Politics

Maf54, Where Are You? or, Sen. Larry Craig's Bathroom Confession

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Forget Atlanta Falcons QB Michael Vick's guilty plea and literal come-to-Jesus moment for a second.

There's another guilty plea making the rounds that's a tad more central to how power and politics play out in these United States.

It's just come out that, on August 8, Sen. Larry Craig (R-Idaho), who had a role in the presidential campaign of latter-day anti-gay Gov. Mitt Romney (R-Mass.), entered a guilty "plea on misdemeanor charges stemming from complaints of lewd conduct in a men's restroom at the Minneapolis airport."

The 62-year-old Craig doesn't just put the party back in the "Grand Old Party," though he certainly does that. Back in the day, he voted in favor of the Defense of Marriage Act, a clearly anti-gay measure, and he supported the constitutional ban on same-sex marriage.

America is the land of opportunity and more power to Craig if he wants to have consensual sex with men in toilets (although, good libertarian that I am, I do believe the owners of said facilities should be allowed to regulate what behavior goes on in their crappers).

But I find it despicable that Craig would deny the option of matrimony to gay men who want it. Shouldn't the people he wants to fuck have the right to decide if they, like Craig, want to enjoy the bounty of marriage? (Not to mention, as seems likely in Craig's case, the right of divorce?)

There was a time–long ago in a distant galaxy, it seems–when small-government Republicans along the lines of Barry Goldwater would talk about getting the government out of the boardroom and the bedroom (and by extension, the bathroom, too). The national leadership might think about revisiting its libertarian chops, which the relatively tolerant Ronald Reagan called "the very heart and soul of conservatism." Conservatives have (rightly and thankfully) lost the culture war, at least as it relates to the mainstreaming of gays and lesbians. They should re-learn their supposed political philosophy, which is that government should leave people (and their money) alone as much as possible to pursue happiness.

Back before the midterms in 2006, reason's Kerry Howley explored the legislative hypocrisy of another tormented Republican, Rep. Mark Foley of Florida, whose instant messaging antics as Maf54 helped kill the GOP's congressional majority.

Update: Belated tap o' the foot to commenter crimethink, who notes below that he discussed this story yesterday in a post about a wandering pedophile. I hadn't seen the comment, but am happy to point it out. 

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  1. marriage is a “right?”

    one more reason to end the entire concept of civil marriage and let churches pick and choose whom they allow to marry. the label slapped on a civil partnership is an issue which is pure symbolism and no substance.

  2. http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,294852,00.html

    Roll Call, citing the report, said Sgt. Dave Karsnia made the arrest after an encounter in which he was seated in a stall next to a stall occupied by Craig. Karsnia described Craig tapping his foot, which Karsnia said he “recognized as a signal used by persons wishing to engage in lewd conduct.”

    He shouldn’t have been tapping his foot; he shouldn’t have been sitting; he should have been squatting the way nature intended him to. Problem solved.

  3. wireless tapping – “He shouldn’t have been tapping his foot; he shouldn’t have been sitting; he should have been squatting the way nature intended him to. Problem solved.”

    Fascinating. Good workout for the legs to boot. In this age of mature enlightenment a state recognised union be they labelled marriage or otherwise is f-ing weird.

  4. “…Karsnia described Craig tapping his foot, which Karsnia said he “recognized as a signal used by persons wishing to engage in lewd conduct.”

    How do the cops ‘know’ this stuff?

  5. Cops learn these tricks of the trade the same as Homeland Security people know that by acting nonchalant and normal is a dead giveaway of suspicious activity, as in what are you trying to hide by acting so casual, buddy boy? A non-signal is a signal, I read it in Orwell’s “1984”.

  6. Right you are. Conservatives have indeed lost the Culture War, especially on issues related to Gays.

    Now, why the hypocrisy from libertarian nay-sayers on Giuliani? We always here from libertarian skeptics about how the Republican Party “will never nominate someone like Giuliani who is tolerant on Gay issues.”

    Perhaps the fact that the Cons have lost the Culture war explains the unexplicable; Rudy’s continued rise in GOP polls.

  7. I’m not sure that I follow how a tapping foot is a sign of sexual solicitation, but I suspect that the Senator wouldn’t have pleaded guilty if there wasn’t something more to the situation. Yes, I know, innocent men do plead guilty for fear of facing heavier penalties otherwise, but if there’s anybody who could get away with the “How dare you misinterpret this! Do you know who I am? I suggest you drop the charges or I’ll have a word with some people I know!” line it would be a US Senator.

    Anyway, in regard to this:

    America is the land of opportunity and more power to Craig if he wants to have consensual sex with men in toilets (although, good libertarian that I am, I do believe the owners of said facilities should be allowed to regulate what behavior goes on in their crappers).

    Obviously the solution is to privatize airports, and then the market will provide bathrooms where Senators can freely have consensual sex with other men, while also providing separate “No sex with Senators” bathrooms for customers who prefer to only get fucked by government officials once a year, on April 15.

