The Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center says Manhattan Beach police were negligent in releasing the names and photos of 18 men arrested in an undercover sex sting at a public restroom last week. There is nothing you can do about that. Arrests are public records, and police blotters get released to local community newspapers as a matter of course. What they do with them is another matter altogether.
Closer to home, Scripps Treasure Coast Newspapers published a report last month about 10 men arrested on Graham Beach in Jensen, nine of which were charged with exposure of sexual organs. The Scripps story included not only the 10 men’s names and ages, but also their photos and home addresses. Maybe it should have included their penis size as well.
The issuethat the LA GLCC and LGBT leadership should take issue with is that the local media goes bat-shitty insane over these juicy stories about fags congregating in restrooms. See, whether you realize it or not, while being pumped up on Ecstasy at ‘Muscle-Beach’ parties hosted by the National Task Force on South Beach, gay men are still being targeted unjustly for arrest in city after city across America.
As we reported in the expose of Palm Beach police falsely arresting hundreds of gay men for allegedly salacious acts in public parks, these incarcerations are a fraud upon the gay public. Many of the arrestees are legally innocent, wrongfully handcuffed and jailed by cops who illegally induced the prohibited acts by purposefully entrapping gay men.
|Scripps Managing Editor Michael Canan, |
who can be reached at 772-223-4743
Instead of lustfully jumping over these arrests and posting them on community billboards, newspapers ought to assign writers the task of uncovering whether the arrests were legitimate and lawful instead of discriminatory and devilish.
Hundreds of people driving drunk while putting your life and safety at risk get arrested every week, yet newspapers don’t publish their arrest reports or photos. But a group of queers hook up in a rest room and their lives are subject to public humiliation?
Listen, the cops did not have to call the LA GLCC, hold a sensitivity training session, say the conduct in the restroom is offensive and illegal, and it must be stopped or we are going to raid you, but you know what? They could have- that is what community outreach is for. Why else do you establish gay liaisons with police agencies?
Of course, the police were absolutely not under a legal duty to do so, but hey, would it have been so wrong? Are you out to end the problem or increase your arrest total? The police could have fired a warning shot before the bullet. No, you don’t have to warn a bar owner first if they serve underage kids, or warn a speeder if he drives too fast. But don’t forget if there is a recurring problem in your community, it can often be arrested with education instead of incarceration.
As for the newspapers, it is clear why they wanted to publish the names of those accused. They were looking for spicy news. When asked what their policy is about publishing the names and photos of people charged with misdemeanors Managing Editor Mike Canan said: “We report on misdemeanors when they are deemed newsworthy based on a number of different factors.” It’s a free press. They have the right to be wrong. They exercised it.
In this case, it means a managing editor of Scripps Newspapers determined that even in the year 2012, gay sex is still scandalous enough of a topic to warrant the humiliation of men that may or not be guilty. In fact, as the SFGN investigation of Palm Beach arrests showed, along with our follow-up of arrests in Michigan and elsewhere, it’s the cops who are often guilty of breaking the law and gay men who are victims of an illegal set-up.
In Martin County, the Parks and Recreation Director Kevin Abbate stated that neither he nor his department requested the assistance of the sheriff’s department to combat illegal sexual activity in the parks. So the question the newspapers should be asking is whether that sheriff’s office, on its own, launched a targeted, mean-spirited crusade to embarrass and humiliate gay men for the same conduct which occurs on every straight beach where a woman is wearing a skimpy bikini showing excessive cleavage. When was the last time you read about that kind of arrest?
Come to think of it, if the newspapers are looking to sell papers, think of all the straight guys that would pick up copies if a bunch of bare-breasted buxom babes were posted on the front page for having been arrested on a public beach for selling too much cleavage on a Sunday afternoon to little children? The truth is news organizations could do more of a public service to the community by letting us know which streets are burglarized most often, or where drunken drivers live and drive, then what public bathrooms gay men congregate in.
Nothing in this editorial should connote that we condone pubic sex in public places, though readers often read past the writing into thinking what they want. We instead raise the issue that an LGBT newspaper ought to raise, which is simply, are we being treated equally, fairly, and properly, or are we still the target of an underlying, silent, hidden, discrimination which needs to be brought to light? We report, you decide.