Our Guys ~ Bernard Lefkowitz ~ 11/98 ~ History
Larry Hanna
June 13, 1998 - 06:03 am




Our Guys: The Glen Ridge Rape and the Secret Life of the Perfect Suburb by Bernard Lefkowitz



This book raises the issues of legal, moral, gender discrimination and a wealth of other pertinent present social problem questions.

Synopsis

In 1989 a group of teenaged boys lured a retarded girl into a basement in Glen Ridge, New Jersey, where four of them raped her while the others watched. In this gripping book, Lefkowitz examines the characters of these boys, reconstructs the reluctant police investigation, and delves into the reasons why these boys from an affluent neighborhood could behave in this way.

It would be a very dull rape story; but the community background; the way our children and grandchildren are raised; the arrogance of money; the hypocricy of our churches, the media, and our social standards; the bigotry and chauvinism of our instututions of learning and justice; and the multiple standards of the legal system; to say nothing of the problem of the mentally handicapped, the misuse and degeneration of sports and the lack of concern for intellectual excellence in the schools in our society are the meat of the book. This is not about the ghetto. This is about us and our neighbors. This one will make you sick at heart: This one will make you think.

For those of us who've thrown in the towel on society, who don't want to worry and think about what MUST be done to save our progeny this is one YOU SHOULD NOT READ.

One would hope that "The power of parenting still prevails over the power of peers"

These "Guys" "Lived their lives thinking they were special and their specialness would protect them" Did it??? Read and find out. For a judge, it would be "A truly subversive impulse to punish the progeny of the country's heartland" "The reason they did it...is because...they knew they could get away with it"

I thought I'd just scan the trial, but I couldn't. It's heavily underlined.


Topics for Discussion:




1. What steps should have been taken to protect Leslie from her environment (Or her environment from her)?
2. How do we square her behavior, actions, and statements with the reported level of her intellectual functioning?
3. What and how much did her parents actually know or suspect?
4. What could or should they have done at each stage of this story?
5. Do you think the sentences of the boys are too light?



Discussion Leader was LJ Klein.







Authors who've participated in Books discussions

LJ Klein
September 25, 1998 - 04:30 pm
AS WE READ: Can we pull together a real understanding of just how retarded the "Victim" was. Just how sexually aware was she? Who is more to blame? The athletes or their families. How common are the various social abberations and phenomena we see here. How many differemnt rents in the fabric of our society do we perceive in this book? How many of the causes of this social disintegration can we delineate ? Can WE make practical suggestions for the future?? (If we can't, WHO CAN?)

Best

LJ

LJ Klein
October 3, 1998 - 04:36 am
This book gives those of us interested in "Social Commentary" an opportunity to express our thoughts. Not only are Male Chauvinism and Ther rights of the handicapped at issue but also the integrity of our legal system, the class-caste system in this country and many other issues.

As background reading, one might consider Hendrickson's "The Living And The Dead" inasmuch as some (at least one) of us think the our national social disintegration began with that upheaval (i.e. the Vietnam-era)

Best

LJ

Ginny
October 3, 1998 - 05:31 am
This book, of which I've read half, has clouded my thinking about everything. No longer will I look at the happy fall football season, this is a town gone mad. We must contact somebody in the town for comments.

Hope everybody's reading it and hope we can take it slowly.

Ginny

Twowood
October 3, 1998 - 06:42 am
Glad to see that the comments on "Our Guys" has started early.I really enjoyed it and I'm anxious to read the observations of my more erudite,seniornet friends.

When I started reading "Our Guys"I suspected that Mr.Lefkowitz might be a frustrated,disgruntled,wannabe high school jock who vowed revenge on all those guys who kicked sand in his face over the years.

While that may still be true,my thinking changed after the first hundred pages as he analyzed the family dynamics and the community's twisted value system.

LJ Klein
October 3, 1998 - 04:53 pm
Ginny, even at the end, it left my mind clouded with not only disillusionment, but doubt about how so many of the questions raised in the text even SHOULD have turned out. Even after all these months I'm still analyzing all of my previous ideas about "High School" and ALL of the current comments and events surrounding this time in the lives of (what once were considered) youngsters.

As we Go, Think about this question: Is it time to suspend the four year party known as High School. At the eighth grade should we send those who are bright enough and willing to study, on to higher education, sending the rest to either trade schools or the work force?

Would education dollars not be better and more realistically spent on real students?

Best

LJ

Dale Knapschaefer
October 4, 1998 - 06:09 pm
From Dale Knapschaefer, Manchester, NH I read many interesting books that were on the Senior Net list over the last year, but don't often post a message. There is one thing in this book that I think is an exaggeration; I don't believe high school football is a big deal to the average person in a suburban NJ town especially with a team of losers like this one. Football is a big deal to the entire town in poor towns in Pennsylvania and rural towns in Texas but in Glen Ridge it probably only matters to parents of players, former players etc. There are many things that could be blamed for this gang rape and for people in town not doing much about it. I think one big thing is that in a suburb like this, people are mainly commuters; their big interest is outside the town. There is little community feeling. There is no feeling of neighborliness; the big attachments are to work and to things outside town. Dale Knapschaefer

LJ Klein
October 5, 1998 - 04:15 am
DALE,

That is an excellent and provocative post. It raises some of the key questions and problems inherant in this story, and before we begin responding to it in ten days (on the 15th) I'd like to say that I'm certain many of us both agree and disagree with your impression.

One advantage to these preliminary postings is that they give us some time to think about some of the questions and problems raised and an opportunity to think about our responses.

Best

LJ

Ginny
October 5, 1998 - 05:23 am
Yes, Dale and Walter and LJ have all raised interesting issues. I went to high school in an affluent New Jersey "commuter" town, too, and I'll hold off till the 15th, but I think there's a lot of merit in what Walter and Dale have said here about the town's real emphasis and about the author's intent.

LJ: this is so interesting it's bursting at the seams, isn't it? Great!

Ginny

Bernard Lefkowitz
October 13, 1998 - 06:15 pm
Hi, this is bernie lefkowitz, the author of Our Guys. I'm very pleased that you've chosen my book for discussion in the coming days. I'll be sure to look in from time to time to see how the discussion is going. If time permits I'll try to respond to some of the comments. Again, thanks a lot for choosing Our Guys.

LJ Klein
October 13, 1998 - 06:24 pm
GEE Ginny, Did you see that????!!!!

Best

LJ

Ginny
October 14, 1998 - 03:44 am
WOW WOW WOW!! Did I ever!! A grand welcome, Mr. Lefkowitz, and I do look forward to having the opportunity to talk with you about your book, which certainly changed the way I feel about high school football forever.

Ginny

LJ Klein
October 14, 1998 - 06:22 am
In view of his rather broad background in writing about American culture, I rather suspect that Mr. Lefkowitz and specifically this book are major signposts for us in an effort to discover the state (of degredation) of our culture today and how it got that way.

I certainly agree with you Ginny, that we will all have "High School" comparisons to make.

The witching hour is nearly upon us.

Best

LJ

Ella Gibbons
October 14, 1998 - 05:08 pm
Welcome Mr. Lefkowitz to our Seniornet Book discussions. We have a good time discussing all kinds of books. Stop by often and join in - it's great to have an author on board!

LJ: The description above reminds me of the famous Loeb and Leopold case in some aspects, as those two came from wealthy families and also thought they could get away with it. I haven't got this book, but will look it up at the Library and try to join in.

LJ Klein
October 15, 1998 - 06:14 am
In the introduction, a few provocative comments and salient points are raised, e.g. "Instead of writing about the sense of impotence arising from generations of poverty,.............writing about how affluence and privilege could inflate the self-importance of otherwise unremarkable young men, not always with good results"

I wondered whether the picture painted of the "Jock Clique" as exceptionally Beefy, as they appeared to the writer, was the same image we, were we their peers, would have perceived.

