Here's a letter from a Byron reader, regarding the Answer Man item on July 12:
I am writing to you in regards to a recently published article titled, "Why does that man wave?" I feel your article to be very demeaning in your description of Mr. Johnson, and also in the disclosure of his personal data. He appears to be a kind and simple soul.
Shame on you!
The Answer Man's response:
Thanks for your note regarding the man who waves along Second Street. I can understand your point of view.
The piece was not intended to be demeaning at all – in fact, I spent a fair amount of time that day with Mr. Johnson, he was very well aware that I was writing a short item for the paper, he was aware of what the Answer Man column is about, and he clearly was aware I was taking a photo. While the item described him somewhat colorfully, he clearly is a colorful presence along the street, one of the most public places in Rochester, and he in no way seemed displeased by the attention, either on the street or as I talked with him as a reporter.
I would hope he saw it as a way to get his message out to a much wider audience. I haven't heard from him since publication; I did get two other notes from readers who thought it was invasive.
Again, I understand where you're coming from. That was the risk of running the item. That said, it reflected something that, to the thousands of people who travel that street every day, was interesting and notable.