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What Did Sen. Craig Actually Do?

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  • Greg Cannon
    http://talkingpointsmemo.com//archives/051749.php What Did Sen. Craig Actually Do? 08.28.07 -- 10:59AM By David Kurtz We ve had lots of back and forth
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 29, 2007
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      What Did Sen. Craig Actually Do?
      08.28.07 -- 10:59AM
      By David Kurtz

      We've had lots of back and forth discussion here
      internally about what conduct by Sen. Craig in that
      Minneapolis airport restroom was actually illegal.
      We've posted the arrest report, so take a look and
      reach your own conclusions.

      Leering stares, foot tapping, a lingering presence.
      Are any of those, even taken together, what most
      reasonable people would call criminal? Is it because
      they happened in a bathroom? God knows they happen
      every night in bars and other public spaces, among
      gays and straights.

      TPM Reader LA refines the point:

      Sure, he's a hypocrite, sure he's probably gay or
      bi or whatever, and sure, I despise his politics. The
      problem is, I'm torn between the schadenfreude of
      watching another one of the Family Values crowd being
      shown up, and feeling really bad for the guy, because
      he didn't do anything.

      Look at the police report. Did he directly ask a
      cop for sex? No. Did he expose himself lewdly (as
      opposed to exposing himself to use the facilities)?
      No. Did he do anything that was unambiguously sexual?

      All he did was tap his foot, reach down (possibly
      to pick up a piece of TP), wiggle his fingers, and put
      his bag in front of him when he sat down. Oh, and he
      waited in front of an occupied stall. Even if he did
      everything the cop said he did, where was the lewd
      conduct? No actual sex happened. No actual sex was
      discussed. And if it wasn't for the sheer
      embarrassment of the situation, you'd be writing about
      the overzealous cop who arrested a sitting US Senator
      for no apparent reason.

      If Craig was looking for sex, I hope that he can
      look into his heart and realize that it's 2007, and
      gay people are allowed to be out, and even get
      involved in meaningful relationships that don't begin
      and end in a squalid men's room. I'd hope that he'd
      recognize that there are even gay Republicans out
      there (look at former Rep. Kolbe, for one), and that a
      lot of the stigma and fear that still exists about
      homosexuality in this society has to do with the
      behavior of people who are in the closet.

      But that, to me, is another issue entirely. The
      issue here is, why is the Minneapolis Airport PD
      arresting people for such flimsy reasons? Why do
      judges and prosecutors still accept these cases? Why,
      in 2007, 43 years after LBJ's chief of staff, Walter
      Jenkins, got busted in the men's room YMCA in DC, have
      we apparently moved no further in our analysis of
      these situations?

      I think that's about right. Look, I wouldn't want to
      bring my 4-year-old son into the airport bathroom and
      stumble across two people having sex, gay or straight.
      It's tough enough getting in and out of the john
      without him touching every dirty surface or
      contributing to the mess with an errant aim. But sex
      didn't happen here. Even the propositioning is murky
      at best. And short of a proposition involving sex for
      money, what is illegal about inquiring about sex?
      Tactless, maybe. But criminal?

      The hypocrisy angle--conservative U.S. senator with a
      voting record antagonistic to gay rights--is the one
      just about everyone can hang their hats on here.
      Paying a political price for that hypocrisy seems
      reasonable. But clearly the hypocrisy is not just
      political; it's deeply personal. The fractures and
      fault lines in Craig's psyche must be something to
      behold. It's hard not to feel some sympathy for the
      guy. But hypocrisy, thank god for all of us, is not a
      crime. Being gay shouldn't be either.
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