In the discussion of "Character", I felt a lack of "Definition", but since that was not the crux of the book, or at least since it was something which would depend upon the whole story to develop, I left it for a bigger question. i.e. Had this same event occurred in Newark rather than in Glen Ridge, what major differences would prevail in the story.

The groundwork for the big questions is laid with the comments "Was she as vulnerable as the boys were powerful"? What license were they, as a clique of admired athletes, permitted, and was it right-wrong, good-bad, proper-improper?.

These issues and more (Even bigger issues) "Have now become part of a national conversation about morality, integrity and justice.

Finally, the statement: "America has been forced in recent years, to define what are fair, just and principled relations between men and women. represents the major thrust of the book. I would add that, to me, this is a piece in the puzzle of "What has happened to our whole society and WHY"

Best

LJ

Ginny
October 15, 1998 - 06:32 am
LJ: I found that this book had so much in it, and is so densely packed that I wonder how we can even take a look at it? I hope we can move slowly and allow those coming in time to get caught up.

Are we now on Chapter 1 and the Intro?

Just a quick response to one of the points you raised in your post: I don't think this same thing could have happened in Newark. Sure, rapes probably do happen in Newark, but an accompanying sin to this story was the seeming attitude of the entire town...the All American close knit town of our dreams....I mean, not getting too far ahead, but I still can't get OVER school authorities ignoring that one twin who kept exposing himself, I mean really, that's almost unthinkable. It really makes you want to interview somebody in the town itself.

You know the Sin of Sodom and Gommorah was not what people think it was, it WAS that the townspeople ignored the needs that were going on right outside their gates, and I am seeing a parallel here, too.

I think this is a very important book, I can't tell you how this has changed and even intruded on my pleasant memories of another affluent New Jersey town, and its football obsessions...it has changed my mind forever. I think the theme couldn't be more topical, either, as witnessed by the Stroehmeyer/ Cash business recently in the news.

While waiting for everyone to catch up to speed, I'll go reread the Intro and the first Chapter.

Ginny

LJ Klein
October 15, 1998 - 11:45 am
Ginny, As usual I think we can allow folks to comment on whatever suits their fancy but in general move the bulk of the discussion along in an orderly manner.

Following your suggestion, I posted my thoughts on the introduction and think it appropriate to move along on Part One for the rest of this week and into at least Monday.(the 19th)

Best

LJ

Ella Gibbons
October 15, 1998 - 04:55 pm
Have just read the introduction of the book, but am struck at the similarity of this book to one we will be discussing later - "The Other Side of the River." Both books are written about tragic incidences in fairly small towns; one book describing a racial problem and the other a "tragedy" involving privileged children. No wonder, LJ, you were wondering what I was doing with that book! Oh, well, I got this one from the Library today.

The author states that Glen Ridge was a town ..that "liked to display its affluence by dressing its high school graduates in dinner jackets and gowns." Can we all compare this to our own high school experiences and wonder why it is that parents feel compelled today to spend a huge amount of money on graduation? We had a banquet in our high school gym one night where the girls wore formals and the guys wore suits; the following night was the dance at the gym which had been decorated by the juniors. Today the seniors wouldn't dream of having such affairs in their own school --at least in my community. No, No! A party room in a restaurant is the scene of the dinner and then on to a rented dance hall (in my town it's our lovely new Masonic Lodge, with an orchestra). Costs are stupendous, and that doesn't take into account the cars that students have, the clothes they wear, etc. It's outrageous and getting worse! I do find one encouraging symptom that parents might be waking up. In more of America's schools today, children, particularly of the lower grades, are compelled to wear uniforms, usually white blouses and shirts, black slacks or skirts. Not yet in my town, but, curiously, in the inner city school that I volunteer in.

The author comments on the word "tragedy" as a curious word that was used to describe the experience of the BOYS. These are strange and twisted parents, if I may be permitted to say so - does anyone agree?

In the last paragraph of the Introduction the author believes that this outrage "would have been hidden and buried" in the past. REALLY! Would your town and your parents have tried to hide this incident? That's an assumption on the author's part that I don't think any one can make - all towns, parents (past or present) are different, of course, but I would hope such incidents as this would not remain buried.

In a sense, the times we live in - one of instant communication and a media all too powerful and hungry for something to put on the TV (and all these channels must be fed daily) - forces us to pay attention to crimes, big or small, in America and the world. Perhaps it is this focus that has, in part, made Americans so cynical of their society and leaders.

Will not be so lengthy next time - going out of town for four days and must get in a word before I go.

LJ Klein
October 16, 1998 - 06:59 am
ELLA;

You've impinged upon a point raused by one reviewer which most have ignored, i.e. "What about the girls of the town? They seem to protect the very boys.....who act cruelly and offensively toward women. Why do these girls partake (of) and defend a culture which seems to deify public masturbation, voyeurism, group sex.......as well as vandalism and general boorish behavior?"

Although Mr. L. does indeed clearly reveal this feline attitude in the majority (?), he doesn't indict it as strenuously as he does the town, the authorities, the parents and the boys. I suspect that he (like me) is a bit loath to get into the condemnation of his distaff audience, thinking that to be the provinance of the female critic and reader.

A reviewer from the class of '88 in the nearby high school in Montvale N.J. who is now teaching in a high school in the Bronx states that Mr. L does the town and its people justice, but his class felt a bit of a slant toward the victim.

As the story unfolds, I think that as much as possible, Leslie's mental/intellectual state is thoroughly told, but still there is a "Grey" area of cautious "Wondering" about how much she consciously and willfully contributed to the mess, how much her parents actually anticipated the problem, how much it might have been preventable etc. These are points which might have made it an entirely different thing if it had occurred in the Ghetto. (Not "Morally", but in terms of ultimate judgement by the courts and the public)

Best

LJ

Caspar
October 16, 1998 - 05:28 pm
Iread this bok quite awhile and all I can say is Sad..Sad...Sad. on the part of everyone concerned. Whatever is our world coming to?

Twowood
October 17, 1998 - 08:44 am
Hi All;

Ginny ...Why don't you invite Mr.L to our luncheon in Dec.?

Ginny
October 17, 1998 - 08:50 am
Why not, indeed, Walter, would be PROUD to have him. Mr. Lefkowitz, if you're reading this and you can still stand the sight of us in December, we're meeting on December 12th at 1:00 at the 7th Regiment Mess at the Armory in New York City and you are cordially, nay, enthusiastically invited to attend and have a free meal! Proper invitation follows by mail.

Ginny

Twowood
October 17, 1998 - 02:56 pm
Ella; I too,found some paralells between "Our Guys" and "A Season in Purgatory" by Dominick Dunne...the story about the rape/murder of a beautiful,wealthy 15 year old girl by a suspected 17 yr. old neighbor (a cousin of Ethel Kennedy) and how the community closed ranks to protect the suspect.Very interesting story that I'm sure,will continue to be repeated because money does that to people.

Ginny
October 17, 1998 - 03:37 pm
Ella, as usual, a fantastic post. I think in some small towns it might have been hushed up and simply not spoken of, sort of a collective shame, but today, thanks to the media, we can all be aware of, to the extent we are able to stomach it, every atrocity going.

One of the things in the introduction which really made an impression on me was that very issue of the "tragedy" of the boys' lives. I noticed the author's careful introduction of the word "character" as a comparison of what, perhaps, the proper term should be, as opposed to labels of temperament provided by the people of Glen Ridge describing the incident such as "hyper." I thought that point was effectively made...had me thinking about the word "character" for weeks. You don't hear it much anymore. I also thought it made the point that affluence does not always provide what matters in life.

To be a "tragedy," a noble hero must meet defeat usually as a result of a tragic flaw in his character? But he has to be noble to start with. "Tragedy: A Western literary form, chiefly dramatic, which evokes strong emotions in the audience by presenting an often superior and noble being who demonstrates great courage and perseverance while facing and struggling against certain defeat."---Benet's Reader's Encyclopedia.

