Skip to content, or skip to search.

Skip to content, or skip to search.

Comments: Week of February 8, 2016

1. Lisa Miller’s “Who Knows Best” tells the story of Sara Gordon, an intellectually disabled 19-year-old whose baby, Dana, was taken away by state authorities in Massachusetts after they claimed, in essence, that Gordon wasn’t smart enough to be a parent (January 25–February 7). Readers were divided on whether the state was right to step in. “Parenting and interventionist support for these mothers would be key,” darcysuki commented on, “instead of whisking [children] away to foster care … However, there are certain non-negotiables. If this young mother has difficulty planning her days appropriately and routinely forgets how to complete simple tasks, and does not have the intellectual or emotional capacity to take care of herself adequately without supervision, then no, she should not be raising young children.” Commenter melipatt wrote that the real problems would come when Dana was older. “Being able to ­adequately take care of the physical needs of a baby/­toddler, and being able to ­successfully guide a child from childhood to adulthood, are two different things. Sara absolutely should be able to try, but I hope her parents will stick around for the time when Dana is no longer tiny and cute and malleable, but larger and vocal and independent, and needs more complex care and shepherding. And I would hope that there are community resources Sara can draw on as Dana grows up, to help her understand how to parent an older child, tween and teenager.” The website Bloom’s Louise Kinross felt Miller’s suggestion that “one of the signs of intellectual disability is a limited capacity for empathy” seemed to imply that the intellectually disabled were incapable of empathy. “Lack of empathy is not a marker for intellectual disability,” wrote Kinross. (The American Psychiatric Association’s diagnostic manual, the DSM-5, includes lack of empathy as one of the “adaptive functioning deficits” an intellectually disabled person may exhibit.)

2. Ahead of the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary, Gabriel Sherman spoke with 100 Republicans in those states to get into the minds of GOP voters (“The Strongest Candidate Is the Strongest Candidate,” January 25–­February 7). “It’s a more insightful look than anything a pollster has said,” wrote Twitter user tsBugg. Readers were especially fascinated by the way security fears played into these voters’ outlooks. “Almost all of these people, thoughtful or otherwise, have ‘we didn’t lock our doors’ nostalgia for a time that was actually much more dangerous when crime rates are compared,” wrote MatthewJohn­Mulligan. “People have such fear, with good reason, but strange reasoning,” responded NPR’s Kitty Eisele. Many readers were particularly perplexed by the unemployed 34-year-old with cerebral palsy who said he was conservative because he has been on public assistance his whole life: “The whole idea of welfare and entitlements is to create a permanent underclass,” he said. “Handouts are for black and brown people,” wrote Zebraheadphones, in mock assessment of the viewpoint. “I’m a liberal because I’m on benefits and if it were up to the GOP there’d be no help at all,” wrote Floydfan04240. “Not to worry,” agreed JoanieWebster. “Cruz will surely seek to cut any assistance you are getting.” While many people felt the story beat The Onion in absurdity (“Nice onion article … wait those are real people?” tweeted Nussy McNusinov), many more felt it was important to take the views of people they disagree with seriously. “This article is a great read for liberals,” tweeted JeffreyATW. “In case you were ever wondering what the other side believes.”

3. “To Hollywood’s more sophisticated power players, Relativity’s declaration of bankruptcy was less intriguing than how long Ryan Kavanaugh had been able to stave it off,” wrote Benjamin Wallace in his story on the rise and fall of Relativity Media, an algorithm-driven movie-­production company (“Perfect Pitch,” January 25–February 7). “A great tale of Hollywood hubris and a revealing insight into the financial shell game that is movie making,” tweeted BBHLabs. “Read this, if you’re a student of the Hollywood hustle,” tweeted veteran Hollywood journalist Kim Masters. Many felt that Kavanaugh’s confidence was responsible for keeping Relativity going despite its flagging business. “This is one of the craziest stories I’ve ever read,” tweeted tub of guts. “Confidence can get you absurdly far in this world.” And many readers were just shocked by the epic nature of the ­collapse. “A can’t miss biz spirals out of control,” tweeted Longform. “The upshot of this nutty story,” wrote amanda­mull, “seems to be that no one anywhere has any idea what they’re doing.” Relativity Media issued a statement in response to the piece, writing: “The article is filled with unsubstantiated gossip and allegations which opportunistically fit its predetermined narrative about Relativity and its founder, Ryan Kavanaugh.” Deadline’s Jeremy Gerard wrote that the “post-­publication pouting managed to strike fear in the hearts of no one.”