Pharyngula

Ben Stein is making a new movie (Expelled, have you heard of it?) that’s supposed to be out in February, but right now he’s building the excitement by making television appearances and demonstrating that he is a raving lunatic. Yeah, this is exactly the guy I want as the spokesman for Intelligent Design creationism.

He’s defending Larry Craig. It’s promisingly incoherent, and here are his arguments, more or less in the order babbled.

  • He’s upset that the police arrested an Idaho senator when they’re supposed to be busy chasing Al Quaeda. What is it with these wingnuts? We’re supposed to suspend law and order while they look for Muslim terrorists hiding under the beds? I think I’ll go rob a bank, and when the police show up I’ll chide them for neglecting their duties in protecting the citizens of Morris from the jihad.

  • All he did was tap his foot. Yeah, right, OK. And gesture, and confess. And all Florida representative Bob Allen did was ask for sex, he didn’t actually fellate a police officer.

  • Gestapo, gestapo, gestapo, gestapo, gestapo. I call Godwin! Gestapo.

  • Homosexuality is not illegal. This is true and as it should be, but this is coming from the fellow who sneered at the Democrats as the party of homosexuals, and equated homosexuality with pedophilia (but it’s OK—some of his best friends are gay.) Craig wasn’t arrested for being gay, he was arrested for soliciting.

    It is not only legal, but widely approved by all Republicans, that heterosexual men have sex with their wives. Still, I think if my Trophy Wife™ and I were in the mood next time we were traveling and found a quiet place in the airport to get wild together, the airport police would have legitimate grounds for arresting and fining us for inappropriate behavior.

    I would, of course, immediately tell the Gestapo that they should be searching for Al Quaeda instead of disturbing fornicating heterosexual couples, which is perfectly legal in America. It also sounds like it would be more fun than robbing a bank.

  • This is a trumped up attempt by the executive branch to change the balance of power in the senate. All I can assume with this remark is that former Nixon speechwriter Ben Stein is jealous that the current Republican in the Oval Office seems to be doing a much better job of undermining the Constitution than his favorite president. But even there, Craig is a Republican rubberstamper, and Bush is a Republican, and this arrest is most embarrassing to the Republican party. Maybe he should have saved this argument for when Hillary takes office and starts shipping the Republican senators off to work camps in the Alaskan oil fields.

Now I’m looking forward to his movie even more. A googly-eyed gnome with a monotone accusing people of gestapo tactics has already had his screen test, and it flopped.

Comments

  1. #1 Zeno
    September 1, 2007

    Ben Stein has spent decades trying to justify and explain away the criminal excesses of the Nixon administration (of which he was a part). I think the effort snapped his brain (if, indeed, a broken brain wasn’t a prerequisite for working in the Nixon administration). All of his noisy babbling is the same: incoherent, illogical, and obstreperous. A lovely combination.

  2. #2 Narc
    September 1, 2007

    I have to totally disagree. The Minnesota police absolutely should be looking for Osama bin Laden. Assuming, of course, that he’s hiding out in a Minneapolis Starbucks or something.

  3. #3 Protobiochemist
    September 1, 2007

    “Al Quaeda; because nobody fears communists anymore”.

  4. #4 Dante
    September 1, 2007

    I sincerely hope you take apart Stein’s movie, when it’s released, in the same point by point manner. Immensely entertaining.

  5. #5 Corey Schlueter
    September 1, 2007

    The former senator Craig keeps saying that he is not gay. Maybe, he is bisexual?

  6. #6 lc
    September 1, 2007

    Well, in this instance I have to pretty much agree with Stein. What shocked me about the arrest was that it was made.

    I do think it fair to ask if it is a reasonable use of a limited police force, even ignoring the “in this world of terrorists hiding behind every tree” to station officers in public bathrooms solely to arrest men looking for sex.

    As far as I can tell, Craig didn’t approach a child, didn’t solicit a prostitute, did not have sex in public (I am assuming that, had the officer not been a cop, the actual acts would have taken place either in a stall or somewhere else).

    Why men of any stripe would want to pick up other men in a public bathroom, I don’t know. But, had Craig approached a man at the airport bar with some understood gay signal, it would (I assume) have been perfectly legal.

    PZ, you might want to ask your Trophy Wife how women respond to unsolicited whistles, propositions, etc. I think you will find that, absent physical violence or the threat of physical violence, most women can handle unwanted advances without any assistance from the local constabulary. Why men need to be protected against similar types of advances is beyond me.

  7. #7 No More Mr. Nice Guy!
    September 1, 2007

    #5: Of course Craig is bisexual. He has to buy sex.

  8. #8 Mike O'Risal
    September 1, 2007

    Stein is right that being gay isn’t illegal; it just means that one becomes a second-class citizen outside certain parts of the country and is prone to being attacked by people who, oddly enough, agree with the views promulgated by Ben Stein and other neo-cons on most things — including the view of gay rights they normally hold. Until, that is, it is more to their advantage to reverse themselves when it’s one of their own who suffers for being discovered as a homosexual.

    Of course, I could be wrong about this. Ben Stein could surprise me and come out as an advocate for equal rights, protections and privileges for homosexuals under federal law. I won’t hold my breath on that one.

  9. #9 cm
    September 1, 2007

    He’s upset that the police arrested an Idaho senator when they’re supposed to be busy chasing Al Quaeda. What is it with these wingnuts? We’re supposed to suspend law and order while they look for Muslim terrorists hiding under the beds? I think I’ll go rob a bank, and when the police show up I’ll chide them for neglecting their duties in protecting the citizens of Morris from the jihad.

    To be fair, the “don’t you have better things to do?” response to police is a common one, used by people of any political stripe, when they think the arrest was not warranted in light of more pressing concerns. Airports are among the most “nervous” public places in America in terms of worries of terrorism, and so it is not unreasonable to question whether police priorities are jumbled if they are delegating manpower to busting gay sex in airport bathrooms. More to the point, if you woke up tomorrow as the police chief in charge of the Minneapolis Airport, and had to choose between a greater terrorist security detail or a greater gay cruising detail, where would you assign your men. All policing should have an element of “crime triage”.

    All he did was tap his foot. Yeah, right, OK. And gesture, and confess. And all Florida representative Bob Allen did was ask for sex, he didn’t actually fellate a police officer.

    Asking about oral sex is explicit has no chance of being misinterpreted. The events described in Craig’s case, though certainly odd, are not at the same level of public affront. For example, if it had been you in that stall and Craig’s foot hit yours and you saw his hand, you would have just said, “Uhh…are you OK in there?”, he would have stopped (realizing you were not a gay cruiser), and that would have been it and you would have shared this odd little moment with others, not even realizing you had been hit up for gay sex. Based on what I read, I think it is fairly likely that Craig was trawling for action, but fairly likely it different than criminal intent. It is arguable that the police should have waited until a more explicit statement or action happened before busting him, and this way there would be no question of his intent. His signing a confession of guilt, though legally damning, doesn’t convince me of his guilt, though, as I can easily understand wanting to simply put something like this behind him and dispatching it expediently that way (or so he thought).

  10. #10 Elaine
    September 1, 2007

    He’s defending Larry Craig. It’s promisingly incoherent, and here are his arguments, more or less in the order babbled.

    I am so pleased that the recent legal unpleasantness didn’t apparently exercise any chilling effect on your expression.

  11. #11 catofmanyfaces
    September 1, 2007

    I thought that Craig had actually been a part of passing a law that made this sort of bathroom cruising illegal.

    I mean, i’m not sure, but i thought that was part of the delicious irony.

  12. #12 Albatrossity
    September 1, 2007

    More to the point, if you woke up tomorrow as the police chief in charge of the Minneapolis Airport, and had to choose between a greater terrorist security detail or a greater gay cruising detail, where would you assign your men. All policing should have an element of “crime triage”.

    In all seriousness, I believe that republican senators have done more damage to this country in recent years than can be attributed to terrorists.

  13. #13 El Cid
    September 1, 2007

    I think it’s great that a few Republicans are now thinking about their inherent Constitutional rights and maintaining checks on police authority.

    I think it’s very important that prominent Republican politicians and spokesman personally experience the sorts of police surveillance, unexplained arrests, and unchecked police authority for which they have so passionately argued for the past 6 years if not longer.

