Wednesday, August 29, 2007

The two things CC doesn't get about Sen. Larry Craig

I don't even understand

a. Why he was arrested. (OK, that one is more rhetorical. I guess what I really mean is "What kind of cops have nothing better to do that guard bathrooms?")


b. Why he pled guilty rather than making up some kind of weird but not impossible excuse. ("Those shoes looked like my campaign manager's, so I was messing with his head. I admit it wasn't a very politically correct or mature joke to play, and obviously I'm really sorry, but it was really spur of the moment silliness rather than an actual proposition."* is the first excuse to come to mind after two minutes of thought. I'm sure a political spinmeister could come up with something better.)


*My experience is that homophobic humor is uncommon but not unheard of among congressional staff members working for Conservative congressmen. I can totally see some legislative assistant for some midwestern R doing this to his friend.


Stephanie said...

I have to admit being confused by the reporting on the issue (shoe tapping, hands under stall walls). But it is my general sense that he was set up in some fashion....

Anonymous said...

I got the brief details about Larry Craig from another blog last night and that's all I know about this (this kind of thing is one reason I simply don't watch news).

That being said, I did a quick google search and
here's the police officer's report, which answers question 1.

I can only speculate on the answer to question 2.

Bill Baar said...

It was a police sting. Everyone caught in a sting has been set up.

Foley was a sex scandal without sex as is this one.

None the less the guy's gotta go for being an idiot if nothing else.

The GOP suffered badly with Foley and can't tolerate another case of bad behavior (even without any sex!).

What's trueling appalling about this is how UU's can use the self loathing hypocritical frame to make a political attack. Here and more here.. that's bad on many levels and ultimately of no service to Gays.

I heard Bob Novak talk about his book on CSpan. He described past times where Kennedy's sex life, Sen. Muskie's explosive temper, where just personal flaws journalism felt best left unreported. There was a point to all of that. Once the cops have your mug shot're sunk.

Steve Caldwell said...


The question comes down to one of what is a public space vs. a private space.

Currently, there are laws against solicitation of sex in public restrooms because some consider them to be public spaces.

You're not the first person to question this public policy decision. Here's the money quote from Dr. Marty Klein's blog (he's a marriage and family therapist - sexuality educator):

"Craig joins an enormous list of people who behave like hypocrites—ranting on about 'morality' when his own behavior and impulses fall outside his own definition of morality.

Clearly, the guy is tormented. Apparently, a lot of people demanding that everyone conform to their narrow 'morality' are conflicted. This is old news. In fact, reasonable people are asking, 'is anyone who rants on about morality NOT afraid of their own impulses?'

But what we should be asking is, why is it against the law to offer a quickie to a stranger? What kind of sick country criminalizes an adult’s non-coercive, non-commercial offer to another adult—just because it’s about sex? Everyone who plays tennis has gone to a public court, walked up to a stranger, and asked, 'want to play?' Everyone with a telephone is periodically asked, without invitation or warning, if they want to buy something, or listen to something, or reveal stuff about themselves.

The proper response to a single, non-coercive invitation to do something—anything—is 'no thank you.' Not 'you’re busted.'

There’s the lewd, obscene, disgusting behavior: busting someone for an invitation. Our nation has again exposed its horrendous ambivalence about its own erotic impulses. In doing so, it has shamed itself, and explained its obsessive concern with enforcing 'morality' — i.e., limiting sexual fantasy and behavior.

Yes, Senator Craig should be thrown into the Potomac—not for expressing his sexuality, but for preventing the rest of us from doing so.

Bill Baar said...

Yes, Senator Craig should be thrown into the Potomac—not for expressing his sexuality, but for preventing the rest of us from doing so.

So if Craig had expressed his sexuality (whatever that means) than a quickie offered to a stranger would be ok?

That's the sexual ethics UU's offer the world?


Chalicechick said...

(((So if Craig had expressed his sexuality (whatever that means) than a quickie offered to a stranger would be ok?)))

I believe the point is that if it the Senator caught offering a quickie to the stranger of the same sex were someone who is supportive of gay rights, that senator might be being a dog to his/her partner, but would not be a hypocrite.

