Let­ters to the ed­i­tor

The Covington News - - Opinion -

Ob­jec­tion to re­cent col­umn

Dear Ed­i­tor: Just wanted to re­spond to the long col­umn about traf­fic laws for pedes­tri­ans. I’m a col­lege-ed­u­cated wo­man who’s lived in Ge­or­gia for 20 years. My hus­band and I have also lived in New York, Bos­ton and Dal­las and have crossed many city streets. We were not aware that a flash­ing cross­walk sig­nal meant we had to yield to on­com­ing traf­fic — we as­sumed it warned, as a yel­low light does, that a change is com­ing. I’ve never thought if traf­fic mov­ing in my di­rec­tion has a red light, I have one. If the pedes­trian sig­nal is blink­ing as I approach, I as­sume I have to high-tail it across be­fore it changes.

Your colum­nist was un­usu­ally, some might say patho­log­i­cally, irate. I’m sur­prised your edi­to­rial staff gave him a pub­lic venue for his rant. Un­able to find the teens to let them know he was right/they were wrong, his ego wouldn’t let him drop it. The re­sult­ing col­umn reads like a dis­or­ga­nized jour­nal en­try. (Why would any ed­i­tor let him keep men­tion­ing be­ing frus­trated by a de-ic­ing in­ci­dent at the air­port? It was ir­rel­e­vant to the story and mean­ing­less un­less the reader had back­ground. The writer seemed to want to let us know he’s a smart guy with ex­per­tise in traf­fic con­trol. Ego, again.)

But here’s my main com­plaint: De­scrib­ing the race of the teens who yelled at him (com­plete with their small-town-kids­dress­ing-like-they’re-in-the-’hood at­tire) was un­nec­es­sary and in­flam­ma­tory. This was not a racial is­sue or in­ci­dent. Or, per­haps it was, for your colum­nist?

If it had been me, a white mid­dle-aged wo­man, with my two chil­dren, who made the same mis­take, how would your colum­nist have re­sponded — in the mo­ment and in his col­umn? Based on my un­der­stand­ing of the cross­walk light, I, too, would have as­sumed I had the right-of-way and stepped con­fi­dently into the street.

If your writer had swerved around me in­stead of stop­ping, I would have felt threat­ened by a mo­torist in too much of a hurry to let me and my kids get across the street. I also would have felt, as I’m sure the teens did, “dissed.” An­gry, I might have yelled some­thing in his di­rec­tion.

In the two years I’ve been in Cov­ing­ton, I’ve noted how rude driv­ers (of all races) can be — honk­ing im­pa­tiently, yelling out win­dows — de­spite the fact this is a fairly small town. A col­umn that could have been a hu­mor­ous and in­for­ma­tive look at small-town traf­fic or the dif­fi­cul­ties pedes­tri­ans have cross­ing the cor­ners in the square, be­came in­stead an air­ing of one white man’s sen­si­tive ego and racist view of the world. And the day be­fore MLK day?

Yuk. There are as­pects of the small-town South Cov­ing­ton needs to di­vest it­self of, the sooner the bet­ter.

Sin­cerely, Robin K. John­son

Cov­ing­ton

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