    Under Republican standards, Craig could simply have been disappeared from the Minneapolis airport to a detention facility in another country, without his family’s knowledge and with no access to an attorney or to a court, and all would be justified as long as police said that they thought that maybe Craig had information related to terrorism.

    Making arguments from logic, evidence, and principle is not appreciated by Republicans.

    Having Republican leaders directly experience the negative consequences of their own policies may be the only thing that can help them halt their ‘unitary executive’ policies.

  14. #14 anthropicOne
    September 1, 2007

    I’m not defending Craig by *any* means. However, I would not be the least bit surprised if these cops indeed had some other agenda. I have *never* met a cop who wasn’t some power-hungry Nazi. This is even evident from the interview (the cop is clearly on a power trip).

    I’ve worked with cops. My wife treated cops on a psych unit (75% were borderline personality disorder and comprised the largest segment of all patients at this major medical center in Chicago). So there is no love lost there. However, it has nothing to do with Craig’s guilt or innocence. And who cares anyway?

    As to Stein, I confess to buying some finance books authored by him. Don’t ask. Seemed like a pretty good idea at the time. I’m a complete moron. I feel like burning them in protest. He’s sinking to a new low IMHO.

  15. #15 PZ Myers
    September 1, 2007

    If I were a police officer, and someone was acting oddly and gesturing in a way familiar to those minority of gay men who cruise bathrooms, I’d be obligated to arrest the guy…especially if, as Craig was doing, he was subsequently clearly trying to lie his way out of it. Giving him a fine and no jail time seems to me to have been a perfectly appropriate way to discourage a kind of victimless crime, but also an activity that doesn’t belong in public spaces.

    It’s also silly to call this, as some have, an attempt to torment Republican politicians. I never heard of Craig before this, I wouldn’t recognize him if he were five feet in front of me, and I suspect that the police officer knew nothing about him, either…other than that here’s another traveler in a suit trying to play kinky games in the airport restroom.

  16. #16 Carlie
    September 1, 2007

    also an activity that doesn’t belong in public spaces.

    I’m afraid I disagree with you on this one, PZ. The activity was solicitation of sex, not the sex itself. Are you saying that solicitation doesn’t belong in public spaces? Then every time a guy uses a stupid pick-up line on someone, he’d be arrested. Not that that wouldn’t be a good thing in some cases, but still. What he did was hit on the wrong person. He didn’t offer money (prostitution), he wasn’t aggressive (attempted rape), he tried what was basically a nonverbal pick-up line, and one that was more subtle than most, because anyone who wasn’t part of that subculture wouldn’t even understand it. Nothing says that they would have then engaged in hot and heavy sex right there in the men’s room. How does the cop know that he didn’t have a hotel room waiting?

    I’m all for the fact that he’s been hoist on his own petard, given that he’s been at the forefront of making homosexual encounters something to be prosecuted, but I can’t agree with the concept that what he did was indeed morally wrong.

  17. #17 anthropicOne
    September 1, 2007

    “If I were a police officer, and someone was acting oddly and gesturing in a way familiar to those minority of gay men who cruise bathrooms, I’d be obligated to arrest the guy.”

    With all the crap we have to go through in airports post 9/11, is this really the best use of law enforcement? Gimme a break. It’s like the idiots who pull someone over for doing 10 mph over the speed limit when a block away 1 out of every 10 cars runs a red light.

    Of course lewd public behavior should not be tolerated and should be enforced. But somehow this smack of misguided priorities to me. If this is an issue, airports should modify the structural environment to end the problem. Thi is a design problem, pure and simple.

  18. #18 Carlie
    September 1, 2007

    …And think of it this way: if he had been two feet outside of the bathroom, and propositioned a woman instead of a man, would he have been arrested? Of course not. In fact, a woman who walked up to a police officer and demanded that the guy who just propositioned her should be arrested would be laughed out of the airport. At the bottom of it all, the “crime” here was simply being gay. I thought we were at least past that point by now.

  19. #19 cureholder
    September 1, 2007

    Not having been in the bathroom at the time of the incident, obviously, I cannot be sure what did or did not happen. I am not familiar with gay subcultures (or straight ones, really), and so I had no idea that such “signaling” exists.

    Putting myself in a parallel situation to that of Mr. Craig, I imagine myself walking down a street, whistling to myself. I am arrested for trying to purchase drugs. It turns out that in that particular neighborhood, all drug buyers signal their intent by whistling, which of course, I have no idea about, not being part of that culture. I was just whistling because I am a happy guy, and the “knowledge” of that culture cannot reasonably be attributed to me without further evidence of intent. Any defense lawyer worth his JD could win that case.

    Thus, an innocent act can be interpreted as intent to commit a crime, just as in the Craig case. It is POSSIBLE (I could even say “likely”) that a person could accidentally tap his foot against his neighbor’s in an adjacent stall (I am 6’2″ and can relate to the small-stall issue). Not having been there, I cannot speak to how much tapping there was, whether Craig instigated it, whether he picked up a piece of paper or was signaling under the wall, etc.

    It is clear the police officer is lying in at least one respect (claiming he saw Craig’s LEFT hand, with wedding ring, under the RIGHT wall of the stall, something that is well-night impossible for a big man sitting on a toilet in such a stall. I tried it yesterday (next to empty stalls) in public restrooms in the Los Angeles and Chicago Midway airports (thus risking my Senate career), and couldn’t even come close to doing it—and I am much more flexible than I imagine Craig is at his age.

    So it appears both sides are shading the facts toward themselves, and that Craig’s actions could be entirely innocent or entirely not. In that case, Mr. Senator, HIRE A LAWYER and FIGHT THE CHARGES. Pleading guilty and hoping it will go away only makes it look as if you have something to hide, and makes the outcome easily predictable.

  20. #20 ChrisD
    September 1, 2007

    Sex isn’t the only thing public cruisers get. They also get the rush at the thought that what they are doing is wrong and they may get caught. For better or worse sex in public is illegal. Take that into account and that cruising in a public place like a restroom or a park means that the encounter happens in the same spot more often than not and you have soliciting to engage in lewd or indecent acts in public.

    If his intention were to take the man back to a hotel room then that could have been taken into account. No, he pleaded guilty to this crime because he knew it was what he was doing. A man educated in politics should KNOW that in the judicial system a plea of guilty means you confess to the crimes you are accused of and that being a politician this would be public. He also should know that a crime committed in office is grounds for impeachment. Just who the hell were his history and law professors that they didn’t mention that to him? Shame on them for misleading him to think that a plea of guilty would just blow over.

    Anyone who falls for the arguments that this is a prosecution of gay sex is simply falling for the framing of the republicans.

  21. #21 Carlie
    September 1, 2007

    Falling for the framing of the Republicans? They aren’t framing, they can’t get away from him fast enough. They attacked him like sharks on a dead whale and got him out of office within a week. If anyone can be counted on NOT to say that prosecution of gay sex is overzealous, it’s Republicans. I think it’s a lot more telling that they’ve circled the wagons around senators caught doing just about everything else illegal under the sun, but as soon as teh gay is involved, they cut and run.

  22. #22 ChrisD
    September 1, 2007

    Ignoring the fact that there are think-tanks engaged in mole operations providing public memes for discussion, you may be right Carlie. But anyone who tries to make this a gay sex issue has missed the obvious crime intentionally, and what are we to say about Democrats then that support the prosecution of this fine albeit confused gentleman? That THEY are then the hypocrites. It’s simply spin.

  23. #23 Carlie
    September 1, 2007

    I think you’re right, the spin on both sides on this has been huge. My basic point, though, is that what he did seems to me to be on the far end of the curve in terms of being either illegal or wrong. If anything, the policeman jumped the gun by arresting him before he was positive of what was being “discussed”. As it is it looks to me to be more prosecution of a thought crime, a la …oh, crap, you know, that stupid movie where everybody gets arrested before they actually do anything wrong. If he had instead waited to find out the exact terms of solicitation before springing the arrest I’d be less uncomfortable with it.

  24. #24 dorid
    September 1, 2007

    I think the problem comes in with the term “solicitation”. Since gay sex isn’t a crime and it appears Craig was looking for a blow job, I don’t see how it could be solicitation unless when he ran his hand under the stall wall he had a $20 bill in it.

    There is (or should be) a legal difference between “cruising” and “solicitation”. Certainly I’d say gays have the same right to pick up a potential lover in a public place as any straight.

