusion of a Muslim model in a burkini was political. The exclusion of Muslim models in burkinis in all previous swimsuit editions was also political.

        A question is political or it isn’t – you can’t say “this answer to the question is political, but that one is apolitical”.

        I really recommend the SI article I linked. If anyone has some insight into what exactly the politics of Salima Aden’s appearance in the swimsuit edition are, it’s going to be Salima Aden.Report

        • Jaybird in reply to dragonfrog says:

          The exclusion of Muslim models in burkinis in all previous swimsuit editions was also political.

          See also: Mennonites.Report

        • Pinky in reply to dragonfrog says:

          I disagree with both of your points. I wouldn’t consider my purchase of Crest up until this point to be political, but my decision to switch to Colgate is motivated by a desire to hit Procter and Gamble, however slightly, for their Gillette ads.

          Putting pictures of girls in swimwear in a magazine has earned SI money, because guys like girls. Putting them in smaller swimwear has earned them more money, because guys like seeing more skin. Putting a woman in the magazine with more covering is an attempt to earn them money by appealing to an ideological agenda. If the definition of politics includes their initial motives, it includes everything, and the word becomes synonymous with “motivations”.

          And why would Salima Aden have any insight into the politics of her appearance in the issue? A soldier will have insight into the experience of battle, but probably not into the politics of a war.Report

          • Mike Dwyer in reply to Pinky says:

            I was typing out a reply but Pinky did a much better job than me so I will just cosign.Report

          • dragonfrog in reply to Pinky says:

            1) She has plenty of insight into why she chose to apply to be in the magazine, and why she accepted the gig when the offer came through.

            2) Who’s going to have a well thought out understanding of the politics of burkinis in America – a woman who wears burkinis in America, or a non-Muslim dude with Very Important Opinions?

            3) The fact that SI ran the article in which Aden discusses her reasoning does provide a pretty strong indication that they endorse those politics, even if they also have other political reasons of their own.

            I’ll note that as soon as you asked yourself the question of whether to switch brands of toothpaste after some Gillette ads with an overt political position, either answer was a political one.Report

            • George Turner in reply to dragonfrog says:

              My decision not to brush my teeth with Gillette products had nothing to do with politics, and everything to do with Gillette making shaving cream, not toothpaste. ^_^Report

            • Pinky in reply to dragonfrog says:

              As soon as I read Freud, every toothpaste decision became about sex. As soon as 9/11, every toothpaste decision became about whether the terrorists would win. As soon as I “woke”, every toothpaste decision became about privilege. But all to such a tiny degree that none of those frameworks affected any of my decisions. (Although long toothpaste tubes intimidate me as a man.)Report

        • InMD in reply to dragonfrog says:

          What a bizarre statement. I guess the exclusion of men, elderly women, and people with dwarfism is also political.* It’s almost like you’ve entirely missed the point of what this magazine is and what its audience is interested in.

          *It is not my intent to kink or sexuality shame, there are other magazines for those interests and that’s fine by me.Report

          • dragonfrog in reply to InMD says:

            Sure it’s political. “That’s what our audience likes so providing it must be apolitical” is silly. By that logic, nothing can be political as long as it’s profitable.Report

            • InMD in reply to dragonfrog says:

              Oh give me a break. Profitability has nothing to do with it and I said nowhere that it did. Every little matter of taste or decision to cater to a particular taste is not in itself an endorsement of law or policy. Period. Treating it that way is exactly what leads to these little episodes of cultural schizophrenia where the most mundane things are made into matters of great importance, panic, and culture war. It’s bad for everyone and no one wins.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to InMD says:

                From the other day:

                Pitaro has also satisfied ESPN’s more traditional fans by steering commentators away from political discussions on-air and on social media, which heightened during President Trump’s criticism of NFL player protests against social injustice during the playing of the national anthem.

                “Without question our data tells us our fans do not want us to cover politics,” Pitaro said. “My job is to provide clarity. I really believe that some of our talent was confused on what was expected of them. If you fast-forward to today, I don’t believe they are confused.”


              • InMD in reply to Jaybird says:

                He’s right to do it. Politics are for Sunday morning, not Sunday afternoon.
                There is a subsection of our culture that wants everything politicized and from their perspective, deeply embedded in their class and cultural spaces, it is very difficult to see that their preferences aren’t universal.

                And it’s a good thing that they aren’t. The politicization of everything is a bad and illiberal thing. The politicization of everything in a big, multicultural society is a recipe for Balkanization.Report

              • veronica d in reply to InMD says:

                The problem is, which things are politicized is itself essentially political. Of course, “no one” wants politics intruding on their football games, because obviously. Except, what is special about football that makes is apolitical, in contrast to a Hijab? Who decided that?

                Let’s be clear: a Muslim woman in the U.S. has no choice about this. She cannot just unilaterally decide, “Hey, my modest dress is apolitical.” She might want that (and I don’t blame her), but it is political because our society deems it thus.

                Why shouldn’t liking trucks and football and BBQ be just as politicized as a hijab? Because it is inconvenient? Because people don’t like that kind of politics?

                But they do like that kind of politics, but only when it is directed at minorities or queers. They like that kind of politics a lot. They love it. They bathe in it.Report

              • InMD in reply to veronica d says:

                No, you are wrong and you are engaging in your own form of stereotyping and making wild assumptions based on those stereotypes. Stereotypes wouldn’t exist if there wasn’t a little bit of truth to them but this is where you wander from the motte right out into the bailey.

                Millions of people watch football, own trucks, go to bbqs and engage in any number of mundane things that have nothing to do with their politics. Most of them are not engaged politically in any serious way, do not think about politics regularly, and are most certainly not concious of the kinds of broad-based identity affiliations you’d attribute to them based on the flimsiest of evidence. Even plenty of politically engaged people have all kinds of tensions, conflicts, and inconsistencies in what they think. That’s because they’re individuals in the same mess as everyone else.

