Fat-shaming costs Fergus Falls columnist

Alan Linda has written his last “Prairie Spy” column for the Fergus Falls Daily Journal.

That’s what a column featuring the complaint about sitting next to an overweight person on an airplane will do to you.

The column, since removed, ridiculed a person Linda called “fat.”

I was on an airplane not too long ago, seated on one of three seats. Guess who my seat partners were? The one on my left was so big, I couldn’t get the arm rest down. If he didn’t weigh 300-plus pounds, then I don’t weigh 165 pounds.

I tried. The arm rest. Tried to get it down. He looked at me, kind of grimaced. And when a 300-plus guy has you effectively pinned in and you can’t even run for it, when they grimace at you, your first thought is: “Oh, man. He looks hungry.”

Not too long ago, I learned that my local theater still had all the old 30s-era seats, which were removed sometime in the late 50s. I installed a couple of short rows of them in the basement. Then I took them out again. There’s a problem — hardly any of my company fit into them. Which was why the movie theater took them out. Hard to sell popcorn dripping with butter to people who already can’t squeeze their big, fat — ummmmm — self into the seat.

“Not only did this offend many of our readers, it offended us,” the paper said in an editorial about cutting ties with the New York Mills columnist, who wasn’t paid for his effort.

The Daily Journal is more than a newspaper. We are people — people who care about this community and we come in all shapes and sizes. Not one person here at the Daily Journal likes or agrees with body shaming. Ever.

The editor has spoken with his staff that if something questionable like that comes before them, even if he is away, they don’t need to decide themselves whether to print it. They need to call him on his cellphone to get input. It’s a lesson learned.

This should prevent what are called ad hominem arguments going forward. Ad hominem is a Latin term for “personal attack” usually employed when someone wants to skip the issues that matter and just make fun of people instead. We just don’t need that kind of dialogue.

Linda tells the Star Tribune today that he doesn’t see what the big deal is understand what the dispute is about.

He’s written the column for three decades.

He was one of the founders of the Great American Think-Off in New York Mills.

(h/t: Nancy Yang, Mike McFeely)