These columns generate a pretty steady stream of reaction, but a lot of it is too vituperative to find its way into the pages of the magazine. Most of these responses come via email nowadays, but every once in a while someone actually writes a letter that is typed or handwritten and sent via the U.S. Postal Service. I’m always astonished when I get one of these letters.
In any case, many of these email writers object to my politics, outraged that any persuasion but theirs would find its way into print. We’ve been over this many times before and that is not the subject today.
After blasting me for my politics, the next most frequent complaint is about some of the statistics that populate many of the stories–news and features–that we run.
People just don’t believe a lot of the statistics they read, no matter what the source. I’m sure that doesn’t just apply to what runs in these pages because it seems pretty clear that people believe what they want to believe.
Case in point: I got an email the other day from someone who was outraged over the cover of the Oct. 15 issue, which referred to 77% of American households “reporting themselves as ‘non-traditional.’ “
The email writer wanted to know: “Where do you get your figures from, and who checks them? There is no way your non-traditional households can outnumber the traditional marriages between a husband and wife!”
When I wrote back and said that this is what the U.S. Census Bureau reported in 2000, the writer responded that he did “not believe what the Census Bureau reported.”
But then came the real gist of his response: “I am not opposed to articles on any market, if the agent wants to pursue. I am opposed to ones that appear to further break down and already fragile family unit.”