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Comments: Week of November 25, 2013

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1. Last week’s cover story was in fact 26 distinct stories by women recalling their abortions (My Abortion,” November 18). “The range, depth, variance, complexity—the gray area of their stories—is profound,” wrote Jaime-Alexis Fowler at the Huffington Post’s Impact blog. “And refreshingly devoid of the usual language that surrounds abortion. Too often in the last few years abortion has been a screaming match.” Many publications echoed this point and praised the project’s diversity of emotion. “They each devastate in unexpected ways,” noted Emma Carmichael at the Hairpin. Others made more explicitly political arguments, like Amanda Chatel at the Frisky, who applauded our contributors for speaking candidly: “Only in standing strong with our decision, our choice, will we be able to strip the word ‘abortion’ of stigma, guilt and shame.” At ThinkProgress, Tara Culp-Ressler explored the data behind this assumption. “There’s some evidence that these types of personal stories can actually sway public opinion,” she wrote. “When Americans are asked whether they want to deny abortion care for a woman who has been raped, or a woman whose health is in danger, or a woman who discovers serious fetal abnormalities, they tend to say no.” Politics aside, “My Abortion” proved contagious: Over the week, more than 50 readers shared their personal experiences on Facebook and as comments on nymag.com.

2. Former NFL player Nate Jackson’s “Intelligencer” article on locker-room bullying (Hazing in the NFL,” ­November 18) prompted an argument among our commenters over the morality of football generally. “The real problem at hand is that the culture of NFL players is at odds with the goals and objectives of the NFL,” wrote one. “Players still live in a world where they see themselves as going to war, fighting in the trenches, and so they rely on the macho culture they have developed. But the reality of the NFL is concussion lawsuits, diversity in the workplace, and high-scoring games to entertain the fans.” “I’ve read stories like this before but from Marines or other armed forces men,” added another. “But those men have a completely different culture from the ‘real world’ because it’s dependent on sacred trust and lives being saved. Football is pure entertainment.” “Your essential point ‘well, but that’s football’ is correct, but you miss the logical conclusion,” wrote a third. “If that’s football, then there’s really no justification for its continued existence.”

3. Benjamin Wallace’s article about the life and mysterious death of journalist Michael Hastings (Who Killed ­Michael Hastings?,” November 18) was widely shared on Twitter. Fellow journalists praised the article—“terrific,” “forthright,” “utterly compelling”—but argued over the headline. “Who wrote the weird headline on the @nymag Michael Hastings story?” asked Blake Hounshell of Politico within minutes of the story’s publication. Ben Smith of BuzzFeed accused the magazine of “irresponsibly surfing on totally baseless theories”; the writer Rachel Sklar called the “conspiracy-mongering of that headline … pretty inexcusable.” Others, like Clara Jeffery of Mother Jones and Michael Calderone of the Huffington Post, responded to Smith’s comments in disagreement. Andrew Katz of Time argued that “it presents all the facts and theories, then asks readers to form an answer to the headline because there isn’t one.” ­Carlos Lozada of the Washington Post wrote, “To all those freaking out about the headline: You’re doing exactly what the headline writer hoped for.” Nicholas Thompson of The New Yorker had the response we had intended. He wrote that the article was “powerful—and the title makes sense at the end.”

4. Christopher Anderson, a Magnum photographer and New York’s first photographer-in-residence, has spent most of his career documenting conflict zones, political campaigns, and highly charged news environments. When his son was born five years ago, he turned his lens closer to home. Son, a series of intimate portraits of family life, was recently published by Kehrer Verlag.

Send correspondence to: nymletters@nymag.com


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