Author: Neil Miller
Book: SEX CRIME PANIC: A Journey to the Paranoid Heart of the 1950s
Publishing: Alyson Books – 2002
NOTE: Unfortunately, this book is out-of-print. However, there are many used copies available for purchase through various merchants online. The author was in Sioux City for a speaking engagement and he joined me in-studio to discuss his book, which chronicles an almost unbelievable time period in the history of Sioux City.
Following the brutal murders of two children in Sioux City, Iowa, in 1954, police, in an attempt to quell public hysteria, arrested 20 men whom the authorities never claimed had anything to do with the crimes. Labeled as sexual psychopaths under an Iowa law that lumped homosexuals together with child molesters and murderers, the men were sentenced to a mental institution until cured. Their shocking story is brought to light for the first time by award-winning journalist Neil Miller, author of Out of the Past: Gay and Lesbian History from 1869 to the Present. Shedding a harsh light on 1950s attitudes toward homosexuality, Miller’s carefully researched account shows how the paranoia of the McCarthy era destroyed the lives of gay men in the American heartland. Interviews with the formerly incarcerated men, law enforcement officials, lawyers, mental hospital staff, and relatives of the murder victims provides a vivid and disturbing glimpse of a town that betrayed its own sons and a mental institution where patients provided cheap labor and shock treatment was the therapy of choice. A gripping story of murder and antigay hysteria, Sex-Crime Panic presents a dark chapter in the history of postwar America.