Letter: A Particularly Malicious Column
To the Editor:
I’ve come to expect a healthy dose of self-loathing in Jim Kenyon’s columns. After all, living in one of Vermont’s most affluent towns and sending his kids to well-funded schools is obviously something that he needs to atone for. And what better way to demonstrate that he is not one of those Norwichites than by constantly writing about how awful his neighbors are?
But even by Kenyon’s standards of not-guilty-by-disassociation, the May 5 column, “Community Reflections,” was particularly malicious. In it, he takes Hanover High School to task for touting the achievements of a student, while juxtaposing Hanover’s circumstances to Claremont, where teen pregnancy is a major concern.
Let me be clear, the fact that Sullivan County’s pregnancy rate is much higher than the state average is very troubling, inherently newsworthy and deserves to be covered. But why take pot shots at Hanover in the process?
By choosing the haves-and-have-not route, yet again, it seems that his only interest in the pregnancy issue was merely to set Hanover for a good whacking. Otherwise, why not focus the whole column on teen pregnancy? I wouldn’t blame Claremont if it felt a little used.
But the most appalling part of the column was his treatment of Katherine Chen, the Stalnaker Memorial Scholarship award winner who Hanover High School is rightly proud of. Kenyon diminishes her accomplishments by ever so slightly suggesting that in the land of six-figure household incomes and $1,000 SAT tutoring sessions, her achievements are somehow less earned or commendable. I can only image how excited she must have been to learn that she was going to be in the newspaper, only to open the paper Sunday morning and read that she was part of a columnist’s morality play.
If all it took to get into Harvard was the ability to afford tutoring and a couple tests, I’m guessing the school’s enrollment would be north of a million students. But alas, it isn’t, so I’m left to assume that Katherine Chen earned her way in with hard work and great intellect.
It’s too bad that Kenyon couldn’t see that through his disdain-colored glasses.