Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Craig's New Mark

No, this doesn't have anything to do with the founder of Craigslist. This has to do with Idaho Senator Larry Craig, whom I first heard of today, with the news that he held a news conference to say, "I am not gay."

Um, okay, Senator. And why are you telling us this?

Well, there's a whole story here that I've totally missed til now, about how the senator was arrested back in June for disorderly conduct.

According to the AP story:

The official police complaint on Craig's case was detailed.

It said airport police Sgt. Dave Karsnia, who was investigating allegations of sexual conduct in airport restrooms, went into a stall shortly after noon on June 11 and closed the door.

Minutes later, the officer said he saw Craig gazing into his stall through the crack between the door and the frame.

After a man in the adjacent stall left, Craig entered it and put his roller bag against the front of the stall door, "which Sgt. Karsnia's experience has indicated is used to attempt to conceal sexual conduct by blocking the view from the front of the stall," said the complaint, which was dated June 25.

The complaint said Craig then tapped his right foot several times and moved it closer to Karsnia's stall and then moved it to where it touched Karsnia's foot. Karsnia recognized that "as a signal often used by persons communicating a desire to engage in sexual conduct," the complaint said.

Craig then passed his left hand under the stall divider into Karsnia's stall with his palm up and guided it along the divider toward the front of the stall three times, the complaint said.

The officer then showed his police identification under the divider and pointed toward the exit "at which time the defendant exclaimed `No!'" the complaint said.

Okay, I'm confused. While the above-described conduct may be distasteful, even creepy, how is it criminal? There's no suggestion that the senator in any way tried to make the Sgt. do anything he didn't want to do. Indeed, if Sgt. Karsnia had responded negatively to Craig's gazing-through-the-crack, rather than stringing him along for the sting, the senator would probably have stopped in a heartbeat. Nobody likes rejection, right? And there would have to be something kinda scary in that scenario to begin with. The guy in the stall could be someone who wouldn't settle for saying "Bug off!", but who would feel the need to crack bones.

So if the police report is accurate, the senator's behavior was creepy and risky. But come on - if "communicating a desire to engage in sexual conduct" is grounds for arrest, then at least a couple of billion people ought to be headed for the pokey right now. Scads of people are trying to hook up as I write this, and scads more will be when you read it. And if a bunch of them are in fact gay, so what?

Sen. Craig has now been marked as possibly being gay. But even if he is, SO WHAT? His family would have to deal with it, but how in the world is it the business of the criminal justice system?

(The foot-tapping makes me think of a "Saturday Night Live" bit from many years ago. It was set in a men's room, with three stalls, I think. And guys went into each of the stalls, and if I remember correctly, starting tapping their feet. And after a minute or so, when they were well synchronized, they began singing..."Under the Boardwalk?" Anyway, I had no idea that the whole bit was referring to "a signal often used by person communicating a desire to engage in sexual conduct.")

I won't even deal with the sheer gooniness of the responses by some of the senator's colleagues.

Well, okay, just one. Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, from the same story:

"He's disappointed the American people," Romney said on CNBC's "Kudlow & Company."

Uhhh...NOT! Mitt, get a grip, and if you can't get a grip, then at least get a clue. Most of the American people can't even name their own senators, and you think they'll be disappointed in a senator from Idaho? That's too funny.

Unless you're right. Then it's really scary.

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