By voting against and speaking out against gay rights legislation and getting booty on the side, Craig is essentially saying "I can do this wrong thing if I feel like it, but I will fight to keep other people from doing it," which is a pretty galling sentiment in most moral systems.



Bill Baar said...

Try it this way cc...

Years ago, the John Birch Society in Chicago had an African American fellow who spoke at my high schools human affairs club (the school's club for radicals in 1968).

Unlike sexuality, his African heritage was obvious, and a kid in our club called him an Uncle Tom. He blew up, and rightly so.

Our John Bircher wasn't self-loathing or conflicted, he was just a right wing sort of guy who didn't care for the welfare state much and said so.

We radicals hammered him for being a hypocrite.

So now we get a glimmer, I guess, of Craig's sexuality and a UU preacher finds it's evidence of self loathing and hypocracy because Craig has voted for things like (Bill Clinton's) protect marriage act, or supported (Bill Clinton's) don't ask don't tell.

Most African Americans can't easily hide their heritage, but I don't think they should have too express it if they don't wish (80% of the respondents to my custumer satisfaction surveys at work check NA for race); that they have to tow a African-American political line (that whites probably write); and so on... it's an affront to think that.

Just like the notion that Gays must openly express their sexuality (what?), tow a gay political line (written by straights?), and so on...

it's really offensive when you think about it.

Anonymous said...

Actually, Michael Warner, who wrote the "Trouble with Normal" would be against the idea of gay marriage and is supportive of public sex (arguing that the first still unfairly excludes individuals from benefits like health care, etc. and that the second is generally not "public" in the way we conceive of the term).

Of course, he'd disagree with Craig on a number of things, but it's an example of a the two positions together.

Personally, I think the sting is tenuous (imputing intentions to those kinds of actions without a larger context) and the idea that one cannot proposition (through foot gestures, no less!) someone in public without fear of arrest is ludicrous.

PG said...


If soliciting strangers in the bathroom isn't "openly expressing your sexuality," I'm not sure how much more open I want people to get. I'd be embarrassed if a woman came on to me in the bathroom; I am supportive of lesbians who are fighting for their political equality. Craig apparently thinks that it's OK to approach random guys in the bathroom, but not OK to be in a committed, state-sanctioned relationship with someone of the same sex.

Bill Baar said...

Craig covertly expressed his sexuality. There was nothing open about this.

UU's sometimes get overpowered by our Calvinist heritage.

Our sexual ethics must be right because our personal lives our right.

We're some kind of elect. Just look at how UNhypocritally we live. It's evidence of our election.

Muder tells us we have lower divorce rates than evangelicals so our ethics on marriage must be right.

We don't solicit sex in bathrooms (or if we did it would at least be a solicitation consistent with our orientation) so we're not hypocrits and therefore our sexual ethics is right.

We have a weird way of tangling the personal with the political / ethical that really makes us look priggish.

An Evangelical would view Craig as a guy who let his urges get the better of him. That's human. Most of us weak. God forgives. Nuff said...

We draw a much larger picture including an assumed betrayel of his marriage.. which considering the open marriages I recall in some UU Churches back in the 70s; it's odd we automatically assume Craig was betraying his...

Without buying all the Christian doctrine on orignal sin, I think those Evangelicals may simply have a deeper appreciaton of human nature.

Steve Caldwell said...


My criticism of Senator Craig isn't that he somehow violated his marriage vows (he may have an open marriage or there may be other factors in his marriage that we don't know about).

My criticism of Senator Craig and other GOP politicians who vote against marriage equality for all, employment anti-discrimination for all, etc is they are hypocrites.

Tom Toles (Washington Post editorial cartoonist) has provided an excellent visual summary of this tendency in the GOP for closeted gay or bi men to hurt other BGLT persons through legislation. I've posted the cartoon on my blog:

It's also discussed on the Daily Show clip where Jon Stewart talks about Florida Rep. Bob Allen talks about his reasons for offering a cop oral sex:

Personally, I don't think our cops should be staking out restrooms and arresting folks for consensual behavior.

But the current public policy of staking out restrooms does illustrate the problem that the GOP has created for themselves. A politically conservative in the USA is left with three unsatisfactory choices:

(1) join a political party (GOP) where you can have an impact in the world through public policies that you agree on but cannot express your sexuality openly

(2) join a political party (Democrats) where you can be out of the closet as gay or bi but you have to endure liberal politics that you disagree with

(3) join a political party that promotes conservatism and accepts your sexuality but find yourself marginalized to irrelevance (Libertarians)

Bill Baar said...

