Ethics Dunces: Conservative Supporters Of Self-Appointed Censor Mom, Judy Cox

Judy Cox, saving America one T-shirt at a time...

Judy Cox, Wacko, saving America one T-shirt at a time…

Conservatives just can’t help themselves, it seems.

They can’t avoid undermining their historically vital role in counterbalancing the process of societal entropy and the degrading of individual liberty by central state control, by periodically making themselves and their philosophy look so hypocritical and ridiculous that their power to persuade is crippled. One traditional way conservatives ensure that they will be reviled and mocked by anyone under the age of 50, even when the are right, is their addiction to celebrating censorious wackos who seem to have been only recently unfrozen from the glaciers that have imprisoned them since around 1954.

This afternoon I watched with my jaw agape as a panel of “experts” on Fox cheered the ridiculous actions of Judy Cox, who was horrified to see T-shirts sale for in a Utah college town store  that sported the images of winsome women in scanty attire—you know, like one can see on television every hour of every day, but more dignified.  Judy, who was concerned for the sensibilities of her 18 year-old son (also known as “an adult”) and those like him whose morals will be permanently warped by such images, promptly had a cow:

“Cox said she complained about the window display to a store manager and was told the T-shirts couldn’t be taken down without approval from the corporate office. She then bought all 19 T-shirts in stock, for a total of $567. She says she plans to return them later, toward the end of the chain store’s 60-day return period. The shirts cost about $28 each on the website for PacSun, which sells beach clothes for teenagers and young adults.“These shirts clearly cross a boundary that is continually being pushed on our children in images on the Internet, television and when our families shop in the mall,” Cox said in an email to The Associated Press.”

That’s not all:

“Cox said she was so concerned about the promotion and the “pornographic” material that she has contacted two national organizations, Women for Decency and One Million Moms. Both organizations have had success in stopping the spread of indecent material and subject matter on TV, in movies and in print media.”

Yeah, those groups have done a great job.

Somebody e-mail them a Miley Cyrus performance.

 Cox is wildly out of touch. She’s also an unethical censor, as she has no right or justification to restrict the ability of other adults, as well as teens with their parents’ approval, to purchase or otherwise enjoy T-shirts they don’t find offensive, just because Cox, with her Lawrence Welk and “Father Knows Best” era tastes devouring her brain, objects to them. Buying up a commodity you don’t want or need because you unilaterally decide that you, and only you, know what other citizens should be allowed to own, wear, and see is unfair and a bright line violation of respect and the personal autonomy of others—which are supposed to be conservative values.

So why is a panel of Fox foxes (it’s so degrading to men and women that Roger Ailes casts his news hours like an NFL cheerleading squad) cheering Cox on? Why is Laura Ingraham, who can’t possibly be this foolish, having her on a her conservative radio talk show as a guest? Are conservatives trying to give Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert material? Cox is ridiculous and covered with mold and cobwebs, a throwback to  Rev.Wildmon, Phyllis Schlafley, and the crazies who insisted that they only film Elvis  from the waist up when he was on the Ed Sullivan show.


1. The images on the T-shirts are mildly titillating at worst, and so far from what is considered indecency in 21st Century America that it is laughable.

2. They are art, and protected by the First Amendment, even in Utah.

3. What other people choose to wear or sell is not even vaguely her business.

Here is an image from the recent issue of Sports Illustrated magazine, which supposedly is not in the soft porn trade, can be bought for less than 15%  of what a Pacsun T-shirt costs and at any newsstand without an ID, and is but a click away on any i-Phone, tablet or computer….


…and Cox, Fox and Ingraham are having the vapors over this shirt...???

T-shirtIf they are going to go that far, why not protest the gay Teletubby, the secret pro-drug lyrics of “Puff the Magic Dragon” and, heck, that evil Elvis, who can still can be found arousing the young ‘uns hormones by swiveling his hips on YouTube?

Conservatives are an important component of the ongoing cultural debate. They have to find a way to be articulate and persuasive advocates for core values, which are worth fighting to respect, strengthen and embrace, while resisting the urge to  destroy their credibility on futile barn door locking exercises, to engage in quixotic campaigns to resurrect societal mores that have long since bitten the dust (and can now be seen as ignorant and foolish in retrospect), and most of all, to smear themselves in the hypocrisy of censorship and the restriction of free expression.

Judy Cox doesn’t warrant five seconds of attention, much less 15 minutes of fame. And responsible conservatives should be the last ones to provide them.


