By Amy Silverman
By Olivia LaVecchia
By Monica Alonzo and Stephen Lemons
By Chris Parker
By Michael Lacey
By Weston Phippen
Your material on thought reform was very well-presented. Brainwashing was my first thought when I met my girlfriend after her weekend. One aspect you missed (or I missed in your article) that is always disturbing to me is the presence of material drawn from a Nazi source, the philosopher Martin Heidegger -- some of which is to my thinking analogous with Nazism.
Name withheld by request
Winner wonderland: I found your story about Landmark Education very interesting. My experience with Landmark is that I did the entire curriculum. The results were great for me. In fact, the way I became in my life as a result of doing Landmark work helped salvage my marriage (which is now at 21 years) and helped me become very close to my children. Landmark never claimed to have done this in my life, but instead gave me a way of making distinctions about who I was being to my wife and children. And they were very accurate.
Your story, although it had some hard facts, had a lot of fiction, or what I would call "things the author made up to make it exciting." I truly hope that someone like myself, who would benefit greatly from taking this work into his life, isn't swayed by your story. There are too many divorces and broken families already. Mine easily could have been one of them.
To sit through three days of the Landmark Forum and come out like you did is evidence of how you probably approach anything that is a new idea, or a different way of doing things. Reporters were highly critical toward Walt Disney for his La La Land approach to having a park where everyone is happy. He also was accused of running a cult.
You have a huge responsibility as a writer. I hope you take on serving the people who read you responsibly.
Brand-new me: I was at the very forum that you attended and frankly I am saddened that, for the sake of negative reporting, you wrote the article that you did. My wife and I had an incredible "transformational" experience, as it appeared many, if not most, of the participants did. Wouldn't a balanced job of reporting include so many of the people who appeared to "get it"? I don't remember you, so I suppose that you didn't participate at a high level, but I still can't believe that you didn't get to look at your own rackets and winning formulas and get something out of it at a personal level. You apparently entered the weekend to "write an exposé" and you followed your script. Congratulations. Have you even thought that perhaps your article will dissuade someone from attending who would otherwise have gotten the freedom from the past that so many of us on that weekend experienced?
Though he states about gays that "I have enjoyed their company and have been enriched by my association with them," his letter is filled with prejudicial rhetoric toward gays. The most blatant example is this statement: "Just as it would not be wise to place an active, recovering or abstaining alcoholic or drug user in charge of a liquor store or a drug store, why would we place an individual who has openly expressed his or her homosexuality in charge of our young and impressionable children?"
This implies that homosexual behavior is a disease! His distorted analogy is the problem with the entire tone and thought process of his letter. Though Mr. Abernethy claims not to "hate gays," he makes his true beliefs known through his characterizations and anecdotes.
The deviant behavior he describes is sexual child abuse, and Mr. Abernethy acknowledged that this is not a phenomenon restricted to gay men. It isn't even more prevalent in the population of gay men as compared to heterosexual men, but it does receive more attention.
Mr. Abernethy's main point was that society cannot trust adults to supervise children of a gender to that toward which they are sexually oriented. We need to "err on the side of safety." He makes the argument that heterosexuals are "sexually conditioned to the opposite sex, so we wisely avoid this situation (supervision of children of the opposite sex) for everyone's mutual protection." I guess he wants to get rid of all the den mothers, too? The point is clearly prejudicial as well as absurd.
It seems that gay people are attracted to Mr. Abernethy from the numerous and ugly examples he was able to provide. Still, there is a larger paradigm. What he expressed, men making advances toward him, pales in comparison to what women have to put up with from aggressive, heterosexual men. Furthermore, if you are a "young designer in New York," some assumptions are going to be made; you shouldn't live in the desert if you are going to complain about the heat. My point: Heterosexual men are much more guilty of perpetrating unwelcome sexual advances toward women than most men will ever experience in their lifetime from any gay men. His argument and perspective here is narrow and irrelevant.