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

In 2004, the New Republic ran a cover story called “God Bless Atheism.” Rolling Stone ran an editorial that proclaimed: “Janet Jackson’s breast is the 9/11 of the new culture war.” Archaeology Odyssey published an article titled “Roman Latrines: How the Ancients Did Their Business.” And Details, the metrosexual men’s mag, revealed a hitherto undetected social trend: “Marrying a relative isn’t just for the trailer park anymore.”

Obviously, this blog has no problem with ancient Roman latrines as one of the big stories of 2004. But the Rolling Stone “Culture War” quote is a bit perplexing, because it’s really getting around. Just this morning I saw it in mentioned in the Philadelphia Inquirer, where staff writer Daniel Rubin (bless his heart!) was nice enough to counter it with much-needed perspective from Jeff Jarvis:

Was it, as Washington Post critic Tom Shales asked, the “nipple that inflamed a thousand nut cases?” Or “the 9/11 of the new culture war,” as Rolling Stone editorialized?
Or was it something else – the dawning of a massive citizens movement?
That’s Jeff Jarvis’ view.
“I think the theme [of 2004] is about control,” said Jarvis, a former TV Guide critic who writes the Buzzmachine blog. “The people are getting control and the big guys are losing control. If you believe in democracy, that is a good thing.”
Days after “Nipplegate,” FCC Chairman Michael Powell spoke of an unprecedented leap in indecency complaints, from roughly 14,000 in 2002 to more than 240,000 in 2003. More than four times that many have landed this year, according to the FCC.
But those numbers are misleading. Jarvis gained attention in the fall by filing a Freedom of Information Act request that revealed a suspicious pattern in the FCC complaints. Fox’s $1.2 million fine for sexual content in Married by America was based on 90 complaints from 23 people – all but two of them using a form letter produced by the conservative Parents Television Council.

Excellent point, and Jeff’s groundbreaking story (discussed infra) was infinitely more revealing than the breast thingie. (And, I suspect, much more revealing about the inner workings of the divisive dispute over personal tastes which is so inappropriately called the “Culture War.”)
What bothers me is that I failed to keep abreast of what these people are all calling the biggest “offensive” yet in the Culture War. Another 9/11, no less! And I didn’t see it! (Although I suspect I still wouldn’t get it if I had.)
Shame on me! I’ll have to get caught up somehow, folks. But I’d been all caught up in RatherGate, which I thought was a much dirtier affair than NippleGate. Wrong again (at least according to conventional wisdom).
I always miss the breast best parts.
(Sheesh! Some Culture War blog this is turning out to be . . . )