Best Of The Web
“One evening in January 2015, a mental health counselor named Foad Afshar met with a twelve-year-old boy inside his office in Concord, New Hampshire. Afshar was 55, a gregarious man with eyeglasses, thinning hair, and plans to retire that spring. As a teenager in 1977 he had emigrated alone from Tehran to Massachusetts, fleeing religious persecution. (His family was Baha’i, a non-Muslim religious sect.) “I had $500 and 50 words of English,” he said. He studied psychology and in 1984 moved to New Hampshire. Since then, he had worked at drug treatment centers and psychiatric hospitals, as a school guidance counselor, a special education and ESL director, and in 2005 he opened a private practice, working mostly with children. In 2010, he was elected president of the New Hampshire Psychological Association. When the family of the twelve-year-old first approached him, in November, Afshar had demurred; he had a full caseload and retirement on the horizon. He shared a list of colleagues he recommended. Weeks later, the family called again. The holidays were nearing, and they couldn’t find anyone else. Afshar agreed to provide “a short-term intervention” until the new year, when the family could try again.
The boy, identified in court documents as E.R., was in seventh grade. He played an instrument and club sports and liked to snowboard. In summers he liked to visit a family friend’s lake house on Winnipesaukee. Since his parents’ divorce, when he was five, E.R. had lived primarily with his father and older sister, and recently his father’s girlfriend, with whom the children had a difficult relationship. The girlfriend “yelled” and was “mean,” E.R. said. He began spending more time at his mother’s house, just a seven-minute walk. Because his mother worked overnight as a nurse, and slept during the day, E.R. passed most of his hours there alone—and, soon, getting into trouble. He shoplifted condoms and was caught smoking marijuana on campus before school. He and a friend stole lighter fluid. With a Zippo lighter and a can of Axe body spray, he made a small blowtorch. Knives were discovered in his pillowcase. His father worried he was becoming “a little bit lost.”
Over two months that winter, E.R. and Afshar met five times, on weekday evenings. “He seemed wicked nice,” E.R. said. He liked that Afshar could talk about sports, and that his office had games: a basketball net, a shelf of toys. E.R.’s father, retreating to a waiting room down a short hallway, noticed his son emerging from appointments seeming “relaxed,” and his mother told a pediatrician that E.R. was making “great strides.” In their fifth session, on January 6, 2015, according to E.R. and to a Merrimack County jury, Afshar slipped his hand beneath E.R.’s shirt and rubbed his fingernails across the boy’s chest and back. Then he reached down E.R.’s pants and rubbed his penis.”
JJ Editor's Daily Picks
"President Trump’s Iran policy over the weekend was both erratic and masterful. Doves and isolationists, panicked by what they see as the administration’s inexorable drift toward war, rejoiced when Mr. Trump announced that a military strike had..."
"This is the photo that encapsulates the cruelty of the Trump era: a father and daughter lying dead on the banks of the Rio Grande river, her tiny arm draped around his neck, drowned after an attempt to cross onto American soil and seek asylum..."
"Several months ago, a Palestine Liberation Organization body published an official document on the conflict. In its 37 pages, the organization put forth its views, with some readers seeing this as a clear endorsement of the two-state solution..."
"The first season of Big Little Lies was a clever trap. The show took what would have otherwise been an easily satirized narrative about affluent women and complicated it with their trauma; The Week's Lili Loofbourow succinctly called it "a kind..."
"There’s a story we like to tell about American capitalism. Ours is a country that prizes merit, rewards risk and stands apart in its commitment to the collective success of open markets and the free flow of capital. We are a nation of strivers..."
""IN THESE DAYS of anti-tech ire, it’s a popular cocktail hour topic: How much is Facebook making off my data? Last year, I spent a month trying to find out, hawking my personal data on blockchain-based marketplaces. I came away with $0.003. On..."
""At the end of May, TIAA, the financial services and investing giant, rolled out new gender-identity awareness guidelines for its client-facing consultants. The guidance included: “Never assume someone’s gender identity” and “Be aware that a..."
"An old saying goes that people become more conservative as they age. George Will’s new book, “The Conservative Sensibility,” shows that the opposite can be true. This book is not so much a brief for conservatism as it is a learned and lengthy..."
"Imagine if the dishes stopped getting done. Imagine if no one did the laundry, and it piled up, stained and mildewing in hampers and in piles on the floor. Imagine if no one fed the baby, or changed her, and imagine if no one made dinner..."
"In Japanese culture, kintsugi is the labor-intensive method of repairing broken pottery by reattaching pieces using a lacquer mixed with gold. The reconstructed item, glistening with golden “seams,” is in many ways more beautiful than it was..."
"The U.S. is currently experiencing the largest outbreak of measles since 1992. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there have been more than 1,000 confirmed cases since January. Scientific research overwhelmingly support..."
"Among those participating was Jason Greenblatt, Washington’s Mideast mediator and one of the architects of the “Peace to Prosperity” workshop taking place here. Aryeh Lightsone, a top aid to US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, gave a brief..."