Comments: Week of November 26, 2018

1. In New York’s most recent issue, Kerry Howley examined how Larry Nassar was able to prey on young gymnasts for so many years without being caught (“Everyone Believed Larry Nassar,” November 12–25). The Washington Post’s Monica Hesse wrote, “What struck me during Larry Nassar’s trial was how gingerly and vaguely media discussed the actual abuse he levied on hundreds of gymnasts. This article doesn’t let the pain of girls’ bodies be vague, or gross, or unmentionable. It bears witness to it all.” Georgetown Law’s Lindsey Barrett saw parallels with her own experience as a young dancer: “As a former (frequently injured) ballet dancer, reading Howley’s article felt like a punch to the gut. Ballet is similar in a number of ways to gymnastics — it’s intensely physical from a young age, injuries are ubiquitous, and the long odds of success are contingent on mitigating them. Faith in kingmakers, and the medical professionals who can prevent catastrophe, is profound. Opportunities for trusted figures to exploit those conditions proliferate, all in a context that normalizes close physical contact. Administrators, parents, and athletes ignore instincts that would have otherwise blared red. I want to mass print this article and strew it from a helicopter till copies of it paper every gymnastics facility and ballet studio in the country.” Some readers, though, took exception to the story’s inclusion of an image of Nassar with his hands on a young gymnast: @brifokine tweeted, “This picture, with all of the survivor testimonies in my mind, is deeply deeply disturbing,” and @JoshuaAReay tweeted, “Was this picture really necessary?” But @TashaMahal replied, “If that’s what it takes to get people’s attention, then, yes.” ESPN’s Darren Rovell spoke to the story’s importance, writing: “I’m aware of how fast a story moves on, but I hope we never tire of reading about Larry Nassar and what he did & the system set up around him. An incredible piece … Get through it please, so we don’t repeat history.”

2. In light of this country’s polarization, Sasha Issenberg set forth a modest proposal: What would it look like if Red America and Blue America split up (“Divided We Stand,” November 12–25)? @jenniferm_q remarked, “Remember when the Tea Party and the libertarians were called a bunch of treasonous wackadoos for proposing this very thing? What a difference a few years makes.” But in response to those dismissing the story, Michael Neary wrote, “Did anyone … actually read the article to the end rather than just raging at the title? The author literally says that splitting up into smaller units would be a bad idea.” As for the feasibility of such an endeavor, Rick Masters, special counsel to the National Center for Interstate Compacts, wrote, “It is certainly true that the framers of the Constitution understood that the states needed a mechanism for adjusting interstate relationships, but they never intended the compact clause to be a self-destruct button to be pressed by the states to resolve political controversies. So while this article, in my view, exceeds the intent and existing scope of the compact clause, it does allow an opportunity to focus on the reality that interstate compacts provide a means of managing multistate matters and can foster compromise and cooperation.”

3. Derek and Maria Broaddus thought they’d found their New Jersey dream house until threatening letters from an anonymous antagonist made domestic life a nightmare (“The Watcher,” by Reeves Wiedeman, November 12–25). Readers had a visceral reaction to the story, with Steve Silberman, author of NeuroTribes, calling it “one of the creepiest magazine features I’ve ever read,” and @Henry_Kaye tweeting, “I grew up 6 blocks from this house and am currently 3,000 miles away, but I just locked every door.” Although some readers were instantly clamoring for a movie adaptation, others were more horrified by the way neighbors treated the Broadduses. @RyneIsMean tweeted, “This is a classic horror story that transitions into the TRUE horror story: neighborhood real estate and property value disputes.” As for the family’s legal claims, Hilary Silvia-Goldberg, an attorney and professor who specializes in real-estate law, added: “Unless you’re in California, most courts say non-physical problems are immaterial, warning buyer beware. Rare exception is made for preexisting, present dangers, but The Watcher is different. Had the buyers asked about crimes, threats, or problematic neighbors, perhaps the result would change. While The Watcher claimed victory at the end of the article, the real winner, if any, was caveat emptor.” Others found at least a little humor in the story: Mike Hogan remarked, “The Jersey-est thing about this very Jersey story is that the forensic linguist the couple hired had once been a member of Sha Na Na.”

*This article appears in the November 26, 2018, issue of New York Magazine. Subscribe Now!

Comments: Week of November 26, 2018