The townspeople of Glen Ridge spoke of the injury done the victims as a "tragedy:" which ruined the good name of the town, the young men, and their families. The author states that he set out to see WHY this happened, and also to what extent "they were permitted as a clique of admired athletes and how that magnified the sense of superiority they felt as individuals."

One of the problems I developed about half way through the book was a growing sense of disbelief, as the various facts about each "athlete" emerged, that THESE boys were revered by anybody...this is one of the things it will be interesting to examine as we go.

As for the first chapter, I found it very difficult to read, and was very relieved when it ended. Seven boys stayed, six left, and the grandmother left one girl down there with 7 boys? We don't hear too much about the 6 who left, except for Phil Grant, who tries to get some others to leave. Wonder why the others who left aren't mentioned? In writing a book like this, is it necessary, I wonder, to get permission from each person who is mentioned? And do they get to OK what's written about them?

And of course, we have the present day example of the Cash/ Stroehmeyer murder of the child in the Casino. Cash left without seeking help for the child or helping, himself. I bet there will be similarities to some of the participants here and it will be interesting to watch for them as the book unfolds.

LJ: I, too, had several questions about some "grey" areas surrounding Leslie and her parents...I had hoped somebody else had noticed something I hadn't...

Ginny

Ginny
October 17, 1998 - 03:41 pm
Walter, we were posting together, I thought of that case too, as well as the...who was the Kennedy cousin that became a doctor that went to trial?

Ginny

LJ Klein
October 17, 1998 - 04:06 pm
Mr. L., in his "Salon" interview takes his stance on Leslie with the summary....."Whether this was a crime, there was no question about the moral transgression that had taken place; it wasn't as if this was (sic) a gray area subject to ambiguity. We were talking about someone with a 49 I.Q."

This is one place where I had difficulty, i.e. evaluating the behavior of the girl in the light of the low (Very Low) I.Q. I do think Mr. L. gives all the information about her that he could get or fathom, so much, indeed that I suspect he had similar difficulty. I would even wonder if one or more of the boys wasn't at least borderline retarded, especially if tested in the same way and by the same standards.

I agree with the overall evaluation of dealing with questions of sex and the retarded child/young adult. I was always cautioned (when young) about retarded males or females in their dealings with (other) children and grew up with a sense that involvement with such persons was on a par with incest. (I realize that in the mountains of rural Ky. that may not uniformly apply)

I thought the indictments of the community, the school authorities, classmates and law enforcement were far more clear and supported by his analyses and statistics, represent a shocking picture of "The values of communities across the country"

Best

LJ

Ginny
October 17, 1998 - 04:32 pm
LJ: Can you post a clickable to the Salon interview?

Ginny

LJ Klein
October 17, 1998 - 04:54 pm
I'll try, but it was way back in August of '97 SALON Discussion

LJ Klein
October 17, 1998 - 04:55 pm
Well, Surprise. It works!!!

Best

LJ

Carol Jones
October 18, 1998 - 05:00 am
William Kennedy Smith, Alex Kelly, Thomas and/or his brother Michael Skakel. Do these names ring any bells? They should because they classify in a tight little ring with " Our Guys ". I do need to say here that the Skakels have never been formally accused or tried of the muroer of Martha Moxley but the Skakels were an excepionally powerful family in the Eastern Establishment with roots and influence extending far beyond the affluent small Conecticut town in which they lived.

Sadly, what happened in Glen Ridge is not as unusual an event as we might like to think.

Ginny
October 18, 1998 - 05:08 am
Carol! Welcome, welcome! We are delighted to see you here!

William Kennedy Smith: of course!! The very name I was trying to think of.

And the Skakels, you say? Wasn't Ethel Kennedy a Skakel? What makes these families "powerful" other than somebody having earned a lot of money?

LJ: That is a great interview, was very gratified to find that "character" was an important concept. Apparently I'm "getting the message." Yet, that article had some surprising things in it, too. Can't wait to see what everyone thinks.

One point that separates this crime from some of the others was that it was a group activity? And I also agree with LJ in that it would seem that at least ONE of the "athletes," the twin Kevin (who exposed himself so much) might have been borderline IQ as well.

A great discussion so far!

Ginny

Twowood
October 18, 1998 - 06:18 am
JOAN; I saw an article in the paper not too long ago announcing that the Skakel case had been turned over to a grand jury in Greenwich.However,I haven't heard a word since then.

GINNY:I believe the Skakel power came in part, from the skillful way they distributed their wealth.Most of the small Greenwich police force appears to have been on the family payroll as guards,chauffers etc.That,of course,doesn't explain the gross incompetence of the police investigators!

Eileen Megan
October 18, 1998 - 04:36 pm
Walter,

The Skakel case is receiving lots of attention in the press lately. Michal Skakel's father refuses to testify to a grand jury stating that he's not "well enough" to do so. Mark Fuhrman, of OJ fame, wrote a book investigating Martha Moxley's death and, I believe, holds Michael and another Skakel cousin responsible.

Eileen Megan

Ginny
October 18, 1998 - 05:02 pm
I hate to be so ignorant of the events of the day, but I've not seen a lot on the Skakel case, can somebody bring me up to speed on what's happening or refer me to a place I can read about it?

We take three news magazines weekly and two papers daily and how on earth I've missed this I have no clue!

Ginny

Carol Jones
October 18, 1998 - 10:39 pm
Ginny, Thank you for your warm welcome! I have before me on my desk a copy of " Murder in Greenwich " written by Mark Fuhrman. It lays out the facts of the case clearly. Ethel Kennedy is their aunt.

You know, I have to confess I hadn't given thought to the fact " Our Guys " was a group crime which separates it from the ones I mentioned. This involves an entirely different psycholoical twist, doesn't it?

Ginny
October 19, 1998 - 05:03 am
Carol: I think so, too. An individual crime seems to indicate one person or perhaps family gone wrong, a group crime seems to indicate some kind of widespread malfunction, ESPECIALLY since the town persisted in trying to brush it over. Probably because of what it made them look like, and how it made them feel.

Of course, "guilt" has become a relative term in our society. Look at our President. You're guilty only as far as you can't explain it away or worm out of it, if you didn't inhale or what IS your definition of "definition." But I digress....

Ginny

LJ Klein
October 19, 1998 - 05:15 am
COROL, I gather that relative wealth and community cover-up are two related aspects of the crime(s). In what other ways does the Skakel case relate to "Our Guys"?

As Mr Lefkowitz says "Glen Ridge was not atypical but reflected the values of communities across the country"

I was especially taken (In the book "Our Guys") with the Whistle-blower, a high school wrestler, the only black athlete nominally in the group, who was ostracised for doing the "Honorable" thing. Indeed this immediately brings to mind the popular "Sport" of professional wrestling, an activity which glorifies bad-sportsmanship, cheating, and generally savage behavior. (All, things which were once considered un-american)

Best

LJ

Twowood
October 19, 1998 - 12:57 pm
I think we've accidently stumbled on to the prime issue in "Our Guys"...I hope Mr.Lefkowitz agrees.

As I see it,the issue wasn't the gang rape of a handicapped young girl,that horrible story could have been told in a few chapters.It was the suprising community reaction and their attempt at cover-up that made this book worthwhile.

The parents reaction to this disaster was understandable,most families would react the same way, but the foot dragging by the DA, the school adminstrators moves to rally support for the boys,the silent clergy and the overt moves to "set-up" the victim were the REAL story.

Carol Jones
October 19, 1998 - 10:51 pm
Walter, yov've got it perfectly! I don't think Glen Ridge was as affluent as the other towns inthe aforementioned cases but isn't it interesting how the parents reacted the same way? It was as though they blamed the victim for stirring up trouble.

LJ Klein
October 20, 1998 - 04:37 am
There is another rathewr pressing social problem which was skirted in the book many times and which kept coming up in the back of my mind.

What are the responsabilities of the mentally handicapped to themselves and to others?, i.e. others both "Normal" and similarly mentally handicapped.

