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The sting of shame 

And another thing: Look, I’m no prude. I honestly don’t care what you do with your genitalia and assorted orifices, as long as I don’t have to watch. That’s why God made window blinds.

Why, then, has recent media coverage — some in the Dem-Gaz, but most notably a KTHV two-part “Special Report” — on the Faulkner County sheriff’s undercover arrests of gay men in Cadron Settlement Park turned my stomach so? Why was it so heartbreaking?

With their usual breathlessness, KTHV devoted two nights to their tag-along on a sting that netted 10 men at the park in rural Faulkner County, off Highway 319. Most of the accused were arrested for exposing themselves and grabbing deputies’ genitals. In addition to having cameras rolling while the dastardly perps were cuffed and stuffed, KTHV’s June 29-30 report on the mid-June sting named names, and provided handy mugshots. All are still available on the KTHV website.

Here’s a sample from one transcript:

Deputy: “Put your pants back on.”

Suspect: “I asked you if you were a cop and you said you weren’t and I ain’t never done this.”

Deputy: “I understand. You know where my car is, I want you to walk to the top of the hill, OK. I have a weapon and I also have a body mic on.”

Suspect: “I understand.”

Deputy: “Walk to the top of the hill for me.”

Suspect: “I never, ever do this. God, isn’t that something? I never, ever do this.”

Deputy: “Sir, you’ve already told me you do.”

Suspect: “I know, but I was so scared and I don’t ever do ... you know, I’m just...”

Deputy: “I got you.”

Suspect: “Hey, please don’t do this to me.”

Deputy: “Top of the hill.”

Suspect: “Hey, please don’t do this to me.”

That, friends, is the sound of a man watching as his whole life — the very ground beneath his feet — dissolves into fog.

There is something unmistakably sad to me about gay cruising spots that grow up like this. Mostly, they’re havens for desperate men, hungry for something they need but too scared or with too much to lose to try and get it where an openly gay person might. Of the 10 arrests detailed by KTHV, only two were locals, with others from as far away as Little Rock and Oklahoma. If they traveled that far, most of these men were probably about as deep in the closet as you can get; guys with families. One was a high-ranking official at the University of Central Arkansas. Many of them have undoubtedly done exactly what George W. Bush and Jerry Falwell and Fred “God Hates Fags”
Phelps want them to do: suppress their inborn desires, get married, and procreate. Just as undoubtedly, if the charges against them are true, they were breaking anyone’s definition of the law.

That said, KTHV and Dem-Gaz (which also ran a full list of the arrests): Is it worth ruining their lives over activity that would have likely gotten a heterosexual couple a cop’s smirk and an admonishment to get a room?



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david@arktimes.com



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