    Much as I hate to admit it, I think Craig got a bum deal. Yeah, I’m terribly amused that another conservative Republican wing nut is shown to be a totally hypocrite and a little less than morally upright, but that doesn’t make what happened right.

  25. #25 anthropicOne
    September 1, 2007

    Was it jumping the gun or simply a compulsion to arrest someone? I’m sure this wasn’t some rookie cop. And assuming this was a seasoned cop (who would have known to wait a bit longer just to be sure), what other possible motivation could there be for the arrest at that point in time?

    Again, this just feels fishy to me. Personally, I’d be interested to see this cop’s arrest/prosecution record.

  26. #26 maybe24tea
    September 1, 2007

    Why are the masses so obsessed with SEX?! We have issues (murder, legalized torture, and legalized slavery, i.e., NAFTA, WTO, etc., which affect all of humanity.

    Why is it that SEXUALITY, SEX ACTS, FORNICATION, and anything to do with sex as seemingly LEGAL ADULTS has once again taken over! Why are so many in this world obsessed with SEX?!

    Why are people so obsessed with SEX?! So many profess they are atheists, so many profess they are socialists, so many profess they are humanists … but yet, these very same people seem to be as obsessed with SEX as much as those who profess to be christians, muslims, jews, etc.

    HETEROSEXUALITY, HOMOSEXUALITY, BISEXUALITY…

    sex, sex, sex, sex

    Come on, people!

    Your CHILDREN of the world, your progeny, your future humanity, are being tortured and enslaved and murdered for what? Your latest bargain at Target or Wal-Mart or K-Mart or Whole Foods or Lowe’s or McDonald’s or Jiffy Lube or Walgreen’s or …

    And you feel the need to purport sexual preferences by endorsing outdated, outmoded, and ineffectual SEX laws?! as well as reporting on them?! as well as NOT confronting this idea?!

    Why is no one screaming for equal HEALTHCARE?! against corporate GREED?! comprehensive EDUCATION?! and FREE media?!

    Why is EVERYONE so obsessed with sex?!

  27. #27 Mena
    September 1, 2007

    I agree that it’s kinda weird that this was as big of a deal as it was and yet Vitter still has a job. Isn’t prostitution a crime too?

  28. #28 True Bob
    September 1, 2007

    One of the political blogs I follow is run by a gay man, and so has a high proportion of gay commenters. What I read as a translation of those signs, was that the hand along the partition signal basically means “present your penis, I’ll go to town”. That’s not the same as “let’s go to my place” or “what’s you name, handsome”. Other, “hookup”, blogs not only identified this restroom as a place to meet, but also noted that the cops had been staking it out.

    Craig was about to have sex in a public bathroom. Think of the children! I agree with the entire innocent until proven guilty concept – durned important. The fact that he plead guilty means he was asked if he understood what he was pleading to. I have no sympathy AT ALL for him. Public sex is not appropriate. Period.

    It’s too bad that gay men like him (straight men who have sex with men) feel so oppressed that he can’t be publicly gay, but anonymous public sex? Talk about risky.

    And as far as Mr Wide Stance goes, drop your pants and see if you can get your feet into the stalls on both sides of you. If he could spread his feet that far, his pants were OFF.

  29. #29 John Hynes
    September 1, 2007

    You cannot fornicate with your wife, by definition.

  30. #30 Tatarize
    September 1, 2007

    I loved how Ben Stein said they did it to change the balance of power. In reality they demanded that he resign because he would be replaced with a Republican. Whereas when Vitter got popped, his replacement would be a Democrat.

  31. #31 wildcardjack
    September 1, 2007

    Ahem…

    Crazy or not, I’ve still made about $200 off reselling used books written by him. Most of them unread.

    Yes, I’m the bad atheist book dealer that makes about 30% of his income selling Christian / New Ager books. But I delight in the irony. Those purchases support an infidel.

    And I get a lot of books from Christian run thrift stores. I don’t support the “something for nothing” nature of most charity, but I love the something for something nature of a charitable thrift store. Especially since they are a sorta dumping ground for people that are too lazy to have a garage sale.

  32. #32 garth
    September 1, 2007

    All other considerations aside, the dude’s in a high public office on a platform touting the opposite of what he was doing in the restroom at the airport. He’s out.

  33. #33 Christian Carlsson
    September 1, 2007

    “Homosexuality is not illegal. This is true and as it should be, but this is coming from the fellow who sneered at the Democrats as the party of homosexuals, and equated homosexuality with pedophilia (but it’s OK–some of his best friends are gay.) Craig wasn’t arrested for being gay, he was arrested for soliciting.”

    Mark Foley is not a peadophile. He’s either a homosexual teleiophile or a homosexual ephebophile (depends of which age he prefers the most). As for “equating” homosexuality with paedophilia, what about it? That remark makes you the conservative, obviously some sexual preferences are more equal than others.

  34. #34 LeeLeeOne
    September 1, 2007

    To: Dude….

    Why is he OUT of office? any more than GONZALEZ? any more than REGAN?

    Any more than Clinton?

    Any more than Nixon?

    Any more than Kennedy?

    Any more than Roosevelt?

    Any more than . . .

    Anyone, anywhere, any belief or NONbelief… why the obsession with sexuality?

    ok – so as a society we expect our elected officials to hold to honor the current laws that are in place, and to some of those during their ‘tenure’ enacted.

    BUT SEX?!

    Why are so many, on ANY side of ANY political spectrum willing to argue and condemn another of their same species for a sex act?

    SEX

    SEX?!

    What the hell does sex between any legally consenting species have to do with ANYTHING?!

    It’s none of anyones’ business!

    I find it amazing that people are willing to allow laws to continue where the death penalty is concerned with nary an argument much less a peep; yet they will voice their opinions and allow their tax dollars to be spent where SEX is concerned.

    hmmmmm?

  35. #35 CJ
    September 1, 2007

    First this was an out of the way restroom at the airport – how far out of the way relative to Craig’s flight I don’t know and it’s something I would have asked the senator in the interview if I were the cop.

    Also, when Craig responded “you solicited me”, I would have said, really, how so? The cop is an idiot but Craig’s denials are simply not credible.

    Should the cop have let Craig go further before he pulled the plug on his sting? As one Idahoan who’s been waiting for this dishonest, hypocritical and all around mean guy to be taken down – I wish he had. Did he have enough for an arrest – based on the statute and the circumstances I’d say, yes.

    Further, the sting operation was initiated based on consumer complaints about activities specifically in that bathroom. Somewhere in the coverage I also read about the discovery of internet advertisement of this particular site (restroom) for the express purpose of gay males hooking up. So, when they get a tip about al Queda I’m sure they’ll follow it up. [Actually they did – at least a local FBI agent in August of 2001]

    A very young cop (and not a particularly effective interrogator) has a powerful person who’s already insisting he needs to catch his flight, he gets pissed because he’s trying to do this guy a favor and move him along and he expects the guy to have the decency to make an honest statement.

    Craig insists “I’m not going to fight you” – of course he’s not, he knows he’s been caught red-handed. The cop, exasperated says, “that’s not the point” … indeed.

    His show of his senate ID card was an attempt at intimidation – maybe that has something to do with the cop’s attitude as well.

    As far as it being clear that the officer lied because he stated it was Craig’s left hand – all I can say is that you (cureholder) must be one inflexible person – I wouldn’t have any trouble crossing over with my opposite hand and, for medical reasons, am at the least flexible of my life. Craig is not a big guy, either.

    All that aside, should he have been mowed over as he has been? No, and if this were about the crime – he would not have been.

    None of the Republicans are asking for Vitter’s head on a platter but first of all he’s not gay and secondly, he comes from a state with a Democratic governor.

    It’s about two things – hating homos and having power. Do I feel bad for Craig … not one iota. He helped create the atmosphere that lead to his downfall.

  36. #36 Tiax
    September 1, 2007

    My favorite part is that people from Idaho are too simple to understand our legal system.

  37. #37 Mike Crichton
    September 1, 2007

    cureholder

    It is clear the police officer is lying in at least one respect (claiming he saw Craig’s LEFT hand, with wedding ring, under the RIGHT wall of the stall, something that is well-night impossible for a big man sitting on a toilet in such a stall.

    Um, isn’t the RIGHT side of the cop’s stall the LEFT side of the adjoining one? Unless we’re talking about the new non-euclidean stalls, in which case he was probably attempting a ritual to summon something squamous and rugose…

    Pleading guilty and hoping it will go away only makes it look as if you have something to hide, and makes the outcome easily predictable.