What are the responsabilities of the parents of such handicapped children?, and what about the responsability of society? How does one determine the extent to which the handicapped should be integrated into society?

Is the available testing adequate to evaluate the answers to these questions?

Best

LJ

Twowood
October 20, 1998 - 02:07 pm
Ginny:Have you heard from Mr.Lefkowitz yet as to whether or not he'll be joining us at the Armory for lunch? W.

Ginny
October 20, 1998 - 05:10 pm
Walter, no, and I haven't written a proper invitation, but I surely will.

Ginny

Dale Knapschaefer
October 20, 1998 - 05:46 pm
This is probably off the track of the current discussion. I don't think it matters much that Glen Ridge is a middle class suburb; evil people like these kids are distributed everywhere. There are brutal crimes in places like Laramie, WY and Jasper, TX. There were gang rapes by University of Oklahoma and University of Nebraska football players. The universities and football coaches probably wanted to cover these up. There was a gang rape in a poor town of New Bedford, MA. The convicted people were poor Portugeuse immigrants and there were complaints from Portuguese people that they were convicted because of prejudice. I think the community would have liked to hide the crime. Charlestown, MA near Boston is a poor place and for years it was the home of many bank and armored car robbers. It was notorious because there was a code of silence where people in the town would not testify against known criminals, maybe because they were afraid or because the criminals were friends or relatives. People in wealthy towns have so many advantages in life that they should conduct themselves better, but it seems like this kind of behavior is distributed everywhere among all classes. One thing about the rapists; they weren't all rich suburbanites; two were sons of an elevator repairman and one was a son of the police chief. The others fit the suburban category more. Suburbs sometimes have a subcluture where there are some low income people whose families have been there a long time and who have local jobs. I think they make up a lot of the jock class. The rich people are thinking more about getting their children into prestigious colleges than having them be athletes. Dale Knapschaefer, Manchester, NH

Ella Gibbons
October 20, 1998 - 06:30 pm
LJ quoted the author "Glen Ridge .......reflected the values of communities across the country." Values - what are they, what constitutes values? What values would we want our community to reflect?

Somewhere in the book I read that winning was the achievement most valued by the members of this community. Is this the value we cherish most? And what form does winning take?

In high schools and universities across the country athletes are revered, nay worshipped, for being stars - just think of the money and prestige they bring to the institutions. They win, the school wins, the fans win, the alumni win - all very happy people. What does this say to our young people?

Carol Jones
October 20, 1998 - 10:19 pm
It says that winning IS all, Ella! It completely reverses the adage we all know to:'Tt's not how vou play the game. It's whether you win or lose.' And it had better be win! I witnessed the fathers standing at the barriers of the playing fields, screaming, their faces red, advice to their sons When mv owns sons were playing little league and pony league baseball. The kids looked a frightened, I thougt. Parent pressure.

peer pressure. Leaving aside the four boys who plotted the rape for a moment, the question is why did the other boys stay and why didn't either the boys who stayed or the boys who left try to help that poor girl? It must have been that"No man is an island' syndrome. No boy wanted ostrcism, to be alone,to be cast from the herd. They probably didn't think these thoughts. It was something they felt.

Ella Gibbons
October 21, 1998 - 08:51 am
Parent pressure! Peer pressure! It's a wonder any of them grow up decent individuals. Possibly the boys in this group were following the "leaders" don't you think? Leaving the group would have meant being a sissy or whatever the word is now - wimp, maybe? - and helping the girl would have been going against their friends. It means so much to young teenagers to be part of the "in" group. Oftentimes the parents don't realize this and refuse to believe it of their own when it happens.

It's difficult being a parent - always has been, always will be. There are no rule books that come with a baby. What to do, what to do, I remember the days of raising my own. Parents, particularly, mothers (with myself, of course) would discuss the problems, share with each other.

The book discusses the role model of the father in this book and I think that is true for boys, particularly in their teen years. Do you agree with me that it is difficult for fathers to guide young boys when it comes to sexual matters? These raging hormones in young males, a powerful motivator!

I do agree with Dale, who said that rape occurs anywhere, so this community is not unique, just perhaps better educated than some? Should we expect more from educated parents?

Barbara Jenkins
October 21, 1998 - 10:27 am
In response to Carol Jones inquiring about the boys who stayed and why didn't they help "that poor girl" ... I believe the boys who stayed and participated had absoutely no guilty feelings about it, they thought there was nothing wrong with what they did. Evidence of this is they tried for a second encounter. I believe those boys had no remorse as to what they did, their only remorse was they got caught.

The other topic I would like to address is the role of the parents of the girl. I would have liked them to have taken a more active role in who their daughter was spending time with. The father did overhear one phone conversation from one of those boys, why didn't he more carefully monitor who their daughter was spending time with. Didn't it strike them as odd that suddenly one of the more popular girls in school had taken an interest in their daughter? Their daughter has had previous unpleasant instances in her past, why didn't they heed these warning signs?

LJ Klein
October 22, 1998 - 04:35 am
I recall a book I read some 25 years ago titled "The Madness In Sports" in which the transferrance of our animal instincts into a "Healthy" outlet is prominantly mentioned. (Man is a killer beast)

I also recall the sudden rush of school spirit, mob psychodynamics and wild outpouring of "Team Spirit" associated with my first High School Pep Rally.

The two Arch Rival high schools in my community had degenerated into war camps with riots in the streets and alleys dismantled of their bricks for weapons. Passing cars were overturned. Ultimately the schools were moved and the rivalry diminished, but largely fostered by parents who are trying to relive their youth multiple similar (but less violent) rivalries have grown up.

I also recall the (lip service?) given to the principles of "Fair Play" which in the wake of the growth in professional sports and the disintegration of many of our social standards has become a thing of the past.

We can, of course, wring our hands and point fingers at the Viet-Nam war, dishonesty in government (nothing new - just more publicly known), overpopulation, a greedy society with money as its God and probably many others; but What can we DO about it?

We can NOT return to the past. Attempts to instill our principles in our children and grandchildren seem too little and too late.

Any Ideas??

Best

LJ

Ginny
October 22, 1998 - 07:26 am
What a great discussion so far,what wonderful points. I will admit that as I read the book, some inconsistencies jumped out at me, and I'd like to take a hard look at the occupations of the parents in this supposedly "affluent" community and try to determine how upscale it is. Of course, one of the boys, was it Bryant, as I recall from chapter 1, WAS the son of a doctor, which, in America would elevate him right up to the top as far as privilege would go? And yet, did I miss something, he was the first to disrobe?

Also have some problems with the parents of Leslie, have talked to my friend who teaches children with IQ's of 40 or so, and who flatly says there is no way a child with such an IQ would have gotten to high shool wihout being identified. So there's another murky thing, and it will be interesting to watch all these conflicting bits of evidence unfold.

So next week, we'll be in, what chapters, LJ? 2 and 3??

Want to reread ahead.

Ginny

Ella Gibbons
October 22, 1998 - 08:05 am
As I remember reading, Ginny, this retarded girl was adopted and was diagnosed fairly young - was it around 2 years or so? It is the trend, I believe, today that unless the child is severely handicapped that parents send children to "normal" school where they are given extra help (special education). Even deaf and blind children go to normal schools and universities and I believe this is far preferable to shutting children behind institutional walls, if there is a chance for any other solution.

Our Miss America (was it last year or the year before) was deaf and very accomplished. I haven't read much about her, but I believe she went to normal schools - does anyone know? A lovely person. However, here, we are discussing mental retardation, a difficult choice for any parent; particularly as the child was so normal in appearance and communication (some of the time).

Twowood
October 22, 1998 - 01:57 pm
Ginny...I'm familiar with the concept of "Mainstreaming' and it sounds like a good idea.However, with all of those teenage hormones pumping I expect that this story is a dramatic example of what can go wrong especially when an attractive girl like Leslie catches the eye of those predatory jocks.

