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Friday, October 5, 2007

“I don’t feel sorry for Larry Craig, but I do feel sorry for these guys.”

posted by on October 5 at 11:26 AM

This was buried in the comments thread to a Larry Craig post yesterday. “These guys” refers to 40 men between the ages of 26 and 85 who were arrested for indecent behavior in a two-week-long sting on city parks in Tennessee.

That commenter wrote in this morning to say:

Not only is it fucking scary as hell that the newspaper serving the “Deliverance” area of Tennessee would print all these gory details, but take a look at the fucking photo spread!

I followed the link and—oh my god—the newspaper has published pictures of all the men who were arrested in the sting. The pictures are behind a link deceptively titled “Click Here for a Special Photo Gallery.” It should be titled “Click Here for a Photo Gallery of All the Locals You Should Impale with Burning Stakes.” I mean, sure, whatever, Johnson City, Tennessee—spend all your money arresting guys having sex in bushes because the chances of a family walking by and being horrified are, you know, pretty good, and that ain’t cool.

Publishing the names and ages of all the guys who’ve been arrested in the sting seems a little over-the-top, Johnson City Press, but, yeah, it’s public information so anyone who really wanted it could easily find it anyway, etc. But to then publish a “special photo gallery” of all these guys, along with captions with their first and last names? Is there any point in that? Other than trying to ruin these people?

According to the article, the worst of it was happened off the paved trail—but whatever, I think we can all agree it should be illegal to fuck anywhere families out for their Sunday afternoon after-church stroll might stumble across you. But the thing is, having sex illegally is what a lot of guys of a certain age have been forced to do for most of their lives. Lawrence v. Texas wasn’t that long ago. You consider the kinds of lives these guys have had to lead, and how legally sanctioned oppression might make a person feel about the law in general, and the fact they live in the middle of nowhere, and then you look at their mugs in the “special photo gallery,” and then you scroll up to the top of the page and you see Johnson City Press’s tagline, in big letters underneath the name of the paper: “Empowering People Through the Press.”

I dunno. It seems cruel and unnecessary and weird. (Though it is pretty great that one of them is a pastor and another of them is a teacher.)

From the commenter who found this link:

Pity that some of these men will probably end up dead (self inflicted or mob inflicted) soon, as a result of the article.

RSS icon Comments


One already committed suicide. I commented about it yesterday in the Saudi Arabian whipping post.

Posted by UNPAID BLOGGER | October 5, 2007 11:35 AM

Sometimes public sex isn't so much an act of desperation as much as it is a fetish. Down in Fort Lauderdale, the mayor is taking a lot of heat for his campaign against gay sex in parks, restrooms and nearly everywhere else. It's apparently quite a problem--and it's apparent that there are people who feel quite entitled to this sort of thing.

Posted by Boomer in NYC | October 5, 2007 11:37 AM

can't they set aside a special park for gay trysting? the way we have here in seattle.

and then one for the chronic alcoholics.

and one for the junkies.

but leave at least one for the residents or tourists. that would be nice, and different from Seattle.

Posted by maxsolomon | October 5, 2007 11:41 AM

they listed all their addresses!! it's awful!!

Posted by Finishtag | October 5, 2007 11:45 AM

My heart really goes out to these guys. One of them is 85 years old, and one (as it was pointed out above) has taken his own life.

I wrote to the newspaper yesterday, told them how I felt about their witch hunt, and made a donation to the Matthew Shepard Foundation in their behalf.

Posted by duncan | October 5, 2007 11:50 AM

How is it "great" that one of them was a teacher? Teachers aren't necessarily illogical oppressive religious types, not by profession like pastors are.

Posted by Katelyn | October 5, 2007 11:53 AM

I've had sex with two teachers. Both "straight". Both married. To women. Dunno about kids.

Good times.

Posted by Mr. Poe | October 5, 2007 12:04 PM

Johnson City.

Posted by SEAN NELSON, EMERITUS | October 5, 2007 1:29 PM

What could possibly be the motivation for publishing their addresses? Is this legal?

Posted by Peter | October 5, 2007 1:33 PM

Newspapers, especially in smaller communities, typically publish the addresses of sex offenders -- especially when they move from one community to another.

It doesn't seem as though a number of these fellas were charged with sexual offenses, however.

I hope they know about the ACLU down in Johnson City.

Posted by horatios@nzserif | October 5, 2007 2:22 PM

@1: Wow, it does appear as though one of the men only charged with disorderly conduct did kill himself.

And why did the newspaper print that? By and larger, most publications treat suicides as illegal acts and *do not* report on them as news stories.

Deplorable! There are better journalists in sitcoms.

Posted by horatios@nzserif | October 5, 2007 2:27 PM

If you think what the Johnson City Press did was over the top, why not give the Publisher and Managing Editor a call at home and let them know. (I'm giving the 25 year old cops reporter a pass on this since she was probably assinged to the story, but I hope she thinks hard about the impact of how the news was reported on the lives of these Gomers.)

