Alex Blaze

Public sex sting in Alabama and media irresponsibility

Filed By Alex Blaze | August 23, 2008 5:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Living, Media
Tags: Alabama, pavilion, public sex, sex sting

There was a massive public gay sex sting in Alabama this past week that's resulted in warrants for the arrest of 24 men. I don't know why they weren't arrested on the spot if they were caught having sex, but police are hoping that these men will turn themselves in.

Local police admit that these stings don't work:

For nearly 10 years, the HPD conducted sting after sting at the overlook. But these stings aren't stopping people from using the area for illicit sex, even in the middle of the day.

"We had to look at another sense, because we knew law enforcement alone was not working and that it didn't matter to them if they got caught or not," Roberts said.

Law enforcement officials said they're pushing the state to tear down a pavilion at the overlook in hopes of deterring the criminal activity.

But WAAYTV's actions, the station that covered the sting, are even more irresponsible. More on that after the jump.

The men were having sex in an area that's hidden away, where they could see people coming so that they could clear out if someone was coming. Since their discretion didn't make for good journalism, the local station decided to plant a camera there:

After HPD had concluded their sting, WAAY-31 wanted to see for themselves how bad the problem really was. On Friday, reporter Haley Baker and Internet producer/photographer Brett Haas went to the overlook, set up a camera and observed the public sexual behavior.

While there, they witnessed almost a dozen men come to the overlook and specifically go to the pavilion. They documented on tape as many as five men having sex in the pavilion at the same time.

At one point after the men got through having sex, a young couple came to the overlook just minutes after this had taken place.

According to Baker and Haas, the men arrived at the overlook and without speaking a word would walk up to each other and perform sexual acts in plain view of anyone who might walk up.

One of the men spotted the camera after having sex and stole the tape from the camera.

Police caught and arrested the man on Triana Boulevard and charged him with theft of property.

Not only did they set up a situation where the men would think that their only option was to steal the tape, they then call the police to report the theft after they take a tape that was left unattended in a public park. That's some chutzpah; if you don't want your camera stolen don't leave it lying around a park at night.

But even more irresponsibly, this TV station took it upon themselves to upload the names, ages, cities, and mugshots of all the people suspected of participating in public sex there. (I use the word "suspected" because the police lie so much when it comes to capture-the-fag sex stings that we have no way of knowing what went on there. These journalists are obviously not objective bystanders either.)

How many people will lose their jobs, their housing, and their families because of this? How many people will be attacked or harassed because some jerk saw their mugshot on the website? How many suicides will this lead to?

If police must continue to conduct these stings, even though they know they do nothing, then the press should cover these stories responsibly. Cover the sting, describe what happened, but don't post names, addresses, or photos. There's no need and it's just setting others up to commit violence.

(h/t Towle Road)


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I point this out over and over again - the really irresponsible part of these types of stories is that it's quite likely that few if any of the men busted in this sting identify as gay. Other communities have discovered that the majority of men who engage in public sex at cruising locations like parks and public bathrooms in recent years tend to be married and straight-identified. This whole phenomenon speaks more to shame pressures on closeted men than an epidemic of well-adjusted gay and bisexual men who don't care about what children may or may not see in public places.

Absolutely. Perhaps the better "human interest" story would have been an explanation of what drives people to have anonymous sexual encounters in the first place. Oh wait . . . that wouldn't be as titillating as exposing people on TV.

Two articles down from this is an article that says 32 percent of us may be morons.I would think given the long fight for rights and establishing ourselves as trustworthy citizens having casual sex in a public park even if it is concealed from public view might qualify as something a moron would do.More than anything when I think of public parks I think of children.Isn't it time to give the parks back to the children? What about Aids? On top of that if the guy who took the film wasn't doing something they knew was wrong they wouldn't of felt the need to take the film.There are better places than a park to have sex like in the privacy of your home.

I love that the article describes how "a young couple came to the overlook just minutes after this had taken place."

I'm guessing they didn't mean a couple of young guys looking for action.

And amym440, is so touching that "More than anything when I think of public parks I think of children." You're right -- children should be able to have sex in parks too!

And this is such an interesting question: "What about Aids?" I'm sure you know that AIDS isn't specific to public sex in parks, right? Or maybe you were just throwing in a rhetorical question, in a flourish of existential glee, yes I do sense existential glee...

But wait -- I'm sensing the need for a stroll...

Well Mattilda sex in parks is against the law and I'm willing to bet it will still be against the law 100 years from now.Your right Aids isn't specific to sex in parks.But I'd be willing to bet that if a study was done the people into park sex would also be into multiple partners which means even if they use protection they would still be high risk and I'd bet odds are their less likely to use protection as their allready engaged in a risky sex practice by having sex with strangers in a park.I do agree with Jere that few if any of the men self identify as gay.Of all the gay people I've met the only ones I would suspect of that type behavior or have known to do that would be the hustlers or closeted types either way I don't feel guilty calling them morons or even saying there an embarrasment to the community and help to cause problems instead of resolve them.So if my point of view sends me for a stroll I can live with it>

But I'd be willing to bet that if a study was done the people into park sex would also be into multiple partners which means even if they use protection they would still be high risk and I'd bet odds are their less likely to use protection as their allready engaged in a risky sex practice by having sex with strangers in a park.