                So yes, I’d love nothing more than a society where a personal choice without coercion to wear religious garb was less political. There are a number of forces that make that hard and those forces are worth standing up to. But turning another set of vicious little prejudices in a scatter shot manner onto random other people is not doing that. It isn’t brave, and when done writ-large it makes everyone a lot stupider, a lot less open minded, and a lot less willing to live and let live, which is the entire point of the liberal project.Report

              • veronica d in reply to InMD says:

                Yet you’ve fallen into a trap, because I made no actual comments about the political content of football, truck, and BBQs.

                Millions of people engage in gay relationships or are transgender, but who attach (or wish to attach) no political meaning to those things. So my question is, why are those politicized, but not football? What is the difference?

                One of my ex-gfs was really into football. Did that have political meaning? Should it?

                She was also transgender. Does that have political meaning? Should it?

                Why are those questions different?

                Football-watchers wish to be free of politics. Okay. So do I.

                My point is, who chooses these things?Report

              • InMD in reply to veronica d says:

                I didn’t fall into a trap. This is what you said:

                ‘Why shouldn’t liking trucks and football and BBQ be just as politicized as a hijab? Because it is inconvenient? Because people don’t like that kind of politics?

                But they do like that kind of politics, but only when it is directed at minorities or queers. They like that kind of politics a lot. They love it. They bathe in it.’

                Maybe you misspoke but you said right there that people who like x thing also take y political position.

                I don’t think the entertainment your ex likes says anything in particular about her politics. Gay relationships are (though are also I think becoming less of) a political issue because our society was founded by people with religious opposition to them and those people enacted criminal laws punishing gay sexual activity, and took other legal and social measures to harm and exclude them from the full benefits of citizenship. Removing those barriers unfortunately requires political action but the end goal is a world where gay relationships are not particularly political. Not a world where everyone is gay or subscribes to a particular philosophy on the morality of those relationships or homosexuality in general.

                It isn’t about who deserves what it’s about the reality in which we live. Some problems do require political action. Not all problems do. Deciding between them requires thinking about what the ends are, which tools make most sense to achieve those ends, and when to use them.Report

              • Pinky in reply to veronica d says:

                Wearing a hijab in the US isn’t political, except to the extent that it implies endorsement of the political dimensions of Islam.Report

              • CJColucci in reply to InMD says:

                In sports, as in so many other things, it isn’t “politics” unless you disagree with it. I’ve managed for decades to ignore the obvious traditional politics of big-time sports and focus on the game. But I knew it was there. I didn’t much mind when different kinds of politics popped up now and then, but I didn’t care much about it, either. I can’t disagree with a network executive whose market research tells him that his audience doesn’t want the kind of politics it recognizes as politics, as opposed to the kind of politics it doesn’t recognize as politics, but just “normal,” dammit, and acting accordingly. But let’s not kid ourselves.Report

              • InMD in reply to CJColucci says:

                Listen, I think a lot of the flag waving, uber-patriotic mumbo jumbo involved in pro sports is ridiculous. It isn’t my bag. I’m one of the people who leaves to get a beer and take a piss during the 17th rendition of God Bless America by whatever local National Guard attache is out there on a random Sunday afternoon. I’m not into Freedom Fries or any other conservative flavor of the same phenomenon. You’ll note nowhere in my comments have I said otherwise.

                But the solution to the BS conservative version of it isn’t some other BS progressive version of it either.Report

              • veronica d in reply to InMD says:

                Yep. The whole idea that football is somehow apolitical is what we nicely call a lie.Report

              • InMD in reply to veronica d says:

                I don’t think the game itself is but plenty of the displays and advertising that have become associated with it are.Report

              • George Turner in reply to InMD says:

                I would argue that the displays and advertising were never historically political, just very pro American. The entire fan base used to be extremely patriotic. Even our communists acted patriotic when it came to sports.

                Joe DiMaggio was a hero to everybody, especially Italians-Americans. Athletes may have had politics, but nobody cared if the stars were Republicans or Democrats because that was left outside the stadium. The battle was between New York and Boston, and everyone on any side agreed American was the greatest, even if the Yankees had obviously signed some kind of pact with Satan.

                Politics intruded in the 50’s, 60’s, and 70’s, but that was regarding black athletes and it got pretty well settled. Willie Mays was better than everyone else and that was that.

                However, a group of progressive, post-68 radicals got ensconced in academia and taught that everything about America is evil, and that any celebration of America is inherently racist, sexist, misogynist, and every other “ist”.

                Once that worldview set in, those formerly apolitical patriotic displays seemed highly political, but only to a select group of woke people who strongly object to what were until recently the shared values of the entire community, both on the left, the center, and the right.

                The woke people saw those displays of patriotism as an evil right-wing value, and decide that white nationalism and American imperialism is getting spread via sports. So once some of them got put in charge of sports programming, they tried to throw a blanket on the rah rah, USA, USA stuff. Most fans quickly perceived partisan politics at work because sports had always been apolitical, not condescending and preachy.Report

              • dragonfrog in reply to George Turner says:

                Politics intruded in the 50’s, 60’s, and 70’s, but that was regarding black athletes and it got pretty well settled.

                Ooh ooh can I know this one!

                You notice how the ongoing existence of segregated sports leagues was “not political”, but ending segregation was “political”?Report

              • George Turner in reply to dragonfrog says:

                Segregated sports leagues was no more political than everything else that was segregated. Nobody was saying that the segregated buses, housing, hotels, and the Woolworth’s lunch counter policy was okay, but segregated baseball teams was just taking things too far. It was all one big heap of injustice. But there was a nagging feeling that if Jesse Owens was so fast, were the country’s best athletes absent from our top teams?