    When issuing these sorts of tickets, the cops count on the fact that most closet-cases would much rather pay the fine than go to court, even if they would almost certainly win the case if they did so. Same reason why out-of-state drivers are more likely to be ticketed, except they’re relying on the fear of public exposure, rather than mere inconvenience.

  38. #38 Rob
    September 1, 2007

    One reason I think it is a problem is because it is in a bathroom, where people have a little more expectation of not being hit upon while their pants are down. Not so much an issue with men hitting on women, which can’t usually happen in restrooms.

    As to the argument that this is “taking police away from going after terrorists/muggers/etc”, that just doesn’t make sense. If it happened on sept 12, 2001, sure. But since then we’ve had plenty of time to hire and train new police, raise salaries in order to get more, raise taxes to pay them, and whatever. There isn’t a fixed limit of the amount of resources we as a society can put into policing.

    So the only issue is whether it is worth the money, completely independent of fighting terrorism or “more important things”. Unless you think that we, as a society, shouldn’t be spending money building a new shopping mall, buying SUV’s, or making golf courses, until terrorism is solved, the argument doesn’t make sense.

  39. #39 Liane
    September 1, 2007

    Didn’t the charge have to do with peeping (rather more intrusive than mere propositioning, if true, imo) rather than the famous “wide stance” / foot-tapping per se?

  40. #40 Greg Laden
    September 1, 2007

    My understanding is that this police sting … seeking out Republicans and arresting them … is part of a Minneapolis Police Training Op to prepare for when the Republican National Convention comes to town.

    Those smarmy, icky Republicans can go to Saint Paul if they really need to, but they better not cross the line into the big city.

    Let this be a warning to them. We don’t cotton to their kind ’round here.

  41. #41 Jon H
    September 1, 2007

    cm wrote: ” More to the point, if you woke up tomorrow as the police chief in charge of the Minneapolis Airport, and had to choose between a greater terrorist security detail or a greater gay cruising detail, where would you assign your men. ”

    Given that the police were responding to complaints about the bathroom, and there had been no complaints about terrorists in Minneapolis’ airport, I think the bathroom sting is justifiable.

    Don’t be such a scaredy cat. Oooh! Terrorists!

  42. #42 Jon H
    September 1, 2007

    “Unless we’re talking about the new non-euclidean stalls, in which case he was probably attempting a ritual to summon something squamous and rugose…”

    Well, as it is, if he wasn’t lucky he might have gotten something like that.

  43. #43 Jon H
    September 1, 2007

    carlie wrote: “Nothing says that they would have then engaged in hot and heavy sex right there in the men’s room. How does the cop know that he didn’t have a hotel room waiting?”

    How could he have a hotel room when he had a plane to catch?

    Don’t play stupid. He was angling for some quick, anonymous sex in the bathroom, the bathroom was known as a place where that occurred, and they had probably caught other people in the act, as well as other people using similar signals.

  44. #44 Grumpy
    September 1, 2007

    If we assume that bathroom stalls are “public places,” shouldn’t the police be arresting people for public defecation??

  45. #45 Bad
    September 1, 2007

    Ben Stein is a raving conspiracy-nut, and I’m not sad to see Craig go down (though it’s Vitter that deserves it: he did a lot more than play footsie), but that doesn’t mean that we have to think that the officer in question here was a saint either.

    As I read the police report and the interrogation, the officer had no prosecutable case against Craig, and basically got him to plead to a bogus charge by threatening to out and embarrass him.

    I don’t necessarily feel sorry for Craig (though it’s clear that in such a situation, he had no choice but to plead whether or not he was actually guilty), but as police work, that’s sort of despicable, and not the sort of conduct I want to see from law enforcement. Get the evidence to nail someone the right way.

  46. #46 Dan
    September 2, 2007

    Pleading guilty and hoping it will go away only makes it look as if you have something to hide, and makes the outcome easily predictable.

    Posted by: cureholder

    Heh.. heh…

  47. #47 Interrobang
    September 2, 2007

    He’s upset that the police arrested an Idaho senator when they’re supposed to be busy chasing Al Quaeda.

    Since when do right-wingers think terrorism is a law-enforcement issue?!

    Every other time they talk about it, it’s a “war,” to be handled by the military. (Right up to Orrin Hatch, who said, on September 11, 2001, that the attacks were “an act of war.” To which I screamed at the tv, “No, you idiot, they were an international crime.” Which isn’t convenient if you have a country you’ve got your teeth fixed to invade, I guess…)

  48. #48 cm
    September 2, 2007

    Given that the police were responding to complaints about the bathroom, and there had been no complaints about terrorists in Minneapolis’ airport, I think the bathroom sting is justifiable.

    Don’t be such a scaredy cat. Oooh! Terrorists!

    God, you’re right! I’ve been living in fear! THANK YOU JOHN H., I HAVE MY LIFE BACK AGAIN!

  49. #49 Wally Hartshorn
    September 2, 2007

    To me, the most convincing evidence that Craig is in fact gay was his reaction to being arrested. His immediate reaction wasn’t, “What the heck are you talking about?” Afterwards, when he saw his wife, he didn’t say, “You’ll never believe what happened to me today!” He tried to keep it a secret FROM HIS WIFE.

    If he were arrested over a misunderstanding, he would have been flabbergasted when talking with the cop and would definitely have shared the story with his wife. He wasn’t and didn’t. He’s gay.

    There’s not many data points to go on, but the pattern seems to be that public figures who make a REALLY big deal about homosexuality being a sin (e.g. Ted Haggard) are turning out to be closet homosexuals. So… Who can we expect to show up in the news next?

  50. #50 raven
    September 2, 2007

    As much as I despise lying wingnuts like Craig, I’m going to have to say he probably didn’t commit a crime. He propositioned some guy in a bathroom nonverbally. It is rude, tacky, annoying, sleazy, and just a bit pathetic but so what? Those aren’t crimes either.

    IMO, if he went to court he would have beaten the rap. If they convicted everyone who ever hit on someone, everyone in the USA would be in jail except for a few priests and televangelists. Oops, there wouldn’t be many of those either, LOL.

    Who actually convicted Craig was himself. As a public Death cultist he had to hate gays and he was publically your typical homophobe. In private it is obvious he was driven by his sexuality to rather tawdry, dangerous, activities in public restrooms. Even if he contested it in court and won, he would have outed himself as a lying hypocrit and not a true Death cultist who walks the walk. He is a victim of his own ideology and his own lies. As the book he pretends to believe says, “As you sow, so shall you reap.” Not going to shed any tears over this one.

  51. #51 Glen Davidson
    September 2, 2007

    Craig is being rushed out primarily for the sake of the religious right, the people instrumental in putting him in there. People can argue the niceties of arresting the man, the case, etc., but as far as the law goes it is a fairly minor “crime”, the sort that could be settled by sending in the guilty plea (to a lesser charge, yes) and the fine.

    What I like is Ben slitting his IDC throat by whining over the Craig arrest and resignation. Doesn’t the man know who’s coming to his lie-fest, Expelled…? He’s going to be claiming that we’re the Gestapo coming after the IDiots, after claiming that the cops were the Gestapo coming after Craig, when the very people who believe the former disbelieve the latter. We’ll have to keep the latest whine around to show Stein’s credibility in Expelled….

    Don’t forget that Craig is also a sometime supporter of rubbishing the First Amendment and forcing creationism into the science classes:

    http://www.pandasthumb.org/archives/2007/08/and_yet_another.html

    Yes, Ben is telling fibs in supporting his fellow creationist (we don’t know for sure if (Methodist, according to some) Craig really is a creationists, but what’s the difference, when he’s trying to put creationism into government?).

    Legally, the whole bathroom incident is a tempest in a teapot. Politically, Stein is playing the idiot. I just wish that this latest from Stein was closer to the release date of his wretched movie.

    Glen D
    http://tinyurl.com/2kxyc7

  52. #52 Glen Davidson
    September 2, 2007

    Craig is being rushed out primarily for the sake of the religious right, the people instrumental in putting him in there. People can argue the niceties of arresting the man, the case, etc., but as far as the law goes it is a fairly minor “crime”, the sort that could be settled by sending in the guilty plea (to a lesser charge, yes) and the fine.

