We get wind of shocking stories every day that are tough to report or down right depressing, stories such as 5-year-olds getting raped, the mother of four children getting murdered, domestic abuse, and on and on.
That is one reason, for our own sanity, that we work hard to balance our pages with the more fun feature stories, such as those of a 70th wedding anniversary or of a proud 75-year-old postal worker dragging out her last bag of mail.
Unfortunately on Monday, we learned from police of weekend arrests involving at least 14 men charged in a sex sting with fairly minor criminal charges, but with shocking moral offenses.
Police still are sorting through the paperwork, but at least three of the men were confirmed to be fairly prominent residents, in that they are widely known throughout the community for their good deeds and outreach services.
One is a pastor.
One is a multiple business owner.
One is an educator.
Further, all three of them had close personal ties with various members of our own staff, including yours truly.
Public nuisance is the criminal charge most received.
Adultery, soliciting sex from other men, exposing themselves, groping, and doing all of this in a public park and near a school playground full of children is the more complete list of what most of their friends and family view as shocking disappointment.
There are those who asked why we listed the
To stop them.
The early response I gave to one of our editors was, it sure won't be me casting the first stone.
Also, our staff working on the story agreed, this would not be reported as an indictment against homosexuals. That is something individuals must decide on their own when it comes to judging right from wrong, and we did not want the newspaper to be involved in judging, period, when it came to this story and that aspect of it.
We simply wanted to report it, to report the problem that led to the arrests, and then to follow the story with a report on how those who feel the need can seek counseling to help.
One judgment we do make: It is wrong for any type of sexual activity to be openly practiced in a public park or near a school where innocent children can be exposed or perhaps victimized.
Moral or immoral to be practicing adultery, homosexuality, unsafe sex with strangers, or whatever ... leave the kids out of it.
Leave innocent park visitors out of it.
Leave the police and the dadgum newspaper out of it.
Get a room.
None of us are without skeletons in our closet. None of us.
Yet, we all fight the daily battles of doing what we know to be right, or selfishly doing things for ourselves that we know to be wrong.
Those who do wrong sometimes keep pushing the limits until someone holds them accountable, and they continue until it becomes evident that there is a price to pay for such selfish indulgence and inconsideration of others, including others who can be deeply hurt.
Hopefully today, there are 14 men who realize the pain they have inflicted on so many, and perhaps this experience will alter their lives regarding their own desires and the dedication they claim to family and duty. They are still loved and needed.
Life doesn't end by getting caught in the park with your pants down.
It does, however, get better if you wear the pants that were tailored just for you.
Frankly speaking, I'm beyond being sick and tired of the steady flow of stories, day after day, about the lack of this community's role in raising and protecting its children.
Again, I refer to all of us in this area as community. I don't see a Farmington, an Aztec, a Shiprock, etc.; I see a community, especially when it comes to our kids. A child's smile is about as universal a joy as I can imagine.
However, there are too many adults and even teens in this community who grossly are failing Parenting 101.
Last week, I dropped off a few toys at Childhaven, a local sanctuary for abandoned kids.
Recently, I visited with workers from the Family Crisis Center, who shared with me the plight of so many abused women and children who turn to the center for help, if not for survival.
I was told by a reader about Web sites that feature near-nude children posed in obviously sexual positions, and it made me sick to my stomach to see them.
A father recently wrote to me about finding his daughter's e-mail and literally hundreds of men soliciting her for sex, and her trying to make money from it.
Teens — lacking of attention, love and discipline — are turning to selling Internet porn and other forms of self-devaluation to fulfill their needs, whether it be money or excitement. Some are doing so in their own bedrooms while ignorant parents think all is innocent because they never spend the time of day with their child.
And now, we learn there is a problem in our community with husbands and dads coming home from what sources tell us is an ongoing practice of unsafe sex with other men, some known to be infected with sexually transmitted diseases, bringing who knows what into their homes and their family's lives. Sources who know tell us the list of prominent names involved is much longer than those we reported Monday who got arrested, and that several of them would add more shock to the community if revealed.
So, read this as fair warning: This newspaper will partner with any other agency it can, be it the police or a nonprofit or a school or a church, to help our children and to stop those who prey on them for selfish gains in any form or fashion.
We'll name names. Why?
To stop them.
Troy Turner is the editor of The Daily Times. He can be contacted at P.O. Box 450, Farmington, N.M., 87499; or at firstname.lastname@example.org.