Also,there's no doubt in my mind whatsoever that every boy in that room was aware that Leslie was "limited" and the defense that she "led them on" was apalling! I was gratified to see that at least few of them left as the action heated up.I'd like to think that my sons would have done as much.

LJ Klein
October 22, 1998 - 03:11 pm
Judging from the questions raised and the commentary, I think this group is dealing with the text in a rather sophisticated and detailed way. Most of the fundamental questions have been raised and are under discussion and these should be pursued as we progress. Any new considerations should be presented as anyone desires.

It would be a good idea to progress through parts two and three, i.e. page 210 Ginny, but feel free to move both backward and forward at will.

Best

LJ

Ginny
October 24, 1998 - 11:13 am
LJ!! 210 is half way thru the book!! Let's scale it down to Part II?

Ginny

LJ Klein
October 24, 1998 - 04:44 pm
Ginny, I'm agreeable, and I'm still in part Two. We must stillfeel free to jump around ad libitum inasmuch as most of the questions and problems posited thus far are adressed throughout the text.

When first reading P.63 My note next to, "When people in town talked to me about sticking to traditional values, they were talking about traditional ideas of what men and women should be. Outside of Glen Ridge, values toward men and women were changing in the 1970's and the 1980's. But in Glen Ridge, it was still the world of the '50's" says : Is this a key factor?.

To me, It certainly IS a KEY factor in the parental attitude, the attitude of the boys, the schools, and the community. To give some frame of reference, until 1950, the High Schools in Louisville Ky. (Then the 50th largest city in the country) were desegregated for the first time. Back then desegregation meant Boys and Girls.

This was almost undoubtedly a factor in the Farber's choice of Glen Ridge as a place to raise Leslie as a "Normal" child. But it is also clear that the other youngsters considered her retarded. The Fabers probably missed an opportunity to prevent what happened (And what they most surely have thought might happen) by failing to be more communicative about the problem with the community. Did they, or could they have expected her to grow up as a "Normal" teen and young adult

In the 50's, psychologically isolated, nearly all white, markedly bigoted, speed traps with double standard law enforcement were common in the South, but they existed elsewhere (And, believe it or not, still exist -in Kentucky)

Best

LJ

Carol Jones
October 25, 1998 - 12:41 am
Hormones---teen-age boys! We know historically why nature provided them. But civilization moved on and now those hormones are a real problem for society as they strike when the boys still have a lot of schooling and maturing ahead of them before they can handle these raw feelings resonsibly. This is in no way meant to let "Our Guys" off the hook. Someone mentioned they tried a repeat perfomance the very next day. They knew what they were doing was wrong. By the way, this kind of behavior was going on as the 'twenties. But that's another post.

LJ Klein
October 25, 1998 - 03:47 am
Good point Carol, In the pre-women's-lib days the female attitude toward this sort of thing may have been different, but with regard to the mentally retarded my mother's attitude was like yours today. It was "Unthinkable".

Best

LJ

Twowood
October 25, 1998 - 06:00 am
Carol; You're right,this kind of behavior has been going on for eons and will probably continue as long as there are two different sexes.

In my former life I was a Probation Officer and much of that time was spent in Family Court where gang rapes,incest etc.etc. were on the calander daily.However,the thing that distinguises the "Our Guys" case from the routine stuff,I think, is the use of a baseball bat.I don't think this case would have had the impact that it did if it were just a "normal",ho-hum gang rape.

I'm really anxious to hear your reaction when you read the Court's verdict.

Carol Jones
October 28, 1998 - 02:10 am
Gee, speaking of "Sports" and how it's sort of become the 800 pound gorilla in American family life these days, a name suddenly popped into my mind. Once upon a time wan't there a Marquis of Queensbury and didn't he establish a set of 'honorable'rules or something like that for sporting events? Does anybody know?

Ginny
October 28, 1998 - 05:19 am
Carol: what an interesting concept to apply to this situation, the name rings all kinds of bells, associations with Victoriana, for some reason. Would like to know more so we can compare it with the current philosophy, often stated, "It doesn't matter whether you win or lose but how you play the game." Just watch any college team with a losing schedule and you can see that for yourself.

Poor alumni, no bowl games for their winter pleasure. Is it true that the majority of hard core College fans have no connection whatsoever to the college they so vociferously support?

WALTER!! YOU were a Probation Officer? Can't wait to get YOUR take on the end of the book!!

Part II , SECRETS, seems to go up to page 120: the page numbers sort of disappear there, and we're delving a little deeper below the surface of this town.

We get the first photographs, too. I must admit I was a little surprised at the relative "slightness" of the "jocks," more "jokes," I guess.

Chapter 3 starts out with impressive houses, and the Faber's excitement in movng into this upscale neighborhood. I'm, as I said earlier, keeping a tab on each family and their suppposed status.

WE learn on page 45, that Glen Ridge was insular: Glen Ridge tended to view its neighbors with a measure of suspicion, hostility, and condescension."

A Residential Community. WASP. "Status in Glen Ridge derived from money and history. If you weren't wealthy, and you were a relative newcomer to the town, you were treated differently in the schools." (p.53)

The Fabers adopted Leslie: a child labeled "disabled," by the agency. (p.57) At two, their pediatrician said she was at "the slow end of the normal range, but not that far off. She'll probably put on a spurt and catch up." (p.58). It's clear the Farbers wanted to be good parents.

Apparently so did the Archers. He was in Personnel. She had put aside her career as a Nurse to raise the kids. Their house was a "half way house for kids with problems."

Have you ever noticed that those who are so intent on helping other families with their children often have a house full of problems themselves?

The Scherzers had twin sons. Jack fixed elevators in NYC: not exactly Country Club material? Gerry was a houswife, doted on the children. They had a place on the shore.

Richard Corcoran was a cop. Claire Corcoran took a job as secretary in a shirt-manufacturing plant. Mr. Corcoran had been a HS football hero in his youth. Again, no wealth here.

Dr. Grober was a general practitioner, his wife a nurse who resumed her career when the children were adolescents. They also owned a house on the Jersey shore. The first wealthy participants.

When Leslie entered kindergarten her test results were "maddeningly imprecise," (P.76) and "Leslie's test results could have been interpreted as evidence of mental retardation. But that's something the school never told the Fabers." They took hope. This came from three special ed teachers, a psychologist and a consultant on learning deficiencies. My friend who teaches 1-5 grade children with IQ's of 49 or so says flatly that it's not possible to miss a diagnosis for an IQ of 40....but Leslie went on.

Now, who has given this information to the author? The Fabers themselves?

As a parent, we all know how easy it is to brush hopefully aside any sort of negative diagnosis, but in the face of a 4th grade teacher's saying the child will always be 8 years old mentally? We can see the Fabers are conscientious, she takes notes when she sees any kind of article, yet we have two very sad ominious signs which occur: the dog dirt episode, and then later the Michael Barone episode. Sad and tragic things in the heart of any parent. What could they do? What would YOU have done?

On page 82, the psychologist who was consulted "like the adoption agency people, like the pediatrician, like members of the school's Child Study Team, like so many counselors and teachers and social workers they would meet through the years--hedged his bets. he told them: 'Lots of children have some problems. And then they outgrow them. Why don't we see if Leslie outgrows them.'"

You can't outgrow an IQ of 40 or 49 or whatever it is, and, according to my friend who teaches this level, it is immediately evident.

So who failed whom here?

Are the authorities at fault?

Are the parents at fault?

Is ANYBODY at fault before we even GET to the crime of the book?

Don't you HATE the way you can see something bad coming?

So far, in the demographics of the town, I'm not seeing wealth and power. Blue collar jobs: 2, White collar: 1, Wealth: 1.

Ginny

LJ Klein
October 28, 1998 - 05:37 am
We all seem to be thinking along the same lines: Leslies severe retardation does not square with her performance, and we're not very clear on what the parents should or could have done: The boys were generally average and one of them bordering on retarded himself: The schools were unbelievably negligent, incompetant and even co-conspiratorial (Did you see how many parents had taken their children OUT of that school system???).

