Front page challenges
It shouldn’t come as a surprise when the mass media sensationalizes and demonizes alternative sexuality, and yet the Friday August 19th edition of The Province still managed to bring my esteem for the paper to a new low with their story headlined Raucous sex club parties rock Delta neighbours in their online edition.
Including the cover The Province devotes more than three pages of real estate to this story, fully half of that in pictures. Mind you it was apparently a slow news day locally, and tabloid has pretty much given up even the front of offering substantial news coverage of international or even national stories, so I suppose the chance to pillory those who enjoy free love while filling column space was too hard to resist.
Right from the start of this article we’re set up for the vilification of the swing club owners. “Brenda Edmands points across the wooded ravine toward the neighbourhood sex club. She’s nervous about talking to a reporter. She hides her face from a photographer. But she’s tired of getting brushed aside by Delta officials — so she decided to go public.”
Yes, reader, Brenda Edmands is a whistle blower who has decided to go public. A whistle blower so nervous about her safety that she’s nervous about talking to the press (whom she called) and hides her face from the photographer. Call up the witness protection program, apparently this woman has ticked off the mob!
By and by it becomes clear that all this coverage is over what, at root, is a noise complaint.
This is how The Province covers sex
Is there a news story here? Quite possibly. There are allegations that a commercial business is being run out of a residential neighbourhood. The business is, in the view of several residents of the neighbourhood, noisy and disruptive. City hall has been informed and is apparently unwilling or unable to act to the satisfaction of at least some residents. That’s a news story. And if this were the The Delta Optimist, The North Delta Sentinel, or The South Delta Leader (who knew Delta had so many local papers!) this might warrant some photos and the majority of a page in coverage. But the cover story in a metropolitan daily? Please.
If this story were about a backyard mechanics business that was too noisy, or a local tree planter running his wood chipper in his backyard late into the night, or if these parties were the loud and raucous bi-weekly get togethers of an Amway distributor, it wouldn’t have received the 11 column inches that The Province dedicated to the uprising in Libya on this day, let alone been the paper’s cover story.
Not in my backyard
I’m not sure where I stand with regards to the neighbourhood in this story. I can say I have little sympathy for Brenda Edmands, based on her statement that after, after hearing what she thought was a rape but being unable to identify the house, she simply walked away and did nothing. Nothing! I’m happy to say that I don’t think I personally know of anyone in the alternative sexuality scene who wouldn’t have picked up the phone to call the police in similar circumstances. Ms. Edmands said she felt sick about that, but she chose to do nothing. Well, nothing until she learned that swing club was getting together in her neighbourhood. Apparently while she’s prepared to deal with the discomfort of a one time sexual assault, knowing that consenting adults are engaging in “raucous sex” with multiple partners on a regular basis is something that can’t be stood for.
The Province’s reporter writes about other neighbours who express misgivings about the noise from the house, and I think most people would express misgivings if a neighbour were going to hold loud parties twice a month in the neighbourhood. As long as the police, the city and neighbours themselves are addressing this as an issue of decibels and not deviance that’s valid.
Turn down the volume
The solution, it seems to me, is to turn down the volume; Club Allure needs to keep down the volume of their parties, the neighbours need to tone down the rhetoric, and The Province needs to tone down unnecessary muckraking. And for those who would defend The Province here I should add something that those reading the online version of this story might be unaware of: in addition to printing pictures of the house where these parties were held, along with it’s address, they also saw fit to print pictures of another house at which swing parties were held, a house not mentioned in the article, a house we’re not told of any complaints against.
But then printing this article wasn’t about practicing responsible journalism any more than it was about noise, so I really shouldn’t be surprised.