Comments: Week of May 6, 2013

1. Our cover story last week gathered ­together five short essays on the Boston Marathon bombing and its aftermath, the manhunt that paralyzed the city of Boston and, filtered through the sometimes distorting lens of 24-hour-news and a crowd-sourced social-media investigation, ­captivated the rest of the country (The 21st Century ­Converges on Boston,” April 29). “There is entirely too much media coverage in this country, most of which is ­reported inaccurately, during an ongoing event,” wrote one commenter at, echoing the argument made by James ­Gleick that the flood of coverage had left us unable to easily distinguish between the good intelligence and the bad (“ ‘Total Noise,’ Only Louder,” April 29). In the Times, Maureen Dowd praised Gleick’s essay: “Everybody is continuously connected to everybody else,” she wrote, “with the flood of information jeopardizing meaning. Every­body’s talking at once in a hypnotic, hyper din.” A commenter at found more fault with those watching the news than those reporting it. “ ‘Witch Hunt’ is an absolutely precise definition of how the public, left to their own ­devices, ­treated this case,” he wrote. ­“Suspicion is everywhere, and hatred and fear go hand in hand.” But, for some, social media was among the week’s positive stories. “Many did not turn to Twitter out of ‘boredom’ but fear over what would happen to friends and family in Boston and MIT … They turned to Twitter because cable was re-running some celebrity interview, and the various papers hadn’t sent their reporters out … These weren’t people who ­wanted an adventure to continue, they were people who wanted a ­nightmare to end.”

2. In another essay on Boston, Lisa Miller argued that when looking at the recent history of mass murders in the U.S., we should focus our attention on one un­mistakable commonality: not radical ­Islam or even mental illness, but the young-angry-maleness of the killers (The Roar of Young Male Rage,” April 29). At Reason’s blog, Mike Riggs called her argument “a close cousin to James Livingston’s post–Sandy Hook argument that industrialization makes men feel less like men, which causes them to do awful things beyond their control. In Miller’s framework, every man is a potential mass murderer because of his biology.” Readers at found Miller’s argument much more convincing. “Thank you,” wrote one reader. “The subject of male violence needs to be addressed openly, honestly, and more often.” Wrote another: “The vast majority of murders are committed by young men. Generally, women account for about 5 percent of murders. If you plot murders committed by men by age, it peaks at around age 24 and drops off quickly once men hit age 30. Actually, what I found interesting about these brothers was that the older fellow was married and had a kid. Men with wives and children are much less likely to commit murder than are men without women or children.”

3. A battle for control of the East Ramapo school board—between the growing community of Hasidic Jews, many with children in private yeshivas and eager to cut funds for public schools, and the broader working-class community—has erupted into something like tribal conflict, wrote Benjamin Wallace-Wells in a report from the upstate town (Them and Them,” April 29). “What’s particularly striking is that the board members quoted in the piece make little effort to justify these cuts, even as a response to the district’s ongoing fiscal crisis,” wrote Samuel Goldman at the American Conservative’s blog. “Consequently, they are seen as a deliberate strategy to drive the non-Orthodox residents out of the area … As the former chairman put it, ‘You don’t like it? … Find another place to live.’ Contributors to the American Conservative, myself included, often defend local control against the centralized decision-making. The develop­ments in Rockland County illustrate a weakness of that position.” Of course, there was plenty of less-intellectualized anger at, but the most ­common ­response was lament. “The truth is that this is not a matter of ‘Jews looting the funds of the town,’ ” wrote one reader. “It’s people looking out for their own interests, without thinking about that of their neighbors. It’s people closing themselves off (for understandable, if misguided reasons) from their neighbors, not seeing their neighbors as fellow human beings worthy of respect.”

4. “We’re neck-deep in opportunities to memorialize punk,” wrote Nitsuh Abebe in an essay on punk, ahead of the “Punk: Chaos to Couture” exhibition at the Met’s Costume Institute (This Is Punk?” April 29). “A really interesting article,” wrote Una Mullally at the Irish Times’ Pop Life blog. “For those who project, seek, and interpret a greater meaning on/to/from/within punk (of which, of course, there are several), the ­uncomfortable truth for purists is that punk was an aesthetic before it was ­anything else.” Not everyone was happy to see us dissecting the movement. “It took a show in a prestigious NYC museum by head-up-their-butts curators to give [punk] the sorry definition of ‘chic,’ ” wrote one commenter at “We didn’t need you poseurs then and we don’t need you now.” Wrote ­another: “This is like listening to a 10-year-old explain what sex is.”

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Comments: Week of May 6, 2013