I like that not-so-recent book from Michael Warner where he asks when this study will ever happen. Gay moralists have been predicting it and calling the results for decades, and yet the study itself never seems to materialize.

Alex I respect your opinion and choice of words to voice it.So how does one make this study happen? I can live with being called a moralist even if it sounds awfull close to moron (LOl).Nhs chose the word homophobic to describe my beliefs.I look at being moralistic as obeying reasonable law and accepting accountability for my actions.I don't see how casual sex in a public park can meet either of those expectations or further the greater lgbt cause.A study of why these things happen or a news story delving into why it happens I would think would be a positive step forward.Having been a cab driver for three years in a conservative southern area (Florida)I would say I've been exposed quite a bit to the sexual habits of the North American homosapien, heterosexuals and homosexuals.I've been hit on quite a lot for casual sex from gay males as I was living male at the time.99 percent wanted unprotected oral sex I always turned it down even though they protested saying oral was safe.As a cab driver you have to know where to take the customer to meet their needs I didn't judge I delivered and still would but that doesn't mean I approved or had to.

amym440, I hear the homophobia in your comments. There have been studies on MSM in public parks. Especially in conservative areas like Alabama. The closet cases are aware of HIV. Most public park sex in conservative areas tends to be variations of mutual masterbation with occational oral sex. Generally forms of sexual behaviour which are low risk in nature. (The only zero risk is no sex at all.) HIV tends to spread more in private area where access to drugs and alcohol lower inhibitions and ecourage riskier behaviour.

It always comes down to the CHILDREN. Right wingers use children to get everyone uptight. I've jogged through parks and seen straight folks having sex in their cars, on river banks, etc., and I don't recall anyone being arrested. I'm sure it would have happened if they were gay. I know people who can't wait to watch that weekly show where pedophiles are filmed meeting with adolescents at their homes. Of course, pedophilia is a sickness; it's wrong and disgusting but I think there's something wrong with people who love to see people caught in that kind of crap and think it's funny or cool. They lose jobs, wives, families, status, etc. Rather than judge we should be thanking God we don't have that compulsion. We've become a country of gossipy, bitchy, self-righteous zealots who claim to be Godly or Christian and show little semblance of it in our actions. There's no more compassion, no more desire to understand no more love. People who have to go to public parks for sex probably aren't capable of a close, deep love because they've been screwed over from the start. It's just too easy to judge.

Philip it always comes down to the children because as adults it's supposed to be our obligation to provide a safe childhood for children.Yes that pedophile on the show will probably lose their job family and a host of other things.But what does the child lose? The family of the abused and the family of the abuser lose? those who put their trust in him? Yes pedophilia is a compulsion but that doesn't and shouldn't excuse it or the actions of the person that committed it.In a perfect world someone with the compulsion for pedophilia would be able to come forward before they cause harm and seek help but we don't live in that world.Instead we now live in a world that says if you molest a child and are caught you will have a bad time in prison if you survive that you won't have a place to live to even include under a bridge to stay.You will be a registered sex offender that anyone with a desire to find out will know who you are.You probably will never get a job that pays above minimum wage again if you can get one at all.While I can guarantee you I don't claim to be a Christian I can tell you this no where in the bible does Jesus show mercy for a child molester and in fact he tells you if you do this you will suffer.As I stated I'm not a Christian but that doesn't mean I disagree with Christians on everything.Plus don't forget there are those who are seeking to put child molesters to death.I will say this in the case of someone 19 having sex with a 16 or even 17 year old that shouldn't be viewed as pedophilia but the 40 or 50 year old that does it should know they'll pay a steep price.As for the people who have to go to the public parks to have sex all I've said is find another place and that includes the heterosexuals.

Quoting Amym440:
I don't claim to be a Christian I can tell you this no where in the bible does Jesus show mercy for a child molester and in fact he tells you if you do this you will suffer

Amym, Jesus was all about forgiveness. Remember the woman who was about to be executed, he told her executioners "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone." What he told the saved woman immediately afterwards was "Go and sin no more."

Certainly pedophilia needs to be hit hard, but the current process of grouping all "sex offenders" under the same label and then treating them as social pariahs probably isn't the best way to do it. These people need help, which they won't get if they are pushed to the margins of society. If anything, such outcasts will remain a threat since they have little to cherish and little to lose.

Yes Jesus was about forgiveness but when it came to those who harm children he said this:"If anyone harms one of these,it would be better they tied a stone around their neck and jump into the sea then face me.I would venture to say that when it comes to hurting children you can kiss that forgiveness goodbye.I can agree with you Dale that not all sex offenders should be viewed the same or rated the same.But for the worst of them life shouldn't be allowed to be enjoyable for one second.