    What I like is Ben slitting his IDC throat by whining over the Craig arrest and resignation. Doesn’t the man know who’s coming to his lie-fest, Expelled…? He’s going to be claiming that we’re the Gestapo coming after the IDiots, after claiming that the cops were the Gestapo coming after Craig, when the very people who believe the former disbelieve the latter. We’ll have to keep the latest whine around to show Stein’s credibility in Expelled….

    Don’t forget that Craig is also a sometime supporter of rubbishing the First Amendment and forcing creationism into the science classes:

    http://www.pandasthumb.org/archives/2007/08/and_yet_another.html

    Yes, Ben is telling fibs in supporting his fellow creationist (we don’t know for sure if (Methodist, according to some) Craig really is a creationists, but what’s the difference, when he’s trying to put creationism into government?).

    Legally, the whole bathroom incident is a tempest in a teapot. Politically, Stein is playing the idiot. I just wish that this latest from Stein was closer to the release date of his wretched movie.

    Glen D

  53. #53 K. Signal Eingang
    September 2, 2007

    I know it’s been said above but I’ll say it again for anyone who wasn’t paying attention —

    1: Cruising is a public nuisance because the copulation tends to happen at the same place as the solicitation, and because it creates an “atmosphere of harassment” when it’s allowed to continue. There’s a bathroom at the downtown Macy’s that’s infamous for this sort of thing, badly enough it’s been written up in the local press at least once, which I didn’t find out until *after* I had a pretty disturbing encounter in one. I’m no homophobe and certainly no prude but I think as a citizen I got a right to empty my bladder in the designated receptacle without some creep trying to steal a look.

    2: It’s not the scandal, it’s the denial. And the rank hypocrisy. And, yes, the schadenfreude, but still. If Craig were an out homosexual having consensual sex in private, I would have no problem with the dude.

    3: If you’ve got a dozen or so cruising complaints in your airport this month and less than half that number of incidents of terrorism nationwide in the last six years, then yes you should be assigning more cops to anti-cruising duty than anti-terrorism. Besides, we already have the TSA and the FBI on that beat.

    PS @ #37 – BUUUURN.

  54. #54 Dan
    September 2, 2007

    There’s not many data points to go on, but the pattern seems to be that public figures who make a REALLY big deal about homosexuality being a sin (e.g. Ted Haggard) are turning out to be closet homosexuals. So… Who can we expect to show up in the news next?

    Posted by: Wally Hartshorn

    My dream would be Pat Robertson or John Gibson at Fox. But, it’ll probably be either Fred Phelps or Dinesh D’Souza.

    Still, Robertson is pretty much the ultimate sleeper pick.

  55. #55 dveej
    September 2, 2007

    Tempest in a peepot?
    …near a peepot, anyway…
    …on a peepot, if they were sitting on them as they played out this transaction…

  56. #56 dveej
    September 2, 2007

    #53, I completely sympathize! What a pain to have some creep trying to check out your dick while you’re taking a pee! Those creeps really get in the way of all of us non-creeps who want to check out your dick, and that frustrates me just like it frustrates you!

    Maybe we (us non-creeps who want to check out your dick, and you pissers who don’t want to hold your hand over it or go into the stall) could get together and get some action going on this. How about a law: “Only non-creeps can check out the dicks of guys pissing in public”?

    Ban creeps!!!

  57. #57 dveej
    September 2, 2007

    To #53, continued:

    Also, K. (may I call you that?), your comment name is kinda hawt – smacks of German – I love a man in a uniform!!! Jawohl!

  58. #58 John C. Randolph
    September 2, 2007

    I’ve got to say that based on what I’ve heard about this case, if I were the magistrate presiding over a court where Sen. Craig was being tried for allegedly soliciting sex, I’d need rather more than a cop’s say-so to convict him.

    -jcr

  59. #59 cureholder
    September 2, 2007

    Just to clarify, according to the reports, the police officer’s stall was to the right of Craig’s stall as both faced forward. Thus, the left-hand-under-the-right-wall is virtually impossible (although some posters here assert they could easily do it, none of them claim to have ACTUALLY done it, and if they try to do it in a normal stall (with walls that go almost to the floor) while sitting on the toilet, they will discover why common sense says the cop is lying about at least this one thing.

  60. #60 craig
    September 2, 2007

    Look. Craig is a disgusting hypocrite. We all know what he was up to.

    Some of you seem to seem to be suggesting that non-aggressively hitting on someone in a public bathroom should be a crime. I would disagree. Situations of harassment aside, if someone you aren’t interested in makes a signal, you ignore them or say “no thanks.” That simple. Doesn’t matter where you are.

    There are unisex bathrooms in this world. More in eurpoe than the states. No woman will EVER be arrested for winking at a man and making hand gestures in a bathroom. Unless you’re willing to suggest that she should be, then you need to reexamine your prejudices.

    In addition, there are many places where it is illegal to have sex – and people that do have sex in those places get arrested for it. Parks, supermarkets, bars, stadiums. People also make flirtatious gestures in those places, and they don’t get arrested for it. You have to actually start having sex in those places to get arrested.

    What did Craig do that he got arrested for? I’m not talking presumptive meaning, or supposed intent… what were his actions?

    He tapped his foot, bumped someone else’s foot, and made a hand gesture. That’s all. YES, we know what he was after, but still, those were his actions.

    Or rather, that’s what a cop says his actions were. No witnesses, just his word against a cop’s. And cops LIE. They don’t lie rarely, they don’t lie occasionally, they lie ROUTINELY. And when they lie or entrap someone on a bullshit charge they always tack on a “disturbing the peace” charge for you to cop a plea to.

    If people are having sex in the bathroom, have a cop sit in a stall and then bust anyone when the action starts. If the cop gets hit on, have him wait until the “perp” makes an actual move towards doing something illegal… sticking his head under the stall, or his butt or whatever.

    If you’re seriously arguing that you want to live in a country where you can be arrested based solely on a cop’s claim that you tapped your foot and moved your hand a certain way, please let me the fuck out. I don’t want to live in that country.

    Hypocrite, asshole, etc., doesn’t matter. Craig was busted for being gay in public.
    This is an arrest that would never have happened to a straight man hitting on a woman with signals and not offering money, even if in some subcultures the signals were meant to suggest not getting a private room.

    The standards of probable cause were lowered here because nobody is going to defend a gay man’s actions, especially in Idaho, not even the gay man himself.

  61. #61 Geral
    September 2, 2007

    The Stein interview was crazy. I can’t wait for the movie too. The only thing that he was right about is the senator being a victim. He is definitely but by his own party.

    He obviously has some personal issues to work out. He should admit to himself that maybe he is bisexual or homosexual and be honest with himself and everyone else. But the conservatives won’t stand for that, of course, and are calling for his head. He can’t be gay because to be gay you have to chose to be gay and he never chose to be gay, therefore he isn’t. I love their logic.

    This, of course, has everything to do with the next election. The senator with these allegations lost his conservative vote so it’s best for their conservative governor to replace him with someone that has a greater chance of being re-elected. If their governor was a democrat, we would of never found out about this.

    Guaranteed.

    Got to love politics.

  62. #62 noncarborundum
    September 2, 2007

    And as far as Mr Wide Stance goes, drop your pants and see if you can get your feet into the stalls on both sides of you.

    May want to check first to make sure there aren’t any Minneapolis cops nearby.

  63. #63 bernarda
    September 2, 2007

    The Minneapolis police seem to be doing a pretty good job on fighting terrorism. I haven’t heard of any terrorist attacks on their beat for a while, unless you count the Rethuglican Party destruction of the bridge through intentional lack of maintenance.

    The fact remains that Senator Craig pled guilty. So he must have recognized that there was a law and that he violated it. Maybe some of you think it is a bad law, so get it changed. I think anti-drug laws are bad, but lots of good people get sent to jail for a long time for using drugs. They are not bothering anyone, but Craig was.

    I regularly see parents not letting their kids go to public toilets alone in restaurants, parks, airports, or where ever because they don’t feel it is safe. Clearly there is a problem.

    Craig is a university graduate and did some graduate studies. He was a member of congress since 1981, and as such voted on many laws. If he doesn’t understand the law, how can we expect some poor common man or woman to understand it?

  64. #64 lunartalks
    September 2, 2007

    I look forward to Sen Craig’s comeback single a la George Michael, the video parodying his newfound sexual liberation, him cavorting with a well hung policeman. I assume Republicans have a rich sense of irony.