                Back then, everybody knew Southern Democrats would never accept black athletes on white teams, and often Northerners were worse. Everybody thought white fans would never accept mixed teams.

                But a pair of very Christian, conservative and staunch Republicans, Branch Rickey and Jackie Robinson, decided to change things, not through politics, but by avoiding politics and focusing on religion, free enterprise, and people’s wallets.

                And that worked. Even Southern Democrats value winning above most everything, and so all the dominoes fell. The ’68 Olympics got pretty political, with the Black Panthers protesting, the ongoing Vietnam War, and such, but by an large neither sports nor athletes got dragged into partisan politics.Report

              • pillsy in reply to George Turner says:

                Segregated sports leagues was no more political than everything else that was segregated.

                So you’re saying it was absolutely political, as part of a huge political controversy that lasted for generations?

                OK then.

                (I know shortering is frowned upon here but I really have no idea how else to react to this completely 100% bonkers comment.)Report

              • InMD in reply to George Turner says:

                This is another fantasy.
                These displays started as a reaction to the Red Scare and continue as a post 9/11 influx of DoD advertising to recruit and manufacture support for expensive pointless wars. They aren’t pro-America they’re jingoism.Report

              • CJColucci in reply to George Turner says:

                It isn’t “politics” unless you disagree with it. When you agree with it, it isn’t politics. It’s “normal” or “patriotic.” Thanks for the confirmation.Report

              • Pinky in reply to CJColucci says:

                It’s a normal thing for people in a crowd to acknowledge their country.

                You and Dragonfrog are looking at water flowing downhill and trying to attribute responsibility for it. Looking at boobs, saluting the flag, those are not mysterious acts. When you see water flowing uphill, and people covering boobs and burning flags, that’s when you need to introduce an explanatory factor.Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to Pinky says:

                Come to think of it, we should revise the pledge anyway, to add something about “liberty and justice for all persons of all genders”, the way we added “under God” in 1954.

                Y’know, this way we can keep politics out of it.Report

              • Pinky in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                That’s a great rebuttal. Not to anything I said, though. If you’d like, I could change my statement into something I don’t believe, then you could use that line and it’d make sense. How about “It’s a normal thing for people in a crowd to say the Pledge of Allegiance in exactly the modern phrasing”? Actually, even then, your comment wouldn’t make sense, because “under God” isn’t political.Report

              • Stillwater in reply to Pinky says:

                In Chip’s defense, I also think “saluting the flag” isn’t normal, and certainly not normal along the lines of “looking at boobs”.

                Personally speaking, I’m always mystified why people salute the flag, not sociologically but psychologically. What are they thinking?

                Adding: And to stave off one rebuttal, despite all the wonderful things the US of A has to offer and is built on, isn’t it the case that people in a bunch of “shit-hole” countries *also* salute their flag? Boobs, though ….Report

              • Pinky in reply to Stillwater says:

                Mammals have been territorial as long as we’ve been boob fans (mammal being a technical term for fans of boobs).Report

              • Pink in reply to Pinky says:

                And anyway, it’s been “under God” longer than it was otherwise, so at this point that’s just more water rolling downhill.Report

              • pillsy in reply to Pink says:

                True, the pledge it hasn’t been anything at all for all that long; it’s a relatively recent invention.

                Still, I’m more or less content to roll with the “ceremonial Deism” rationalization the Courts coughed up. But then again, I’m an atheist so I don’t actually think it if prayers are sincere.

                I’m a tiny bit baffled about people who actually do believe and go for that explanation, though.Report

              • CJColucci in reply to Pinky says:

                It’s a normal thing for people in a crowd to acknowledge their country.

                It can’t be politics because it’s “normal.” How do I know it’s “normal” and not “politics”? Because it just is, dammit!

                Not until you disagree with the politics does it “need” to be explained. Not that water running downhill or a desire to look at boobs don’t need explanations. We just have them already.Report

              • George Turner in reply to CJColucci says:

                Thank you both for exactly making my point.

                Might you happen to recall why the Baseball Hall of Fame is in Cooperstown New York? Yeah, because the general who fired the first shot defending Fort Sumter was from Cooperstown.

                “The battle of Waterloo was won on the playing fields of Eton” – guy who won the Battle of Waterloo.

                But some people think the link between sports and patriotism are something cooked up by Richard Nixon or Karl Rove.Report

              • InMD in reply to George Turner says:

                If it’s all so natural and spontaneous why does the DoD pay millions of dollars for patriotic displays and military recruiting at games?Report

              • George Turner in reply to InMD says:

                Because they need to recruit, and that’s where the fit young male’s eyeballs are. Sports also teaches lessons about combat, pain, struggling through adversity, and leadership.

                It’s not a vast right-wing conspiracy.

                Ever wonder why Olympians are throwing javelins, racing and wrestling each other, and even competing in an event that simulates escaping from a POW camp? Why did the Greeks start the Olympics?

                Alexander the Great was thrilled to see his soldiers, fresh from battle, breaking into a ball game before they’d even stripped off their battle armor.

                Dodge ball predates the historical record, and it likely started as training for battles against neighboring tribes.

                In team sports, there’s an “our side” versus “their side” dynamic which can be similar to war, and reinforcing the point that everyone in the stands is actually on the same side is important.

                None of this was cooked up by Karl Rove. It is ancient.Report

              • Stillwater in reply to George Turner says:

                George Turner: “Because they need to recruit.”

                InMD: 1
                George Turner: 0Report

              • George Turner in reply to Stillwater says:

                Do you think the Dod would get a higher response rate if they advertised during “Ellen” or “The View”? The branches also advertise pretty heavily on various military sci-fi shows.

