Larry Craig and the Expanding Police State

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The trouble with fighting for human freedom is that one spends most of one’s time defending scoundrels. For it is against scoundrels that oppressive laws are first aimed, and oppression must be stopped at the beginning if it is to be stopped at all.

~ H.L. Mencken

Ever since John McArdle of Roll Call broke the story about the arrest of the now infamous Republican Senator Larry Craig from Idaho, the corporate media have engaged in their usual campaign of sensationalism and infotainment, using the occasion to name call, lament the utterly irrelevant, and to delight readers and viewers with the inside scoop about the subculture of gay "cruising" for sex in bathrooms across America. Conspicuously absent from the coverage, however, is any discussion of what the Senator did that was actually illegal.

The Roll Call story, which details the arresting officer's account of the incident, is light on facts and heavy on speculation. Sergeant Dave Karsnia, who has made the arrest of his seven-year career (his prior claim to fame was his success in slowing down the speeding, daredevil drivers of electric carts at airports), relayed the following facts:

  • Sgt. Karsnia saw "an older white male with grey hair standing outside [his] stall." (No mention of whether it was possible that the other stalls were full and the older white male was waiting for a stall to become available).

  • For two minutes, the older white male, fidgeted with his hands and looked into the stall where Sgt. Karsnia was seated. (Sounds to me like someone who ate something disagreeable and desperately needed to go to the bathroom. One must also wonder from how close Sen. Craig could have been "looking" into the stall if Sgt. Karsnia was able to maintain a view of the Senator's fidgety hands.)

  • Sen. Craig then entered the stall next to Sgt. Karsnia's and placed his roller bag against the front of the stall door.

    (I am no expert on bathrooms, but unless the bathrooms at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport are the double wide, luxuriously spacious ones that are generally reserved for disabled people, where else was the gentleman supposed to place his roller bag?)

  • At 1216 hours, Sen. Craig tapped his right foot. Sen. Craig tapped his toes several times and moved his foot closer to Sgt. Karsnia's foot. Sgt. Karsnia responded by moving his foot up and down slowly. Sen. Craig then moved his right foot so that it touched the side of Sgt. Karsnia's left foot.

    (According to Sgt. Karsnia, who seems to be a self-proclaimed expert on homosexual Morse code, the toe tapping is a signal used by people wishing to engage in lewd conduct. We are not told how he knows this or if the taps themselves have significance. One tap means call me, two taps means meet me in my stall?)

  • Craig then proceeded to swipe his hand under the stall divider several times.

    (My husband and male friends tell me there is an unspoken, yet universally understood, etiquette among men concerning proximity in the men's room. If a man violates the rules, other men will remind the offender of said rules and warn of the consequences of any further violations. While such a warning would have likely ended this stupidity, Senator Craig happened upon a police officer who was assigned the demeaning and humiliating task of sitting in a bathroom stall for 13 minutes waiting for a man to hit on him. No officer would leave without something to show for his ordeal.)

Apparently, hand swiping is the dividing line between not so lewd conduct and lewd conduct, because it was after the swipes that Sgt. Karsnia ended this pathetic episode and placed Sen. Craig under arrest.

It continues to bewilder me why Senator Craig pled guilty to the disorderly conduct charge. Even if he wanted to have sex, even if he went to the bathroom specifically looking to hit on a nice fellow, he did not do anything illegal. His behavior was peculiar, no doubt, but criminal — hardly. He was arrested not for what he did, but for what a police officer interpreted his conduct to mean he wanted to do; because the police officer interpreted his conduct "as a signal used by persons wishing to engage in lewd conduct."

There is no outrage from the public though.  The media have done a fine job of distracting the populace from police overreaching by casting this in the sensational, delicious lingo of exposing the hypocrisy of another closeted gay Republican.  In the process, the media convince the public that gay cruising is another of the myriad epidemic crimes that the police must save us from and pervert the law to do so.  And each time We The People run to the State to protect us from the latest bogeyman, We The People validate the further expansion of the police state.

September 6, 2007