Columnist Fat-Shames Airline Passenger, Gets Hit with Karma

A Minnesota newspaper fired a fat-shaming columnist who wrote a column about his recent experience flying next to an overweight passenger, and commenting airlines should sell “tickets by the pound.”

Alan Linda, an unpaid columnist for the Fargus Falls Daily Journal, who has written for the newspaper for three decades, and penned the Feb. 10 column about traveling next to a 300-pound Georgia man during a flight, will not be published any longer.

“Not only did this offend many of our readers, it offended us,” the newspaper noted in its statement terminating its long-time relationship with Linda. “Bullying others is not OK. Body shaming is not OK. Racist views are not OK. Homophobia is not OK. The list goes on, but you get the picture. Let’s debate the issues, not make personal attacks on people.”

The column -- “Taking notice of the size of people in today’s world” — is no longer available on the paper’s website. In it, Linda writes about a recent flight during where he sat next to an overweight man.

“He looked at me, kind of grimaced,” Linda explained in describing his failed attempt to put his armrest down between him and the man. “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.’”

Linda even made a joke when the man went to use the bathroom.

“You know the size of the bathroom at the back of the plane? And the door into it ain’t hardly a foot wide,” Linda wrote, according to a cached version of the column. “I kind of wanted to foller him back air, watch if that worked, him getting hisself in there. (You gotta love that language.) In the meantime, I ate my peanuts afore he were back.”

The newspaper’s editor and publisher, Tim Engstrom, explained in an interview that he’s gotten an “overwhelmingly positive response” to his decision to no longer work with Linda.

Engstrom said body-shaming was not acceptable today.

“Personally, I think it’s a generational thing,” he remarked. “I think at one point you could talk about someone wearing glasses as a ‘four-eye,’ or make fun of a person’s weight or the color of their hair. Now people are, ‘No bullying, no body-shaming.’

“It all goes into the category of what’s acceptable these days, along with racism and homophobia. They’re kind of asking adults not to act like children.”

A follow-up article in the newspaper claimed the fat-shaming column was published because Engstrom had pneumonia and he usually edits Linda’s columns.

“The staff ran the column because it was routine — Alan Linda was in that spot every Friday,” the editorial in the paper noted. “His column, ‘The Prairie Spy,’ has been there for years.”

Source: New York Post
Photo: 123RF

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