                Contrary to what the left might think, marketing and advertising are not a nefarious conspiracy. Sometimes they even botch it, such as with “The Army of One” campaign. If you wanted to be “one” you wouldn’t join an army.Report

              • Stillwater in reply to George Turner says:

                I”d think that if you’re right about Patriotism and all that nonsense I wouldn’t have seen Navy recruiters parked outside theaters showing Top Gun. IOW, if patriotism was a driver the Navy woulda put up posters next to Maverick and Goose saying “please don’t sign up, we’re full right now. Thanks for your service!!”

                InMD: 2
                George: 0Report

              • George Turner in reply to Stillwater says:

                I don’t fathom your meaning. The Navy pretty much sponsored Top Gun as a major recruiting tool. The military often does things like that, such as when they helped get “Sergeant York” made prior to WW-II.

                Ernest Borgnine related that he was contacted by the Secretary of the Navy for a meeting. He was extremely nervous, having served in the Navy for ten years, but the SecNav explained that in surveys they’d learned that about 30% of their recruits were trying to join McHale’s Navy.

                Stargate SG-1 stars got awards at huge Air Force ceremonies. Tons of Air Force recruits were trying to join the Stargate program. The show even had guest appearances by two different Secretaries of the Air Force.

                Likewise, the military provides all those Marine color guards for football games for a reason. If your looking for competitive, team oriented leaders, they are on the field and in the stands.Report

              • Stillwater in reply to George Turner says:

                The Navy pretty much sponsored Top Gun as a major recruiting tool.

                InMD: 3
                George Turner: 0Report

              • George Turner in reply to Stillwater says:

                I don’t think that scoring works like you think it does.

                The DoD didn’t create the link between sports and patriotism, unless you think the DoD controlled all nations throughout history. But perhaps they did. Maybe the CIA convinced all those Brazilians to wave Brazilian flags in the World Cup, and the English to wave English flags, etc. Those CIA guys are very clever, you know.

                In WW-I the British fielded a battalion of soccer stars, and whole teams signed up in WW-II, at their own matches, while encouraging everyone in the stands to do the same.Report

              • Stillwater in reply to George Turner says:

                InMD: 3

                George T: -1Report

              • DensityDuck in reply to Stillwater says:

                George, you need to realize here that Stillwater can’t tell the difference between “I’m allowed to act the way I do because I’m providing the general conversation with something that the moderators believe the site needs” and “I’m allowed to act the way I do because I’m buddies with the moderators”.Report

              • Stillwater in reply to DensityDuck says:

                Lol. That you think I’m buddies with the moderators is indicative of how delusional your other perceptions of reality are.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to InMD says:

                I think an illuminating comparison might be made to a recent kerfuffle about the updated LGBT Rainbow Flag.

                Did you know that there is a version with a Black and Brown stripes that recognizes People of Color that has updated the old one?

                There is a debate over whether or not the old ROYGBIV flag should now be considered a White Supremacist LGBT flag.

                A handful of gay white men got all “white men” about it and treated the new flag the way that ‘necks treat politics on ESPN.

                The new symbols become the usual symbols become the old symbols.

                Are you a conservative or a progressive?Report

              • InMD in reply to Jaybird says:

                The real question is am I drinking too much or too little.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to InMD says:

                Well, I’m sure the white gay guys thought “I didn’t want the Rainbow Flag to be politicized!”

                Which is funny.Report

              • InMD in reply to Jaybird says:

                Eh I read the articles and I’m not quite sure that’s the argument against it. It ain’t my issue so I’m hesitant to weigh in, beyond to say asking any part of a movement to marginalize itself within that movement is bound to be controversial.

                Maybe a parallel maybe not. I’m sympathetic to aspects of the BLM movement and aspects of the Bernie cause. During those episodes in 2016 when BLM activists went to Bernie rallies and said it was their show now… well.. I don’t think the reaction of Sanders supporters was wrong. In fact I think it was fair to push back on the derail and push back on it very hard. Seems like some of that might be going on here but I’d defer to someone who knows more about it.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to InMD says:

                “Derailing”. That might be a good term for it.

                A lot of ESPN viewers didn’t want the discussions of (whatever sport) to be derailed.

                The Burkini that kicked everything off is a derailing of sorts.

                It’s not that the Burkini is necessarily *BAD*. It’s a derailing.

                Hell, remember the 3-4 years there in the early oughts where ESPN was showing Poker Tournaments 8 hours a day?

                The old school ESPN viewers complained about Poker but the new viewers more than made up for it. For 3-4 years, anyway.

                Will the Burkini lose subscribers? Then it’s a bad derailing. Will it cause churn and increase “engagement”? Then it’s a brilliant idea and they should promote whomever came up with it.Report

              • InMD in reply to Jaybird says:

                There’s no debating that which works, and if it does then they can and will take it to the bank.

                I’d find it odd for people to stop watching over the politics in themselves. I would not find it odd for people to stop watching because they ordered scantily clad women frolicking on a beach and some bastards spiked it with a less scantily clad woman, references to a highly un-sexy topic (religion) and some (real or percieved) social preaching to boot.

                Then there’s the bonus drawing of conclusions that inevitably follows.Report

              • George Turner in reply to Jaybird says:

                Oh, that’s nothing. Earlier today I saw a graphic about how white supremacists have taken up the Rainbow flag and added some text, in all caps, that says “A Separate Place For Every Race”, one word per color stripe.

                I think it started at 4Chan, possibly by the same trolls who said the “Okay” sign was a white supremacist symbol, and who are now trying to get people to think the hashtag itself is a white supremacist symbol.

