Police Sex Stings And Responsible Reporting By The Media

I’ve learned that sometimes when writing commentary as I have some three years now with Focus On The Rainbow it is best to wait a day or two, even more, when I find a story which I may have an immediate gut reaction to, might change after a “cooling off” period and gaze at what others write and see how it fits into an observation I may change after that “cooling off” period.

Case in point the report on April 4 by CBS2 in Los Angeles when the TV station reported on a police sex sting operation in Manhattan Beach, CA in which 18 men were arrested for unlawful sexual activities in a public restroom.

Were that all CBS2 did was to report on the story would be fine but what has alarmed and angered many in the LGBT community is showing the photos and names of the men who were arrested but had not been charged. When CBS2 did its initial report it read in its website article, All 18 suspects have been released from police custody pending a court date or further investigation, officials said.

This in turn caused on April 5, Alex Blaze at Bilierico, who I have no beef with nor ax to grind, calling CBS2 homophobic for its report and its showing the mug shots of the 18 men.

I can understand Blaze and now others finding fault with the showing of mug shots but calling CBS2 homophobic hardly holds any water when he uses the following as an excuse to use the term and accusation.

Do we treat straight public sex differently than we do gay public sex? Of course. Straight people are so proud of their public sex that they named a cocktail after it.

Sorry Alex but I don’t recall over the years too many media accounts of sex stings regarding heterosexuals so your homophobia by CBS2 just doesn’t fly.

On the other hand as GayStarNews in the UK reported on the subject April 10 written by Matthew Jenkin, The LA Gay and Lesbian Center has slammed newspapers and TV channels, including the Daily Breeze and CBS2, for publishing the names, mugshots and birthdates of suspects arrested in a Manhattan Beach public restroom last week.

Leaders of the center say the coverage of the story could lead to public humiliation and claim one of the men attempted suicide as a result.

This I agree with and herein lies the case of responsible, or in this case, irresponsible reporting by the media. This isn’t about homophobia but sensational journalism as opposed to good and responsible journalism which seems in this case CBS2 in Los Angeles is surely lacking.

But beyond the controversial reporting of this event as others in the past, it brings us to another problem, mostly for gay and bisexual men but also the LGBT community at large.

When the media gets wind of (often tipped in advance by the police themselves) and reports on these homosexual sex sting operations, those who are arrested put all gay and bisexual men into a bad spotlight and in turn becomes a blemish on the whole LGBT community when the collective we are doing our utmost to show we are just like everyone else except for our sexual identity.

Just by chance and having nothing to do with the CBS2 story but indeed with gay and bisexual men cruising in public, Devin O’Hara wrote a column on April 8 for The Daily Campus, the newspaper of UCONN here in Connecticut.

It reads in a very small part (and for the purpose of this article taken somewhat out of continuity context), The majority of us can establish a common ground that this practice is undesirable and that we should do something about it.

Recognition of gay men and women has improved leaps and bounds in the last few decades, but much of society is still tolerating and not accepting.

Just as the two men who were arrested and charged in Dominica for public indecency, these men in Manhattan Beach and others around the country who like to parlay their sexual encounters in public spaces do us no favors.

Irresponsible journalism, yes. Irresponsible personal misadventures, most assuredly.

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About Lyndon Evans
Associated Press Award Winner

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