Only in America

. . . because there’s no snow in Saudi Arabia.

From the BBC:

Police in the US state of New Jersey have ordered a family to cover up their snow sculpture of the famous nude Venus de Milo after a neighbour complained.

Eliza Gonzalez sculpted the snow-woman with her son and daughter on her front lawn in Rahway following a snowstorm.

Many people praised their creation, but a police officer told them a neighbour had found it too risque, she said.

When given the option of covering the sculpture up or knocking it down, she dressed it in a bikini top and sarong.

“We didn’t want to have any problem with the police so we covered it up,” Ms Gonzalez told the AFP news agency.

But she now thinks the snowy Venus looks “more objectified and sexualised” than it did before the authorities intervened.

Fig. 1.  Eliza Gonzalez and the bowdlerized snow-woman.


  1. Posted March 5, 2010 at 6:58 am | Permalink

    Guess how the neighbourhood kids are going to position the carrots on the snowmen from now on.

    I suppose the censors can use Frosty’s hat to obscure the moral outrage of an upright carrot.

  2. latsot
    Posted March 5, 2010 at 7:21 am | Permalink

    I suspect the people complaining don’t care about objectification. In fact, I imagine they are all for it. The problem people like this have with the snow nude is not that immorality might somehow burst out due to snow women but that a tiny step toward emancipation might happen.

  3. NewEnglandBob
    Posted March 5, 2010 at 7:55 am | Permalink

    I forget if the Venus de Milo was produced by GM or Chrysler.

    Ignorance multiplies.

  4. Mario Eleno
    Posted March 5, 2010 at 8:08 am | Permalink

    You said it well Dr Coyne: only in America-you mean US-but not only here of course, but here with a vengeance. Why? Obviously, there is a rarefied public angst regarding well, almost everything that may conspire against the “american way of life”(sic).As you well report, scientific knowledge has become a moving-easy-target and it will be much worst, if ever gest better. I would argue that under the surface, the intolerant evil in residence is the not so silent majority any longer.

  5. s. pimpernel
    Posted March 5, 2010 at 8:13 am | Permalink

    The mind of the person complaining would fit inside a thimble with room to spare.

  6. scribe999
    Posted March 5, 2010 at 8:13 am | Permalink

    Rahway is a town over from me, but I could easily see this happening here. People are so predictably excitable around here.

    • Mario Eleno
      Posted March 5, 2010 at 8:18 am | Permalink

      That it is one heavy burden. A town over you? But it has nothing to do with living in Rahway or anywhere else.

      • scribe999
        Posted March 5, 2010 at 9:36 am | Permalink

        over FROM me…it’s an acceptable colloquialism. As for Rahway, I was just taking a mild swipe at the town as a joke.

      • scribe999
        Posted March 5, 2010 at 9:36 am | Permalink

        oh, and a swipe at my own hometown as well.

  7. Barry
    Posted March 5, 2010 at 8:23 am | Permalink

    Lucky for them they chose to sculpt the Venus de Milo, and only had to cover it up. If they had chosen to sculpt the famous Manneken Pis – today they likely would have been jailed and made to register as sex offenders. Oh, and by the way, since this is a science blog; would the covering up of the offensive parts on the Venus cause those snow parts to last longer or melt faster?

    • Oded
      Posted March 5, 2010 at 10:48 am | Permalink

      Check mythbusters. It makes them last longer. (In a rather obvious straightforward way)

  8. Torbjörn Larsson, OM
    Posted March 5, 2010 at 8:24 am | Permalink

    [/chocked silence]

    • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
      Posted March 5, 2010 at 8:29 am | Permalink

      … oops, Barry posted an interesting question.

      At a guess they would melt faster, as the light absorption is likely better on (colored) textiles.

      See, it’s not only among humans that covering up sexual characteristics of nudes tends to make those parts stand out. 😮

      • Sigmund
        Posted March 5, 2010 at 9:07 am | Permalink

        I suspect whether it increases or decreases the loss of snow (rather than ‘melting’) depends on the amount of sunlight AND the amount of wind. A lot of snow cover can be removed simply through sublimation into water vapor rather than melting into water.
        In which case during a cloudy windy day those parts of the snow Venus that are covered are likely to remain longer than the exposed surfaces.

  9. FrankN.Stein
    Posted March 5, 2010 at 8:53 am | Permalink

    Art – it’s bloody dangerous!

  10. Jonn Mero
    Posted March 5, 2010 at 9:03 am | Permalink

    Maybe a visit here

    would have shocked them out of their tiny minds?

  11. Brad Kelley
    Posted March 5, 2010 at 9:07 am | Permalink
  12. Thanny
    Posted March 5, 2010 at 9:31 am | Permalink

    The woman should have stood her ground. Give the police a choice between telling the prudish neighbor to grow up, or facing a lawsuit.

    I used to live next to Rahway, and that area of NJ is not a police state – they would have backed down.

  13. Posted March 5, 2010 at 9:51 am | Permalink

    Naked snow people? We’re going to hell in a hand-basket, if you ask me.

    Actually, and I’m a little embarrassed to admit this, when I was a junior in a small Catholic university I was involved in a similar project. After far too much beer, it seemed like a really good idea to build a giant snow penis outside the dorm for all to see.

    It was 3:00 am and bitterly cold so we couldn’t get the snow to stick together very well. To overcome this problem we formed a bucket brigade and carted out gallons of water from the dorm sink and poured it onto the snow. I was in charge of the entire project and shaped and formed the snow until a seven foot fully erect snow penis complete with testicles stood in front of the parking lot on a Sunday morning. It was circumcised, for that was the only model I had and I was reluctant to ask for others.

    We had used so much water that it was solid ice by the time I received a call from the university dean at 7:00 am. Need I even say that I was not given the option of covering up the offending parts. I was told I had ten minutes to knock it down or face expulsion.

    I knocked it down, but not without a vast amount of effort. The shaft was at lest 20 inches thick and was unwilling to break. But finally bull rushing it several times accomplished its object, and the penis lay shattered.

    The ice testicles did remain into late April. Another artistic work censored.

    Blessed Atheist Bible Study @

  14. Green
    Posted March 5, 2010 at 11:23 am | Permalink

    “Only in America”?!

    But, but…it’s the BEST country in the WORLD!

    • jdhuey
      Posted March 5, 2010 at 2:42 pm | Permalink

      As I understand it, some of the people that live in other countries in North and South America consider themselves to be Americans and they get a bit peeved at us when we refer to just the US of A as America.

      • Green
        Posted March 5, 2010 at 3:33 pm | Permalink

        Believe it or not, I’m not one of ‘us’ either!

        • JohnnieCanuck
          Posted March 6, 2010 at 7:53 pm | Permalink

          It’s also kind of embarrassing how so many people in the northern parts of North America are so ignorant of geography as to assign Mexico to Central America or maybe even South America.

          Presumably, on the basis of language.

  15. Posted March 5, 2010 at 11:48 am | Permalink

    I didn’t know the Venus de Milo had such sculpted abs!

    • KP
      Posted March 5, 2010 at 1:37 pm | Permalink

      That was the first thing I noticed too! Seriously! Get her on “Abs of Steel.”

  16. Posted March 6, 2010 at 11:05 am | Permalink

    It wasn’t even that graphic!

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