My criticism of Senator Craig and other GOP politicians who vote against marriage equality for all, employment anti-discrimination for all, etc is they are hypocrites.

I know!

And I find that distrubing.

Sexual Ethics and the public policy derviced from them should be judged by something a bit more objective than how practice squares with profession...

...because it leads to a very bad inversion of thinking a bad sexual ethics is ok if expressed by someone who's not a hypocrite.

We end up with, for example, stuff such as, as long as one is honest and open and "it leaves no one harmed" the sex is OK...

I think it can lead to very destructive behavior. I've seen it happen... go to most congregations that survived the 70s and ask around and you'll hear their stories.

If we applied such standards to John Edwards lifestyle and stands on poverty, he'd have to drop out of the race... same thing really.

Joel Monka said...

Steve, you are wrong as far as restrooms are concerned. In an ideal world, it would be no biggie- but in the world we actually live in, what follows is this: once a public venues like that becomes known as a sexual meet and greet, the prostitutes arrive. shortly thereafter, because most prostitutes- male or female- are drug addicts, the drug dealers arrive. Once the dealers are there, the other sorts of addicts/criminals arrive- aggressive panhandlers, purse snatching and car breakins in the parking lot. Families stay away in droves, businesses suffer or even go under.

I've watched that process occur over and over again here in Indianapolis- Glendale Mall and Holiday Park spring to mind- and it happens amazingly fast, sometimes in a matter of weeks. Any airport or mall or truckstop manager that doesn't call for police stings in time can start a spiral the neighborhood will not recover from for a long time.

It has nothing to do with homosexuality per se- anything that draws the attention of prostitutes of any persuasion creates this cycle. I'm sure that if our culture was comfortable with mixed sex bathrooms, we'd get both male and female prostitues hanging out in them. And if we did, the cycle I described would happen twice as fast. That is why they have police stings in public restrooms.

Joel Monka said...

P.S. Steve- you are absolutely right about the dilemna old-style conservatives are in. I'm against Republican lifestyle policies, against Democratic economic policies, and the Libertarian is talking about looney things like eliminating the federal Reserve Bank. *sigh*

fausto said...

I have no problem supporting laws that prohibit sexual overtures and other lewd behavior in public restrooms.

Period. Hetero- or homo-, it makes no difference. We're not "Porky's Nation" and shouldn't aspire to be. Your right to "express you sexuality", whatever it may be, stops at the partition to my toilet or shower stall. My right to "express my sexuality" stops at the partition to yours. And I have no problem with police stings to enforce that principle.

Craig was caught up in such a sting and pleaded guilty. End of debate. So let the chips fall where they may.

As for his alleged but unproved sexual orientation, he's entitled to it, whatever it is. But if he publicly advocates legal restrictions on sexuality that he himself practices in private, he's the worst kind of hypocrite.

From Christianity we learn that Jesus didn't condemn homosexuality, but he did reserve his worst vitriol for hypocrites. And from Hinduism we learn that karma can be a bitch.

Bill Baar said...

From Christianity we learn that Jesus didn't condemn homosexuality...

He expressed some thoughts on marriage and adultry though Matthew 19.

Are we going to call Divorced Christians hypocrites for it?

Many times Public life wrecks one's private life.

Why skewer officals over it and then drag their failures into the policy debate?

It's a nasty habit of ours.

Edward's wealth, lifestyle, and dual SUV's prohibits him for speaking on poverty?

Gore's home's carbon foot print renders him silent on ecology?

The same go for sexual ethics.

Bill Baar said... are absolutely right about the dilemna old-style conservatives are in...

They don't think so.

They'll purge anyone who doesn't practice a sexual ethic to a T.

Don't think Democrat's will be immune from it either with this kind of moralism.

This is Liberals forcing an unforgivingness the unforgiving will gladely enforce.

fausto said...

He expressed some thoughts on marriage and adultry though Matthew 19.

Are we going to call Divorced Christians hypocrites for it?

