Saturday, September 01, 2007

In-Transit Booty

Blogging about Senator Larry Craig presents many of the same difficulties as blogging about former Astronaut Lisa Nowak: how does one add value to the best thing that has ever happened? A conservative Senator who has consistently scored 100% on every anti-gay organization's voting scorecard gets busted in an airport men's room for toe-tapping out a gay sex solicitation to an undercover cop... where do you go from there?

Well, naturally I can provide you with the cover image, above, from this week's Washington Hispanic, because the whole story really is even better in Spanish.

But to be serious for a moment, what I can say is this: if by some fluke it turns out that Craig is telling the truth: that he is completely innocent but pled guilty fearing the consequences of going to trial, I have little sympathy. For the past 30 years, law-and-order conservatives like Craig have been ratcheting up criminal penalties and enacting wholesale transfers of power from judges to prosecutors, to the point that the average "trial penalty" (the difference in sentencing outcome between those arrestees for a given offense who plead guilty and those convicted at trial) has reached, by some estimates, 600%. In joining the tens of thousands of Americans who enter strategic but false guilty pleas each year, Craig would be reaping only what he and his ilk have sown.

Now, that out of the way, I have four additional comments.

1. Any time you find yourself explaining to the police that you employ a "wide stance when going to the bathroom," you probably need to rethink many of the choices you have made in the last twenty-four hours.

2. If any portion of the "Passenger Security Charge" I pay for every flight segment is underwriting gay sex stings in airport men's rooms, I would like to request a refund. If people are really lining up to suck off Members of Congress underneath the stall dividers at MSP International, who am I to stop them?

3. This whole thing just confirms all the stereotypes about male versus female attitudes toward sex. Can you imagine a woman looking to have sexual relations with a complete stranger next to a toilet?

4. According to the police report, the restroom in which Craig was arrested is a frequent venue for sexual activity. Craig was between flights, which suggests that the facility in question was through security and thus available only to ticketed passengers. Does this mean that travelers in the know are purposely routing themselves through Minneapolis for in-transit booty? And at what cost to the economy?


  1. I think points 3 and 4 are absolutely conversation-starters for my next cocktail (...heh) party.

  2. He was looking for George Michael.

  3. I said to a friend recently that if the entire nation had had occasion to learn in specific detail about my peeing habits, I would not only have to resign from Congress, I would have to leave the country.

    Even so, and even accounting for the deep and despicable hypocrisy represented here, I can't help feeling some genuine pity for Larry Craig. For starters, one principle of the tearoom trade is that its transactions are totally consensual; after all, the whole practice, including its quaint toe-tapping rituals, evolved as a means of identifying other interested men without getting beaten to a pulp by an insecure hetero. Women endure far more intrusive harassment all the time.

    Your point about the guilty plea is well taken. But I suspect that in this case, it stemmed from a desperate hope that the whole event might evade the eyes of the media and the public. Needless to say, the Republicans will keep insisting that what really offends them is the admission to a misdemeanor charge, not the spectre of gay sex--but at the same time, they'll spin the lesson here as "see? gays are gross," not "hmm, life in the closet is tremendously damaging."

    I love catching Republican hypocrites as much as the next dyke, but this story triggers my pathos reaction too, I suppose. You could say I'm taking a wide stance on the issue.

  4. "best thing that ever happened," indeed.

    thanks for your take.


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