Senatorial Footsie II

After reading this column I am slightly more sympathetic toward Senator Larry Craig. He persists in saying he is not gay and the whole thing is a misunderstanding. The evidence suggests otherwise, but we cannot be sure.

The point of Ann Woolner's column is that nothing of a sexual nature occurred in this case. Even if everything the police officer reported is true, there was, at most, a request for sex. Had consent been forthcoming, the sexual activity might have taken place in more discreet surroundings than the airport restroom. This would still be odd but not a criminal matter.

There's another point. If asking for sexual favors in crude ways is a crime, then the police don't need to hang out in restrooms. They will find all the perpetrators they can handle in any of a million bars, and to be fair should direct their enforcement efforts at both heterosexual and homosexual people.

Nonetheless, it seems that airport bathroom sex is more common than you might think. Police at Atlanta's Hartsfield International Airport have so far this year arrested 45 men for public indecency in the restrooms. All were actually doing something that went beyond words and gestures, such as exposing themselves. Clearly this is unacceptable, but it appears that the police in Minneapolis may be a bit overzealous as compared to their peers in other cities. Normally people are not arrested for things they might do or are thinking about doing.

This is, perhaps, why the crime to which the Senator pleaded guilty was some sort of "invasion of privacy" for inserting his hand into the police officer's stall. Certainly that is a place where most people expect to be left alone. The Senator should have kept his hands to himself. However, it seems unlikely that the police officer was stationed there with orders to catch mere privacy-invaders. Had he continued the charade a little longer, he might have gathered evidence of a more serious crime. This is strange and suggests there may be more to the story.

Senator Craig is now under pressure from his colleagues to resign from the Senate. As noted previously, the exact nature of his crime, if there was one, is not the primary issue here. The issue is the wise judgment that senators should possess and Senator Craig's demonstrated lack thereof. That being the case, he would serve the nation well to leave his position sooner rather than later.

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