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All Men Are Suspect 

Jim Senter of Rougemont argues that last week's cover story ["I'm Not a Predator"], about the alleged harassment of a gay father at Raleigh-Durham International Airport, missed the point.

"Ken Fine's story about the harassment of Henry Amador-Batten and his son, Ben, on a United Airlines flight into RDU is troubling," he writes. "There's one problem with it, though, other than what happened at the airport. The beautiful photos of Henry and Ben you published clearly show that Henry has no scarlet G branded on his forehead. There is no way the flight attendant who called the police could have known that Henry is gay.

"The victim here just happens to be gay. He could have just as easily been straight. All men are suspect in our relations with children. All men are assumed to be predators, not just gay men. Making this story an issue of gay rights is an example of sloppy, sloppy reporting."

Commenter Pauley98 concurs: "After reading the article a couple of times, I still do not understand how the gentleman being gay has anything to do with what the flight crew did. Nowhere in the article did it state that the flight crew did what they did because he is gay."

Patricia Oliviero writes, "As a mother of a gay son, the only thing that I could think of is how I would have reacted to my son and grandson being detained in this way. What kind of training are United staff getting? Please pursue this. This kind of behavior is unacceptable! I will speak to my husband about trading in our United credit card. I do not want to be associated with an organization that is this prejudiced."

"A simple look at the flight manifest would have rendered the question of parenthood moot," writes commenter NCSilverBear. "A simple question from the flight attendant—'Is this your son? He's very well behaved, etc.'—might have opened the conversation and allayed any concerns. But, instead, the flight crew assumed the worst and acted inappropriately and with prejudice. The airline should be sued."

On Facebook, Patrick Murphy writes, "I think I know what happened here. A few months ago, I saw a fluff story about how flight attendants were being co-opted to look out for human trafficking. I remember thinking at the time, This is going to end badly. With all the stress that flight attendants already deal with, now they are also responsible for stopping human trafficking. What I don't understand is why didn't the law enforcement on the ground treat this with more discretion. There is plenty of opportunity to discreetly observe father and child in the airport."

Last Thursday, the day President Trump announced that he was pulling the United States from the Paris climate agreement, we reported that Senator Thom Tillis had been among twenty-two Republican senators who had signed a letter the week before encouraging him to do just that, after Tillis had banked more than a quarter-million bucks from oil and gas companies.

On Facebook, readers reacted angrily. Here's a quick sampling.

Jay Davis: "He is willing to sell our future well-being for a lousy quarter of a million bucks. You're pretty cheap, Thom."

Janet Jackson-Ledermann: "Too bad he's not up for reelection until 2020. Remember and vote blue."

Michael Wright, who is not one for subtlety (and loves him some exclamation points): "Thom Tillis another Fascist Koch owned Criminal Tea Party Republican whom only supports the Satanical New World Order Globalist Billionaires and their Criminal Cartel of Corporations for millions in bribes!!!! Definitely a True Enemy of the American People!!!!"

Julia Monley Plourde, who was quoted in our story last week about the debate over a rezoning at the intersection of Guess and Latta roads in north Durham [“Why Are All These People So Pissed Off Over a Grocery Store?”], believes the story was a betrayal: “When I sat down with my daughter and opened the INDY Week to read the rezoning article we had been anxiously awaiting all week, I felt like I had been punched in the stomach.

Never have I felt so misrepresented, and so duped. My daughter actually started to cry. She said, ‘Mom! We aren’t mad about a grocery store. Why did they say that? That makes us look bad!’

“My ten-year-old daughter seems to understand something you don’t. You don’t exploit people to sell ads in the paper. You know full well that we aren’t pissed about a grocery store. The article acknowledged this very fact in paragraph fifty-something, couched between all the tabloid-style ‘he said, she said.’ “I invited your news team into my home. I let them take pictures of my family, of my children. If we had any idea that it was your goal to belittle us before your entire readership, I would have never given the INDY Week the time of day.

“We were told this piece was going to focus on civic engagement, and how high the stakes are for people in our neighborhood. You had an opportunity to elevate the conversation and actually equip people with some of the facts in advance of the vote before city council, and you blew it, instead highlighting whatever drama has been playing out between a few people on the fringes of this debate.

“I think it was a mistake for the INDY to cover such a serious story. You show little regard for the actual people affected by this article or this rezoning effort, and that headline is nothing short of shameful.”

Aaron Plourde offers similar thoughts—and thinks we buried the lead: “I understand that the indy needs to get people’s attention to read its stories, which perhaps explains the lack of judgment in printing the patently sensational headline constructed for this article. Unfortunately, it not only misses the point and misleads readers, but it’s insulting to those residents who are engaging in the local political process and standing up to defend Durham’s comprehensive plan. A job, by the way, that should be the responsibility of city leaders. “Too bad you buried the lead in paragraph 58. This is what you should have focused on for this story: ‘It’s clear this debate is about more than Publix, about more than even this thirty-acre project. It calls into question how the city should go about managing its growth and balancing policy with what people want.’”

Howard Lander also says we buried the lead: “Despite an overwhelming vote (11–2) by the planning commission and significant community opposition and the fact that this development clearly does not meet Durham’s unified development ordinance, there is still a chance the city council will approve this development. Why?”

On Facebook, north Durham resident Todd Clarkson says he’s torn. “If the developer is to be trusted, I would be fully in support of the Publix, and having a Rise nearer would be great. On the other hand, there is no guarantee we wouldn’t end up with another Dollar General and a McDonald’s instead. I also hold [residential developer] Cimarron Homes in poor regard.”

For Elizabeth Wilhite-Rees, the issue “is about rezoning a piece of land. The original zoning plan was carefully thought out by its designers to control sprawl, crowding, environmental impact, etc. One mile away, there is land that is already zoned for commercial use. But the developers don’t want to go there, claiming it’s too rocky and therefore more expensive to clear. Meanwhile, they don’t hesitate to spend oodles of time and money to do away with a long-term plan just for their own convenience. That raises some suspicion for me. But even ignoring that, are residents here supposed to compromise their chosen way of life in order to provide more convenience and profit to a developer that does not live here? I think not.”

Want to see your name in bold? Email us at backtalk@indyweek.com, comment on our Facebook page or indyweek.com, or hit us up on Twitter: @indyweek.

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