                I always thought the most accurate symbol of white supremacy was a rural porch littered with empty beer cans.Report

              • CJColucci in reply to InMD says:

                I don’t think we disagree. I have never advocated BS progressive versions of sports politics. I don’t take my politics from sports talking heads. I don’t seriously object to it, however, because I can as easily ignore it as I have managed to ignore the other type of politics, and variety is sometimes refreshing for its own sake. My point is that it’s disingenuous to whine about politics in sports only when it’s politics you don’t like — the only kind most of the whiners even recognize as politics.Report

              • InMD in reply to CJColucci says:

                Yes, in that case we are in agreement.Report

              • dragonfrog in reply to InMD says:

                Is publishing a picture of a model in a burkini among the other models in other swimwear in SI’s swimsuit edition in itself an endorsement of law or policy?

                If “in itself an endorsement of law or policy” is your standard for something being “political” you’d have to reject the premise that either her inclusion or her exclusion could be political, and thus the entire premise of the OP is ridiculous. Which is at least a consistent definition taken to a consistent conclusion, even if it’s not the definition I use, nor apparently the one Kristin uses.

                But for a definition of “political” to find that the inclusion was political but the ongoing exclusion would have been apolitical – well, I can’t see how it would work unless that definition says making sure the in groups stay in and the out groups know their place is “apolitical”, and changing those power structures is “political”.

                Which I think a lot more people use as their definition of “political” acts than would like to admit it to themselves.Report

              • InMD in reply to dragonfrog says:

                Serious question. Why do you think men buy and look at the SI swimsuit edition?

                Because if you really think it has anything remotely to do with politics… well… I have some very, very difficult news to break to you.Report

              • CJColucci in reply to InMD says:

                The real issue is: Tyra Banks now or Tyra Banks then.Report

      • JoeSal in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

        Just kind of a measure on attacks, have we seen any flashy nun type of attire in SI? That would look really strange wouldn’t it?Report

      • InMD in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

        I think it’s a very open question of whether Muslims are in fact the target audience. They’re a tiny minority in the US and my understanding is that most teachings of Islam would preclude having the swim suit edition in the first place.

        Seems more like a PR stunt illustrating some of the more surreal aspects of current American culture.Report

    • Slade the Leveller in reply to dragonfrog says:

      The Halima Aden interview piece is quite interesting.

      Indeed, there’s a theme in the social media criticism, Halima says: Most of it comes from men. “My choice, my decision to do the things that I’ve done has nothing to do with you boys and everything to do with us,” Aden said. “You don’t know what it’s like to experience being kicked out of a pool or banned from a beach for wearing a burkini. I want girls to see, no matter what sometimes you are going to get backlash from your own community. But you shouldn’t let that bother you. And really, the fact that in 2019 a swimsuit creates this much attention … I mean, why are women still being judged for what they wear?”

      After having looked at the photos (for science, of course), there’s really nothing too modest about a burkini (as opposed to a burkah). It’s a skin tight garment that only hides skin.Report

      • dragonfrog in reply to Slade the Leveller says:

        After having looked at the photos (for science, of course), there’s really nothing too modest about a burkini (as opposed to a burkah). It’s a skin tight garment that only hides skin.

        Modesty standards are totally arbitrary anyway – is the shape of the body the immodest thing, or the sight of its exposed surface? Which parts of the body may modestly be fully exposed, concealed as to their surface but not their shape, have bits of their surface exposed as long as the shape as a whole is obscured, or must be not only obscured but concealed so fully that one cannot determine whether the person was born with or without that body part?

        A garment may not be modest by your standards – but if you’re not the wearer, it doesn’t really matter.

        Two people could go to the beach dressed to satisfy their own modesty standards, one in a burkini that reveals every curve but very few surfaces, the other in a bikini with a loose knee length skirt and midriff-exposing blouse that obscures certain curves but fully exposes more skin. Neither is inherently more or less modest.Report

        • CJColucci in reply to dragonfrog says:

          On my block are two women who wear classic burkas all the time. I can tell they are two different women only because I have seen the two of them together and seen each of them separately with a different man. I have no idea whether they dress like that because they want to (for some value of “want”) or think they have to (for some value of “have to”). I know neither of them more than to nod politely when I see them in the street, so it would be rude of me to ask and presumptuous to intervene if I knew. I also saw a woman wearing a hijab and, despite the warm weather, clothing that covered her from wrists to feet, but tight enough to show off a lush and enticing body. Struck me as religiously confused, but it’s her religion, not mine, and it’s not my place, or in my interest, to correct her.
          I may be enjoying this thread for all the wrong reasons.Report

      • J_A in reply to Slade the Leveller says:

        “…My choice, my decision to do the things that I’ve done has nothing to do with you boys and everything to do with us,” Aden said. “You don’t know what it’s like to experience being kicked out of a pool or banned from a beach for wearing a burkini. I want girls to see, no matter what sometimes you are going to get backlash from your own community. But you shouldn’t let that bother …”

        To the extent publishing the burkini SE is about inclusivity, I think it is about “this” inclusivity. It is about de-weirding seeong a burkini clad woman in the beach (something a town in France did forbid for a while), the same way we have de-weirded bikinis, same-sex couples, or women prime ministers. Making them something normal, even if not everyone wears a bikini, is part of a same sex couple, or is a woman who’s also a prime minister.

        And, pointedly, the reaction of many social conservatives is that same: a very strong reaction against “normalizing” behaviors they disapprove of. It is not about an objective definition of modesty. It is about enforcing a certain community standard, and shunning those that violate that standard (*). It’s all about in-group vs out-group.

        (*) It used to be that men were supposed to wear bright colors, lace, and ribbons in their form-fitting clothing, and women were supposed to wear plainer, no-frills dresses. Sometime in the XIX Century the standard changed, and by the mid XX century a man wearing bright colors was deemed to be less of a man.Report

        • veronica d in reply to J_A says:

          The ideal outcome is that people who want to dress modestly could do so without scorn, as could those who want to dress immodestly, and everything between. The ideal outcome is (quite literally) the future that liberals want.

