Shuck and Jive

Opinions expressed here are my own and do not represent the views of the congregation I joyfully serve. But my congregation loves me!

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Police Arrest 40 in Sex Sting

This article is on the front page of today's Johnson City Press. Local police ran a sting on men who intended to engage in sex in two city parks. Their names, addresses, and photos were published in the paper. Two were singled out as higher profile citizens.

I don't know what to think about it. Obviously, sexual activity in public places is illegal. These are public parks that need to be safe for all people. As the police chief said:
“Our parks are for family use. People should not be exposed to this while they are out there with their family or trying to enjoy the walking trails,” said Johnson City Police Chief John Lowry. “They are not built nor maintained for sexual activity, be it homosexual activity or heterosexual activity.”
Yet the public shaming seems excessive to me. The article stated:
"According to officials, all of the cases will be 'vigorously' prosecuted."
One would hope that the officials would be as vigorous in prosecuting hate crimes and discrimination against homosexuals.

What do you think?

25 comments:

  1. Well as someone who walks in that park almost every day I am sad they use it for sex, on the other hand if we were more open about sex around here then they might be more discreet and meet elsewehere, like in their homes or bars.

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  2. like in their homes or bars

    As if they can't?
    It does seem a bit over the top to publish the addresses. This is a small town [40? - beats out Ft. Lauderdale - they found only 8] and I don't know how they normally treat folks who get arrested. You'd have to look at previous arrests for child molesters or other crimes and misdemeanors.

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  3. Of course these people will be "vigorously prosecuted". Homophobia is as prevalent as every other phobia in this area.
    Homophobia, Negrophobia, Islamophobia Marijuanaphobia, intellectophobia,...
    See? When you have to invent terms for all the fear and ignorance in our immediate area you know it's bad.

    I love NE Tennessee with all my heart. This is where I'm from, but there are a lot of people here that are afraid of their own shadow. Many of them from elsewhere and were probably trying to run from their fears when they came here.
    That's why clowns like Jon Lundburg, David Davis, etc are so popular. They're carpetbaggers that appeal to other carpetbaggers.

    Having said that, if one is disrespectful enough to offend others by having sex in a place where children are often present, they should suffer the consequences. There's no excuse for such behavior in public. Same sex, opposite sex, small farm animals (let's not forget that most of those that will be up in arms about this do things at home that would make two men having sex in a public place seem mild)...
    It's still offensive to most everyone.

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  4. I'm just waiting to find out which Republican luminaries are amongst the 40. You know it's just a matter of time.

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  5. We should note that this is not representative of the gay community for our area. I have gay friends and certainly none of them were involved. Indeed, honest, tax-paying gays in our community will have a tougher time dealing with stereotype issues now, and it was tough enough already. Also, my heart goes out to the families of the perpetrators; they are in for difficult times too.

    But, these people were engaged in illegal activity; many of the cases involved drugs too. Had I been at one of these parks with my daughter and ran into this type of thing, I would have called the police myself. The public shaming from the paper is harsh, but there is a wider purpose to it. Since apparently men were coming to these locations from such a wide geographic area, the story will serve as a warning and deterrent for others who frequent these places who were not caught. For this reason, I can understand why the story ran the way it did.

    Other crimes receive attention in the news too, but I think the sheer number, 40 people, elevated this one into a bigger story. The only comparable story I can think of in recent times is the sting of a local strip club, also involving sex and drugs, where names were named.

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  6. Several comments:

    1. Does Johnson City prosecute heterosexual couples for having sex in public? If not, why pick on homosexuals?

    2. I find the listing of names offensive. What happened to innocent until proven guilty? However local papers usually do include lists of people who have been charged with a crime. Of course the names don't usually show up on the front page.

    3. Does the Johnson City Police Department "vigorously prosecute teens and others who have sex in cars at known make out sites? If not, why not?

    Having said that, I don't think having sex in a public park is a good idea and do think it should be a prosecutable offense.

    Oh, and I do hope that parks are available for other than "family use." Can a senior citizen who's spouse had died use the park?

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  7. I'm going to go ahead and say that this seems like puritanical, homophobic crapola. Obviously, public parks aren't for sex. Sounds like, what, misdemeanor lewd behavior charges all around? Maybe 100 hours community service? Unless someone comes up with an antiquated sodomy law.

