Yesterday the Johnson City Press published names, photos, and addresses of forty men caught in a sex sting at two local parks. I wrote in my blog that I thought the public shaming seemed excessive. That was an understatement.
In today's paper we read that one of those accused apparently took his own life. Here is the article. One comment on yesterday's post wondered if this amounts to a public stoning. I do not think that is an exaggeration.
What is the penalty for disorderly conduct and indecent exposure? Are these not misdemeanors? One hundred hours of community service? The Johnson City Press decided that these particular misdemeanors were far worse. They deserved a public shaming. A shaming so overwhelming for this one individual that he died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
I am ashamed of Johnson City today. They could have handled this issue of sex in parks without ruining lives.
My message to the 40 or so men who were arrested and their families is this:
Please do not do anything rash. It does not seem like it now, but you will get through this. There are some good counselors in this area who will not judge you and can help you get your lives back in order. If you are thinking of taking your life call the national suicide hotline 800-784-2433. If you are reading this blog, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
You don't need to bear this alone.