    I had a senior military intelligence chap on my boat, once. He said they weren’t looking for bin Laden. Too much trouble if they caught him, and he’s a bit of a knacker anyway. Probably a stiff, was his opinion.

  65. #65 Dave Wisker
    September 2, 2007

    The definition of a liberal is a conservative who just got arrested. Losing Larry Craig to the dark side is what really pisses Ben Stein off.

  66. #66 Graculus
    September 2, 2007

    For those playing the home game:

    What Craig did

    Gazing through the crack in the stall door for 2 minutes?

    Anyone that thinks that an unwanted sexual advance after such peeping would have been OK if the target was a woman is invited to be thrown into a pit of rabid mice.

  67. #67 Moses
    September 2, 2007

    Rationalize it all you want. Craig committed a crime.

  68. #68 SLC
    September 2, 2007

    The issue as to whether sting operations such as Senator Craig fell victim to are a legitimate use of law enforcement personnel is controversial. However, I think that the commentators here are missing the point. What happened was that several complaints were made to the Minneapolis and airport police concerning soliciting for sex occurring in the mens rooms at the airport. The question is, for those who oppose such sting operations, what is it that they think the police should do when numerous such complaints are received?

  69. #69 dveej
    September 2, 2007

    #68: When the police receive complaints about something, does that always mean they must do something about it?

    What if the police get complaints about the weather? (I have heard that they do.)

    IMO, the police, as well as those men who are offended by being asked for sex, should politely refuse all non-aggressive offers. That’s it. End of problem.

    What kind of country passes laws against people politely and non-aggressively asking other people to have sex with them?

    Sheesh!

  70. #70 Graculus
    September 2, 2007

    What kind of country passes laws against people politely and non-aggressively asking other people to have sex with them?

    So staring at you for 2 minutes while you are “dishabille” is “polite”?

  71. #71 Steve_C
    September 2, 2007

    Well why didn’t Mr. Craig just wait for the man to leave the bathroom and ask him out in the terminal for sex?

    The issue is that bathrooms are for public use… you don’t really have an option where you get to take a leak. You do have the option of asking for sex elsewhere.

    Gay men cruising bathrooms is a problem. Gay men cruising the terminal isn’t.

  72. #72 Moses
    September 2, 2007

    Cthulu! I swear, the more I read these comments…

    Let’s be clear: Craig solicited a police officer to have PUBLIC SEX. It’s not a fraking bar “pick-up line.” He didn’t ask the officer to go to a motel with him. He asked for CONSENTUAL PUBLIC SEX, which is a crime. All the issues of gayness or not-gayness are irrelevant. (Except for the holy rollers and wing-nuts.) And Craig obviously knew it prior to getting busted, and his conduct through-out the bust reinforced his awareness that he was engaged in criminal conduct.

    Bottom line: it’s illegal to have sex in public places. Whether you like it or not. And Craig is not the only person to be busted for solicitation and/or actual conduct.

    Also, asking someone to commit a crime is, of itself, a crime. Covering up a crime is a crime. Lying about a crime, or lying to hide a non-crime, when under oath or being investigated is a crime.

    We have these laws, whether you agree with them or not, because, in some circumstances, you can’t wait until after the crime to arrest/charge someone. And that’s a good thing. For example, I’m sure many of you, if not all, would be outraged to know that, in LA, for a while police would stake out known sex offenders and actually let women get raped so they could get a better prosecution profile against the rapist. That was a horrible thing for the police to do and they got in a huge amount of trouble for it.

    Yet here we are with the mock-outrage of “he didn’t do anything.” Sorry, that doesn’t play. We don’t let people commit crimes if we can prevent it through solicitation/conspiracy law enforcement actions. Even if it means a lesser charge.

  73. #73 JoeBuddha
    September 2, 2007

    Uh, wasn’t the point that there had been complaints about lewd conduct in these bathrooms? I thought the police were trying to take care of a problem that had gotten out of control.

  74. #74 Ex-drone
    September 2, 2007

    Moses writes:

    Rationalize it all you want. Craig committed a crime.

    Okay. And all laws are good and not to be questioned?

  75. #75 Ex-drone
    September 2, 2007

    A woman on the street asked me for the time the other day. I tried to flag down a cop to have her arrested, but she got away. There are so many thought-crimes out there.

  76. #76 texlex
    September 2, 2007

    cureholder: yours isn’t the type of challenge i would normally have expected to see on the scienceblogs site. and i’m not so great a stickler in the scientific notion of experimental repeatability to try exactly what officer karsnia described senator craig as having done.

    nevertheless, after having considered what you wrote, i just happened to visit the public restroom at my grocery store to attempt this myself (i’m 6’3″, in my forties, and definitely not the limber sort).

    after first checking that no one was in the restroom and that none of the three stalls was occupied, i sat down, legs apart, and attempted to reach the right side of the middle stall with my left hand. i found it possible–though it was harder to slide it all the way down (as karsnia alleged craig to have done.)

    i will say this: two years ago, i still had a major beer gut. if i still had that today (its absence is an intended consequence of a heart attack i had in ’05), there’s no way i could have done the hand signalling.

    so either craig is a limber congressman, or he was really straining to signal karsnia, or karsnia was indeed not telling the straight truth when describing this scenario.

    i hope there’s no need to have to broadly retest this part of the craig experiment :-)

  77. #77 Mooser
    September 2, 2007

    I do believe, although my memory may be playing tricks on me, that there was once a bar in San Fransisco named “The Toilet”. I wouldn’t swear to it though.

  78. #78 True Bob
    September 2, 2007

    Moses, we had a similar occurrence in my home county (Spotsylvania VA). The cops were “investigating” massage parlors, and spent our tax dollars getting sex for cash. So the case was good, but the practice was decried.

    So for the naysayers, should the cop have stuck his dick under the partition, to see what happened next? Or would you cry “entrapment” or complain that the cop was behaving illegally? And would you like your child/niece/nephew/grandkid to see two consenting folks having sex in public? What is your better solution for dealing with a known public sex location? Ignore it?

  79. #79 speedwell
    September 2, 2007

    A couple commenters above are missing the obvious when they scream, in apparent frustration, that they can’t understand why we are all obsessed with sex.

    The answer, in all (or almost all) seriousness, is that it’s sexy.

    Those who disagree, saying that our duty to humanity should replace our obsession with sex, are invited to immediately join their nearest gender-appropriate celibate service order. (As the Bard said, “Get thee to a nunnery – go!”)

  80. #80 The Science Pundit
    September 2, 2007

    Comment #30 Tatarize said

    I loved how Ben Stein said they did it to change the balance of power. In reality they demanded that he resign because he would be replaced with a Republican. Whereas when Vitter got popped, his replacement would be a Democrat.

    This is quite true. At first I thought that all the R’s who were calling for Craig’s resignation but didn’t call for Vitter’s were blatant and overt homophobes (OK, they most likely still are), but then I saw it was all political. The GOP would probably like to get rid of both of them because they’ll be liabilities in Election 2008, but the Democratic LA governor is actually protecting Vitter from his own party.

  81. #81 Brian W.
    September 2, 2007

    I dont think he needed to be arrested for it. The police should be able to just write a ticket for that sorta thing and tell them “don’t let it happen again”.

  82. #82 PZ Myers
    September 2, 2007

    That is what happened. They wrote a ticket, he paid a fine, he walked away.

    Also, I think the intent of the enforcement is not to punish people for asking for sex, but to discourage them from having sex in public spaces.

  83. #83 SLC
    September 2, 2007

    Re dveej

    Putting aside the total stupidity of comparing complaints about the weather with complaints about being solicited for sex in a mens’ room, I would hope that Mr. dveej would take a different tack if his teenage son was subject to such a solicitation.

  84. #84 Brian W.
    September 2, 2007

    “That is what happened. They wrote a ticket, he paid a fine, he walked away.”

    Yeah, but they did arrest him first and get a confession out of him though, right? I think it should be just like getting traffic tickets.

  85. #85 /b
    September 2, 2007

    Craig as given the bum’s rush because he had pissed off W by fighting some of the more egregious portions of the Patriot Act.

