John Podhoretz nominates this Judith Warner post for the "Repulsive Blog Item of the Year Award." I would second the nomination, but I also think it's worth zeroing in the structure of Warner's post, which reflects the kind of gonzo inanity that's made her a hathetic joy to read for a long time now. The item starts with her reading about hymen restorations among Muslim women in Europe, which in turn inspires her to forage for a Times story she's clipped about father-daughter "purity balls." At which point you think you know where this is going: Toward a "plague on both your houses" attack on the creepiness of Muslim and Christian fixations on female virginity. And if you're a fair-minded reactionary, as I like to fancy myself, you think to yourself: Well, that's a little bit of a stretch, but those purity balls are high on the "ick" factor ...

But then Warner pulls the rug out from under you:

“From this, it’s only a matter of degree to the man in Austria,” I’d scribbled across the first page [of the purity ball story].



"The man in Austria"? Wait for it ...

The “man in Austria,” of course, was 73-year-old Josef Fritzl, who was around that time also making headlines after it was discovered that he had kept his daughter, Elisabeth, 42, locked up in a cellar for 24 years, during which time he’d raped her regularly, and had her bear him seven children.



Yep, that's the Judith Warner I've come to know and love. (Though I still think that Warner's meditation on why her readers shouldn't resent her for having a summer place in Normandy remains in a hathos-inspiring class by itself.)

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to letters@theatlantic.com.