Sources:, NY Post

Graphics: SI, Pacsun

48 thoughts on “Ethics Dunces: Conservative Supporters Of Self-Appointed Censor Mom, Judy Cox

    • Doesn’t “not bought in good faith” open up a whole range of options for bad behaviour by the other side, if they are to judge that themselves?

      And clothes returned because they are too small are likely to have been stretched a little, just finding that out.

      • “Buy and return” isn’t free market, it is a de facto blockade – she is making it difficult to actually sell the shirts, and in fact is increasing the cost on the store by causing them to have to pay wages for the employees that interact with her, not to mention the fact that she probably caused the store to order more shirts (so they will end up with a surplus when she returns what she already has, taking up space they could be using for stock they can actually sell).

        I support the idea of a new return policy, or a “one shirt per customer” or “we reserve the right to refuse service” (her interview on Fox would make it difficult to claim she isn’t acting in bad faith regarding the store).

        If I was the company, I would look into whether they can refuse to allow her to return the shirts. Or how they can sue her – in this one limited instance I would be supporting of a “likely to fail” lawsuit being used by someone to cause another party to have to spend a great deal of money on lawyers, but only because spending $1,000 on a lawyer would happen fast, then they could withdraw the suit.

    • She could argue that the policy that existed at the time she bought the shirts is the one that would dictate her ability to return…

      Then again, I would love to see her spend the couple grand on a lawyer to argue that in court, just to have the store go “You know, you’re right. Sorry. In exchange for not paying your costs and fees, we’ll return those shirts. Would cash be acceptable? Here.”

      Or, just get a few grand in shirts for her next visit. She can’t buy them ALL, surely.

  1. I’m curious what stance can conservatives take that would be counterbalancing social entropy and still be ethical? I’m sure it’s possible I just can’t think how that would work within the modern conversative party; I think I’m missing something obvious.

    • I guess I don’t understand your question, or its a ridiculous question. Social entropy mans that over time standards fall apart and values get buried. The default position of the left is that there should be no standards at all, except those that protect their favored constituencies. The job of conservatives is to make the strong cases for civility, personal responsibility, rule of law, self-reliance, respect for legitimate authority, free speech, parental authority, the right to private property and so on, which entropy—the tendency for consensus and order to deteriorate—threaten.

  2. I don’t know, Jack. I think maybe some of these images she’s talking about just might cross the line and be far too sexy (although at only 575×705 resolution, it’s hard to get a good look at the shirt). And maybe there are others out there that are equally sinful, such as that shocking Sports Illustrated image you used as an example (although at only 612×857 resolution, I could be wrong). I think you should start a long-term investigation and report back your findings. You might even want to gather reader opinions using a weekly Ethics Quiz that presents images you’re investigating and invites readers to comment on whether they’re too sexy. I realize this risks driving away readers who come here for the hard-core ethics analysis, but I think this issue deserves further efforts (and better than sub-megapixel resolution).

    • I think that’s a great observation, Mark, and I will consider it seriously. SI similarly enhanced its coverage of sports immeasurably, according to sales figures, when it annually devoted a huge issue to virtually nothing but freakishly gorgeous models, actresses and sort-of athletes, making the magazine indistinguishable in most respects from magazines in brown wrappers in the Fifties and early Sixties.I hate having to follow SI’s cynical and slimy lead, but when the ethics story demands such photos for trenchant analysis, my mission commands me, as disgusted as I am.

  3. Cox is wildly out of touch. She’s also an unethical censor, as she has no right or justification to restrict the ability of other adults, as well as teens with their parents’ approval, to purchase or otherwise enjoy T-shirts they don’t find offensive, just because Cox, with her Lawrence Welk and “Father Knows Best” era tastes devouring her brain, objects to them. Buying up a commodity you don’t want or need because you unilaterally decide that you, and only you, know what other citizens should be allowed to own, wear, and see is unfair and a bright line violation of respect and the personal autonomy of others—which are supposed to be conservative values.

    Surely she has every right to act like that within the store’s policies, within the free market environment? It is not as if she actually is creating a monopoly by improperly cornering the market – other stocks will be sent out to replace those. It may not be wise (since there’s no such thing as bad publicity and there may well be resulting similar sales to genuine buyers in other outlets), but she is no more wrong to do that than to stand outside the shop with a placard – less wrong, if the latter violates obstruction rules.

    • Surely she has every right to act like that within the store’s policies, within the free market environment?