One thing to note: Poverty and wealth are largely a "State of Mind". Those of us who grew up during the depression understand the difference between having or not having money to spend and "Being Monied"

Best

LJ

Ginny
October 28, 1998 - 06:29 am
But LJ, I see that the relative poverty or wealth of the town, its affluence, is a major theme in the book. A comparison of it with Newark. A "how could this happen to our best and brightest?"

I'm not sure whether I made all these interesting discoveries that the town is NOT affluent, at least not as revealed in Part II, or whether the author is very cleverly leading me TO that conclusion.

Ginny

LJ Klein
October 28, 1998 - 01:14 pm
GINNY, I think he was comparing this town to the slum areas like lower Broadway about which he has written before. Certainly there was a qualitative difference in both economics and hope for or confidence in the future.

I'd like to add that not only has the idolatry of athletes in general been progressive to the point where they can literally commit murder and get away with it, but the social calibre of athletes has degenerated proportionally to the point where (As one of our posters noted) its virtually nothing to hear of gang rapes by athletic teams and the like.

Admittedly, even in our day, most urban schools were aware of particular instances where a particular student developed a liason with a team (Of monumental proportions), but that was clearly voluntary on the part of the girl. Sexual promiscuity or even mildly deviant behavior amongst the more gregarious and developed (Social and Physical) 16 to 19 rear olds is nothing new. Its part of "Our" society. Remember in many societies both men and women are legal adults in every sense of the word at age 16.

We , as we continue to discuss this school, must recognize it as a literal throwback almost to the Grandparents day, in a society that has become not only permissive but indulgent.

We can't turn back time, nor can we correct the excesses of the age, and as the liberal elements in a society rebel against the conservative (Here, I mean dictatorial) elements, History repeats itself and we slide into Anarchy. [That's a little plug for the upcoming discussion of "History of Western Philosophy"]

The basic problem keeps returning. What they did was one thing of relatively minor importance. Whom they did it to and what could or should have been done to prevent it are the key questions.

Best

LJ

LJ Klein
October 28, 1998 - 01:18 pm
One other question I thought was not made ultimately clear. Was Grandma realy a non-entity?

Best

LJ

Joan Grimes
October 28, 1998 - 03:44 pm
Hi Folks,

SeniorNet will be down tonight for about 1/2hr to and hour. Read Marcie's message here

Twowood
October 29, 1998 - 12:11 pm
Remember the "Skakel" murder case in Connecticut we were posting on awhile back? Well, it's going to be discussed tonite (Thurs.10-29) on Chris Matthew's "Hardball" on CNBC at 8PM. Should be a good show.

Ginny
October 29, 1998 - 03:30 pm
WALTER, great!! Thanks for that, just saw an article in the paper about it, finally, Sunday. Let's look in, everybody, and see if it applies here.

Ginny

Ella Gibbons
October 29, 1998 - 04:27 pm
Will do - I've been lurking/reading here. Would like to know more about Chris M. He's not as young as he looks because he was speaking of Watergate and he was in the Peace Corp at the time. The few times I've seen him I like his interviews - but can understand why the show is called "Hardball." In speaking of the Skakel family, I remember reading that Ethel (who has certainly been through HELL with tragedies in her family) also lost a beloved sister - I'm not sure when this took place, perhaps before Ethel was married? - but the sister started choking, ran to the bathroom out of embarrassment and died there! No one apparently thought it that serious.

Ella Gibbons
October 29, 1998 - 06:06 pm
Mark Furman back in the news again - can we ever forget the man who I believe won this case for O.J. by proving the police were racist?

Unbelievable that wealth and power of this family has kept the police from even interviewing (did I understand that correctly?) Michael Skakel and his brother even after it was proven that the golf club used in the murder belonged to them?

LJ Klein
October 30, 1998 - 05:31 am
Is there a Book on this case ?

Best

LJ

Ginny
October 30, 1998 - 06:00 am
I sat down to watch it and saw the NOW woman, she's impressive, isn't she? It must be further back in the tape.

Will go watch and report back.

Ginny

Carol Jones
October 30, 1998 - 08:02 am
L J, There are two books I know about. "Murder in Greenwich", a factual account by Mark Fuhrman and a ficticious account written by Dominick Dunne. Can't rememr the title. I do remember, however, Dunne r aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa_________________________

LJ Klein
October 30, 1998 - 08:16 am
About Sports, Our Guys and "Books"

To paraphrase: Pythagoreans considered (At the Olympic Games) the lowest class to be those who came to buy and sell, next above them were the competitors, best of all were the onlookers. The modern change in values is connected with changes in our social system.

Thimk about it.

Best

LJ

Ella Gibbons
October 30, 1998 - 08:54 am
Just a quick thought about it LJ. Of course, today the competitors are ranked far above anyone else - certainly paid far more than any other class in society. But we are a competitive society aren't we? Isn't that what has made the U.S. and its capitalist regime one that the world envies and some have tried to emulate? Far better in my mind that communism where enterpreneurship has never flourished and is now going down the tube because the people do not understand it.

Ginny - you read all those books on the OJ trial - what did you think of Mark Furman? And simply because he was such a liar and racist I doubt I would read his book - I know, that's a silly reason, but I was fed up with him.

Carol Jones
October 30, 1998 - 09:08 am
I would like to apolgize for my 2 prior message messes. Tried to delete to no avail. Anyway, Dunne said both the Kennedys and the Skakels stopped speaking to him after he wrote his novel. Glen Ridge lacked the social cachet of the above mentioned clans but reacted to criticism the exact same way.

Twowood
October 30, 1998 - 12:10 pm
LJ;

The Dunne book on the Skakel case was "A Season in Purgatory" pub.by "Crown". It's a fictionalized version of the murder but it sticks closely to the facts.The Fuhrman book was a much more clinical study that read,in many areas,like a police report.

I liked both.

Ginny
October 30, 1998 - 04:10 pm
I read A Season in Purgatory , and really don't have much use for Mr. Furhman, I'm afraid.

Ginny

LJ Klein
October 31, 1998 - 04:07 pm
I looked it up and the second, Non-Fiction book about the murders, said to be written in the style of "In Cold Blood" and "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil", is by Timothy James, and is titled "Greentown: Murder and Mystery in Greenwich, America's wealthiest community."

Best

LJ

Ginny
November 1, 1998 - 05:50 am
I've been thinking about LJ's post all day, as the innumerable Saturday games played across the screens yesterday.

It's hard to believe anybody ever thought this:

"The lowest class to be those who came to buy and sell, next above them were the competitors, best of all were the onlookers. The modern change in values is connected with changes in our social system."

I agree about those who hope to profit off the efforts of the others, but how on earth the spectator would be superior to the person actually trying to DO something is beyond me. The onlooker is just that: a person who cannot do IT himself. In fact, I'd have to say that in my opinion, hold on now, the onlooker is the lowest of the three. The seller hopes to make a profit by DOING something, the athlete hopes to win, and puts all his efforts thereto, the spectator demands something for nothing. He sits on his backend and chooses to try to direct the players with his money or his influence into providing "panem et circenses" for him, in the form of bets and Bowl Games for his amusement. No, I don't think so. I don't think all societies have seen the equation the same, either. I can't speak to the relative "innocence" of the high school teams, I'm referring to the college and professional fan. Of any sport.

The word "fan" surely takes on it's true meaning in the face of a living icon. I was astonished at the behavior of the fans of an opposing team to the presence of Michael Jordan at a basketball game I attended last year. The man was truly treated as a god, and I must say, to his credit, he acts in a gracious manner and well in public, so that just increases his stature. This is not new, tho, it happened in the Roman Empire, too. We've just not come very far, it would seem, despite our protestations to the contrary.

