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.