      Sure. She also has a right to not bath, swear like a sailor in a grade school, cheat on her spouse and spread rumors on the web. The post wasn’t about her rights; ethics and rights are different, though often entwined, issues. Yes, she has a right to be a silly ass, and conservatives have a right to join her by acting as if she isn’t. So what?

  4. Jack:
    Did she really deny anyone the right to buy the shirt? Maybe temporarily but automated logistics and ordering systems will have another batch on the shelves in a few days. What she has done is to create a demand for a “taboo” product that will be gobbled up the minute the product hits the shelves. I doubt Pac Sun is concerned about the publicity they are getting.
    Her methods will probably backfire. Even the Hunt Brothers could not corner the silver market. Pac Sun could not have gotten this much media exposure for the $567 she spent. I don’t think she is an ethics dunce for taking action on an issue that she feels strongly. She is however a tactical dunce.

    Her tactics will fail but she did make a statement; no different that sit ins by college students did in the sixties. A better tactic would have been to demonstrate the hypocrisy of youth that decry sexist attitudes of out of touch men. These shirts do objectify women as sex objects and suggest that women are nothing more than candy for male visual satisfaction; just as the Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition does. Had she made that claim she might have found more supporters. You would think there would be an outcry from feminists over the messaging of these shirts. But there is none.

    It’s a shame that a teachable moment has been lost because of knee jerk reactions on both sides.

    • “What she has done is to create a demand for a “taboo” product that will be gobbled up the minute the product hits the shelves. I doubt Pac Sun is concerned about the publicity they are getting.
      Her methods will probably backfire.”


      And this isn’t specifically about Rights… it’s about Ethics (related but separate). She’s perfectly in her rights to buy all those shirts and to technically return them within the company’s return policy, her reasoning, however, is unethical. Even more so when she plans to return them, which does nothing about keeping them out of the market, which is what she claims to want to do.

      • I think everyone is missing my point. As a conservative libertarian, I have to allow her some deference in how she chooses to act. She is not an official that can legislate what I see and what I cannot. Everyone’s assumption is that consumer benefit delayed is consumer benefit denied. Furthermore, it seems that assumptions regarding actual available supplies are finite and limited to this store only. One can easily log on to the Pac Sun website, as I did, and obtain any one of the items in question; probably tax free and with free shipping. If the store was concerned about ensuring equal access to the questionable items it could have limited the quantities offered for sale.

        Consequentialism is not my rationale for the debate. If censorship is defined as the deliberate suppression of a communicable idea, work of art, act, or writing designed to influence behavior contrary to the community’s dictates of what is right, moral, and appropriate, or at least acceptable, then it stands to reason that equating her method of speech and those she sought to influence with that modality as unethical is in itself censorship.

        Whether or not the Fox network chose to air the story or not is not mine or anyone else’s choice to make. The public will choose with whom it chooses to side. It seems to me that we have an abundance of material geared to the prurient interests of the masses. If that is what they want so be it. Pushing the boundaries of taste and decorum is what makes money. If no push back occurs then sectors of society will continue to push those boundaries deeper into a culture of debauchery. Given the lyrics of most hip hop songs, if we were to graphically depict some of the offensive the lyrics on a T-shirt should no one object out of fear of being labeled an unethical censor? My position is that both sides should be afforded an equal opportunity to make their respective statements and let the public decide.

        On several occasions, I have seen references to ill informed citizenry who do nothing while government tramples on their liberties but when someone uses an ill-advised tactic to gain a soapbox we condemn them for unethical behavior. Her actions are political speech. While I may not agree with the speech or how it was conveyed, she was able to express herself to a much broader audience than if she had just not bought some overpriced T-shirt and complained about them privately. I think some latitude should be shown for the modest individual that lacks the resources to command a national stage to make a political point.

        Jack. You stated that if one consumer who was denied access, even briefly, the consumer was harmed by her action and thus it was unethical. How is this different than the current anti-gun activist’s arguments that if we save only one child’s life then trampling a 2nd amendment freedom is worth it?

        For the record, I do not want anyone imposing their family’s values upon me but I will not condemn them for trying to influence my opinion. As long as it is not legislated out of existence I will always have options to obtain offensive material.

    • Chris, she is an ethics dunce because, in spite of her opinion, she does not get to decide what I consider obscene, nor does she get to regulate what I can see or not see, let alone buy and wear. In short she is, as an individual, trying to set community standards.

    • There are stupid and unethical sit-ins too. Just because its a protest doesn’t make it an ethical protest. The store was out of the shirts—if she stopped one consumer from purchasing a product he wanted to purchase, or if this was her intent, effective or not, it’s a wrongful act. The point is: why are conservative cheering a silly woman doing silly, wrongful acts? Only silly people do that, as a rule.

