Last edited: December 31, 2004

GLAADAlert Follow-Up: Arkansas Paper Publishes More Names

GLAADAlert, February 27, 1998
The GLAADAlert is the weekly activation tool of the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation

In a shocking turn of events, the February 27 edition of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette's "Police beat" column has published the names of four more men arrested in relation to police raids of men seeking sex with other men in public parks. This comes only weeks after a man committed suicide because the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette published his name in a similar arrest (see GLAADAlerts 2.6.98 and 2.20.98). The newspaper's executive editor, Griffin Smith, Jr., responded to a February 12 letter from local representatives of GLAAD, ACLU of Arkansas, the Women's Project, P-FLAG and the Metropolitan Community Church by saying, "Publication of such items is governed by our news policy....We believe our policy is logical, consistent, [and] proper. We do not contemplate any change."

GLAAD Executive Director Joan M. Garry, requested a meeting in a February 27 letter to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, explained the clear double standard in a policy allowing the printing the names of these men while not men arrested for solicitation of female prostitutes. She also emphasized the societal force of the closet which leads many men to feel they can only express their sexual orientation through anonymous sexual encounters. Finally, she states, "The suicide note left by the man to his male partner of 31 years reads, 'My name and everything is in the paper this morning...Goodbye. I love you.' Whether or not you believe your newspaper holds any ethical responsibility in the suicide, you cannot ignore the direct connection between his death and the printing of his name in your newspaper. It was not the alleged act nor the arrest which drove him to such extreme measures: It was the very public media exposure of his sexual orientation and arrest." She adds, "GLAAD calls upon you to act responsibly and, in seeking out the most newsworthy and socially valuable story, address the issue in its full context. Full disclosure does not mean printing names and address of those arrested. It means telling the whole story of why the men gather in the first place."

Urge the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette to immediately change its clearly biased policy surrounding misdemeanor sex crimes, to address its role in the suicide of a man, and to be more socially responsible, ethical and humane in their assessment of "newsworthiness."

Contact: Walter Hussman, Publisher
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
P.O. Box 2221
Little Rock, AR 72203
phone: 501.378.3485
fax: 501.372.3908.

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