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Monday, September 10, 2007

Craig the villain, not cop

Individual rights don't extend to solicitation in public bathrooms

By Dennis Byrne
Chicago Tribune

So why is the cop who enforced the law by arresting Sen. Larry Craig (R-Idaho) for trolling for sex in a public washroom now the one who's getting hammered?

The cop, Sgt. Dave Karsnia, and the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport Police Department were doing their jobs. But you might get the idea from some of the reaction that the cops did something awful. "They should mind their own business," is the heart of the astonishing criticism.

So, it has come to this, a debate over whether public restrooms can be used for sexual meet-and-greets. Even though Craig has been humiliated and is contemplating giving up his U.S. Senate seat -- at least that's the latest word -- the question of the legitimacy of the police arresting panderers in public bathrooms lingers as an issue. This is the consequence of today's "progressive" canons, which now challenge even routine law enforcement as "entrapment."

Consider CBS' "Sunday Morning" commentator Ben Stein last week when he called Craig the "innocent victim of a setup by the evil-minded police of Minneapolis-St. Paul that Stalin would have admired."

Stalin? You mean the Stalin who had 20 million murdered? Sheesh, Ben, for good measure, why not throw in Pol Pot, Genghis Khan and Hitler?

Said Stein: "Sen. Craig has been the victim of a police lynching. A [Republican] party that believes in individual rights should be rallying to his defense, not making him walk the plank. Shame on the GOP leadership, and utter disgrace to the airport police and their thug behavior."

Thug? Does that mean that Karsnia grabbed Craig by the ankles, dragged him out of the stall over the filthy washroom floor, kicked him unconscious and transported him across the Bridge of Sighs into oblivion? Now that would be thuggery.

And "individual rights"? Does Stein think that sexual solicitation among strangers who may not want to be solicited is a right? In this way of thinking, I gather that Stein wouldn't want the cops to move in on a bunch of prostitutes who had set up a booth in front of his home. Or who were prowling his apartment building's vestibule in search of johns.

Stein and others were pouring it on the Police Department for supposedly depleting their resources by entrapping consenting adults for nothing more than what goes on in a singles bar, when every cop in the department supposedly should be sweeping the airport clean of terrorists. Hanging around a public bathroom to hook up for some sex between two (or more, I suppose) consenting adults is, by this train of thought, none of anyone's business. What Craig did, Stein said, was a "trifle." And certainly no reason to ruin a man's career.

Oh, stop. Here's one good reason, and reason enough for me, for arresting Craig: People should not have to put up with having public bathrooms turned into sexual staging grounds. Let the horny little devils use the Internet to hook up.

But in today's environment of radical individualism, everything comes down to "choice." As in, "I choose to hunt for men with boyish faces in public restrooms." Choice trumps decency, deportment and all the other things that once comprised standard instruction for all children.

But, hey, it's my bathroom too. Choice, apparently, doesn't extend to those of us who choose not to have their feet tapped by the guy in the next stall, especially when your only choice is to use this particular facility while on the interstate highway or at the airport. And therein lies the difference between what goes on in a singles bar (gay or straight) and what shouldn't happen in a public bathroom. If I don't like what happens in the meet markets, I can stay out of them.

I'm old enough to remember when train stations and bus terminals were infected by this kind of virus, and you wouldn't want your kid to go in alone. If some guy gets arrested for thinking that the airport restroom should become the same kind of pit, then more power to the cops.

Especially when it nabs a hypocrite like Craig, who has spent his career attacking the very kind of behavior in which he has wallowed. The villain in this is Craig, not the police. Spare them the ridicule and simple-minded comparisons to Stalin.


Midwestern Progressive said...

I read this monumentally misleading "opinion piece" this morning on the way to work, and could scarcely believe my eyes!

To wail against "the consequence of today's progressive canons" and then use Ben Stein (Ben Stein?) as an example, proves that you are utterly incapable of distinguishing your right from your left.

More accurately, you seem to consider yourself so "far right" that you view everyone else in America as some kind of "lefty."

Ben Stein?

He's over on your side Mr. Byrne. He's one of you.

By trying to conflate Ben Stein and progressives, you're being quite dishonest with your readers, are you not?

When "journalists" and "opinion writers" lie to their readers, don't that sacrifice whatever credibility they profess to have?

For the record, it is not "progressives" telling the police to mind their business" in this case, it is your fellow ultra-"conservatives" like Ben Stein.

For my part, as a progressive, I see the Larry Craig case as an "Ick" case, but I hope he stays in Congress, so we can all see what kind of utter hypocrites populate the GOP that you continue to defend.

Furthermore, who is defending Cragi now? Is it progressives, or GOP Senators? Apparently no ick-factor affects the GOP Senators.

"Stein and others were pouring it on the Police Department..."

And this is a progressive issue? Ben Freakin' Stein as a progressive?

What a laugh.

John said...

For once in my life I find myself agreeing with you, except for one major point -- Ben Stein is no progressive, no matter how hard you try to paint him as one. He is in fact a Nixon apologist, someone who started his political career as a speechwriter for both Nixon and Ford, and who has written extensively for conservative magazines and newspapers.

This reminds me of FOX News' slimy attempts to mislabel disgraced Republicans as Democrats. Your use of this tactic discredits what would otherwise be a compelling argument.

lake county democrat said...

What this incident really highlights is the need for cops to carry recording equipment. One digital photo of Craig's hand under the stall wall would have been the end of the matter. As it is, we have Craig found guilty on the word of a policeman that he stared too long into the stall, tapped his foot, and stuck his hand under the door -- if someone said that about you Dennis how would you disprove them? Especially if it happened somewhere far from home. And unlike Craig and you, a lot of people can't afford a criminal defense (let alone the return plane trip/hotel for the court dates).