Badpuppy Gay Today

Tuesday, 10 February 1998

SUICIDE IN LITTLE ROCK

Arkansas Democrat-Gazette Prints Names of Men Arrested in Park Sting
Sex Arrests Reveal Double Standard in Newspaper's Reporting

By Don Romesburg
GLAAD Publications Manager

 

Once again, a newspaper's irresponsible publishing of the names and addresses of men arrested in public sex raids has led to one of the victims committing suicide, this time following a January 30 story in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

In the story, "24 men are cited in 3-day park sting," the newspaper published eight men's names and addresses for being arrested on charges of "public sexual indecency: a misdemeanor."

One of those men then killed himself. The Democrat-Gazette does not print the identities of others arrested in misdemeanor consensual sex-related offenses, or any other misdemeanors.

When the newspaper ran a June 25, 1993 article on a major heterosexual prostitution sting, it did not identify any of the men arrested, and even blurred the photo of one man to protect his identity.

Over a year ago, a GLAAD representative met with Frank Fellone, the deputy managing editor of the Democrat-Gazette, in part because of past instances of the newspaper publishing the names of men arrested in parks for misdemeanor offenses.

According to local GLAAD contacts, until January 30, the newspaper had stopped printing the names except where a public figure was involved. As local GLAAD contact David Ivers noted, at the meeting "We predicted that the Democrat-Gazette was not only going to ruin careers but drive someone to kill himself. Now it has happened.

"The newspaper must understand that printing the names will not stop men from seeking out anonymous sex with other men. That will not occur until society, including the media, stops making it so painful and difficult for people to come out of the closet, and until laws in employment and other areas protect lesbians and gay men from discrimination based on their sexual orientation."

GLAAD and other organizations are currently seeking a meeting with the editor and publisher of the Democrat-Gazette.

Please contact the newspaper and firmly but rationally explain to them the clear bias of their actions and the intolerably dire consequences of them. Also, explain to them how societal forces of homophobia lead deeply closeted men to end up seeking out such furtive sexual encounters.

Contact:
Walter Hussman, Publisher
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
P.O. Box 2221
Little Rock, AR 72203
phone: 501.378.3485
fax: 501.372.3908


Contact GLAAD by e-mail at glaad@glaad.org

Report defamation in the media by calling GLAAD's Toll-Free AlertLine! 1-800-GAY-MEDIA (1-800-429-6334)

Visit GLAAD Online at http//www.glaad.org


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