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September 27, 2007

Larry Craig, Accidental Gay Rights Activist

"[Larry] Craig's lawyer, Billy Martin, said it is 'near impossible, and it should be' for Craig to withdraw his plea.  But he said his client's conduct -- shoe tapping and hand gestures under a men's room stall divider -- was not criminal."  Craig to Stay in Office for Time Being, NY Times, Sept. 27, 2007. 

I think one should oppose discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation because such discrimination is unjust.  For anyone who does not find this claim persuasive, there are numerous very specific arguments against sexual-orientation discrimination that fall under the broad rubric of practical problems with enforcement. 

Larry Craig seems, dare I say it, hell-bent on parading as many of those enforcement problems as he can in front of the general public.  You go, Larry. 

Or, Senator Craig -- might as well continue to emphasize that he is a United States Senator as long as he refuses to resign. 

Granting that it can be disconcerting, even unpleasant, to try to use a men's room for elimination when others are using it for sex, one has to ask about the priorities of the law enforcement agency.  They had received complaints, according to most news accounts, and I think one can make a strong case for the proposition that agencies have a responsibility to take their priorities from the tax-payers who pay their salaries. 

On the other hand, couldn't that same officer have been out watching for shop lifters in the lovely retail outlets of the Minneapolis airport, or helping little old ladies and gentlemen through the TSA security screening process?  If I owned one of the stores in the airport, I would be upset about this.  Shop lifting imposes a direct economic cost on store owners.  Men having sex in the bathroom imposes no real cost on anyone, unless they become so common that no stalls are left for elimination.  Indeed, they might increase sales, if they dirty or damage their clothes during the crawl under the divider -- they can just go buy a new shirt or new pair of pants. 

Of course, given our nation's fine tradition of wearing clothing that bears the stains of famous, powerful semen, anyone who caught a glob of Larry Craig's ejaculate and knew him to be a United States Senator might want to tell the story loudly on the plane, showing off the stained garment for extra effect. 

But Craig's effort to withdraw his plea, successful or not, illustrates the cost of hypocrisy.  Craig has lived so long and so successfully by dissembling on the topic of his sexual practices that he just can't stop it.  First he hoped it would all go away if he just signed the plea agreement and went on. 

Then that tactic blew up in his face, so he announced his resignation.  Apparently Craig and a few of his family members and closest advisors are the only persons on the planet who cannot see how transparently silly and sad Craig looks now that he has decided to try to withdraw his guilty plea. 

How much easier, more rational, and less costly just to eliminate discrimination based on sexual orientation. 

Committed conservatives will not want to admit this lesson since they continue to believe that discrimination against lesbians and gay men is essential to the social order, but the rest of us should watch the Larry Craig episode for vivid indications of how not to enforce the law. 


September 27, 2007 | Permalink


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I agree with all that you've said. I also wish we'd see some discussion in the media about what it is that might drive married men to seek homosexual activity in a public restroom. In no way do I condone such actions, but I think the overall fear and stigma that our society places on homosexual identity and behavior should bear some of the responsibility for this problem.

Posted by: Michael Higdon | Sep 27, 2007 9:29:57 AM

From Schmitz Blitz: schmitzblitz.wordpress.com

Senator Craig has apparently voted against the Kennedy hate crimes amendment, which would add gays to the federal hate crime statute.

If he voted against gays, he can’t possibly be gay, right?

Let’s see if the court reviewing his bathroom sex sting case buys it.

UPDATE: the hate crimes measure passed the Senate this morning by a vote of 60-39.

Posted by: Elizabeth Schmitz | Sep 27, 2007 11:35:25 AM

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