    What this is is public humiliation of homosexuals for no other reason than to publicly humiliate homosexuals. We have laws against public sex, and the police have no just reason to do more than just enforce them the way they normally would.

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  8. Hmm, good points; after thinking about it some more today, I've changed my mind somewhat. In reference to some of Bob's points, as far as I can tell, JC Police have put an emphasis on stopping prostitution over the last few years, primarily from certain areas around Johnson City where it has been prevalent. Prostitution is a crime, but while sex was solicited on public streets, I gather the offenders went somewhere private for the deed. If two adults are consenting, I really don't think it is anyone's business one way or another. Sex in public places, whether homosexual or heterosexual, was the problem here. Generally, that is a relatively minor thing too, certainly not worthy of being plastered all over the front page, but it sounds like this was going on frequently and in large numbers, so the police were right to stop it, but the paper was overly harsh or at least rash in their treatment. Bob made a good point, we are supposed to be regarded as innocent until proven guilty. The paper could have ran the story without the names and pictures and that would have served as an adequate warning and deterrent. Instead, they went for the more sensational kind of story, and publicly ruined those people.

    This sort of treatment from the press isn't exclusive to homosexuals though; any school teacher that has a charge leveled against him/her can expect to be crucified in the press long before a day in court comes up, as past cases have shown.

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  9. I am deeply troubled that the Johnson City Press has chosen to place sensationalism before actual news coverage by publishing this "story" on today's front page. Don't get me wrong, I'm all for "freedom of the press", etc., but surely they could and should have exercised more self-restraint than they chose to do so. While clearly the intent was to send a message, maybe even one of several, I can't help but think that this will only hurt and not help the local community's perception of lgbt persons. I for one plan to voice my concerns in a letter to the editor.

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  10. Thanks Adam,

    That is what I am concerned about as well. Thanks to all for thoughtful comments.

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  11. What is the official Presbyterian stance on homosexuality? I certainly understand and endorse a Christian caring approach to a homosexual person. All churches/denominations should accept the former homosexual, if they have accepted CHRIST, and profess to depart from their former lifestyle. The BIBLE tells me that homosexuality is an abomination, does yours say something different?

    1 Corinthians 6:9 Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind,

    Leviticus 18:22 You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination.

    Leviticus 20: 13 If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall be put to death; their blood is upon them.

    Romans 1:26 For this reason God gave them up to degrading passions. Their women exchanged natural intercourse for unnatural, 27and in the same way also the men, giving up natural intercourse with women, were consumed with passion for one another. Men committed shameless acts with men and received in their own persons the due penalty for their error.

    And many many more bible passages condemn homosexuality. So how does a CHRISTian denomination project such a yielding stance on the lifestyle?

    What is the Presbyterian stand on adultery? Many of the 40 were married. One of the 40 was a very active member of a prominent church it will be interesting to see what transpires there.

    And please expand on the obvious cynicism toward law enforcement. It is illegal you understand? Do Presbyterians hold some resentment toward police?

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  12. Greetings John,

    I read your comment in questioning the official Presbyterian stance on homosexuality, and am eager to hear the response from the pastor and/or any other ministers. I do have to say that I am always trying to better understand all people, and want to share some things with you that can better help you understand me.

    I respect your feelings and beliefs, but must disagree with you, and your tagging of human beings.

    I am a 35 year old homosexual man, and am part of a very loving family, with strong belief and love for Jesus Christ. I am not homosexual by "choice". I am who I am - which is a very well educated, spiritual, loving and caring man, who just happens to share my life and love with another man.

    I am a role model to many youngsters, as I am an educator who has spent over 10 years of my life working with children coming from abusive homes and non-loving environments.

    My home life is "personal" - that is that I do not gossip about my personal life. Yet I am in no way ashamed. I am confident that I am doing God's work on a daily basis, and share the love and peace that He has instilled and created in me. My partner is my best friend - my spouse - and my one true love soulmate. We are, and have been monogamously committed to each other, and have lasted and stuck through difficult times when our other married friends and family members gave up and divorced, solicited affairs, etc.

