Should This Columnist Be Fired For Giving Bad Advice?

Writer Lucinda Rosenfeld is in big-time trouble with internet commenters! The author of I’m So Happy For You writes an advice column for Double X called “Friend Or Foe” and her advice to a recent letter writer has commenters calling for her termination. So what was the dilemma and her supposedly awful advice? Let’s begin with the conundrum.The letter writer, a woman, and her two female best friends went out for a night on the town. At one point the letter writer went to the bathroom and didn’t return, so her friends assumed she had gone home and they left too. All the woman remembers from the evening is waking up in the ER — she was told that a police officer found her passed out on the sidewalk and she had been slipped a roofie. She was able to piece together what happened during the hours she can’t remember and found out that she called her friends, “sobbing in hysterics and asking for help, they told me to go back to the club and that they would have an ambulance pick me up there.” When she was in the hospital, her mother called the friends and asked them to go be with her, but these friends refused. They only came to get her because the hospital refused to release her without someone to drive her home — they did so angrily, but only as far as her own vehicle, which she drove home alone.

“I have known these girls for more than 10 years, and had until now considered them my best friends. But I can’t help feeling as though they’d abandoned me. If I found out one of them had been taken to the hospital, I would have dropped everything and gone to be by her side. Am I expecting too much from my best friends, both of whom are mid-twentysomething professional women?”

Before we get to Rosenfeld’s advice, my initial reaction is that the letter writer is not asking for too much, that her two friends definitely did abandon her, and she should be extremely pissed off. There’s nothing in the letter that indicates whether she told her friends she was roofied (though, I think it’s safe to assume she did) or whether they apologized. If they haven’t apologized, my advice would be to drop those two bitches immediately.

As for Rosenfeld, this is what she had to say in response to “Am I expecting too much?”

“Wow, that’s a tough call. A spouse or even a boyfriend? Yes, it would be his or her duty to haul ass to said hospital at 4 a.m. But your single female friends who are already, presumably tucked in their beddy-bies? I have to admit that, if I got a call like yours (or your mother’s) in the middle of the night, I’d do what I could from home, but would be hard-pressed to jump in my car until morning.

She then says it’s unsafe for a woman to head out alone at that late hour, which is kind of ridiculous given the woman in question actually WAS in a completely unsafe situation. Also, she says that by the time the mom called the friends, she was likely out of danger. True. Was her friends’ presence at her hospital bedside necessary at that point? No. But would being with her have been the right thing to do — the kind, compassionate, and caring thing to do — after she’s just gone through a traumatic experience? Absolutely. And I would expect my friends to behave in such a manner.

Of the anger her friends seem to feel towards her for the incident, Rosenfeld explains, “Why were they so unforgiving? I’d wager a guess that they think you’re lying about the mickey, tales of which are sometimes used as a cover for irresponsible behavior. (Only you know the truth.)”

Wait, what kind of friend thinks her bestie is lying about being slipped the date rape drug? That’s the kind of thing you assume when a friend has a sordid history of tall tales, but there is nothing in the letter to support that. Still, Rosenfeld at least gets it right in saying, “If your buddies refuse to believe your account, it might be time to reexamine the friendships.” No kidding.

Double X commenters fuh-reaked about Rosenfeld’s response and have started an online petition calling for her to be fired. Many of them felt like the letter writer could have been sexually assaulted, but Rosenfeld wrote in a followup post:

“I did not think of that at the time. There is no evidence in her letter that she was a victim of a sex crime. And I believe that if she had been, or thought she had been, she would have alluded to it in the letter. All we know is that something she drank caused her to pass out. Moreover, had I believed for a second that she’d been assaulted, I would have responded in an entirely different manner.”

But is that the point? The point is that the friends should have been concerned that their pal was in a dangerous situation that could have resulted in sexual assault. At the time that she phoned them, anything could have happened. She needed their help getting out of a dangerous situation which, luckily as far as we know, did not end as badly as it could have. The friends don’t get a pass just because a worst case scenario didn’t pan out.

Still, does an advice columnist doling out advice that the majority considers completely horrendous warrant her being fired? What do you think?

[Double X]