November 17, 2003

It Takes A Village
What’s just as bad as the heinous humiliation of innocent freshmen by their own teammates is the reaction of the Mepham community [“Out of Bounds,” by Robert Kolker, October 27]. At least with Abner Louima there was universal outrage. Why are the victims still being humiliated by their schoolmates, and why are the few brave parents who are speaking out attacked by their neighbors? The cowardly students who stood by and watched, refusing to help their teammates, the system that punished and still ridicules Wesley Berger for not tolerating a much milder humiliation nine years ago, Principal Didden’s denial of previous threats, the escalation in hazing under Coach McElroy’s watch, and the “Keep your mouth shut and nothing will happen to your family” mentality, are all part of a community culture that does not seem to know the difference between right and wrong.
—Roberta Kahn, Brooklyn

I was appalled by the attitude of Mary Williams, parent of a Mepham football player. She seemed much more concerned about the potential damage done to her son’s college-admission chances and those of her son’s friend, one of the team captains. I always thought that being a team captain meant you were supposed to demonstrate leadership, both in words and actions. He should have known what was going on and prevented it, or at least have been the first person to come forward once he knew what had happened. The fact that he didn’t do either means he is not deserving of a college scholarship and should shoulder some of the blame for what happened.
—Bernie Kilkelly, Lynbrook, N.Y.

Root Cause
Robert Kolker does not explicitly state that an irrational and pervasive prejudice against homosexuality is a root cause of the crimes. And yet the article contains numerous quotes from Mepham students illustrating the near-ubiquity of homophobia in the school, including one in which the rapes are justified by claiming that the victims were “fags.” If such communities are not exposed to opprobrium for refusing to eradicate their prejudice against homosexuality, how is the prejudice ever going to be dealt with?
—Scott Rose, Manhattan

Local Boy
As a graduate of Mepham High (’69), I have to correct you about “Mepham’s most famous alumnus.” Sure, for those who follow football, it’s running back Amos Zereoue. For the rest of us: Lenny Bruce. 
—Fred Jacobs, Merrick N.Y.

The Vision Thing
Alex Williams’s article on Bruce Ratner’s vision for a Brooklyn stadium [“Back to the Future,” October 27] should have included the community’s vision for our neighborhood. Years ago, when previous development plans for the area were proposed, residents asked if the space over the LIRR tracks could be used to accommodate much-needed affordable housing. They were told it was not feasible. If indeed it has suddenly become possible to build there, Ratner can’t be the only developer with a vision for it. Residents would love to see parkland on the site, along with housing and mixed-use office and retail space to subsidize it. A stadium for Brooklyn? Fine. But not at the vibrant core of several peaceful, culturally emerging residential neighborhoods, and not near an intersection already so plagued by traffic nightmares that residents shun the retail centers Ratner has already constructed.
—Jon Crow, Brooklyn

The Oz Has It
I’m “All Petered Out” after yet another pompous and condescending review by John Simon [“Theater: All Petered Out,” October 27]. I’m so glad I saw The Boy From Oz before I read his damning assessment of what I found to be a thoroughly delightful experience, from the music to the scenery to the performances to the costumes. I flew from Phoenix to New York specifically to see the show, and I did not consider the time or expense to be a waste. It’s regrettable that you allow Mr. Simon to continue to spew his vitriol and pass himself off as a critic. His critiques are rarely enlightening. I prefer to trust my own judgment.
—Donald Ghareeb, Glendale, Ariz.

Correction: In the November 3 issue, “The Week: Movies” mistakenly claimed that the Harlem Little League baseball team had been disqualified from the 2001 Little League World Series. In fact, it was the Rolando Paulino All Stars, from the Bronx. New York regrets the error.

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November 17, 2003