Alex Blaze

It's the journalists, not the police

Filed By Alex Blaze | June 11, 2009 3:30 PM | comments

Filed in: Living
Tags: dayton daily news, indecent exposure, kevin miller, menacing, Ohio, sugarcreek, women's clothing

I posted yesterday about a man arrested for what seemed to be wearing a women's bathing suit. Dayton Daily News, via Dale in the comments, had this to add:

Xenia Prosecutor Ron Lewis said Miller was charged with menacing because he chased people in a few of the incidents. Lewis said in one case, Miller swam into the Little Miami River chasing after two women who were canoeing, and in another case Miller chased two juveniles who were coming back from an ice cream shop.

Lewis said the public indecency charges came because Miller partially exposed himself to some people while wearing the women's swimsuit. Lewis said Miller has a 2008 conviction for disorderly conduct that had nothing to do with the current situation. Sugarcreek Police Sgt. Mark White said Miller has lived on Washington Mill for about three years, and the disorderly conduct case was the police department's only previous contact with him.

Well, that changes things a bit. Why wasn't this information included in the WHIO-TV report?

Here's the video I posted yesterday. Notice that it makes no mention of what the charges were based on other than the fact that he was wearing a women's swimsuit:

Could they have possibly sensationalized this story any more? And isn't the actual reason this man was arrested, considering the story is about his arrest, pertinent information that should be included in the news report?

While the case's facts still seem a bit in the air (especially since Miller denies all the charges, as is his right), at least the Dayton Daily News article mentions the specific reasons he was arrested instead of implying that it was because he chose to wear a women's bathing suit.

Because that's kinda the opposite of indecent exposure, wearing a women's bathing suit instead of a man's. But this guy could have exposed himself (which, to me, isn't that big a deal, although I wasn't there) just as easily wearing a man's swimsuit, and the reason he was arrested wasn't because of the gender of the swimsuit he took off, but because he took off his swimsuit.

That all seems like relevant information to this story, and yet the WHIO-TV report left it out.

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Oh, I could think of a million reasons but a couple to start with:

People who don't conform to societal norms of gender performance are still figures of fun.

It's no longer fashionable to be against gay marriage or what's construed as "gay rights," but a guy in a woman's swimsuit - fire away! He won't have anyone from the LGBTQ community on his side, so why not mock him and pretend that his actions are going to traumatise people for life?

I'm glad to see better news coverage of this, but, in all honesty, I'm still suspicious of the "partially exposed himself" bit. Granted, I wasn't there and I don't want to assume too much but don't most people who expose themselves go, um, all the way? I'll also grant that chasing people can be menacing, yes, but I still want to know who gets to define it as chasing...

The point being: The charges may well turn out to not unfounded, but the way in which the case was treated by WHIO-TV reveals a lot about people's phobias and assumptions about what constitutes "normal" sexual/gender identity.

Alex, I agree with you that the media sensationalized this story. However, when you said that it's not that big a deal to you if a man exposes himself, well I have a different point of view. I was 18 years old, working in Manhattan and a man exposed himself to me on the subway. I freaked out. He scared me to death! So much so that I quit my job in Manhattan and got a job up in the Bronx, where I wouldn't have to ride the subway anymore. I don't care what caused him to do it, it really scared me. So please realize that even though it doesn't bother you, an incident like that can have a big impact on a young person.

Alex, you are 100% correct. I live in the Dayton area and as I mentioned yesterday, WHIO has not been known for being warm and welcoming to the LGBT community. They have a TV station plus and AM/FM operation on which two stations (1 each AM & FM) rebrodcast Rushness, Hanity, etc. Since annoucning they were the #1 CBS affilliate in the US, I put nothing past them including sensationalizing a stroy or two. Their "excuse" for this will undoubtedly be they didn't have enough air time. Yeah, right. Ratings, not facts.

Strangely, the Dayton Daily News and the WHIO stations are both owned by Cox Communications. The DDN has been at least accurate in their reporting of LGBT issues and in several cases, very positive. A reporter there (who suddenly died quite recently) did a story on transgender life in Dayton (and I am out of the closet permanently now as a result :>) and was consequently nominated for an award from GLAAD.

I doubt WHIO will ever get close to being nominated for something like that, unless you count making GLAAD's "worst" list.

The accusation is that he partially exposed himself.

Having a few pubic hairs visible outside the swimsuit would be enough.

The crime of "menacing" also requires a specific threat, absent in this case.

Basically, from what few facts we know, they arrested him then pored through the statutes to try to find something to charge him with. I could be wrong, and it will all come out in court, but that's what it looks like to me. And I'm the one usually debunking such claims.

Two friends called me after you ran your first post. They were together at the time. One was on the phone with me. The other? On the phone with WHIO's news director raising hell. :)

Brynn Craffey Brynn Craffey | June 15, 2009 3:35 PM

A lot remains unknown and confusing about this story, but what is clear IMO is that the media coverage strongly reinforces the incorrect association of male cross-dressing with threat (especially to women and girls), indecency, and sexual assault. For this reason, I believe GLAAD and other advocates should be contacting and criticizing the media. (I believe Rachel Maddow's show even aired this in a "humorous" and sensational way.)