      • Jack I agree that it was a silly act and I am not cheering her on. However, I do believe that the act should be considered protected speech which is why I am allowing her some latitude. Nonetheless, I also thought that the act was counter productive in that it would make the object of desire in greater demand when the supplies were replenished which they will be in a few days – especially now.

        Theoretically, the perceived value of the T-shirt has risen in the consumer’s mind because it is now “in the news” and an object of controversy. Therefore, the consumer who buys the product as an expression of challenging conventional mores when the supplies are replenished will have a higher consumer surplus if purchased at the pre-celebrity price. Whether or not the cost of deferred consumption outweighs the added consumer surplus value is in the eye of the consumer.

        Just my 2 cents.

    • Reminds me of the streisand effect. Hmm… is there an earlier term for when attempting to suppress something has the opposite of it’s intended affect?

  5. And her son is 18? I weep for him, because either his silly bint of a mother has him absolutely mortified as he tries to start college, or else he doesn’t think there’s anythign wrong with Mommy storming in to make all the bad things go away, in which case the real world will eat him alive.

    And as for your surprise that the conservatives cheer people like this? I consider one of the fundamental identifiers of a government actor to be “I approve of anyone trying to force people to do a thing I like or prohibit them from doing a thing I don’t like.” When our national leadership does it, why shouldn’t the media and everyone else follow along?

    • “I consider one of the fundamental identifiers of a government actor to be “I approve of anyone trying to force people to do a thing I like or prohibit them from doing a thing I don’t like.” When our national leadership does it, why shouldn’t the media and everyone else follow along?”

      Good point, Luke. The answer: The Selectivity Standard. Leftists can be outraged, and do heroic things which is what they would call doing exactly what Judy Cox did, if only they did it; conservatives, on the other hand, cannot be outraged, cannot take action, and will be condemned, ridiculed, vilified, demonized, marginalized, laughed at, and otherwise shat upon universally for eternity and without restraint until the next news cycle, even if they did so little as to speak up.

      That shirt is porn. The mag cover is salacious, but surely within some community’s standards.
      There, I spoke up. Commence killing.

  6. I am a libertarian leaning conservative & this lady is an ebarrassment. No one should be giving her any credence. This is not how we should be communicating conservative values. Force doesn’t change hearts & minds.

  7. Well, this is where extreme feminism leads. Looking at her picture i’m thinking that perhaps there could be a little envy over these nubile girls on the T-shirts. Why Fox would bother with this woman is puzzling to me.

  8. To Judy Cox: Dear Judy, If you want people in this part of the world to return to pre-Elvis modesty, then you’re going to have to change your method. Don’t buy anything. You should simply take a few photos of the PacSun t-shirts on your cell phone, and forward them to the nearest Islamic extremist organization headquarters. America is well populated with such centers, and they’re a growing presence. I suggest you start with contacting CAIR, and then find the nearest mosque. Or, just stop and ask the first person you notice who might be dressed in the Islamic tradition: “Who can help me with this? I am just one infidel, but there are so many blasphemies! Allahu Akbar!” You wouldn’t object to Sharia law, would you?

    Sorry Judy, but if it’s reversal of social entropy you want, you’re gonna have to outsource enforcement. Jesus is a mere subcontractor nowadays, a powerless spy and snitch.

  9. I have a different take on the situation. I can understand why she shouldn’t be cheered on, the article referenced in Jack’s post doesn’t go far enough to report the whole situation. At the bottom of my post is the news article I read. There were two aspects from the article that stuck out. One that she objected to the retail window display of the shirts, and two that the store’s manager objected to some aspects of the display as well. She is quoted as “I had a conversation with the store manager,”;”She [the store manager] said she did refuse to put the accompanying banner up with the display because it was much worse, but that she couldn’t take down the T-shirts without talking to her corporate office, but the promo was over Wednesday anyway. She said she told them it might not go over well.” To get to the shirts that were in the display she had to purchase all the shirts in the store. The article leads me to believe that her only concern was the public display of the shirts in the storefront. I could not tell from the news article if she was objecting to individual ownership of the shirts. If she was that is another argument. My take from the article is that Pac Sun’s promotion violated their community’s standards. And even though she sought government intervention, she did take action on her own. That is something to be celebrated.