    My partner and I pay taxes, contribute to society by being positive role models, and help others before helping ourselves. We have rescued animals, fed children and families, bought clothing for children and families, and worked to build communities. Most of my students come from single-parent families, and suffer from some form of emotional or physical abuse. They come to school and look at me as not only their teacher - but also "father figure". I guide them, advise them, and talk to them. I tell them how important they are, and how they can achieve any dream.

    Rather than go on and on, I just want to share with you John that I, and many others, would greatly enjoy the day when we can eliminate any "tagging" of sexual orientation, and find a way to believe that we are all God's children, and his love and good works flow through all of us. I wish God's peace and love to all, and pray for the day that we all will realize that we are true brothers and sisters.

    Thanks for sharing John. I hope we can commmunicate more in the future. Until then, peace to you and yours always.

    Scott

    P.S. - For the record, I believe that sexual intimacy is sacred and should be shared by a couple privately. I do not believe that anyone should be subjected to witness any form of sexual behavior in a public place. I believe that if it breaks a law, it should be an arrestable offense. I believe that all offenders deserve the same treatment, and it should not be based on sexual orientation, race, etc.

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  13. Scott,

    Thank you for writing that. I appreciate and admire you and I agree with you about breaking laws.

    John and Scott,

    The official position of the PCUSA regarding homosexuality is complex.
    This statement from 1978 is probably as official as any. My hope is that at the next General Assembly it will be removed.

    We do enjoy freedom of conscience. My congregation is fully inclusive and fully Presbyterian. I, among many in the denomination seek to increase understanding and justice.

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  14. Jerry McCloud, age 55, dead, self-inflicted gun shot wound.

    Is publishing the names and photos of the men arrested in the sex sting the 21 century equivalent to public stoning?

    Jim Jordan, Stop your quantum leaping from grown men having consentual sex in public places to child molestation!

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  15. Jim Jordan, Stop your quantum leaping from grown men having consentual sex in public places to child molestation!


    Where did I do that? The question was whether the newspaper normally publishes all that information for arrests of a sexual nature. I was not equating the two, although prostitution is a crime, and we don't know how many of these cases involved sex for money so chill out. That aside, the news of the suicide is very disturbing.

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  16. Jim,

    "You'd have to look at previous arrests for child molesters or other crimes and misdemeanors."

    And then you added another doozy:

    "I was not equating the two, although prostitution is a crime, and we don't know how many of these cases involved sex for money so chill out."

    So, we have thrown in child molestation and prostitution.

    We don't know how many of these cases included trading state secrets, planning acts of terrorism, organizing communist societies, or selling moonshine.

    We do know this: of the 40 men arrested, one for alleged indecent exposure and disorderly conduct, took his own life after his name, address, and photo was published in the paper in a front page article.

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  17. Beautifully said, Scott.

    John, you seem to already have a very rigid personal view regarding gay people. What is your ultimate goal here? To goad folks into a fight?

    Just a couple observations:

    1. The BIBLE does not say "homosexuality is an abomination". The Bible has no concept of sexual orientation, as for the most part nobody did until the 19th century. It does condemn loose, promiscuous sexual behavior of all sorts. It's also interesting to note that Leviticus uses the same word ("abomination") to describe shellfish. Unless you don't eat shrimp (and keep strict Kosher), I'd advise against throwing stones (or rock lobsters).

    2. Do you think there is a fundamental difference between two wildly promiscuous men (or women) having a one-night stand and two men (or women) who have made a lifelong monogamous commitment to each other making love? Is there a fundamental difference between a heterosexual married couple consummating their relationship lovingly and a husband raping his wife? If not, I don't think the discussion will go far.

    3. I do think that having sex in a public park is wrong (and in extremely bad taste). I think that cheating on one's spouse is very, very wrong. Do you understand that there's not really a logical connection between those statements and hating "non-repentant" gay people?

    4. I assume you're not a Presbyterian (considering your unfamiliarity with some pretty basic doctrinal points like salvation), but probably belong to another denomination. How is our own internal discussion and debate any skin off your nose?

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  18. @ Flycander

    I know this is a very serious conversation, but the rock lobster comment absolutely cracked me up.

