Akron, we have a bigger problem than the serial pooper

Yes, I chuckled when I first saw the photo of Akron’s now famous — and I’d assume, soon-to-be-caught — Bowel Movement Bandit. And then, almost immediately, 50 friends back home in Georgia tagged me in their Facebook posts about it, all with a quip playfully incriminating me.

It seems the same is happening to displaced Akronites as well.

Expat journo Betsy Rothstein wrote about the Rubber City’s sudden slurry of ew-inspiring attention for The Daily Caller, quoting another notable Akronite abroad, The Atlantic’s David Graham, who told her, “You know how when people are looking for [a] random city to include as the butt of the joke, they often choose Akron? It’s, you know, big enough that people know about it, but midwestern enough that they don’t have a strong image of what it’s like…”

Either way, I don’t begrudge my pals their jokes — it is weird and it is funny, and we all need to laugh — but it’s getting harder to chuckle. Not just because it’s reached a saturation point, which it has, but because there’s someone else in Akron I wish the whole world had caught on camera in the midst of their cowardly act.

At some point soon, I expect other media to pick this up — WAKR’s Amani Abraham reported on it this morning but so far, I haven’t seen anything else, though that original post has been shared almost 300 times.

This is where I hope the same power of social media that elevated a goofy story can help cast a light on this one because while getting “justice” for people whose cars were defaced is a good thing, protecting Dr. Kara Kvaran, her colleagues and students should be the concern of the broader community as well.

I cannot imagine what today must be like for her, her loved ones and students. While I’m not a vengeful person in general, as a father and husband, son, grandson and brother, this makes my blood boil. As a human being, I want the person responsible found and the threat nullified with great pains taken to ensure it never happens again, here or anywhere.

It’s easy to have zero tolerance for this–to share your disgust, to post the story and demand action–but it’s as important to be critically aware of the behaviors that lead up to things like this. Dehumanization is a slow process. You don’t go from treating people equally to posting rape threats and endangering lives in a heartbeat.

So, if you aren’t going to tolerate this flyer, don’t tolerate the use of words like “bitch” and “whore.” Don’t snicker about boys-will-boys “stuff” like massage parlors and happy endings when there are very real and well-documented cases of sex trafficking and abuse in these places.

Just don’t tolerate anything less than showing respect for the person across from you. It’s the least you *should* do.

Anyone with information about the flyer should contact the University of Akron Police Department at 330-972-2911 or submit a tip anonymously.