  86. #86 Ken Mareld
    September 2, 2007

    If Joe (the closeted businessman) gets a ticket for solicitation, and pleads guilty to disorderly conduct — so what? Who cares?
    If Jim (the openly gay politician) gets a ticket for solicitation, and pleads guilty to disorderly conduct — so what? There may be some concern for the quality of his judgement, as he put himself needlessly into a dangerous situation.
    If John (the anti-gay, 1st amendment corrupter, lying hypocritical Senator from out of state) gets a ticket for solicitation. and pleads to disorderly conduct — so what? This is what. People who use public power to denigrate the private lives of others, and then is in reality (as shown by the guilty plea) a part of what he denigrates deserves all the public humiliation and opprobrium that flies his way.
    The American public is far better served by a Barney Frank who essentially says, ‘I’m gay, so what? We need to deal with the real problems facing this country’.
    Ben Stein’s comments only show that yesterday he was an asshat, today he is an asshat, and tomorrow he will likel;y continue to be an asshat.

  87. #87 Frank
    September 2, 2007

    For those of you wondering why the police were bothering to monitor airport restrooms for the kind of activity Craig confessed to being involved in–

    I live in the Twin Cities and some of the local newscasts reported that there had been many complaints of soliciting in the airport men’s rooms. When it’s brought to their attention, the police have an obligation to look into it.

    And for other reasons besides the questionable legality: Let us say, for instance, that someone strongly objected to being hit on and decided to do something about it…something physical. It’s not unheard of here–Minneapolis has a large gay community and violence against gays is not as uncommon as some might believe. The example some have used comparing this to soliciting women falls somewhat short–women are less likely to have a potentially physical response to being propositioned by a man as some men are, to being hit on by another man.

    So preventing solicitation also has the effect of preventing potential unpleasant repercussions that go beyond someone’s sensibilities being offended.

    And besides, I cannot imagine that there are too many people being solicited in Minneapolis/St. Paul airport any more, not after the events of the last week.

  88. #88 Anton Mates
    September 2, 2007

    A woman on the street asked me for the time the other day. I tried to flag down a cop to have her arrested, but she got away.

    Because asking a stranger for the time should be legally equivalent to spying on them in the bathroom, and then asking them to have sex with you on the sidewalk.

    God knows how many women I’ve tried to explain that to, but they just keep screaming and Macing me in the eyes.

  89. #89 jimmiraybob
    September 2, 2007

    …the cop is clearly on a power trip…

    Absolutely. Of course that is the nature of the job, to exert their authority in order to control the environment. What’s the alternative? That they should dress casually and engage in meaningful discussion with suspected law breakers about the merits of their pending policing action. Yikes.

    The question is did he abuse the power vested in him by the community while enforcing the rules of the community. No. If you disagree then point out the specific instances of him wantonly or carelessly abusing his power. Save the outrage for the deserving psychopaths.

    As best as I can tell the cop did what he was required to do by his job and the community and did it in a reasonable manor and in a reasonably respectful and restrained manner. And the police department was responding to complaints of actions defined by the community as illegal.

    You can reasonably question and attack the legitimacy of the specific laws and the method of enforcement and the underlying rationale and the underlying psychology of people that engage in patterns of action that are interpreted as soliciting sex in public domains but why shit on the schmuck that has to sit in an airport bathroom stall for hours on end to enforce his community’s standards?

  90. #90 jimmiraybob
    September 2, 2007

    Oh yeah, and Ben Stein is a supreme poopy head!

  91. #91 CleveDan
    September 2, 2007

    “Well why didn’t Mr. Craig just wait for the man to leave the bathroom and ask him out in the terminal for sex?”

    …He did have “terminal sex”. That’s the kind of sex that ends your career

    In reading up on this topic I have read that displaying your wedding band makes you more attractive to the other person…….so even if it took some work he would have tried to show that hand under the stall

    Also, you don’t usually plead down to another charge that the officer charged you with. He may have been cited for only the one charge and the plea deal comes with negotiating with the prosecutor. John Q Public could have legally beat the whole thing easily but Craig was trying to “beat” the charge of being a closeted gay republican US Senator…..The Dream Team couldn’t get you out of that one

  92. #92 craig
    September 2, 2007

    “Rationalize it all you want. Craig committed a crime.”

    Rationalize it all you want. Craig was arrested with no witnesses, no recording, no video, having made no verbal statements… based solely on a cop’s word against his that the 2 percent of Craig’s body that was NOT obstructed from the cop’s view made certain movements that allowed the cop to intuit that Craig had in his head an unspoken intention to commit a crime.

    There’s a reason that stings usually have video cameras and recorders. This case would NEVER have made it to court. The cops just know they don’t have to worry about that, because none of those arrested will want it to go that far. Which means the arrests are being used as harassment.

    If a cop can arrest you with no witnesses, no victims, no evidence, no corroboration, no statements whatsoever having been made by you… merely because he claims you non-verbally signaled an unspoken desire to commit a crime, then we have a police state. Thought crime.
    Absolutely NO way to defend yourself against that.
    The whole point of the bill of rights is to make the cops’ job harder. To make it harder for a cop to claim, his word against yours, that you were THINKING of doing something wrong.

    ANYONE can be arrested at ANY TIME for ANYTHING the cop wants to claim you did under the circumstances you seem to consider fair.

    At least the neocons’ followers are willing to live in a police state because they fear (irrationally enough) being the victim of a violent attack.

    You, on the other hand, are willing to live in a police state to avoid the possibility of being mildly creeped out.

  93. #93 Pete
    September 2, 2007

    al… “Quaeda”?

    uh, not that it matters, but there’s no “u” in that word.
    The letter “Q” in Roman transliterations of Arabic indicates a sound like “k” but made further back in the throat. Hence Iraq, Muqtada al-Sadr, etc. It doesn’t have anything to do with the “kw” sound..

  94. #94 melior
    September 2, 2007

    Buehler… Buehler!

  95. #95 True Bob
    September 2, 2007

    craig, the good Senator did not even try to defend himself. He plead guilty. After the publicity, he got himself a lawyer. On the tape, you can clearly hear the Sen getting his Miranda statement, but he talked anyway. Then he took no counsel, and plead guilty.

  96. #96 jimmiraybob
    September 2, 2007

    < …Thought crime.
    …Absolutely NO way to defend yourself against that.

    First, he was arrested not for thinking of a crime but for allegedly exhibiting a pattern of behavior consistent with solicitation of sex in a public domain.

    Second, there is a defense. It’s called not pleading to a lessor charge, hire an attorney, and take your case to court. Where, as you suggest, a good attorney might have gotten a not-guilty verdict or maybe even dismissed charges.

    In the meantime, the lessons that I have learned regarding not putting myself into jeopardy in public restrooms are:

    1) Do not stand outside of a public bathroom stall leering through the cracks and making eye contact for minutes on end.

    2) Do not spread my feet so wide as to make contact with those in adjoining stalls (even if toe tapping completely heterosexual and patriotic tunes such as Let the Eagle Soar).

    3) Do not wave my hand beneath stall divider, especially the wedding ring-wearing hand, even to pick up a piece of toilet paper (Yuck).

    Actually, these are time-honored standard rules of engagement for men using public facilities for the facility’s intended purposes.

    And, do not, I repeat do not, do all of these in succession. If any one of these rules are inadvertently violated I would think that it would be a good idea to immediately issue an embarrassed apology…immediately (technically, this is clearly spelled out in the Guy Manual). It would be the polite thing to do and you never know when Tucker Carlson might be in the airport “catching connecting flights” too (why risk getting beat up by a small bow tie wearing guy).

    Auxiliary lesson:

    1) Do flush when done.

    Oh yeah (bonus), do wash the hands.

  97. #97 craig
    September 2, 2007

    craig, the good Senator did not even try to defend himself. He plead guilty. After the publicity, he got himself a lawyer. On the tape, you can clearly hear the Sen getting his Miranda statement, but he talked anyway. Then he took no counsel, and plead guilty.

    That’s not the issue I’m talking about. People OFTEN are wrongfully arrested and then plead guilty to a lesser charge out of fear. MANY innocent people are imprisoned that way.

    But that’s not at all my point.

    My point is simply that a country where a cop can arrest you, his word versus yours, that you made nonverbal gestures that led him to believe you had the IDEA of committing a crime… is NOT a free country.

    It doesn’t MATTER what you plead to. It doesn’t even matter if you WERE thinking of committing a crime.

    The standard described above is a standard where police have unlimited power and people are defenseless against it – the only thing holding it back being the HOPE that the cops are nice guys.

  98. #98 thalarctos
    September 2, 2007

    for those of us with little to no experience in men’s rooms, thanks for the etiquette tips, jimmiraybob.

