When the media serve as the “morality police” | Street Jazz

Monday, March 9, 2009

When the media serve as the “morality police”

Posted By on Mon, Mar 9, 2009 at 11:08 AM

I’m a little creeped out by by the panicked emphasis we see on one of the local news stations (KHOG - Channel 29)  concerning the arrests of men being picked up in a Fort Smith park for having sex. Granted, it’s illegal, but hardly the stuff of TV news coverage - especially for stations that seem to let most actual news get right by them.

The current sting operation is aimed at cleaning up one of Fort Smith’s public parks, which has the reputation of being a haven for men to meet for sex. Fair enough, the authorities would like to persuade them that this is not an appropriate venue for their afternoon delight, or whenever.

What gets us into creepy mode is when KHOG puts their names and photographs on prominent display on screen, as if they were members of the local branch of La Cosa Nostra. 

It sort of harkens back to those thrilling days of yesteryear, when similar arrests were being made at a local lake, only this time the Northwest Arkansas Times was the offending party. This 1992 entry is from Ozark Mosaic:

Last year, a sting operation at one of our local lakes netted a number of men engaged in homosexual activity, not a felony arrest. The arrests took place at a time when the newspaper was not publishing the names, though someone had evidently gone to the police station and made a copy of the police reports, attempting to sell them throughout town for $2 a copy. I saw several of the copies, which listed the men, their ages and occupations, as well as the specific offense.

At the time, a Fayetteville City Board Director was quoted as saying that the names should be published in the papers, so we would all know who these men were. When a second sting operation took place last fall, the names were indeed published in the Northwest Arkansas Times.
Within days,  the arrest reports began appearing in the Northwest Arkansas Times on a daily basis. 

It really isn’t the job of a media organization to become a media arm of the Moral Majority. Especially when so much other news slips right under their noses.


Quote of the Day

   "Sometimes," Batman said. “The  costume changes are more difficult to arrange than solving the case." Robert Sheckley, " Death of the Dreammaster"


C.F. Roberts: The American Dream/The Zoo Story

This week I’ll sit down with C.F. Roberts (of Abbey of the Lemur fame) to discuss two plays by Edward Albee, The American Dream and The Zoo Story.  These brilliant satires on American mores and culture have been collected in one book since the dawn of time, and is readily available to anyone browsing any good bookstore.


Many of us were exposed to Albee’s plays in high school. It was  fascinating to read the plays now, and get even more out of them than I did when I was just 18.

Days and times:

Monday: 2:30 pm
Wednesday:  10:30pm
 Friday:  9:30 am
Saturday: 11:30am

C.A.T. is shown on Channel 18 of the Cox Channel line-up in Fayetteville. Those outside the Fayetteville viewing area can see the program online at:

This is part of a series known informally as Read More Books!


Ashes to Ashes

Well, ABC’s version of the BBC series Life on Mars has been canceled, with just a few more episodes to go, but the sequel to the original series, Ashes to Ashes, made its debut on BBC America last Saturday night.

While the American version of  Life on Mars had serious problems (despite having Harvey Keitel), the original series series is worth anyone’s attention. And if you missed last Saturday’s premiere, what is wrong with you?

Then again, if you just want TV to be a form of video pablum, comfort food for the intellectually lazy, neither one of these shows would be your cup of tea.

But I’m betting you’re not that shallow.



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