Xpress is not here to tell us what to think or fear

This letter is in response to the Dec. 5 story, “No Easy Answers,” and the Dec. 22 followup, “Merchants Protest Dec. 5 Lexington Avenue Story.”

I am in the process of turning the former TV Eye location into Devotion Organics, a retail store for local, organic, eco-responsible and non-corporate bath and beauty products. The main focus of my business is to create a centralized venue for the many small-market manufacturers of these products who reside in and around Asheville, thereby strengthening our local economy and our small-business community while providing chemical-free, ethical products to our customers.

It is on this platform that I stand “outraged” at the irresponsible journalism of “No Easy Answers.” At the Dec. 14 meeting with Lexington business owners, Xpress reacted with nepotistic defense of its fellow journalist, without regard to the needs or voices of those present.

We all felt that David Forbes' portrayal was false, fear-inciting, sensationalistic journalism that belonged more in a tabloid than in a reputable news source.

The printed quote made it sound like I was taking Xpress' side. I was absolutely not. This piece of journalism was old news, born of a dated concern and opinionated rhetoric. Forbes left out the majority of Lexington Avenue’s voices (such as the ones “protesting“ at this meeting).

Those present from Xpress were unwilling to listen to any of us. Their raised voices in defense of their fellow journalist only led to more contempt from our side. We were upset not that the article was printed, but that the information was no longer valid, was hearsay, or was otherwise untrue.

For example: Earlier in the year, many people came to Lexington in search of “bath salts,” and exhibited erratic (and sometimes criminal) behavior as a result of these drugs. Some people at the meeting were trying (correctly) to make the point that Xpress did not report this as it was happening, rather months after the sale of bath salts on Lexington Avenue ceased. The concerns raised in the article had already been addressed by those responsible for the sale of these legal but harmful drugs.

Xpress is not here to tell us what to think or what to be afraid of, just as we as business owners aren’t here to pay Xpress to say what we want. Rather, Xpress is here to bring our voices to one another in the spirit of community. Instead, Xpress spat in the face of the community that has supported it since its inception, and isolated itself as part of the problem and not the solution.

All we really wanted was an admission and an apology, but Xpress was too blind with pride to hear that request. Lexington Avenue is the colorful heart of this beautiful city, not a dark corner of violence. I did not receive a free ad, nor did anyone else. I humbly ask the readers to stand up and support local small business, and show David Forbes and those who may have been swayed by his tactics that our city is safe, and that we are not afraid to walk the streets, no matter what he tries to tell us.

— Joshua Lawton
Devotion Organics

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