          And yes, this should include Christians who want to dress modestly. Obviously.Report

  11. Fish says:

    Good post, Kristin, and I think we all of us–liberal, conservative, modest, immodest–agree that “Beer Bad” was the worst Buffy episode ever, barely beating out “Where the Wild Things Are.”Report

  12. George Turner says:

    The bikini has always been sharply political. They celebrated our difference from the East Bloc women who ran around in babushkas and heavy brown coats, and they were named “bikini” four days after America set off a hydrogen bomb at Bikini Atoll. It’s a symbol of our nuclear might and the ability of freedom loving capitalists to vaporize socialist cities. That might be the only reason that staunchly conservative church ladies eventually acquiesced to a what was essentially having young women run around in public in their underwear.

    Hot girls holding an assault rifle and posing in American flag bikinis and a Trump hat is a real thing, our “Molon labe” from the battle of Thermopylae, in which the forces of the West held back a Persian onslaught. They were a potent symbol in our cultural war against totalitarian communism, and are now a symbol in the cultural fight against fundamentalist Islamic supremacy.

    If viewed in that light, which a few conservatives might do, what SI did was advocate for surrender, the same as if in the 1960’s they’d featured a pretty Warsaw Pact woman in a full-body suit emblazoned with a Soviet hammer and sickle. Had American women been closer to Amish standards of propriety, which they were prior to the flappers of the 1920’s, and had the Soviet socialist women been the ones running around in midriffs and “Stalin” swimsuits, our cultural norms might now be wildly different. Baptists might have been advocating the adoption of the innovative “Burkini” from the Muslims.

    Fashions symbolize who you are, and they also symbolize who you’re not. But those identities are dependent on which groups you’re allied with and which groups you’re against, and the “enemy of my enemy” does come into play. Sometimes adopting the clothing of your enemies makes a political statement, as illustrated by the popularity of transgressive Levis in the Soviet Union.

    But I’m sure the SI swimsuit editors took all this into consideration, given their deep educational backgrounds in geopolitics, cultural trends, religious conflicts, and Western military history.Report

  13. pillsy says:

    I understand you want to have slutwalks and Miley Cyrus’ foam finger existing somehow alongside burkas and pretend that it all fits neatly under one philosophical roof because votes. But you just can’t do it.

    Of course we can. Having that is exactly the point of liberalism!

    Which am I gonna wear? Well, neither, actually, for a ton of reasons, not least of which is that I’m a dude who’s very comfortable dressing in traditionally dude-like ways.

    But other people are going to wear stuff that they wear. I figure they are wearing things that generally satisfy their needs and caprices, because what else are they going to do? Do I believe that’s necessarily 100% the best thing in the world in some ideal sense? Not really, and either or both could be pointing to some other flaw in our society that interferes with human flourishing.

    Really, the ideas that both traditional religious morality and capitalism might undercut people’s abilities to choose freely aren’t alien to anyone who’s even a milliradians Left of center.

    And when those people are women and those choices involve how they present themselves to the world, well, I obviously don’t need to tell you that gets a lot more attention and critical examination, enough so that even a relatively oblivious guy like myself is familiar with it.

    But at the end of the day if a hijabi woman says, “Hey, I think this is liberating!” what am I supposed to do, assume she’s not being truthful? That seems weird, even though I’m not entirely able to rule out that possibility.[1]

    And when a woman participating in a slut walk says the same thing? I’m going assume she’s telling the truth, too.[2]

    They just… find different things make them feel free?

    Like, isn’t the idea that there’s a single fixed set of actions that will make any given person feel most free inherently contradictory? Because it sounds inherently contradictory to me.

    Maybe the two of them hold philosophical positions about how to dress that clash with each other, but again, that’s fine by me. If they want to try to hash it out between them, that’s cool. If they don’t, that’s also cool.

    Again, you know, basic liberal stuff here.

    Is it always as easy as all that to let people just go and do their own thing? Well, no.

    But letting folks choose how they dress is liberalism on Easy Mode.

    As for the rest, well the composition, fallacious or not, kind of cuts both ways. After all, the people that end up leading and speaking for political coalitions are chosen with at least some degree of consent from the other members of that coalition.

    Is it absolutely unfair of you to attribute “pooping on religion” to liberals, even though many liberals don’t do that?

    No. Some people who are prominently associated with liberalism definitely do that.[3]

    But that leaves us with the question of Christianity and conservatism, because there are definitely plenty of conservatives who do (and have a long history of) arguing for incredibly horrible things, and attributing those things to their faith. And some of them are quite prominent. Some of them were even elected (or appointed) to high office, and actually used the powers of those offices to advance those agendas, sometimes with appalling human costs.

    And that is part of the reason that Pence is getting a different sort of treatment here. He’s not just a conservative, and a Christian, he’s a conservative Christian who is strongly associated with exactly that faction of conservative Christians, and was selected to be Trump’s VP, in the main, as a bid to appeal to that specific constituency.

    I’m not saying there’s zero political hypocrisy here.

    But I am saying that’s not all that’s here.

    [1] Social desirability bias is a thing.

    [2] And yes, social desirability bias remains a thing two sentences later.

    [3] Mostly entertainers, not pundits, much less elected officials. But that doesn’t mean that they don’t exist! And surely some members of the rank and file happily follow along.Report

    • Chip Daniels in reply to pillsy says:

      This is where I diverge somewhat from my liberal brethren.

      Yes, our ideal should be a world where everyone can dress and act as they wish without criticism or judgement.

      But as I mentioned above, sexuality is at its base, an amoral and wild thing which is entirely indifferent to our aspirations of equality, dignity, and respect.

      I think it is easy to overlook how explosive and cruel honest expressions of sexuality can be, when nature doesn’t gift everyone equally.

      There’s a natural rift between those who are gifted with youth and beauty and those who aren’t.
      The honest and exuberant expression of sexual joy from a young attractive person inevitably becomes a norm, a baseline expectation that excludes those who don’t measure up. The freedom to be sexual becomes the duty to be so.