    Mr. thalarctos also informs me that you don’t just casually strike up conversation with the other guys at the urinal, either. I’m not sure how the topic came up, but I asked once, what do you do while you’re standing there–talk about the weather, sports, something else?

    According to Mr. thalarctos, there is kind of an unwritten guy rule that not only do you not stand there chatting, you don’t even make eye contact with the other guys. I learn something new every day!

  99. #99 Mena
    September 2, 2007

    Speaking of people making asses of themselves on Fox, is there anyone there who can give something as simple as a weather report without acting beligerent while getting the “I’m pooping my pants” look on their faces? Zheesh. The Presidunce does the same thing (when he isn’t in full dork or twitch mode, see the C-Span coverage of the debate with Kerry), I wonder which direction the inspiration came.

  100. #100 Mike Crichton
    September 2, 2007

    True Bob:

    What is your better solution for dealing with a known public sex location? Ignore it?

    Idunno, maybe take the complaints and make the arrests at the actual time the actual crime is actually being committed? If they can afford the manpower to station a guy in the stalls, they can have him at a desk dedicated solely to taking those calls, and this way, there’s no issue of entrapment.

  101. #101 dwarf zebu
    September 2, 2007

    So for the naysayers, should the cop have stuck his dick under the partition, to see what happened next?

    How the sam hill does that work, anyway? Sounds like a tougher maneuver than sliding your hand beneath the opposite-side partition, for sure!

  102. #102 rick
    September 2, 2007

    Location. Location. Location.
    Quite simply, a distinction must be made between taverns and restrooms. In a tavern, a person might expect someone to try to pick them up for sex. In a tavern, there are usually bouncers, bartenders and other patrons who will dictate a form of social regulation – not unlike a police officer. In a restroom, a person expects a certain level of privacy. Men in the men’s room and women in the women’s room shouldn’t have to be concerned with warding off untoward sexual advances.
    Further, Larry Craig didn’t wind up in that particular restroom by accident. He had to know of it’s location and reputation through research. The cop wasn’t in there by chance either. For the cop to be there it had to be known as a hot spot for a quick hook-up, and if it was known it was because of complaints. On this basis, the action of the Minneapolis police was as warranted as an officer issuing any kind of public nuisance ticket resulting from a public complaint. The arrest is not an arrest for homosexuality. The crime is not being gay. If Craig had been at the airport bar (or even just outside the restroom door) and tried to pick up the male cop, guess what? No arrest.

  103. #103 gex
    September 2, 2007

    I’m sick of the conservatives who all of a sudden find this too flimsy a pretense to arrest a man. Where were they over the last several decades when many gay or “I’m not gay I just have sex with men” men were arrested for these same signals?

    Face it. These people who are so alarmed Craig could be arrested for so little are the people who made it so we arrest people for these things in the first place. Be careful what you ask for.

  104. #104 Dr Benway
    September 2, 2007

    I don’t like to see these kinds of police sting operations. A sign on the wall saying “Police are monitoring this bathroom due to complaints of solicitation,” combined with a uniformed officer making the rounds througout the day, ought to disrupt any cruising patterns. And without ruining any lives.

    Whether some lives ought to be ruined is another matter.

    I can’t stand right-wing hypocrisy. But on the whole, I’m more nervous about abuse of police powers than I am about sin.

  105. #105 Jon H
    September 2, 2007

    “I don’t like to see these kinds of police sting operations. A sign on the wall saying “Police are monitoring this bathroom due to complaints of solicitation,” combined with a uniformed officer making the rounds througout the day, ought to disrupt any cruising patterns. ”

    Why not have the sign *and* undercover cops? If they ignore the sign, they’re too stupid for mercy.

  106. #106 Jon H
    September 2, 2007

    Brian W. wrote: “Yeah, but they did arrest him first and get a confession out of him though, right? I think it should be just like getting traffic tickets.”

    What do you think you’re doing when you pay a traffic ticket? You’re essentially pleading guilty.

  107. #107 Eric Paulsen
    September 3, 2007

    I have rea a few comments defending ones right to solicit sex in a public space as legal and I agree… to a point. But come on! I don’t know about anyone else but I have a problem on a GOOD day releasing the flow in a public restroom without Marcel Marceux miming the bone-stroke in the stall next to me. There is a right place and a wrong place to make an advance and the toilet is the WRONG place!

    Who can’t wait until they get to a Starbucks or while waiting in the terminal?

  108. #108 bernarda
    September 3, 2007

    poster craig writes so much irrational nonsense, “My point is simply that a country where a cop can arrest you, his word versus yours, that you made nonverbal gestures that led him to believe you had the IDEA of committing a crime… is NOT a free country.”

    That is actually two points. One, cops can arrest you if they think there has been illegal activity. Two, “his word versus yours” comes at the time, first for the judge to decide if there is a case, second at a hearing to listen to the prosecution and the defense.

    Senator craig could have refused to talk, having been given his miranda warning. He chose otherwise(perhaps “wise” is not the best word).

    He pled guilty two months later when he could have had a lawyer ask for dismissal of the charges for lack of proof. Remember, he was assumed innocent. If there had been a hearing, it would have been up to the prosecution to prove the policeman’s accusations.

    Senator craig simply dug his own hole. This has nothing to do with America not being a free country.

  109. #109 ben
    September 3, 2007

    Next time you have the impulse to spell “al Qaeda” with a U, just think “Iraqu”.

  110. #110 W. Kiernan
    September 3, 2007

    But even there, Craig is a Republican rubberstamper…

    But Der Partei buzz, so I’ve heard, is that once upon a time Craig defied His Sublimity on a bill being rammed through Congress, I think one of the iterations of the P.A.T.R.I.O.T. A.C.T. (look it up! It’s a ten-word acronym! I hate these people.), and since then every time The Maximum Leader hears his name he convulses, shrieks “Traitor! Traitor!!!, rolls his eyes back in his head, falls to the White House rug and commences to chewing.

  111. #111 James
    September 3, 2007

    And there goes the last little shred of respect I had for Ben Stein.

    And to think I used to like his game show on Comedy Central.

  112. #112 Krystalline Apostate
    September 3, 2007

    …oh, crap, you know, that stupid movie where everybody gets arrested before they actually do anything wrong.

    Minority Report? I rather liked it myself, moral dilemmas aside.

  113. #113 Krystalline Apostate
    September 3, 2007

    …oh, crap, you know, that stupid movie where everybody gets arrested before they actually do anything wrong.

    Minority Report? I rather liked it myself, moral dilemmas aside.

  114. #114 True Bob
    September 3, 2007

    Minority Report – where another PKD story is ruined for big bucks?

  115. #115 cureholder
    September 3, 2007

    In the interest of accuracy, the actual acronym involved in this shoddy piece of Big Brother legislation is:

    USA PATRIOT Act

    “USA PATRIOT” is an acronym for (and someone got a nice pat on the back for coming up with this gem):

    Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism

    Because “Repealing the Bill of Rights and Creating a Fascist State” wouldn’t fly . . . the RBRCFS Act?

  116. #116 True Bob
    September 3, 2007

    Thanks, cureholder. I’ll file that under YAFA. Yet Another F’ing Acronym

  117. #117 chaos_engineer
    September 4, 2007

    I don’t like to see these kinds of police sting operations. A sign on the wall saying “Police are monitoring this bathroom due to complaints of solicitation,” combined with a uniformed officer making the rounds througout the day, ought to disrupt any cruising patterns. And without ruining any lives.

    At best, that just moves the activity to another bathroom. At worst, the bathroom gets extra publicity as a cruising area and the patrons just post a lookout to watch for cops.

    Besides, it’s not like getting busted for a first offense would really ruin your life. Sen. Craig just got a lousy $500 fine and a years’ probation, and the fine probably would have been less if he hadn’t tried to lie his way out of it.

    (Well, there’s the job situation. But if all your friends and supporters turn on you just because you’re gay, then I submit that they weren’t really your friends and supporters to begin with.)

    Also: I did a quick stall test in an unoccupied bathroom. The side partitions were about six inches from the side of the bowl, with the bottom edge was about eighteen inches above the floor. I’m in my mid-forties and not especially flexible, but I had no trouble leaning forwards and putting either hand under the partition.

  118. #118 PZ Myers
    September 4, 2007

    You could have been arrested for that!

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