Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Kneeling at the Temple of Moolah

Long time readers may remember the magical moment in 2006 when Eytan Kobre of Cross Currents accused the New York Times of running too many underwear ads. His contention was that it happens every day (disproven here, here, and here; he finally got one here) and also that the Times was demonstrating "inexplicable moral obtuseness" by publishing those ads.

As he clarrified in a comment: "[The Times] sees itself, and particularly in Section One, as a font of intellectual and moral gravitas, and for it to run really large and provocative ads of half-clad women in that section with great regularity is passing strange."

I disagreed at the time, and still disagree. As I argued at the time, "Is there a magazine or newspaper anywhere in the world that seeks to match its ads with its news items? And do you really imagine that [any publication] would ever turn down the chance to run an underwear ad - or any legitimate ad for the matter?"

Three years later, I see Cross Currents is just as ordinary as everyone else, and no less susceptible to the lure of lucre. Bracketing a serious and surprising article about why its wrong to throw bleach on immodestly dressed women, there appeared an advertisment for something as frivilous as a klezmer concert featuring a halachicly half-clad woman. [Screen grab]

Do I care? No. Am I surprised? No. Do I think Cross Currents did something wrong by accepting money for an ad that was inconsistant both with halacha, and their own stated values? No. Was it mistake to allow the ad to run above and below a serious and important article? Absolutely not. I don't think Cross Currents did anything wrong.

But, here's the rub: I'm not the blog that previously argued such choices were a sign of "inexplicable moral obtuseness."

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