Well, I've only been married once, I'm still married, and I don't. As St. Paul reminds us in Romans 3:23, in one way or another "all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." The hypocrisy Jesus objected to was the pious public kind, not the private lapses in living up to a high moral standard that we all experience.

With that in mind, there are a few candidates for the GOP Presidential nomination whose marital status I do not disparage, but who better not take any public positions to restrict the availabilty of divorce or the civil rights of divorcees. If they did, they'd absolutely be fair game.

PG said...


But what is the forgiveness that these sinners actually seek? You claim that evangelicals would see this as a moment of weakness to which humans, as sinful creatures, are all subject. Then why is the only person who has semi-conceded that he did the deed -- Vitter, the allegedly diaper-wearing prostitute patronizer -- a person in a purely heterosexual scandal? Vitter could half-admit that he'd used female prostitutes, but apparently none of the Republicans caught soliciting homosexual sex can confess to it. That's because of the limit of the evangelicals' touted forgiveness: gay is not OK. Someone who gives into temptation to have sex with strangers of the opposite sex is just human; someone who has given in to the temptation to have sex with strangers of the same sex has committed the sin that dare not speak its name.

Vitter sounds like he would accept the legal punishment for his crime. Craig and Allen both told the arresting cops that they were elected officials, and then claimed that they weren't really committing the crime and it was all a misunderstanding.

Regardless of morality, Craig's pleading guilty without advice of counsel marks him as simply too stupid to be trusted with being a senator. And Allen's "fear of the black man made me do it" defense doesn't show an admirable level of good sense either.

Bill Baar said...

I think Vitter will go. Hugh Hewitt's called for the ..."ruthless purge" of Republican pols with ethical baggage. via Deb Saunders.

What troubles me more is what Peter Wehner sees. I see it too and just don't write of it as neatly as he does,

Some people see hypocrisy and get upset because people are not living up to moral standards they champion. Others see hypocrisy and get angry because the people who are hypocrites are advocating moral standards. The difference is huge. One cast of mind says that so long as you’re not publicly arguing for a set of moral values, then it’s more acceptable to cross lines and do what you want.

We're quick to call the hypocrite and slow to advance the standard. (And that's strange because the congregations I've belonged too taught a standard in owl classes).

I saw the same collapse with UU's on Torture when O'Riley (who seems to like UUs as he invites us) had the UU minister associated with the BillBoards in Conn on Gitmo.

O'Riley asked her ok, if we have the Geneva Convention of only asking Name, Rank, and Serial number at one end of the spectrum, and all out torture at the other, where do we draw the line as to what can be coerced from enemy combatants who fight outside the Geneva Rules and yet our Humanity would forbid we torture: so were is the intermediate space were we can coerce... or should we only ask name, rank, serial num... and the poor UU minister couldn't articulate any standard.. any criteria.

We can be totally useless for giving a working standard yet quick to find hypocrites who can't live up to theirs.

It's a strange reaction from Leaders in a Church which I find in practice does a pretty good job of teaching standards to their youth and applying them in congregational life.

We can get all worked up over marriage equality yet can't define the boundaries of what marriages should be discriminated against (and the only reason to license marriage is to forbid some kinds of them).

We just wimp out really and its tragic and I think destructive.

PG said...

One of my problems with people who advance one belief in public and practice another in private is that they tend to depend on their privileged position to protect them. Hence the "hey, I'm an elected official!" reaction from these Republicans who get arrested. Also, if I advance a position -- for example, that it's not optimal to have unprotected sex -- but also admit publicly that I have made this mistake, then I'm not being a hypocrite. I am admitting that I have fallen short of an ideal. (And admitting it before it's "outed.") If I advance the position that having unprotected sex should be *criminal*, and march myself down to the police station to turn myself in upon committing the crime, then I'm still not being a hypocrite because I am consistent with the position that what I did ought to be punished by law.

I don't know what's going on with UUs, but I have no trouble finding a basis on which to determine which marriages should be licensed and which should not. Those marriages that comport with our current law and policy for marriage -- none of which privileges gender -- should be licensed. Those marriages that have in the past in the U.S., and where we see them in other countries today, tended to lead to abuses of power in relationships -- adult incest, polygamy -- should not be licensed. Seems simple enough to me, but then I think mostly on a legal/policy basis and not a religious one.