living in his own public idaho

On the one hand, I do feel some Schadenfreude at the predicament of Republican Idaho Senator Larry Craig, who pled guilty to “disorderly conduct” in an airport restroom, seemingly having been in the process of soliciting sex from a stranger in the next stall, who just happened to be an undercover cop there specifically to investigate reports of frequent sexual activity taking place therein. Despite persistent rumors about his own sexual orientation and/or activities, Craig has long been an opponent of gay rights, having voted for the Defense of Marriage Act, having supported a Constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage, and having voted against a bill prohibiting employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. So yes, I feel a little bit of pleasure that such an odious man has been caught in a trap somewhat of his own, or at least his own party’s, making.

On the other hand, I’m really disturbed that the specific activities of which he was accused even are considered grounds for citation or arrest. Had he actually been having sex in the restroom, ok, I can understand why that might be deemed illegal. But merely indicating that he might wish to have sex, by tapping his foot on the floor, moving his foot over to touch another man’s foot, and waving his hand beneath the divider between stalls, not so much. Was his behavior unwise? Given his identity, his political affiliation, and his position, most definitely. Unseemly? Yes. Creepy? Yeah, a little, not to mention unsanitary. But should these actions really constitute something for which he should be charged with a crime? Had he even gone so far as to directly ask the other man “Would you like to have sex?”, I don’t believe that should be an illegal act in and of itself. One should use good judgment about where and when to make a sexual proposition–Craig didn’t use good judgment (as Tucker Carlson made clear in his juvenile and sickening description of the bashing he and his friend gave to a guy who propositioned him in a public restroom once, Craig might have been lucky that he just got a citation rather than a broken nose or neck; as an aside, who looks and acts more like a closet case than Carlson?)–but that still doesn’t mean that propositioning someone for sex should be illegal. Are we going to start arresting people at singles bars and high school proms?

And should we really be spending public dollars on having policemen staking out public restrooms–moreover, rudely monopolizing a stall in a crowded, busy restroom–for hours, just waiting for someone to proposition them? And the cop in this case even responded by tapping his own foot (in the sign he says is indicative of people wanting to engage in illicit sexual activity), thereby encouraging the senator to continue his actions. That feels really slimy to me, and a real waste of taxpayer dollars.

That said, Craig didn’t fight the charge, but pled guilty to it. And, while I can’t know for sure what he thinks, it’s probably a pretty safe bet that if asked before this incident took place, he would have said that he believed that others arrested for doing the same thing should indeed be charged. And he compounded the whole thing by potentially trying to use his position as a US senator to get preferential treatment.

I can understand the difficulty for someone of his generation, serving as a Republican official, to live openly and honestly, but my sympathy stops at the line at which he abuses the power he has gained through his willingness to stay in his own closet–and the harm that does to himself and his family–to deny other gay men and women the rights to live freely and happily. And even now Craig continues to imply that being gay is wrong, sinful and that the mere suspicion of such puts a “cloud over the state of Idaho.” Excuse me? It wasn’t the state of Idaho that pled guilty to disorderly conduct, or that was lying to its wife while trying to get a little man-on-man action in a public restroom.

So, in the end, I won’t be too sad to see a sorry old hypocrite like him ushered off the political stage.

3 thoughts on “living in his own public idaho

  1. Since the George Michael public restroom sex scandal years ago, I’ve wondered why we pay our public servants to hang out arresting men who are looking for anonymous sex. Isn’t it punishment enough that people are lurking in restrooms in the first place? Why is it even illegal? Sure, there’s the word ‘public’ in the phrase ‘public restroom,’ but it’s still an enclosed space. Sure, if a person were to enter a restroom to use it for its purpose, it could be strange to overhear the sounds of sex in the back stall, but again – if no money’s changing hands it’s just poor judgment and not illegal as far as I’m aware. Who hasn’t had sex in a quasi-public (or very public) place at least once in their sexual careers?
    As for Craig, it’s irritating, true, but mostly sad how thoroughly he fills every possible stereotype about the self-loathing closeted gay: he votes against everything, but is caught wookin’ pa nub in a men’s room. Ouch.

  2. Thanks Thom, you’ve summed up my feelings on this exactly.
    Goblinbox: not so sure I agree with you here. Kids use public restrooms, and nobody, gay or straight, should be having sex in them.

  3. I agree that one less of his type (non tolerant hypocrite) in the political arena is probably for the best. However, that said I am concerned as to how it happened. It is upsetting to me that such subtle acts could be used to arrest someone, let alone be the demise of a career. This episode is disturbing on several levels:
    If the signals for such hook-ups are purposefully designed to be seen as not unusual then aren’t we all in jeopardy of accidentally signalling for such things? So then to me the only evidence of the illegal activity is witnessing the offensive activity not those benign activities leading up to it.
    Second, if people want to engage in anonymous sex it is their personal business;to me picking someone up in a restroom is no different than a bar. that said I am not supporting people having sex in restrooms or other public places (gay or straight).
    If the problem is sex in the restrooms then arrest people for that; not because you think they are interested in having sex in a bathroom.
    Last, but not least, I have to wonder what really troublesome activities went unchecked while so much law enforcement was focused on the men’s room.

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