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  19. John (of Leviticus quotes);

    Oh, come on! When are we going to dig a hole and bury Leviticus and get on with things? Leviticus was a set of rules to keep people in line at the time. So was Prohibition. So was the Poll tax. And so on. Including it in the Old Testament can just as easily be seen as social anthropology as reading about the laws of Iowa City in 1920 that prohibited spitting on the side walk. Quaint, and occasionally even pertinent to today, but not law. Consider it a bad editing choice and move on, please!

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  20. Beth and John,
    Let me rephrase what I said. Consensual sex between anyone in public places is wrong. Child molestation is wrong. Consensual sex and child molestation are wrong. Both, in fact, are illegal.

    My question was "how [do] they [the paper] normally treat FOLKS WHO GET ARRESTED?" 17 comments later, no answer.

    Now, from the original post, John wrote Local police ran a sting on men who intended to engage in sex in two city parks.

    That's very broad, don't you think? What if one of the "men" was 17? What if some were prostitutes? At the very least, all were allegedly caught while intending to engage in sex in a public park, also illegal.

    One man committed suicide. Was his indentity disproportionately publicized? Is there a double-standard in the Johnson City Press against gays? Nobody knows apparently. All I hear is bluster.

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  21. Jim,

    In answer to your question, Yes, their identities were disproportionately publicized. Names, addresses, photos, front page.

    Not only that, I understand that press releases were sent to the media of every town these men were from.

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  22. I don't know that there is a double standard against gays, but there is a double standard against what people call "sex crimes". The prostitutes and strippers busted last year also had their photos and addresses publicized on the front page.

    I say "sex crimes" because, they were are only crimes because of the location they were performed in. Thus, they are really just "crimes that involved sexual activity". Exposure is a crime whether or not it involves sex, after all.

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  23. Wow, if you are upset with my posting, then you must be upset at the word of GOD. I made no comments of my own, only asked a few questions, and posted some of GODS word. Does anyone in this forum actually ever read the BIBLE? I implore you to read the entire BIBLE, not just the parts that fit your particular situation, the sections that make you feel better about yourselves. The Old Testament is just as valid today as it was when it was written.
    Matthew 5:17 NIV The Fulfillment of the Law "Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.

    Woe be unto those who seek to detract, degrade, or attempt to change the word of GOD. Revelation 22:19 (NKJV)
    19 and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the Book of Life, from the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.

    And no I am not of the Presbyterian faith, never been in a Presbyterian church, and probably never will now! But I have watched many of the local Presbyterian Church services on the local stations on Sunday mornings. From those viewings, I had the impression that Presbyterians held to the fundamental teachings pretty close, guess that must have been for ratings, huh?

    Oh, by the way, I am pretty sure all but one pled guilty to their lewdness crimes. And that one tried to but got smart with the judge and would not accept his guilty plea, now he will have a hearing for all to see.

    You know, for such a “caring” group of "Christian" people, when someone questions your ideas or lifestyle choices, you sure get nasty.

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  24. After reading these articles at the Johnson City Press, I'm reminded that it isn't always a good thing being from a small town!

    I found that it is the policy of the newspaper to publish the names and addresses and photos of the arrested. They can't publish the names without the other information, I was told, because if one of the men had a common name like Jim Jordan, how would you distinguish the "Man Cave" Jim from me? It is supposedly the policy in all cases, but do they make exceptions with, as Sandra pointed out, sex-related stories?

    I am compelled to point out here an opportunity to the locals in the blogosphere. What can you do to make things better in a big, Christ-like way? What can you do to help a man who is too ashamed to come outside?

    Here are a few ideas: mow his lawn for him, pick up his mail and bring it to him, even take his shopping list to the supermarket and shop for him.

    Whether they were fairly or unfairly arrested, it would be a greater tragedy than death were these men to have no one to share with them the presence of God through the love of Jesus Christ. Love them now because they will notice.

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  25. john (not Rev. John), pray for your caps lock to be healed by GOD. I think your heart and your mind are too far gone.

    Read other posts here to see why actual Presbyterians historically shun the idea of Fundamentals. I won't hold my breath waiting for you to explain how you "read the entire BIBLE, not just the parts that fit your particular situation, the sections that make you feel better about yourselves [and think] The Old Testament is just as valid today as it was when it was written" without keeping strict kosher.

    It's all about the hypocrisy, Lebowski!

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