• Alan Linda wrote the Prairie Spy column for the Fergus Falls Daily Journal
  • The Minnesota paper fired Linda last week for calling a person ‘fat’ in his column 
  • In an editorial the paper expressed regret for publishing the piece and said: ‘Not only did this offend many of our readers, it offended us’ 
  • Linda says he doesn’t understand why he was fired  

Jordan Gass-Poore for Dailymail.com

Alan Linda (pictured) drew upon his life experiences for his Prairie Spy column
Alan Linda (pictured) drew upon his life experiences for his Prairie Spy column

Alan Linda (pictured) drew upon his life experiences for his Prairie Spy column

A column about sitting next to an overweight person on an airplane has cost a longtime Minnesota newspaper columnist his job.

For 30 years, Alan Linda has written the Fergus Falls Daily Journal’s Prairie Spy column about his experiences in New York Mills, Minnesota. 

But last week the newspaper’s editorial board fired Linda for ridiculing a person he called ‘fat’ in his column.

‘Hard to sell popcorn dripping with butter to people who already can’t squeeze their big, fat – ummmmm – self into the seat’ wrote Linda, in a reprint of his column on WDAY.  

The controversial piece, titled ‘Taking notice of the size of people in today’s world’, was removed from the Fergus Falls Daily Journal’s website. 

Linda's column had been published for 30 years in the Fergus Falls Journal. The Minnesota newspaper fired him last week for calling a person 'fat' in his latest piece (pictured)
Linda's column had been published for 30 years in the Fergus Falls Journal. The Minnesota newspaper fired him last week for calling a person 'fat' in his latest piece (pictured)

Linda’s column had been published for 30 years in the Fergus Falls Journal. The Minnesota newspaper fired him last week for calling a person ‘fat’ in his latest piece (pictured)

In an editorial published last week, the board expressed regret for publishing the column and explained their decision for cutting ties with the volunteer columnist, whose humorous columns have been published in other Minnesota outlets.  

‘Last Friday, his column was about sitting next to a larger person on an airplane’, the board wrote. 

‘In the column, he called the person “fat” and went on to describe a lack of sympathy for the man’s weight issue.

‘Not only did this offend many of our readers, it offended us. 

‘Bullying others is not OK. Body shaming is not OK. … The list goes on, but you get the picture. Let’s debate the issues, not make personal attacks on people’.

Linda told the Minneapolis Star Tribune that he doesn’t understand why he was fired. 

Tim Engstrom, the Daily Journal’s editor and publisher (above), said readers have been pleased that the newspaper fired Linda for body-shaming a person in his latest Prairie Spy column
Tim Engstrom, the Daily Journal’s editor and publisher (above), said readers have been pleased that the newspaper fired Linda for body-shaming a person in his latest Prairie Spy column

Tim Engstrom, the Daily Journal’s editor and publisher (above), said readers have been pleased that the newspaper fired Linda for body-shaming a person in his latest Prairie Spy column

Tim Engstrom, the Daily Journal’s editor and publisher, said the response from readers has been ‘overwhelmingly positive’. 

‘When you’re a community newspaper like the Daily Journal, you’re close to the community’, said Engstrom. ‘They really let you know about things’.

Body-shaming may have once been acceptable but it’s not anymore, he added. 

‘Personally, I think it’s a generational thing. 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’. 

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