      The norms we have of beauty ideals are all the more powerful exactly because we don’t talk about them openly; They’re just the invisible unspoken water in which we all swim.
      No one actually says “All women must be a size 0, blonde, 18 years old with perky breasts and pouty lips”; but its understood by everyone.

      And hey, it would be great if we could all just take this in stride, be adult about things, and chuckle over the fact that almost no one actually fits the norm.

      But..we can’t. The ideal of sophistication and detached indifference to our biology and psyches is as bizarrely unnatural as a size 0 model.Report

      • pillsy in reply to Chip Daniels says:

        Yes, our ideal should be a world where everyone can dress and act as they wish without criticism or judgement.

        But as I mentioned above, sexuality is at its base, an amoral and wild thing which is entirely indifferent to our aspirations of equality, dignity, and respect.

        I don’t think the latter is entirely true, any more than it’s entirely false. It interacts with our aspirations in complicated ways.

        Have I puzzled them out?

        No, obviously not.

        Am I likely to?

        Again, obviously not.

        As for the “without criticism or judgement”, I don’t think you can square that with the “act as they wish” part, because sometimes what people wish is to criticize and judge, and sometimes they’re right to do so. I just doubt that either of these instances (or many others involving how folks dress) are all that likely to be in the “right to do so” category.Report

        • Chip Daniels in reply to pillsy says:

          I recently read an article at Quillette about how leftist woke men go to cuddle parties and act like jerks by subtly pursuing the hot women and ignoring the plain ones.

          Which is almost word for word what I read waaay back int he mid 70s about hot tub-group encounter- hippy dippy parties in Marin, where the Sensitive Guy routine was perfected.

          Because, well, the greatest trick your dick ever pulled was letting you think it was asleep.Report

          • pillsy in reply to Chip Daniels says:

            I recently read an article at Quillette

            I found your mistake.

            Slightly more seriously, people fool themselves all the time, about a whole lot more than sex (though obvs that’s a perennial favorite). Not really sure it’s a great idea to give up on the liberal project in cases where people are likely to be deceiving themselves.Report

            • George Turner in reply to pillsy says:

              A lack of complete self-understanding is a requirement to get through life.

              You look at all those birds out there, busily rushing through their day, trying to gather up food, not get eaten, and raise the 10 millionth generation of their pitiful species, not realizing how utterly pointless their entire existence is.

              If they stopped to take it all in, paused to ask why they go through their elaborate mating dance every spring, and wondered whether there’s a creator that programmed them to dance so that one day David Attenborough would have something to film, they’d just give up and fly into a window. Perhaps every bird who has hit a window has done exactly that, refusing to be a Darwinian cog in a wheel.

              Enlightenment can be a horrible thing. We all know it, which is probably one reason everybody loved “The Far Side” comics.Report

              • pillsy in reply to George Turner says:

                One of my favorite exchanges in any movie anywhere comes from The Big Chill[1]:

                Michael: I don’t know anyone who could get through the day without two or three juicy rationalizations. They’re more important than sex.

                Sam Weber: Ah, come on. Nothing’s more important than sex.

                Michael: Oh yeah? Ever gone a week without a rationalization?

                [1] Self-indulgent Boomer nonsense at its most self-indulgently Boomerish, but I actually really dig the movie anyway.Report

              • JoeSal in reply to pillsy says:

                pillsy i keep seeing things that indicate you may be more rightward than you think you areReport

              • pillsy in reply to JoeSal says:

                That’s a funny coincidence, because I keep seeing things that indicate that I’m more rightward than you think I am.Report

              • JoeSal in reply to pillsy says:

                Do you know where you plot on the political compass?Report

              • pillsy in reply to JoeSal says:

                I kind of hate the Political Compass (I think the basic approach is backwards), but I’m not that far left on the left/right axis.


              • JoeSal in reply to pillsy says:

                I usually see that y-axis region as being left libertarian more than liberal. Liberal typically ends up higher on the y-axis.

                Is there a reason you see the basic approach as backwards?Report

              • pillsy in reply to JoeSal says:

                Yes. I think the political dimensions on a compass should be descriptive, arising from the correlations you see in the data between survey questions (using principal component analysis or something) rather than selected based on some a priori ideological orientation.Report

              • JoeSal in reply to pillsy says:

                I’m not sure I follow, I often think the grid is a political landscape of ideology.

                What do you think it should look like, or what parameters would you be assigning to each axis?Report

              • pillsy in reply to JoeSal says:

                I would look at the data, plot all the points of where the surveyed folks fall, and find out how responses are correlated with each other in the resulting parameter space. The most significant axis I’d probably call “Left/Right” and I expect would align fairly well with the surveyed population’s local conceptions of what “Left” and “Right” mean [1], while the second most significant component would be… something else I’m sure. Maybe recognizable, maybe not.

                I sure any number of studies do this, but I’m not, like, actually going to look at the political science literature or something.

                [1] In the off chance that it’s nowhere near, I’d call it something else. Perhaps the Green/Purple axis.Report

              • JoeSal in reply to pillsy says:

                If I would have known your plot before, I would have guessed that there is no conflict of our positions in the “two freedoms” problem.

                I would also ask if engagement with someone on the mid to high right (authoritarian right) of the grid would generate a lot of conflict with your position, because your pretty far down on the y-axis.Report

  14. CJColucci says:

    “Cuddle parties?” Do I want to know?Report

  15. Jaybird says:

    I haven’t looked at the issue yet but could someone spoil it for me and tell me if they still have a couple of pages dedicated to body painting?Report

  16. Stillwater says:

    Couple of honest questions here. You wrote

    And as if on cue, the “these crazy conservatives and their calls for theocracy have got to be stopped” came from some on the left. But the thing is, about 99.9% of the conservatives in my Twitterfeed defended leggings and about 99.85% of the Christians in my Twitterfeed defended leggings.