Ginny

Ella Gibbons
November 1, 1998 - 01:16 pm
The onlooker is a bit more important than that (demanding something for nothing?) - if it weren't for him paying the price of the ticket there would be no competitors or vendors. I think all three are needed; however, the image and pay of the athletes and the adoration shown them has gotten out of hand.

LJ Klein
November 2, 1998 - 09:31 am
I guess I'm not as ultralibertarian as I thought. If it was such standard proceedure and known to the parents that the "Girls" decorated the team players' bedrooms, was this not almost a licence to be promiscuous?. This along with the destruction of one family's home begin to give the whole thing an air of fantasy, anarchy

Would anyone care to comment on any aspects of Part Four "Accusation and Denial"?

Best

LJ

Ella Gibbons
November 2, 1998 - 11:29 am
LJ: I read it but cannot remember unless you ask specific questions and here again, had to take all library books back.

But you brought up a topic that has brought some debate among our friends and others, I'm sure. Can't think of the boxer's name that was sent to jail for date raping his girlfriend wasn't it? But the girl went to his hotel room? What was she thinking of? It's not enough to say "It's a different world than one we knew, where girls would never think of going to a guy's hotel room." These girls don't have good common sense or their parents are failing them. Of course, the boys are wrong too, but it was his hotel room!

The same is true of these girls!

LJ Klein
November 2, 1998 - 12:19 pm
I agree with you, and have certainly had my doubts about that rape conviction, but he is the same animal that tried to bite the ear off of his opponant in a subsequent "Boxing Match". I guess maybe he'd been watching too much "Professional Wrestling"

Best

LJ

Carol Jones
November 3, 1998 - 05:28 am
The boxer was indeed our own Mike Tyson. And is HE ever the perfect example of our discussions on what is wrong with professional sports! You know, there is this ongoing debate re who to blame for the decline in our young peoples' morals, with parents often receiving a large share of the blame. Two weeks ago Tyson got his license to fight back even though he displayed some rude behavior at the hearing. Millions of viewers, worldwide, saw Tyson bite off Holyfield's ear and spit it out. Young people saw it. Why, instead of being jailed, is he going to be able to make millions in the ring again? Money. I pity the poor parents who have to explain this disgrace to their children!

LJ Klein
November 3, 1998 - 05:36 am
"The issue that would trouble educators, parents, and students in Glen Ridge for years to come was this: Why would iot take more than three weeks before anyone reported Leslie's experience to the police?" (p224)

My answer to that is that Parents, Students and the Educators had been a part of what created the crime circumstances. They were all essentially co-conspirators. Only one student had a conscience. Freud would have fun explaining the almost universal absence of "Superego"

Best

LJ

Twowood
November 3, 1998 - 12:54 pm
I agree with you folks about assigning a large portion of the "Our Guys" blame to the school administrators.

I don't know what your experience has been but many,not all, but many of the school districts where I live are loath to refer any of their students to the courts and I'm speaking particularly of the moneyed communities where the residents know how and where to bring pressure.

Clearly, Glen Ridge came under that heading.However, I think they outdid themselves when they dragged their feet in reporting the crime and then overtly moved to rally the student body around the suspects. Heads should have rolled for those actions!

LJ Klein
November 6, 1998 - 05:17 pm
I have two antithetical points to raise: The first is redundant. What do you think of the way things were handled in the police and judicial systems.

Second: About pg.244 it occurred to me that if the boys had had good lawyers from the first, none of them would probably been convicted.

I think we can go to part six "MORAL JUDGEMENTS" before tying it up in the near future.

Best

LJ

LJ Klein
November 9, 1998 - 04:19 am
In the terminal (legal) portion of the book, it seemed clear to me that the judge was one-sided and essentially hostile to Leslie. So it turns out that conciously or otherwise almost everybody was hostile to Leslie; her peers, the educational system, the legal system, the community adults, and her parents come out looking "Colorless" (Surely there is more to their story. I get almost no "Feeling" from them.

The open questions we've proffered have remained open, but we will all think from time to time about these people and about borderline retarded girls (and boys) and sex.

Best

LJ

Carol Jones
November 10, 1998 - 08:41 am
Are you saying our discussion of this book is over, L J, Walter? I hope not. There ARE too many questions left dangling! I can't speak for the others but I'll work harder. I promise.

LJ Klein
November 10, 1998 - 08:47 am
It is definitely still open, but we need some postings to go with the wonderings or we end up with only wonderings.

I'm still wondering and I find the whole thing very unsatisfying because we all have the same or similar questions, all of which need amplification and/or answers.

Do you suppose that was the author's intent?

Best

LJ

Twowood
November 10, 1998 - 01:12 pm
I don't have my copy of the book...I loaned it to my daughter. Is Part 6 the last section of the book? Can we discuss the verdict yet?

LJ Klein
November 10, 1998 - 01:44 pm
By all means Walter. Please give us your thoughts about the trial and verdict.

Best

LJ

Ginny
November 10, 1998 - 03:50 pm
NoNO, now, don't conclude. Some of us are caught up in other stuff and distracted, don't quit yet. Walter, go ahead so we can catch up!

Ginny

Carol Jones
November 11, 1998 - 12:36 am
Oh Good! ! spent part of today reading part four, finished it, and am heading into part five. I am feeling so sad. It was the the knife-cutting sorrow of Charlie Figueroa plus the unfairness of it all that really did me in. To See a young man scarred for life like that-----How about the responsibity of his special Ed teacher, who knew Leslie was still a target but did nothing for a few davs and did not protect Charlie's coneidence?

Twowood
November 11, 1998 - 05:49 am
AH! We've come alive...

When I read the verdict, I was initially very angry.I thought the defendants should have been given much stiffer sentences.However,as time passed and I had a chance to discuss it with friends I changed my mind and I now think that the decision was right.

Leslie did not sustain any permenant physical injury and it appears that there was no evidence of severe,long term emotional trauma.The author only mentioned that Leslie found a little job in a super market or somewhere but he didn't leave me with the impression that she was shattered for life and left an emotional cripple.

On the other hand, the defendants and their families will probably feel the affects of this whole sorrid affair for the rest of their lives.Families were bankrupted,reputations were shattered, criminal records were established and,if I recall correctly,hard time was or will be served pending appeal.

Sounds like I went soft on the boys huh? Well,I didn't.I just feel that the Court probably felt that there was a tremendous amount of damage already done to a lot of people in this case,guilty and otherwise and no one would be any better off by imposing a tougher sentence.

Besides,he had to eventually run for reelection and Leslie probably wasn't even a registered voter!

LJ Klein
November 11, 1998 - 06:38 pm
Walter, I suspect that you're probably right but in an entirely different framework of logic. If the authorities (Some of whom, like parents, school, police, and community who were partially responsible) had all done the "Right Thing" from the start, punishment would have been meted out and no-one would have been seriously damaged except in the deflated collective and individual egos that weren't worth salvaging in the first place. Even Leslie would probably have been better off, and although as you've pointed out she seems to have made a decent adjustment, it might have been easier, faster and better without the protracted stress.

But we have only to deal with what was, not what might have been, and the best we can hope to get out of all of this it to answer the question of what we would have done in the shoes of any of the characters in the story. Then perhaps to answer "What SHOULD" we have done in each of those personal circumstances.

I think the book gives almost enough information for most of us, after contemplation, to answer those questions at least partially in most instances.

Best

LJ

Carol Jones
November 12, 1998 - 01:45 am
michelle Archer comes to mind: the mother of Chris and Paul. During that first interview with the woman detective she became agitated and told Sheila her son was lying re his innocence. The women had Chqis on the ropes when his father stormed in and terminated the session. Michelle caved after that under the social pressure but at least she made some effort.

LJ Klein
November 12, 1998 - 04:07 am
CAROL, You've pointed out that at least somebody made a correct judgement at the outset and tried to do the "Right Thing"

Best

LJ

Carol Jones
November 12, 1998 - 06:14 pm
You ask us to consider what we would have done,l j. Terrifying question! I'm going to need time on that one. My whole life I've wondered what I would have done if I had grown up in Germany in the early thirties. Well, on to part six!

