Heresy of the Day

Riffing on Adam’s last post, it has been amusing to watch the whole problem with Senator Craig. However, as I’ve chomped my popcorn, there’s been one thing I keep thinking: what if the guy’s telling the truth?

What if he was stupidly caught for not doing much of anything, and the stupidly plead guilty in the naïve hope it would go away?

Yes, I know that some gay activists have said that it’s been an “open secret” that he’s gay. Many people believe that if someone is rabidly anti-gay, then it’s likely that there’s something fueling that rabidity. They think that the rabid person’s Kinsey Scale Rating might be a positive number. I am one of those many people. But rumors that amount to, “oh, I bet he’s closeted” about someone who is anti-gay contain no information. That sort latent hypocrisy is now cliché.

I also realize that when they arrested Ted Kaczynski I thought, “Hey, what if they found the other lone wacko in Montana who hates the modern world and likes blowing things up?” My track record on my own doubt-spirals is bad enough that I have to make baseball metaphors to defend it. Batting .250 is good! Really!

Nonetheless, what if the Senator is telling the truth?

I am suspicious of a policeman who is sent in to investigate lewd behavior and finds it in a non-obvious form. Not because I think he’s got ill intent of his own, but because of selection bias. I believe he’s a guy just doing an icky job — cleaning out the restrooms. He’s there to find lewd behavior and from that lens, he found it, and it even plead. And yet I hear Tom Lehrer singing in my head:

…filth (I’m glad to say) is in
The mind of the beholder
When correctly viewed
Everything is lewd.
I could tell you things about Peter Pan
And the Wizard of Oz, there’s a dirty old man

Or Batman and Robin, for Pete’s sake.

I will also admit that being the contrarian that I am, watching the Republican leadership scattering from gay-cooties like roaches from the kitchen light also makes me ask if the guy was caught for foot-tapping in a public place. If he were a bearded, swarthy young man who was nabbed for terrorist-lite behavior and stupidly plead guilty to a lesser crime and yet denied doing anything, we’d have eyebrows up, so why not this?

In The Daily Kos, kharma brings up the same issue by telling an old joke. It is is important enough that you read it that I will reprint here and not merely link to it:

Two weeks ago, the kids and I went on a trip to visit friends in San Antonio, Texas. On the way we stopped at a rest area just off the interstate. What happened next made me very uneasy…

I was drinking coffee heavily so that I would stay awake and needed to relieve myself pretty badly. I pulled into a rest area, locked the car doors, left the kids sleeping in the car, and went into the restroom. When I entered I noticed it was unoccupied except for a pair of sneakers visible under the second stall.

As I unzipped at one of the urinals and began to relieve my burning bladder I heard a voice say “Hey, what’s up?”. I looked around and there was no one else in the restroom. After a moments hesitation, I answered “Not much”.

A little time went by and he says, “What ya doing?”.

I didn’t feel very comfortable talking to someone in a stall but I didn’t want to be rude and answered, “Uh…we are heading to San Antonio to visit friends.”

“Want to come over?”, he says.

At this point I am really uncomfortable and I finish up and scoot over to the sink to wash up. “No I don’t think so.”, I replied. Wow, was this something else. I had never even had someone next to me with a wide stance before and now I’ve got someone in the stall asking me over!

As I reached for the paper towels to dry my hands I hear, “Hey man, can I call you back? There’s some asshole in the bathroom answering every thing I say.”

So I ask again: what if the guy’s telling the truth?

7 thoughts on “Heresy of the Day

  1. Perhaps I’m just too accepting, perhaps not, but I have to say that the first thing that crossed my mind reading that article was that the guy was probably telling the truth.
    The lottery that is the US legal system actively encourages people who are innocent to plead guilty to minor crimes in order to avoid risk conviction, or the embarrassment of prosecution, for major ones. Those who are innocent but have the audacity to defend themselves are frequently bankrupted by the exercise irrespective of their innocence.
    The meta-legal question that has always plagued me in situations such as these is this: if a DA induces you to plead guilty and allocute to something you did not do, is he suborning perjury? If so, can you press charges?

  2. You might be able to, but you’re admitting to perjury. On the other hand, the obvious defense is entrapment.

  3. I guess I’m a lot more suspicious. People who are familiar with this particular strain of the gay community say that the actions Sen. Craig is said to have taken are very specific — they’re a sort of code for people trying to hook up. I suppose you could still argue the cop was making it up, but I don’t really see what his motivation for doing that would be.
    Keith Olbermann aired the police interview tape last night and I have to say it sounds pretty bad. Sen. Craig sounds like he’s trying to intimidate the cop and make the whole thing go away. Typical Senator who thinks he’s above the law.
    This is a guy who has all the money and power he could ask for. He could have hired the best attorneys around to take his case. Once he realized that he couldn’t talk the police into covering it up, he chose not to fight it in court. That speaks volumes, IMHO.

  4. Oh, and entrapment is exactly what he doesn’t want to argue. “Entrapment” means you were convinced to commit a crime by the actions of the police. It means you did it, but you didn’t originally intend to until they talked you into it. His argument is that there was no crime, not that the police officer convinced him to hit on him.

  5. A reporter was already building a file on Sen Craig’s cottaging activities before he got caught. There is a witness who stated he had sex with Craig in another public toilet.
    Even if the whole thing is a set up, he pled guilty but not until after he flashed his business card to show he was a Senator.
    Given Craig’s statements on don’t ask don’t tell that came after his arrest ang guilty plea I don’t think he deserves a lot of sympathy.
    On the other hand the GOP is happy to let whoremongering Sen Vitter stay in their ranks and preach the family values story.

  6. This has also been addressed over at You Are Dumb. Specifically, he points out the near physical impossibility of ‘accidentally’ sliding your foot under the wall of the stall next to you unless you’re sitting at a 30-degree angle, once your pants are around your ankles.
    And the prosecutor could only be accused of suborning perjury if it could be shown that he KNEW you were lying about the confession (ie, deliberately elicited a false confession). In most cases of plea bargains, the cops and prosecutor sincerely believe they got the right guy–they might be mistaken, but that’s a separate matter.
    And the notion that a long-time U.S. Senator was somehow coerced into making a statement by a local police department… well, frankly, it boggles the mind.
    BTW, I notice that his big thing has been to state, “I am not gay.” Given that he has a wife and three kids, has anyone asked, “Yes, but are you bisexual?”

  7. Let’s take a step back :^).
    The cop says there is an elaborate “mating dance” for these restroom hookups — this is all the foot-raising, etc. If this is untrue, then the Senator may well be telling the truth. It should be easy to verify the cop’s claim, but on the face of it it is sensible for such a “code” to exist. The stylized gestures allow possible partners to negotiate terms without overtly doing any one thing that can’t be plausibly denied as purely innocent. Besides, it is probably not legal to walk up to a stranger in a bathroom and say “How about some hot man on man action before my flight leaves?”.
    So, if there is this mating dance, the question becomes how likely it is for someone to perform it unintentionally, and then sign a document stating that they performed it deliberately. Not too likely, I say, but Craig isn’t a lawyer (unsurprisingly).
    Craig’s defense (now that he has admitted his guilt!) sounds like something out of a cheesy movie, where the protagonist meets up with a native chieftain, performs some innocuous gesture, and then learns he has just agreed to marry the chief’s daughter. It’s funny in the movie, but in Minnesota it wasn’t just one innocent gesture — it was something like five consecutive moves, any one of which would have earned the Senator a “Hey pal, WTF?!!” if the other guy wasn’t interested (or pretending to be).

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