Jennifer Gonnerman's exposé on the Judge Rotenberg Center, a special-needs school that uses electric shock as punishment, elicited strong reactions from scores of parents, alumni, staff, and readers.
A sampling: "This kind of thing can go on because it's so outlandish and so evil that the public just won't confront it." "Without jrc these students would either be jailed for the rest of their lives or given a cocktail of the most potent drugs known to society." "I was desperate and couldn't control my son—jrc appeared to be the right place, with Disney characters, leather sofas, and all the other misleading trimmings." "I worked at jrc and this article barely touches on the real bad things that go on there. Help these poor children...close this place down." More—including jrc executive director Matthew Israel's extended response—at motherjones.com/schoolofshock.
The teen-torture industry should be set against the larger myth of a "troubled teen" crisis. The media has done great damage to young people by hyping the image that today's healthy, innocent parents are struggling with rising hordes of violent, suicidal, addicted, out-of-control teenagers, fostering the panic that breeds such brutal teen-fixing facilities. Real life reveals very nearly the opposite: Today's teenagers are struggling with millions of adults who are drug-addicted, imprisoned, disarrayed, and disappearing, a hidden generational reality that needs much more open discussion.
Santa Cruz, California
The great tragedy is that, for all the ground Gonnerman covers in her research, and in spite of the fascinating web of human perspectives she weaves, the piece still reads like the stuff of tabloids. I found myself developing an appreciation for Matthew Israel for taking on one of the most difficult jobs in this society and having the courage to stand strong in the face of lawyers, special-needs advocates, and others who've never worked directly with kids with whom they intellectually sympathize, but don't really understand.
Gay Today, Not Tomorrow?
For all its good intentions, "Gay by Choice?" risks misrepresenting the scientific consensus about the "therapy" of homosexuality. The majority opinion among experts is that changing sexual orientation is very difficult at best. Mother Jones could better use its valuable space documenting the abuses that occur against gays and lesbians and that receive far too little coverage.
I'm relieved that the gay community's insistence that sexual preference is an inborn trait is finally being challenged. Only someone who disapproves of a behavior or condition would seek to excuse it on the basis of it being involuntary. I have too much pride in being gay to think it needs excusing.
Mr. Greenberg has no conception of the damage he's inflicted on the gay community. To use trash science to bolster the hatred we already face daily is stomach turning. My days of reading your magazine are over.
Woodland Hills, California
"Charity Begins at Home" highlights the practice of shipping American food overseas for sale to support programs fighting poverty and hunger. care is phasing out this practice, known as monetization, because we find that it's an inefficient way to address hunger and its causes. Increasing cash for development programs would make better use of scarce tax dollars.
dr. helene d. gayle
President and ceo
Word to Your Mother
Mother Jones is a magazine of fine, conscious-inducing editorial. They cover topics other mags leave alone and have established themselves (quite rightly) as the forerunner of well-researched, liberal views and community-minded actions. The thing is, you wouldn't know because, frankly, Mother Jones doesn't go out of its way to market itself to a newer, sexier crowd. A few suggestions to help MJ reach a new audience: 1. Instead of Mother Jones, how about Mutha Fukkas? 2. A scantily clad woman on the front. It's about dragging the morons in by any means necessary. 3. A fashion spread, because sexy people really do need a break from the heavy stuff.
Note found taped to the magazine rack at Farley's Coffeehouse in San Francisco