Comments: January 21, 2008

1. “Rich Kid Syndrome,” by Jennifer Senior (January 14), which explored the effects of growing up wealthy, was, as we might have predicted, an object of equal parts fascination and scorn. The blog One Uncontrollable Urge took an interesting middle path, accusing the magazine of “fetishizing wealth, putting it on a pedestal where they admire it and despise it simultaneously” but then admitting that “I sympathize with that reaction; I have it frequently and it’s called ‘approach-avoidant’ by psychologists. You admire something and covet it even as you resent the means by which it had to be attained. I feel this way when surrounded by ostentatious wealth and ostentatious beauty (of the tan/boob job/designer clothes/highlights variety).” Reader Melanie Berliet praised the story as “insightful” but was alarmed by this quote from psychologist Suniya Luthar: “If we don’t have a time of need because we buy what we need, how are we going to know who truly loves us?” This struck Berliet as “silly … To me a time of need is marked by a need for emotional support, something a Cartier watch cannot provide. Maybe these friendless rich adults are overly suspicious of the people around them; maybe they’ve made poor choices in confidants; maybe they’re just assholes. But I guarantee they’re not friendless because they can buy pretty, shiny things.” Reader Renee Chung found nothing of any redeeming value at all in the story: “Journalists, especially of such a reputable magazine, should be focusing on the increasing gap between the wealthy and the poor in our city. Why not talk about the distinct differences in the quality of education provided to children of the wealthy vs. those of the poor? I’m tired of hearing about the plight of the wealthy. Gimme a break.”

2. Jennifer Gonnerman’s The House Where They Live (January 7), about a community of convicted sex offenders on Long Island, ignited a furious debate on between those who see the men as “the lowest vermin on the planet” and those less quick to condemn all offenders. Among the respondents was one who identified himself as “a registered sex offender in Wisconsin” and described his life this way: “I have served prison time, now more prison time in the ‘real’ world, where I am perceived as an enemy of society. Am I dangerous? No, I am not—I have had all the tests, and am a low crime offender, but I wear the ‘Scarlet A’ around my neck until death.” Reader Kiki Kruz of Brooklyn wrote in to say “it was terribly misguided of the writer to suggest that sex offenders aren’t typically repeat offenders. That only one in seven violent sex offenders has a prior conviction for a sex crime simply means they weren’t caught. Crimes often go unreported, especially sex crimes.”

3. Adam Fisher, who was assaulted in a Brooklyn subway station and wrote about it (The Bleeding Edge,” January 14), got beat up again—by vicious commenters at Fortunately, more than one reader leaped to Fisher’s defense: “You guys suck, you know that? So a guy gets the shit kicked out of him and you call him a sad excuse for a man? He’s not whining or asking us to feel sorry for him, he’s just telling his story. And you guys knock him because he changed his life? Stressful and traumatic events prompt a lot of people to change their lives. You, good citizens, are complicit in a violent culture.”

4. Reader of the week: HollyJ left this comment on about our new back page: “Wow! I didn’t think I could let go of the crossword on the final page, but the new ‘Artifact’ rocks. Sort of a more sociological ‘Look Book.’ Well done.”

Corrections: In “Real Estate: Movers” (January 7), Timothy Schifter should have been identified as the former, not current, CEO of LeSportsac. And in “Party Lines” (December 17), the director of Atonement should have been identified as Joe Wright, not Rufus Sewell.

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Comments: January 21, 2008