    • Then she should get the community to enforce their own standards. It’s not her call, her job, or her standards. Nor are those standards reasonable, and “community” is not so narrowly defined.Indeed, in the age of mass communications and the internet, I doubt the old “community standards” test applies as it once did—the Supremes just haven’t had to revisit the porn cases. Let that community try to ban the Swimsuit issue.

  10. Judy Cox’s action was vigilante justice, pure and simple, executed via commerce rather than violence.

    Wherever the rule of law prevails, vigilantism is ALWAYS unethical.

      • How?

        There’s no crime been committed that she is seeking to resolve outside of constituted authority.

        Exactly my point: her unethical (not illegal) behavior WAS her actions to enforce her own personal justice on her community.

        • That’s just it. Vigilantism is the enforcement of actual laws… Only done so outside of constituted and legal means.

          Enforcing your own set of “laws” is simply criminal. But you can’t generalize her market behavior as “enforcing her own justice” without also condemning ALL market behavior of EVERYONE else as being “vigilantism – only through the market not force”

  11. I have often seen t-shirts that I thought were funny, although risque and/or tasteless. I have never purchased one because I never wanted to wear one; who wants to be stuck with the same stupid, silly, or risque message all day?

    • One of my favorite rules of thumb from the 70’s is that an individual’s IQ is inversely proportional to the number of words on his T-shirt. It’s not infallible, but the formula works more often than not.

      • I’m not so sure about that, I think you may have more of an inverted bell curve thing going. Sure there’s lots of idiots floating around with joke shirts, but consider that your average gathering of genius nerds is heavily laden with them as well.

  12. I AM SO SICK OF THIS! Why are we so caught up in anything vaguely or explicitly sexual when television, on-line games, movies are full of murder, mayhem, political scandal, sociopathy, and sadism…the list goes on. Frankly, I’d rather have my son leering at sexy models than spend his time killing people on line, and watching the likes of “Criminal Minds.”

    Where is our moral compass here? I haven’t seen any move to get murder games, sadistic and greed-based TV shows off the air. People (adolescents and adults alike) are inherently sexual; THEY ARE NOT INHERENTLY SADISTS, SOCIOPATHS, MURDERERS. THIEVES. It just floors me when I watch a movie about murder and mayhem and psychopathy, and the networks bleep out the word “fuck.” Oh sure, that one word has far more negative impact than the gravamen of the movie itself!!.

    What then, are we teaching our children? That leering at a scantily-clad model is WORSE than killing people on-line or watching the sickness of the FBI’s BAU stalk and apprehend grotesque serial murderers?

    Get real here, folks, The real issue is NOT Sports Illustrated and sexy models in space: the REAL issue is what moral, ethical lessons are we teaching our children? Get to the real stuff, including the news and the fact that half the world is on fire and that the US is a cowardly, do-nothing entity. TEACH THAT! Sexy women on line is nothing compared to what our kids can find that are much, much worse than a couple of breast-implanted models on the air or the net. WHO IS TEACHING ETHICS AND MORALS? DOES ANYBODY CARE? CONSIDERING EVERYTHING ELSE THAT’S GOING ON IN THIS NATION AND THE WORLD, WHERE ARE OUR PRIORITIES?

  13. When I saw this on the news here several days ago (we get local news from Utah stations on our Dish) I had many of the same questions and comments. This is the first I’ve heard of it becoming national news.
    I think sometimes we all get to a point where we feel like we’ve had it and we just can’t take it anymore. She certainly is doubling down on what probably was an impulse that got out of hand.

  14. As far as I can tell, this could have just as well been a case of an ultra-feminist going after an exploitative, sex-objective, woman-insulting illustration. That’s just as silly. Sillier still is the trend: I mean, just look at that shirt. Photoshop it onto a guy’s torso and imagine various people you know having sight of it. Two things can happen: either they will be attracted viscerally and keep looking “Cool shirt, dude.” duh. Or they will glimpse and look away (unlike at the wordy shirts, which demand at least a few seconds of mental interpretation). Either way, the person behind the shirt will be ignored. No one is going to look at his face, Or the bulge below the belt or the abs (if any).
    I take that back. People WOULD look at his face afterwards, curious to see what kind of ugly-cum-pathologically-insecure idiot would wear a sign on his chest advertising his inability to attract a human mate. I forgot that I had seen this twice — a couple of sad-faced not-hots, both late teen/early 20s, on the fringes of an all male group. I tried very hard not to make any assumptions.

    Now, if it were printed on, say, a doggie sweater, it could create the kind of second-line attention that adheres to owners of cute canines. That could get popular. But the animal rights folks ….

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