Publisher: Arthur S Powers (423) 262-0367 2100 Millbrook Dr, Johnson City, TN 37604

Managing Editor: John Molley (423) 434-2791 3005 Vicksburg Rd, Johnson City, TN 37604

Posted by Fair Play | October 5, 2007 2:44 PM

It's like they're gloating about the poor man's suicide! Look at what they write in the article about his death:

"Authorities said Monday their investigation into the inappropriate sexual behavior is far from over."

What is that, a threat? A promise that there'll be more dead faggots soon? Fucking backwater assholes. A plague on Johnson City Press' families!

Posted by chrisdiani | October 5, 2007 2:51 PM

This made me feel sick. I can't believe that they would do that to these men. I dont' see it happening to straight people, and they like to have public sex too! I am appalled that they would list the addresses.

Posted by Tamara | October 5, 2007 3:53 PM

when the media and that includes the Stranger, makes it a little bit OK to kick gay cruisers around .... this is what happens

and it is not OK cause some are highly placed in their communities

jobs are lost, people die, families split up

no hah hah stuff

Posted by earl | October 5, 2007 4:21 PM

It's not like it's a secret about those places. I find it disturbing but not surprising the JCP would do something like this. A few years ago at Buffalo Mountain a gay man was stabbed after an argument with his ex-boyfriend. The press and the police seemed almost overjoyed by it (the police waited almost 40 minutes before calling an ambulance--just long enough for him to bleed to death) It was a disgusting scene that made my blood run cold to see it. I know a few of those guys and they would have been very discreet regarding such "activities" not that it makes it ok but hardly a national crime.
What gets me is that I know for a fact that plenty of straight people are up their parking and have sex in a far more public way yet they never get arrested? Just told to move it along at most. Wonder why?

Posted by roger | October 5, 2007 4:45 PM

Newspapers, hell! In California the STATE does it - "Megan's Law" - to protect the children, of course. An on-line database, with pictures, addresses, maps, arrest records, the whole shebang. It's like a lynch mob enabler.

Posted by bobbo | October 5, 2007 4:46 PM

I remember a few years back there was some sort of scandal in one of these god-forsaken areas: A leader in "Christian publishing" and - ahem - the boy scouts (no name given) was arrested for raping his two sons. I followed that story for quite a while, trying to find out what happened, but never heard anything more about it.

Posted by If I were a carpenter.... | October 5, 2007 5:20 PM

@12 Fair Play: Awesome! Especially considering how they posted the HOME ADDRESSES of each of the arrested men in the newspaper.

This whole thing is disgusting - Not one of these men has been convicted of a crime, only charged. And whether convicted or not, that irresponsible journalism is totally cruel. I'd rather watch Sarah Silverman talk about Brittney Spears.

Hack journalists.

Posted by wonkily | October 5, 2007 6:51 PM

please write that gawd-awful excuse for a periodical and help let them know that's unexcusable behavior at best

my letter (written in the vernacular):

You believe your recent article that includes names and pictures of people caught in a park responsible journalism?

I have never been so disgusted by a media outlet, and that is truly a statement worth noting.

I hope you pay for this, I understand there are those that have already commited suicide as a result of your "journalistic expression"

Those deaths are on your head, whoever chose to publish this should be tried for manslaughter.

Do you post photo's of all alleged criminals? Or do you choose to pick on oppressed, miserable people that society dismays for the cheap thrill?

This is truly the saddest thing I have ever seen in America, this seems more along the lines of something that would occur in Afghanistan under the Taliban.

Congratulations for lowering yourself to the level of the enemy.

Does the Good Book condone this kind of behavior? Does Jesus recommend picking on the weak and the powerless?

Good luck on Judgement Day

Praise Jesus!

Posted by seattleexpat | October 5, 2007 7:39 PM

There is a huge gay population here in Johnson City. Maybe this story will serve as a wake up for them to come out of the closet and protest this injustice. I doubt it, but just, just maybe! And, if enough people contact these media, just maybe, we can be free in these southern appalachians FINALLY! We need all the outside help we can get!

Posted by don cole | October 6, 2007 11:38 AM

Report the incident to and other concerned organizations. Ethics in Journalism--anybody interested? Share addresses, spread the word. The newspaper and other media outlets simply repeated the publicity handout from the local police department, complete with photos and street addresses. Vindictive "family values" reporting that damages lives and may have contributed to a suicide must be stopped. Publicize the irreponsible press/media in Johnson City who remain complacent in their power. The Johnson City Press is owned by Sandusky Newspapers Inc. of Ohio.

Posted by Protest the hate | October 6, 2007 5:09 PM

As a sad update to this story, one of the guys arrested killed himself while several others lost their jobs. In the link below, the preacher resigning seems to take top billing of over the death. Sad isn't it?

Posted by Roger | October 7, 2007 8:56 PM

Enough handwringing. Yes it's sad (suicide), yes it's wrong (extremely irresponsible reporting). You cannot claim that the reporting caused the suicide, but the reporting is certainly unethical, and may have been sensationalized (front page, above the fold) simply to keep JC city government officials happy. Complain to organizations beyound the local offending JC Press. Complain to journalism schools, media/ethics professionals, FAIR (fairness and accuracy in reporting), anyone/anywhere you know who can give the story publicity. The JC Press must change its biased policy.

Posted by Protest the hate | October 8, 2007 4:04 PM

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