Jackie Lynch
November 13, 1998 - 06:22 am
I haven't read the book, but I won't let that stop me from having opinions about it. It sounds as if the town rallied behind its annointed ones to defend them against "them". SO? This has been happening throughout eternity, hasn't it? Maybe this was more overt that we would like, but show me any place where it hasn't happened. There, I feel better now.

LJ Klein
November 13, 1998 - 06:27 am
Jackie, I'm sure we would all agree with you, but the problems, causes, cures and implications are far deeper.

Best

LJ

Twowood
November 13, 1998 - 10:39 am
"What would I have done under similar circumstances?"...That's a VERY thought provoking question.

I'd like to think that,if I were 15-16 yrs.old in that basement, I'd have made a bee line for the door thinking,"My mother'll kill me if she ever finds out about this".However,when I think of all the stupid,mischevious things I did at that age I really don't know what I'd have done.

It's really a shame that teenagers aren't critiquing this book as we are.THEY are the ones who really need it.Do you suppose "Our Guys" was added to the mandatory reading list in Glen Ridge High? I doubt it!

Ginny
November 13, 1998 - 10:44 am
You know, yesterday before I had to go out I sat thru a horrendous thing produced for teenagers on the horrors of smoking and chewing tobacco. Sure made a believer out of me.

The newest thing in education in the primary schools is the moral decision/education stuff where they have moral dilemmas and let the children act as judges with guidance in every day things. Maybe we need some kind of a moral dilemma movie about ganging up and budding sexuality and victimization that could be shown to every school, but at a younger age than high school.

I'd like to think my sons would have left. I know I would have, but am not a teenage boy, and never was.

I will never forget when my oldest son walked off the football field. He had gone out for football, and at a practice, the varsity players were having a little fun at the expense of some of the less coordinated players, the coach was inside, actually got quite nasty and physical. My son walked off and came home. Said he would not put up with that.

I was so proud of him that night he walked off, could have burst. My husband was appalled. Made him go apologize next day to the Coach, who promptly had a fit, told him in some colorful term he need not show up again, etc., etc.... couldn't stay the course, etc.,etc. Kicked him off the team.

I know who raised the "man" in that situation. I'm still proud of him.

Ginny

Carol Jones
November 13, 1998 - 12:31 pm
Oh, Ginny, what a fine man you raised! I am in awe. Hope mine would have done the same but it nevercame up. Does this say something about the agressive bonding of the competitive male or what?

LJ Klein
November 13, 1998 - 12:46 pm
Now we're getting down to the meat of the issues.

Although I don't recall the details of the conversation, I recall having it pointed out to me that anyone with whom a boy has intercourse can and "Will" name him as the father and the "Law" presumes him to be unless otherwise [roven. (It was a different age)

I'm sure I told my children the same, and must give their Mother credit for the success we had with the girls. Boys were more sexually active in the next generation (I guess maybe girls were too on the whole), but my son(s) never contracted either diseases or unwanted children, and the two things which were taught as absolute toboo from early childhood were force and incest. "Harm" was also generically interdicted.

We had neighbors whose children were into the "Football" thing, as was everybody in my high-school generation, and none of us could deny some involvement. e.g. I routinely did the Latin homework for two of our varsity players, but our mutuial Latin teacher was aware of it and jokeingly would remark that he knew us all well enough to recognize our translations.

Academic excellence was at least recognized even in those days

Best

LJ

Ginny
November 14, 1998 - 10:26 am
Thanks, Carol, I think so, too.

Well, if Part V is not the most disgusting thing I ever read in my life, it's pretty darn close to it.

So here we have the young heroes telling how she herself penetrated herself with broom, stick and bat. If that's NOT the most nauseating thing, I don't want to hear more. Then we have young Paul incriminating his own brother? So he could get the Pre-Trial whatever and get his record clear??

OK, what we have here are families "ruined" by their own children, reputations destroyed by the hands of these young criminals. That's a shame, but nobody did it to them but their own kids.

The fact that the victim is unable to remember or to give a creditable story has nothing to do with what the boys did. They acknowledged the others did it, named names. They aren't all learning disabled. ON to Part VI. I'm going to be infuriated if these slime balls get off.

Ginny

Carol Jones
November 15, 1998 - 12:44 pm
I've finished the book and will be able to dicuss endings whenever you all want to. I'm in no hurry. There is a lot to mull over.

I hadn't given much thought to Leslie's retardation. I guess because I hadn't a clue as to protect her (how) without impingeing on her freedom rights. But her parents won't live forever, her sister sounds wrapped up in her own world, Leslie has no judgement abilities, she's helpless. She must be put in a sheltered environment. (sigh) But where?

Ginny
November 20, 1998 - 03:14 am
I, too, have finished the book and am eager to discuss the end. Are we all through?

I hate to say it, but I do think that the judge's ruling points out why we need to do away with the jury system in America. Here the jury struggled, raised voices, and finally came to several verdicts, based on their careful analysis of the facts presented.

I was surprised at the legal consequences of each sentence, the possible mazimums. Yet the judge, acting on his own knowledge of the law and his judgment, which, of course, is what he gets paid to do, chose to lessen the sentences as we've seen and let the defendants virtually go free.

Why bother with the jury then? Although it's true that attorneys say the jury always arrives at the truth, and it's hard to fool a jury (cf. the OJ Simpson trial!!) in the end, the taxpayers would have been better served by the judge having heard the evidence alone.

Yes, I bet they are sorry, the defendants. Sure they are. Apparently found it humorous, too.

I really want to hear an update on these sterling citizens in training. The last interview I read by the author was in 1997. I would be, myself, obsessed with the fate of these people, and would want to know exactly how they turned out. What career choices they made. What they now think??

I notice that Leslie's parents did not leave town. I keep getting a strange feeling about them, it's hard to pin down, something like a dull "plunk" when you drop something in a well, instead of a splash.

I notice in the Epilogue that the Scherzers and Archers left town but Kevin and Kyle got "jobs." Does that mean they stayed then??

Neither one of them had gotten into a decent college in the first place, as I recall? And neither on any kind of athletic scholarship??

So the title of the book, "Our Guys" is a phrase the author heard from the townspeople after the incident? I think the nature of the incident, the seriousness of what was done, goes a long way from any kind of childish prank (several commented in the trial they were ONLY 16!!!)....

I'm wondering what the response would have been if the perps had been "geeks," or honor students??

Ginny

LJ Klein
November 20, 1998 - 05:43 am
YES GINNY, Leslie's parents are the big question mark, not only now, but throughout the book. As I review the discussion the big question marks still remain: What steps should have been taken to protect leslie from her environment (Or her environment from her)?: How do we square her behavior, actions and statements with the reported level of her intellectual functioning?: What and how much did her parents actually know or suspect?: What could or should they haver done at each stage of the story?

I don't think we'll get answers, only a vague sense of uneasiness that this has probably happened elsewhere, that it is likely (with thematic variations) to continue happening at differing levels of social class and economic or political influence, and that there will be little or no uniformity in response of neighbors, schools, police, courts and parents. (UNDERLINE THE WORD UNIFORMITY)

Best

LJ

Carol Jones
November 20, 1998 - 11:15 pm
aUNIFORMITY ! That word bothers me. It always has. It denotes lack of individual thought.And that scares me to death! The judge, himself, was guilty of herd mentality when sentencing time finally came around. The book states ( I paraphrase ) that the judge gazed upon the courtroom and saw people he had known all his life as good and decent people and he could not bring himself to devestate them any more than in his opinion they already were.

So, sorry Leslie, you're not up to our standards in this town. The boys were just plaving a little joke. Where's your sense of humor?

LJ Klein
November 21, 1998 - 02:22 pm
The "Human Animal" is still just an animal, and as the good book says, "Male and Female created she them"

Best

LJ