Since then, they've arrested 41 men including Senator Craig.
The cause for the arrest? Peeking in a stall, placing one's luggage in front of the stall door, tapping a foot, and reaching a hand under the stall wall. This is exactly what Senator Craig did.
Senator Craig protested the arrest and stated his actions had been misinterpreted; he also cited his position as a senator. However, when the police did not dismiss the charges, Craig quietly---without legal representation or disclosure---plead guilty to the misdemeanor charge of disorderly conduct, which was probably a compromise from the peeping charge he could have received.
Most of the other men also quietly accepted the criminal charges.
I think we can imagine why. Homophobia is rampant in this country, and many of the men were prominent businessmen.
Some of the cited evidence seemed awfully thin to me, for example, the man arrested in a "raid" of the bathroom by police because, as the officer left the bathroom with three men under arrest, this man turned from the urinal and "exposed himself."
Ummm, aren't urinals sort of out in the open, and wouldn't one, you know, in the "act," be exposed when turning?
I imagine, like Senator Craig, most men wanted this settled as quietly as possible.
I'm sure that a good number of the cases were men on the make, so to speak.
But I admit I'm a little stymied about the outrage over this. It's poor manners, to be sure, and one ought to be able to go to the bathroom without being solicited. But is it a crime that is worth the outrage and calls for Craig's resignation?
I can tell you from personal experience that you have a chance of meeting a man on the make almost anywhere. I've met men on the make in grocery stores, offices, pharmacies, restaurants, bars, open air festivals, and more. And I'm no Michelle Pfeiffer. To be fair, I'm sure there are plenty of women on the make too. I've known a few. Flirting happens; I've just grown to accept it to a degree and have developed the ability to deal with it.
I think that most people have developed fair judgment and use wisdom and courtesy in this. However, some people seem to believe that, regardless of where you are, the simple fact that they find your attractive or that they are sexually aroused means all's fair in propositioning. In underground sexuality---which seems to be almost anything other than sexually objectifying females of any age---there is a network, out of a degree of necessity. I'm sure word spread about the bathrooms.
I strongly believe that so long as we continually repress most healthy sexuality and force homosexuality underground in large part, we're going to continue to see "bathroom" sorts of incidents. It's tricky, isn't it? Especially if you are gay...how do you tell if someone is not just available, but available to you?
A tapping foot is pretty vague, as is luggage placement. If you don't know what this could mean, you probably don't even notice it. You certainly don't respond. A woman might inquire if her stall neighbor is in need of paper, but I have it on excellent authority that Men Do Not Speak to One Another Period in the bathroom.
I find it interesting that this sting is limited to men.
Are there no similar incidents with women? Or do women just not---pardon the expression---get their knickers as twisted over it? Are women simply used to being propositioned?
Also, why the outrage, in particular over Senator Craig. he's being asked by his party---who is loudly sanctioning him---to resign.
Although he is technically guilty, he does deny that he intended his actions as criminal level disorderly conduct, peeping, and solicitation. Still, I'm hard-pressed to figure out why I ought to care.
I'm more concerned about how he's been caught up in sexual impropriety in investigations at the senate on more than once occasion; each time he skated free, loudly proclaiming his innocence. In those case, it was mostly about bosses propositioning employees.
That does cause me concern.
I lived through extreme sexual harassment in the workplace. My story (a small sampling of which I shared here) would horrify you.
If two coworkers voluntarily, with no coercion, opt into a relationship, that's one thing. But when an authority figure uses his power to pressure or harass, that's appalling. In general, I have absolutely no interest what two willing adults do with one another.
So again, I ask, why the big public GOP outrage against Senator Craig now?
"Senator Craig pled guilty to a crime involving conduct unbecoming a senator," said Sen. Norm Coleman, R-Minn. "He should resign."
Craig "represents the Republican Party," said Rep. Pete Hoekstra of Michigan, who called the behavior unacceptable and was the first in a steadily lengthening list of GOP members of Congress calling on Craig to quit.
Is it the propositioning aspect?
Or is it the homosexual aspect?
Hoekstra denies both of these and calls Craig's denials unbelievable
"I think it's important for Republicans to step out right now and say, 'No, this behavior is not going to be tolerated,'" he said. "It's not a judgment on gay rights or anything like that. This is about leadership and setting a standard that the American people and your colleagues in the Republican Party can feel good about."
Where is this outrage when we find politicians involved in financial improprieties and conflicts of interest?
If the allegations are true, and Craig did proposition someone he believed was simply a fellow traveler, then that's where it ended. He didn't touch the officer, didn't rape anyone, didn't harm...merely propositioned, and, at this point, he denies doing so.
Consider what he plead guilty to: disorderly conduct. Consider what he was charged with
Craig was arrested on June 11 in a Minneapolis airport men's room after an undercover officer observed conduct that he said was "often used by persons communicating a desire to engage in sexual conduct." He pleaded guilty by mail this month to a misdemeanor count of disorderly conduct.
There was no lewd behavior. There was no contact.
Was there even really a crime?
Check out the police report at The Smoking Gun.
See what you think.
Does that meet these criteria
(c) A person is guilty of a gross misdemeanor who:
(1) surreptitiously gazes, stares, or peeps in the window or other aperture of a ... place where a reasonable person would have an expectation of privacy and has exposed or is likely to expose their intimate parts, as defined in section 609.341, subdivision 5, or the clothing covering the immediate area of the intimate parts; and
(2) does so with intent to intrude upon or interfere with the privacy of the occupant.
If you answered "yes," then is that behavior worthy of forcing Craig to resign his position and the current level of reaction by many of his fellow Republican politicians?
Is the real cause for concern Craig's behavior, or is it---and let's be honest---the election coming up, and does the GOP not want a stain on its reputation as voters consider who to cast their vote for?
The outrage, in my opinion, seems politically motivated. Again.
I have tried and tried to find the numbers and types of criminal charges filed against politicians because, in my mind, it seems that hardly a week has gone by without some allegation of a crime by a politician, some of them egregiously wrong.
I'd like to see this level of energy and concern directed in some productive directions, such as healthcare, education, poverty, disaster struck areas, and so forth. I'd like to see this level of outrage when crimes that really harm people are perpetuated by politicians.
This seems disastrously like worrying about mowing the lawn when there is a nuclear bomb falling.
But politics and politicians aside, I'm curious what the average person thinks about this.
Am I desensitized, or too accepting? Should we be appalled by his behavior to this level? What is an appropriate response here? Is this about ethics and morals, or is it simply prudery?
And what, I wonder, provoked police to prioritize this sting and assign undercover officers to arrest men who simply "sent signals" but had not engaged in any "lewd acts."
Is this a valid priority in Minneapolis?
Copyright 2007 Julie Pippert
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