    1. You identified the percentage of conservatives and Christians who defend leggins at 99.9% and 99.85% respectively. What percentage of liberals on your twitter feed do you think called for a *stop to the conservative theocracy*?

    2. Isn’t defending yoga pants and so on actually a *liberal* view? If so, aren’t 99.85+% of your conservative and Christian Twitter feeders actually liberals on that issue?Report

  17. For me, the whole “we are sliding into theocracy” thing became absurd with the Hobby Lobby decision. The Supreme Court gave the Left wing almost everything they wanted — mandated coverage of birth control with a few very small case-by-case exceptions for religious org or private/closely-held businesses. It was a 99% victory for the Left Wing. And yet het net filled with cries of how we were basically Saudi Arabia now. It was a shocking lack of perspective.

    Abortion is really the only issue where the “theocrats” are triumphing and that tends to be argued more on right-to-life grounds than moral ones. Even there, they don’t have the support to sustain the big bans, like in Alabama. About 20 weeks is where they could succeed.Report

    • Stillwater in reply to Michael Siegel says:

      I think you’re confusing two criticisms of the Hobby Lobby case. Some small faction of the left didn’t like the decision on theocracy grounds, but most – and I think by far – of the left’s disagreement was focused on the courts’ “corporations are people” rationale for the ruling.Report

      • pillsy in reply to Stillwater says:

        Yeah. The ruling isn’t theocratic, but it’s dumb and bad and specifically dumb and bad in ways that open the door for employers to dick over their employees in more or less arbitrary ways by claiming it’s “religion”, and arguing that it makes sense for a for-profit entity to even have a religion.Report

      • Slade the Leveller in reply to Stillwater says:

        With Hobby Lobby, the criticism was that the owners of a closely held company got to impose their beliefs on the company, which really ought not to have any beliefs.Report

        • pillsy in reply to Slade the Leveller says:

          It really didn’t help that Alito spent a bunch of time dismissing the differences between “for profit” and “nonprofit” corporations as irrelevant before pulling this “closely held company” thing out of his ass.

          Like maybe if the Federalist Society could find some meat puppets who weren’t egregiously blatant hacks to stick on the court some of the drama could be avoided.Report

          • Jesse in reply to pillsy says:

            I mean, there is the slight problem that most of what the Federalist Society believes can’t really be defended with any rulings aside from basically, pre-New Deal or even worse, pre-Civil War jurispudence, or the things made up by Federalist Society lawyers since the 80’s.Report

      • I disagree with the “corporations are people” interpretation. A better statement would be that people don’t lose their rights when they form corporations.Report

        • Jesse in reply to Michael Siegel says:

          That’s the whole point of a corporation – you gain some protections, in exchange for losing other things. That was part of the deal.

          If somebody wants to say, “our deep religious beliefs mean we get to control what our employees do with their health insurance,” OK, but if those same employees then sue you in a lawsuit, you don’t get to hide behind, “well, none of this is our fault. So, the nice houses and land _we_ own isn’t on the hook. Only what this specific corporation owns.”

          It seems you want a situation where somebody who forms a corporations gets all the rights, but none of the responsibilities.Report

          • DensityDuck in reply to Jesse says:

            Of course, the rejoinder is that if corporations aren’t expected to be capable of expressing moral sentiments, then we certainly can’t expect them to engage in any other form of morally-preferable behavior like paying living wages, operating in sustainable or environmentally-beneficial ways, etcetera.Report

    • pillsy in reply to Michael Siegel says:

      I mean the theocrats just got the military to kick out all the trans people, and the specific theocrat people were mocking with a political cartoon seems to have been instrumental in that.Report

      • Michael Siegel in reply to pillsy says:

        Except that was bizarre because basically no one was asking for that. One of the problems with Trump is that he’s not religious so he just throws bones to whatever he thinks religious people want.Report

        • pillsy in reply to Michael Siegel says:

          So why didn’t they all loudly protest that wasn’t what they wanted until he relented?

          Because I’m really sure that didn’t happen what with the way he hasn’t relented and the Religious Right hasn’t even come close to abandoning him.Report

  18. Jaybird says:

    I figured out what this reminds me of. It’s similar to the whole Dear White People thing.

    Is a Burkini a big deal? Not at all. Is putting a Burkini in Sports Illustrated’s Swimsuit Issue a big deal? Not at all. Is communicating that this is being done deliberately in order to be provocative likely to provoke? Well… yeah. That’s what provocative means. Like the title to Dear White People, people were provoked by something provocative.

    And the people who make provocative art always act like the Gru meme when people are provoked.

    But much like the Dear White People show, I imagine that the Sports Illustrated folks are familiar enough with pro wrestling to be able to tell the difference between the heel heat that you want and X-Pac Heat.

    But just like those being provoked ought to know the point of provocative art is to provoke people, the people spreading provocative art shouldn’t pull disingenuous crap when people get provoked.Report

    • pillsy in reply to Jaybird says:

      But just like those being provoked ought to know the point of provocative art is to provoke people, the people spreading provocative art shouldn’t pull disingenuous crap when people get provoked.

      This is a strong point, and one I hadn’t really considered.

      This reminds me a bit of the Rolling Stone cover about the Boston Marathon bomber, which was definitely provocative, and (unlike this) IMO a really penetrating bit of provocation.[1]

      Also when think the crap in question is not only disingenuous but also counterproductive. Like I figure one of the points of this kind of provocative exercise (unless it’s merely drumming up viral hate clicks) is to provoke in ways that put people on the spot to explain (probably only to themselves) why they’re provoked.

      More trollface, less, “Who, me?” I guess.

      [1] Which might have something to do with it inspiring a great deal more outrage then this.Report