Letters to the editor

Are impoverished children doomed? Plus: John Stossel's journalistic integrity; having a gas with flatulence story.

Published February 29, 2000 5:00PM (EST)

A ghetto mom talks back



I suppose I'm just another middle class white male who doesn't get it. Ruhle has a college degree and some graduate training. Her article proves her ability to write well and communicate ideas forcefully. But she has never held a job. She claims to be disabled, but doesn't say in what way. She is able to traipse all over New York City to look for a better and cheaper apartment.The ADA provides recourse for job hiring discrimination against the disabled. But she still doesn't have a job. Why not?

Next, Ruhle assumes that her son will not be able to succeed because he is raised in poverty. But he is an excellent student at a school for gifted children. He will certainly be able to attend good or even excellent colleges. Why would he be doomed to fail? Doesn't she see the advantages she has given her son compared with her neighbors? She raises only one child, she has time to spend with him, and she provides books and probably discusses them with him. The other kids in the ghetto don't have those things, and that's what Traub wrote about in the New York Times Magazine.
Before stomping on Traub's writing and beliefs, Ruhle should have looked around her neighborhood, talked with some children and parents, and talked with school teachers and social workers. Then she would realize that for the most part, Traub's reporting was correct.

-- Gregory Tetrault

Ruhle gave birth to her child a year after being disabled, which strongly implies that she conceived him after being disabled and unable to work. If she did this in the context of a secure marriage with a partner who had thought through the issues and was committed to providing for them, this decision would make perfect sense. But Ruhle seems almost proud to announce that she has never been married.

I feel bad that Ruhle's child has to suffer the consequences of her many bad decisions, but I don't see that the rest of us who have
exercised the least bit of responsibility in our own lives should be required to subsidize her bad decisions by giving her more "housing,
health care, child care and jobs programs."

-- Travis J.I. Corcoran

While I did not grow up in the slums of New York, I did grow up poor white trash in the Pacific Northwest. I was able to pull myself away and pursue a life beyond the class I was born into. What I could never understand was why, every time I created an opportunity for myself, I failed. Well, because it's exactly as Caroline Ruhle writes: poor children learn that they can't get what they want and they learn to not try and to not expect anything. I didn't feel I deserved a great job or the well-to-do boyfriend, or the nice apartment and would do things to insure that I stayed in the class where I belonged. When I've explained my experience to my friends, they don't understand. They also see me as middle class though I still do not see myself that way. Now I know someone does understand and that I'm not crazy. Thank you.

-- Beau Ruland

You may be a ghetto mom but you've just come up with a topic for a Ph.D. thesis. You've hit the nail on the head. No one, absolutely no one gets anywhere in this world without the help or advantage given by someone else. Does anyone truly believe George W. would be where he is today without the backing of his family? Oh, please!

-- David Pagel

Prime-time propagandist

It's funny how left-leaning people are just good journalists, but if someone has a right-leaning or libertarian take on things, they're "propagandists."
I'll take Stossel's reasoned reports over the lies by omission and misrepresentations that I see in the so-called mainstream media any day.

-- Scott Frost

Mastio's article on ABC News correspondent John Stossel, while it makes a few sundry points worth noting, is simply a fishing expedition that looks in every nook and cranny in an attempt to debunk the work of a rare commodity: a journalist with an independent streak.
Stossel's alleged misdeeds are a small price to pay. He consistently breaks new ground or takes a fresh angle on broken ground, pointing out the dreadfully obvious follies and abuses of big government that mainstream media folks, in their torrid love affair with the almighty state, simply refuse to fully acknowledge.

Stossel, like other contrarians, represents a new breed of journalist that is immensely threatening to the pampered Pollyannas who inhabit most newsrooms these days and make it a daily mission to play the race card even when racism's not an issue, and who actually believe conservative thinking is more dangerous than leftist ideologies, which themselves are a proven menace to a truly free society.
Stossel perhaps needs to be mindful of his duties. We all do. But, as a conservative writer myself, I enjoy seeing the mainstream media's reaction when they're confronted with a journalistic gadfly.

-- Mark Anderson

John Stossel, a right-wing puppet? Am I the only one who watched his subtle, brilliantly subversive ABC special on the underground pot-growing industry back in the spring of '98? The one in which he sympathetically interviews many Mom & Pop home-growers as well as organized Humboldt careerists, and then asks the camera what the big deal is? I could hardly believe he got the piece past the ABC censors; I sat and watched it, dumbfounded and delighted at his daring.
He all but called for an end to the War on Drugs. If there are other right-wingers who share his beliefs, I sure haven't heard them piping up.

-- Melissa Lanning

In the article on John Stossel, the writer says, "Though Stossel's special reports for ABC News are conservative, they're also good journalism."

Not everyone would agree with this statement. In fact, the organization Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting regularly exposes the inaccuracies and sloppy reporting committed by Stossel.

-- J.W. Flenner

Damaged goods


Of all of the possible published factors that might have led Jeremy Strohmeyer to commit such a crime, the latest one really stands above the rest. It is not, however, the mental illness of his biological mother. He learned his values, as we all do, from his (adoptive) parents, parents who later announced to the world that they wished he had never been their son. This kind of attitude would have influenced every aspect of young Jeremy's early life and would probably have produced a sociopath regardless of the genetic material available.

-- Geoffrey Williams

Although adoption practice has evolved, adoption practitioners are in reality no more accountable to adoptive parents and adoptees today than they were in the fifties and sixties. American adoption and foster care systems exist in a accountability vacuum, with practitioners free to play God as they like.
The Strohmeyer's suit is not about water under the bridge, it's about holding the County of Los Angeles, who handled Jeffrey's adoption, responsible for repeatedly lying and stonewalling. The motives, which Broeker imagines to be benign, are frankly unimportant.

-- Ron Morgan

So the author of this piece is "an adopted child?" Tremendously developed writing and research skills for one so young. Seriously, the fact that the juvenilization of adult adoptees continues even among those who should know better is discouraging.

There probably aren't that many women who relinquish without pain, and there certainly weren't many birthmoms who relinquished while happily married, but to make the leap that therefore all of these accidental pregnancies were suffered by drug addicts, abuse survivors or emotionally unstable women shows a real lack of understanding as to what motivates women to give their children up to adoption.

-- Ann Henstrand

Dr. Fart speaks


I'd like to congratulate Stephen G. Bloom on an excellent article on a tricky topic.

Farting continues to become more mainstream as the months and years pass. There is, right now, a delicate balance in effect. Too much acceptance by the population, and farts may risk losing their humorous edge.The question we ponder is this: Are farts inherently funny? Or do we simply find them funny because of the fact that they are "taboo?"

At farts.com, we walk that fine line every day. As we continue to expand our content, grow our audience, and bring a sense of community to our fans, we do so with one belief held strong:

If we can make a difference in the way the world perceives and accepts farts, one individual at a time, we are going to get pretty damn rich.

-- Dr. Rex Breefs

Resident Flatologist


Who else would have the balls to research and publish this story?

Thanks for making my day. The guy in the cube outside my office just asked why I had tears running down my cheeks.

-- M.H. O'Connor

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