  8. EDIT: I should have said that I don’t see how a tapping foot is a sufficient sign for convicting somebody.

  9. We always here from libertarian skeptics about how the Republican Party “will never nominate someone like Giuliani who is tolerant on Gay issues.”

    Dressing up like a fairy fruitcake does not make Guliani any less of a frosted, fascist turd.

  10. Craig most likely wasn’t looking for the full-blown action, but the lesser quick blowjob. We can speculate about his intended role, but if this (Old people have more sex than you’d think) is any indication, could have been either. In a public toilet stall? Not the most libidinous instincts-inducing location. At least not for me. -Yuk-
    To each his own.

  11. Just another cocksucking Republican…

  12. This is yet one more indication that we do not pay our public servants enough. That a U.S. Senator, in a country as rich as ours, has to resort to soliciting head in a public facility bathroom is shameful. We ought to be paying him enough to “get a room.”

  13. thoreau,

    “I suggest you drop the charges or I’ll have a word with some people I know!”

    I think the Senator realized how fast “friends” abandon anyone even merely suspected of having committed any of the growing numbers of “sex crimes”. It has become Thor’s new hammer applied enthusiastically and frequently inproportionally by the morally righteous.
    That’s another reason why people can be driven to hypocrisy. In order to position themselves publicly on the side of the Proper crowd, they disregard the damage they do.
    Look at that piece of legislation, the Walsh Act, that’s full to the brim of liberty-revoking measures. Materially authored by that creep Foley.

  14. Reinmoose-

    Well, he was going to try to woo potential dates with gifts of wine and cologne, but the TSA wouldn’t let him carry any liquids.

  15. “Well, he was going to try to woo potential dates with gifts of wine and cologne, but the TSA wouldn’t let him carry any liquids.”

    I think he was trying to rid himself of that last little teaspoon of liquid so as to be completely in compliance with security regs.

  16. Karsnia described Craig tapping his foot, which Karsnia said he “recognized as a signal used by persons wishing to engage in lewd conduct.”

    Really?! I think I speak for most Restless Leg Syndrome sufferers when I say that I’m going to be a whole lot more self-conscious in public restrooms from now on.

  17. I think he was trying to rid himself of that last little teaspoon of liquid so as to be completely in compliance with security regs.

    are you insisting he was going to put it in a 1-quart ziplock bag?

  18. I’m getting my bathroom sex scandals confused. Who was the guy so intimidated by the dark-skinned man that he offered $20 to suck his dick? Was that a Senator too?

  19. Move over Lee Greenwood.

    The Republicans have a new theme song.

  20. AHEM.

    Tip o’ the Hat?

  21. ” 1-quart ziplock bag?”

    Hmmm, a 1-quart bag seems a bit overkill for a 62 year old guy.

  22. The foot tapping thing, explains Fred Astaire’s dislike of public facilities.

  23. I should have said that I don’t see how a tapping foot is a sufficient sign for convicting somebody.

    It’s not.

  24. Christ, DONDEROOOOOO, can’t you just make a post about something and NOT bring up how you think that we should all be giving Guiliani handjobs in the stalls on Concourse E in the Lindbergh Terminal at MSP?

  25. I’m not sure that I follow how a tapping foot is a sign of sexual solicitation, but I suspect that the Senator wouldn’t have pleaded guilty if there wasn’t something more to the situation.

    He pled guilty to disorderly conduct, not the original lewd behavior charge. As I’m sure we’re all aware, the cops can stretch anything into disorderly conduct/vagrancy/reckless endangerment, and he was probably trying to avoid having this story come out.

  26. This warrantless foot- wire-tapping program is vitally important to our sexual relief national security. It signals our intent to participate in intercept intercourse between foreigners.

  27. I’m not sure that I follow how a tapping foot is a sign of sexual solicitation, but I suspect that the Senator wouldn’t have pleaded guilty if there wasn’t something more to the situation.

    In the CNN article that ktc2 linked, it said that the senator touched his foot to the cop’s foot, and also swept his hand under the stall divider.

  28. No, no perfectly innocent. The cops are making the whole think up, and lots of people tap their feet for lots of reasons.

    Let’s put our thinking caps on here, and not just let our knees jerk.

    There have been enough complaints about men having sex in that bathroom that the cops have staked it out.

    According to the arrest report cited by Roll Call, Craig tapped his right foot, which the officer said he recognized “as a signal used by persons wishing to engage in lewd conduct.”

    The report alleges Craig then touched the officer’s foot with his foot and the senator “proceeded to swipe his hand under the stall divider several times,” according to Roll Call.

    You know what? I’m going to conclude that the cop sent to keep an eye on that restroom because of all of the complaints about men having sex is going to know better what the code used to proposition other men for sex is in that bathroom than your typtical reader on a Reason comment thread. Call me crazy.

    And then, he pleads guilty.

    What do you think, people, closet-case men cruising for sex in public places hold up big signs saying “Someone give me head?” No, they use subtle signaling that people who aren’t in the know wouldn’t recognize.

