Comments: Week of June 10, 2019

1 In New York’s most recent issue, Alice Hines revealed how the misogynistic young men who call themselves incels (for “involuntarily celibate”) are going under the knife to alter their faces and, they hope, their dating prospects (“How Many Bones Would You Break to Get Laid?,” May 27–June 9). The actor Jimmy Wong called the story “eye-opening.” Amanda Marcotte tweeted, “The inclusion of photos that incels post of themselves is super-helpful … It removes all doubt that their actual problem is their repulsive personalities and/or utter unwillingness to engage women as fellow human beings. And plastic surgery will not change any of that.” Erynn Brook added, “This is a well-written piece about a subculture that I wish we wouldn’t spend so much energy trying to empathize with … Body dysmorphia isn’t new. What’s ‘new’ is the communal encouragement of hatred and violence towards outsiders and the reinforcement of the twisted fantasies of entitled misogynists.” Oliver Sachgau wrote, “I’m struggling to figure out how to feel about this story. On the one hand, body dysmorphia is horrible. On the other hand, these dudes are the only ones who go and hate and kill women because of their problems.” Andi Zeisler pointed out how little looks seemed to have to do with incels’ unhappiness. The Isla Vista shooter, Elliot Rodger, was a self-proclaimed incel, Zeisler wrote: “Rodger had the male-model bone structure and looks that many of these men covet … His looks didn’t bring him the women he felt entitled to, and that was part of his anger.”

2 It costs three times more to build a subway station in New York than in Paris and London, but it doesn’t have to be that way, Josh Barro argued in “Why New York Can’t Have Nice Things” (May 27–June 9). The answer was clear and simple for @YIMBY_Princeton: “The reason why New York cannot build transit as well as other first-world cities is because New York failed to invest in transit for decades while those other cities were doing regular, sustained investment. Everything flows from this.” The journalist Ben Adler elaborated, “My one quibble is that it doesn’t mention labor costs, which are extravagant: high pay, work rules designed to keep excess employees paying into retirement and health benefits. (Single-payer insurance would help a lot here.)” To which Barro agrees: “Yeah, this is important. On the capital side, the labor issue is complex in that the government is not a party in the key labor negotiations. Making contracting more competitive might push the contractors to do better in their labor negotiations.” Baruch College lecturer Alexis Perrotta responded: “Given that it would take an unlikely alignment of political wills at the state and city level to begin an overhaul, it might behoove New York City to seek cheaper, faster, but also transformative solutions aboveground. Were New York to rationalize and expand its bus system, dedicate lanes to transit and bikes, and remove cars by removing parking and lanes (not just by charging them off the road), it may not help more people from the suburbs reach the airport more quickly, but it can improve the quality of life of millions, especially in Queens and Brooklyn.”

3 In the midst of the nation’s worst measles outbreak in decades, Lisa Miller explored how Waldorf schools have become a hub for parents squeamish about vaccination (“Measles for the One Percent,” May 27–June 9). @HefferonJoe called the story “excellent, a master class in long-form journalism,” and author G. Willow Wilson encouraged readers to “come for the crunchy vaccine denial, stay for the ecstatic visions, cult logic, casual racism, ableism, and anti-Semitism.” One commenter took issue with the story’s portrayal of Waldorf schools, writing “Too many cheap shots at Waldorf schools here … Obviously, these parents need to vaccinate their kids, but why turn a thoughtful educational philosophy … into an anti-vaxx bogeyman?” The New York Times’ Ross Douthat connected the story to the rise of secularism: “This story’s content and attitude are really interesting indicators of an emerging cultural/religious conflict within elite liberalism. I’ve written before about the yearnings for re-enchantment within parts of the secular intelligentsia — sometimes still Christian influenced, sometimes more pantheist or pagan. The growth of Waldorf schools represents one vector for that impulse … There’s no question that the mystical turn in elite liberalism overlaps with and encourages certain kinds of daft or superstitious or pseudoscientific thinking.” The writer Jeet Heer replied to him, “There’s more truth to this thread than I’d like there to be … The (relative) decline of orthodox religions has been accompanied not just by a rise in scientific thinking but also new, alternative forms of magical thinking.”

*This article appears in the June 10, 2019, issue of New York Magazine. Subscribe Now!

Comments: Week of June 10, 2019