News Craig and Entrapment
posted by August 29 at 13:44 PMon
In the comments thread attached to this post, some Slog readers are arguing that poor Larry Craig was the victim of police entrapment. He was arrested for “lewd conduct” and all he did was tap his little foot, peer through the crack in a stall door at undercover cop, rub his little foot against the undercover cop’s foot, and make hand signals—basically, Craig did everything short of waving his BVDs over his head to indicate his sexual interest in the officer. Since when is it illegal for one man to hit on another—and isn’t that, after all, what Craig is accused of doing? Do undercover officers in Minnesota police airport bars and arrest men that hit on women?
Well, first off…
Does anyone doubt that if a bill to decriminalize men hitting on other men in airport toilets—or anywhere else—had come up for a vote in the U.S. Senate, Sen. Larry “Wide Stance” Craig would have voted against it? So even if Craig is the victim of a homophobic double standard, as some are arguing, it’s hard to feel much sympathy for him knowing that he would have supported that double standard.
As to the straight-men-in-bars comparison, people that flirt in bars don’t have sex in bars, as one commenter beat me to pointing out. They retire to a hotel rooms or, if they’re on the same flight, the privacy of an airplane toilet. I’m sure Sen. Craig would not have been arrested for sending a man a drink in a bar, or for hitting on a man in a bar. It was hitting on a man in a toilet—with the implicit understanding that the sex act, whatever it was, would go down, ahem, in that same toilet—that got him in trouble. A toilet is a public place, yo, and it’s illegal to have sex in public. And, sorry, crowding into a stall together does not make it a private place.
Still, Craig could have gone to court and argued that, hey, I was hitting on the guy, for sure, but only because he returned my eye contact and seemed to welcome my advances—and if he had said yes I was going to propose that we get a room at a nearby hotel. But Craig didn’t argue that—to argue that he would have to admit that he was gay or bi, and that the only misunderstanding involved time and place, not intent or his stance. He didn’t. He pleaded guilty.
And… finally… while I would be the first to argue that most men who get it on in bathrooms and other public sex environments are discreet and don’t bother anyone, some are not and some do. There were complaints about the men having sex in the bathrooms at the Minneapolis airport, and the police did what police are supposed to do when there are complaints—they responded. If straight people had been fucking in the bars at the airport—or the toilets—the police would have responded to those complaints too, no doubt. But straight people don’t, in general, because straight women won’t, in particular, and so the comparison really isn’t valid.
Now there have been cases where the police have gone to cruisy areas—parks, rest stops—and arrested men for hitting on undercover officers even when they intended to go back to their apartments or RVs or doublewides to have sex. That’s a bullshit double standard. No straight person would be arrested for hitting on someone—unless, of course, the pass amounted to assault. You know—unwelcome touching, like playing footsie with the guy in the next stall.
And, I’m sorry, but part of the thrill of illicit public sex—getting it on in bathrooms or parks with strangers—is the risk that you’ll get caught. So it’s hard to have much sympathy when someone who gets off on the risk of discovery is, you know, discovered. It wouldn’t be a career-destroying event for an out gay guy today—like, say, a George Michael (Pee Wee came too soon). It would, however, be a career-destroyer for a hypocritical, homophobic bigot like Larry Craig. And it serves him right.