Bullying, and Suicide, in High School

Gun Rights
A photograph of Jack Reid, with the ocean behind him.
Sarah Blesener for The New York Times

To the Editor:

Re “Elite School Admits to Failure After Suicide of a Bullied Student” (front page, May 1), about the Lawrenceville School’s reckoning with the suicide of a student last year:

Reading the article about Jack Reid’s suicide brought back unpleasant memories, as I attended the Lawrenceville School between 1968 and 1971.

I was a shy, timid and closeted — even to myself — gay man. Although I received a great education, and went on to have a successful career as a judge, my three years at Lawrenceville were some of my worst.

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During my first year, I was called a homophobic slur in Spanish by a housemate, and another housemate wanted to fight me for no particular reason, probably because I was perceived as weak. The assistant housemaster sensed my unhappiness and asked me if I was OK, and, unfortunately, I answered that I was.

To deal with my unhappiness and loneliness, I would calm myself by shaking my legs and arms before I went to sleep, in addition to gleefully marking a big “X” on my calendar after I completed another day of extreme misery.

In fairness to Lawrenceville, I never disclosed my unhappiness. My heart goes out to the Reid family.

I commend Lawrenceville for the steps the school is taking, albeit possibly to avoid litigation.

David L. Piper

To the Editor:

The story about Jack Reid’s suicide hit home. In the 1960s I was a ninth-grade transfer student. This particular boy spotted me as an easy target in civics class, relentlessly teasing, taunting and humiliating me, five days a week. Students laughed at me, calling me names throughout the halls.

The look of shame in the eyes of the teacher was transparent, yet he never said or did anything in my defense. I was already afraid and insecure. Those daily taunts and humiliation destroyed the little self-worth I had.

Twice I attempted suicide. My mother was beside herself. She pulled me out of that school and enrolled me in a private Catholic school. I somehow made it through those years only because of my mother’s love and concern rather than anything the school ever did.

Bravo to the Lawrenceville School for publicly stating, “We acknowledge that more should have been done to protect Jack.” It’s long overdue for schools to finally step up and take responsibility rather than turning a continual blind eye.

Marge Keller

Illustration by The New York Times. Images by Getty Images

To the Editor:

Re “Here’s Looking at You, DVD.com,” by Pamela Paul (column, April 28):

Thanks to Ms. Paul for her eloquent, bittersweet ode to DVD.com. This year marked my 15th year as a Netflix subscriber, and while my queue is a fraction of hers (I have a thing with lists — no more than 10 on there at once), my recent mandate for managing my movies has been to include only those that are not available on any streaming service. (“Altered States” was a recent rental for me, too; maybe Ms. Paul and I had the same disc!)

I will treasure these last few months of deliveries. Farewell, red envelopes, but luckily I can fill the void with a combination of fond memories and frequent trips to the New York Public Library DVD stacks (and pray to the lords of corporate do-gooding that Netflix donates its DVD inventory to libraries).

Kevin Parks
New York

To the Editor:

One point Pamela Paul didn’t mention is the superior image and sound quality of DVDs, especially Blu-ray. The colors are much richer, the blacks are blacker and the audio is much fuller. Filmmakers put incredible effort into the look and sound of their art.

Luckily I live a few blocks from San Francisco’s last video rental store, Video Wave of Noe Valley. Not only does Colin Hutton, the proprietor, carry hundreds of titles unavailable via the internet, but he also has an encyclopedic knowledge of the films.

Whenever I want to watch a movie in which the cinematography and audio design are critical, I walk down the street to pick up a shiny disc.

Michael Fasman
San Francisco
The writer is a filmmaker.

To the Editor:

I loved this piece. It echoed my feelings and experiences with DVD.com. But there is another layer no one seems to be talking about.

I live in a rural area of western North Carolina. I have no cellular service at my house, and my internet connection is via a very slow satellite service and has a data cap. Both the slowness of the connection and the low data cap prevent us from being able to stream anything but fairly short YouTube videos. And those eat up our data allotment pretty quickly. Forget trying to stream an HD movie.

As Pamela Paul indicated, we won’t purchase a DVD that we would only watch once.

I’m sure we aren’t the only family in America in this situation. So what are we to do? It’s depressing and frustrating.

Kimberly Baldwin Whitmire
Franklin, N.C.

Senate Republicans hold a news conference outside the Capitol to urge passage of legislation to raise the debt limit and cut federal spending.Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

To the Editor:

Re “The Cowardice of the Deficit Scolds,” by Paul Krugman (column, May 9):

It is time to face up to massive U.S. debt that both Presidents Trump and Biden helped accelerate.

Many years ago, Mr. Krugman and others accused President George W. Bush and me of trying to privatize Social Security. The rhetoric poisoned the well for Social Security reform, which even Mr. Biden was suggesting was then needed. Reforms would have greatly improved today’s U.S. financial position.

The “scolds” I know believe that long-term deficit reduction requires lower expenditures and higher revenues. Having managed four government agencies, I would add better management by political appointees and Congress to proactively address the challenges.

We have to raise the debt ceiling, but we need to stop the U.S. debt doubling over the next 10 years. That is not “extortion” or “blackmail.” It is acting to safeguard America’s future.

James B. Lockhart
Greenwich, Conn.
The writer is a senior fellow at the Bipartisan Policy Center. He was formerly director of the Federal Housing Financial Agency and the Office of the Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight, principal deputy commissioner of Social Security and director of the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation.

Ron DeSantis has cast himself as more electable than Donald J. Trump, but for years Republican primary voters have cast ballots with their hearts, opting for hard-liners who lose in general elections.Scott Eisen/Getty Images; Christopher Lee for The New York Times

To the Editor:

DeSantis’s Electability Pitch Wobbles, Despite G.O.P. Losses Under Trump” (news article, April 23) describes the angst many Republicans feel about the electability of their candidates and the fact that they are losing many elections they feel were winnable.

The answer to their problem should be very evident: The majority of Americans favor sensible gun control, including the banning of assault rifles. The majority of Americans favor women’s reproductive rights. The majority of Americans deplore the vicious tone of American politics that prevails today. The majority of Americans do not believe the idiotic conspiracy theories that abound.

Yet the Republican Party continues to run candidates who cater to the morally and financially bankrupt National Rifle Association, who seek to eliminate completely a woman’s right to choose, who sow chaos with their nasty political rhetoric and who continue to push the completely ridiculous lie that Donald Trump won in 2020.

If the Republican Party ever wants to regain its status as a mainstream, serious participant in governance, it needs to jettison these fringe types it continues to trot out as candidates.

Bill Gottdenker
Mountainside, N.J.

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