  29. I’m fascinated to learn that all gay persons (open, closeted, latent, whatever) are required to support the government’s recognition of same-sex marriage and the redefinition of hate crime and discrimination law to include sexual orientation. Must straight persons oppose these efforts? What about bi-sexuals, hermaphrodites, and asexuals?

    I must admit, I really enjoyed the photo accompanying this news article:

    http://alaskareport.com/news/z46613_larry_craig.htm

    Note the rather phallic looking microphones.

  30. No, they use subtle signaling that people who aren’t in the know wouldn’t recognize.

    Let me preface this by saying that I agree with joe’s post.

    But… I think I’d understand what it meant if another man touched my foot with his while in a men’s restroom.

  31. C’mon guys, we all know the restroom rules:
    1. When standing at the urinal, stare straight ahead at the wall. Hope that you don’t pee on your foot.
    2. You do not speak to another man in a restroom. A respectful, but neutral nod is allowed.
    3. You do not reach your hand into the enclosed air space of a stall occupied by another.

  32. Sure and there’s a lot o’ the fookin and sookin goin on in the capitol bathrooms, begorrah!

    I feel badly for the lad who mops the place out!

  33. Yes, I know, innocent men do plead guilty for fear of facing heavier penalties otherwise, but if there’s anybody who could get away with the “How dare you misinterpret this! Do you know who I am? I suggest you drop the charges or I’ll have a word with some people I know!” line it would be a US Senator.

    I think he tried that, thoreau. At the time of the arrest, he reportedly showed his U.S. Senate identification and asked the officer, “What do you think about that?”

    I am surprised that so many posters are unaware of the “tap foot for sex” signals reported in the stories. Laud Humphries would weep.

  34. Thanks for the credit, Nick. I feel like a new man, with my name in an actual blog post now!

    But as far as the foot tapping goes, I’m not that kind of guy ;-)… and indeed I’ve never understood the weird association between places of excretion and sex that many people labor under.

  35. I’m fascinated to learn that all gay persons (open, closeted, latent, whatever) are required to support the government’s recognition of same-sex marriage and the redefinition of hate crime and discrimination law to include sexual orientation

    Duh, didn’t you know that those kinda things dictate your ideology!

    Just like how you’re not really Black if you are a Republicans! (see: Collen Powell,Condoleezza Rice, Michael Steel, etc.)

  36. Back in the day, he voted in favor of the Defense of Marriage Act, a clearly anti-gay measure, and he supported the constitutional ban on same-sex marriage.

    Duh! It was pure self interest. Think about it: if gays are allowed to marry, they’ll all end up staying at home instead of hanging out in public restrooms.

  37. Mike Laursen –
    That is the most libertarian-minded explanation of congressional incentives I’ve ever read. Congratulations. I think you should be inducted into some hall of fame.

    Reason! The Hall of Fame thing. Get on it.

  38. I suspect that Mr. Craig does not consider himself gay; that’s how these guys justify their hypocrisy.

    You do not speak to another man in a restroom.

    Sooooo true. If only my co-workers did not continually break that rule.

    I’ve never understood the weird association between places of excretion and sex that many people labor under.

    It’s a really convenient place to meet strangers?

  39. Err, umm, thank you. If you want to award me the libertarian brass figlagee with bronze oak leaf palm, I will gladly accept it on behalf of smart asses everywhere.

  40. No, they use subtle signaling that people who aren’t in the know wouldn’t recognize.

    “hilarity ensues.”

  41. “more power to Craig if he wants to have consensual sex with men in toilets”

    No, that’s a bait-and-switch. The question is whether there is a right to solicit sex from a non-conseting stranger in a public restroom.

    If the purest statement of libertarianism is “the right to be let alone” then surely that includes “while in a toilet stall.”

  42. There have been enough complaints about men having sex in that bathroom that the cops have staked it out.

    Then put a uniformed officer in there and things will stop. Instead, the police department looked at it as an opportunity for arrest-and-fine.

  43. – Can you get an STD from a bathroom floor?

    – You can get an STD anywhere, but it’s rare to get them from bathroom floors because they’re usually hard, cold and uncomfortable.

  44. Russ 2000 sez:
    “Then put a uniformed officer in there and things will stop. Instead, the police department looked at it as an opportunity for arrest-and-fine”.

    No Russ, things will NOT stop. They will just move somewhere else, that’s the nature of lawbreaking. For example: There’s a armed burglar in your neighborhood. The police know he’s casing houses a couple of streets over from you. Now, using your logic, the police don’t go undercover to nab him…they station uniformed officers on the block and the burglar moves on. To YOUR street. And breaks into your home, takes your stuff and shoots you. There are very good reasons for wanting lawbreakers to be nabbed…so they aren’t breaking any more laws.

  45. Back before the midterms in 2006, reason’s Kerry Howley explored the legislative hypocrisy of another tormented Republican, Rep. Mark Foley of Florida, whose instant messaging antics as Maf54 helped kill the GOP’s congressional majority.

    Has anyone read a dictionary… how is voting for DOMA while hanging out with leave-it-to-beaver pages and/or cruising for germ-infested bathroom nookie “hypocrisy?”

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