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    August 31, 2007

    Make the punishment fit the scandal

    Posted by: Chris

    Craigfrankvitter As news broke today that Larry Craig is expected to resign tomorrow, I've thought better of my post a couple of days ago when I said in passing that I agreed with the calls for him to leave the Senate.

    The National Gay & Lesbian Task Force has been among those to remind us that GOP calls for Craig to resign are in sharp contrast to the standing ovation received by Louisiana Sen. David Vitter after it emerged that his phone number was in the records of the so-called "D.C. Madam." Matt Foreman, the head of the Task Force highlighted the disparate treatment of the two senators this way:

    Let’s see — one Republican senator is involved in soliciting sex from a man and the Republican leadership calls for a Senate investigation and yanks the rug from underneath him. Another Republican senator admits to soliciting the services of a female prostitute and there’s not only no investigation but the senator is greeted with a standing ovation by his Republican peers. What explains the starkly different responses? I’d say rank and homophobic hypocrisy.

    It's a fair point and it's also noteworthy that Foreman does not call on either Vitter or Craig to resign. He's pointing out that the Republicans treated Craig's admission of guilt very differently than Vitters, based on homophobia, hypocrisy and, I would add, empathy. Member of the Republican congressional caucus, who allegedly delivered that standing ovation in response to an emotional apology by Vitter, can imagine themselves in his position much more easily than Craig's.

    But those who would like to see both Craig and Vitter gone should remember the scandal that enveloped Barney Frank, the prominent Massachusetts Democrat, who was caught up in his own scandal involving a (male) prostitute back in 1990, just a few years after he publicly acknowledged for the first time that he is gay.

    Like Vitter, Frank admitted hiring a prostitute, in his case Stephen Gobie, whom the congressman then befriended and allowed to share his Washington, D.C., townhouse. Even more damaging, however, were the House Ethics Committee findings that Barney used his office to influence the dismissal of 33 D.C. parking tickets and inappropriately encouraged Virginia officials to act favorably in Gobie's probation on a felony charge.

    The committee decision, adopted by the House, was to reprimand Barney, who resisted calls including from the editorial page of the Boston Globe, to resign. He has gone on to serve with distinction, becoming an important and influential on a range of issues, including Bill Clinton's impeachment, gay rights and banking regulation.

    In an interesting historical footnote, Larry Craig was an Idaho congressman and member of the House Ethics Committee member at the time of the Frank/Gobie scandal, and voted for the more serious punishment of censure. Apparently he believed about Barney, as he would later say famously about Clinton, that "he's a nasty, naughty, bad boy."

    There are a few differences, of course, among these scandals. Craig was the only one to plead guilty to a crime, albeit a misdemeanor, and he's the only one not to admit the accusations, thus showing a lack of remorse. I'm not sure either of those difference rise to the level of requiring his resignation, and certainly Barney's use of his office is not unlike Craig's attempt to intimidate his arresting officers by flashing his Senate business card and saying, "What do you think of that?"

    Of course the scandals involving Vitter and Craig highlight a hypocrisy with their "family values" posturing and opposition to equality for lesbian and gay Americans.  But if hypocrisy were grounds for resignation, we'd need a lot more resignations and on both sides of the aisle.  I would much rather have Vitter and Craig serve out their terms, as reminders of GOP hypocrisy, both now and next year, when both are up for re-election.

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    Comments

    1. North Dallas Thirty on Aug 31, 2007 10:01:15 PM:

      Or because soliciting sex in a restroom without warning and one frequented by children and adults is, in the grand scheme of things, worse than private sex with a prostitute.

      Foreman's theory appears to be that a Senator attempting to solicit heterosexual sex in a lewd fashion and in a public area would be treated differently. His mistake is in assuming that his value system -- soliciting and performing public sex is OK if it's someone of my sexual orientation, even if it's done in an area where children and unsuspecting adults frequent -- is shared by most heterosexuals.

      All I can say is that it's been entertaining to watch the gay left try this foolish Vitter meme, first blurting it outright, and then spinning it as you have when they realized how hypocritical it was, given Barney Frank and their support of him.

    1. Sean on Sep 1, 2007 1:56:03 AM:

      North Dallas Thirty be quite with the "kids being around" bullsh!t. That's what straight people use to oppress us. Kids this and kids that. Did David Vitter care about his kids when he solicited sex from scores of hookers possibly jeopardizing his marriage? Also you don't know what Larry Craig's intentions were.

      I love Barney Frank. He's a STRONG gay leader. We have had so many weak gay leaders that bail when it's revealed they are gay; Larry Craig, Jim McGreevey, Ed Schrock etc.

    1. North Dallas Thirty on Sep 1, 2007 2:16:49 AM:

      "North Dallas Thirty be quite with the "kids being around" bullsh!t. That's what straight people use to oppress us. Kids this and kids that."

      I will phrase it this way, sean; if you consider it "oppressive" and antigay to not solicit or have sex in front of minor-age children, you are the best reason I've seen yet for recriminalizing sodomy.

      And as far as Vitter's children go, he likely did hurt them terribly. But he has apologized and stuck with them, and it's their call now.

      None of which gives you any standing whatsoever to call asking you not to have sex in public places "oppressive".

    1. Sean on Sep 1, 2007 1:52:02 PM:

      Wow, NDT, you have a lot of self-hate. Suggesting "sodomy" should be recriminalized because of this situation. These stings are society's way of criminalizing gay people. The police don't go after opposite-sex couples having public sex even though it's rampant. I doubt you would call for the criminalization of vagina sex.

      NDT, we don't know if Larry Craig was going to have public sex.

      Gay people should investigate how the justice system treats them. You would be surprised how slanted it is against you.

    1. Dave on Sep 1, 2007 2:24:40 PM:

      You got it right Chris. The two situations were treated vastly differently. I was kind of hoping Larry Criag would have stood firm and told all the Republicans leaders to go frak themselves, and this from a liberal Dem.

    1. North Dallas Thirty on Sep 1, 2007 3:25:50 PM:

      "Wow, NDT, you have a lot of self-hate. Suggesting "sodomy" should be recriminalized because of this situation."

      What I said, sean, was that you were the best reason yet I'd seen for recriminalizing sodomy, given your insistence that your sexual orientation means you can solicit and have sex in public restrooms frequented by unwitting adults and children.

      "These stings are society's way of criminalizing gay people."

      Why? Is it somehow imperative that gay people solicit and have sex in public restrooms?

      "The police don't go after opposite-sex couples having public sex even though it's rampant."

      Um, WRONG ( http://www.thesmokinggun.com/archive/years/2007/0109071couple1.html ).

    1. DrBehavior on Sep 1, 2007 8:11:12 PM:

      Vitter did not spend a large part of his career damaging a large group of people by voting against a (heterosexual) sexual orientation agenda while Craig did. It was largely Craig's hypocrisy and the damage that he did that ultimately cost him his position .

    1. Sean on Sep 1, 2007 10:56:34 PM:

      Wow, just one opposite-sex couple was caught having public sex NDT.

      I wasn't defending public sex by gay people. I said the police should enforce the law equally. You then go off on a tangent that "sodomy" should be recriminalized because a couple closeted gay men have sex in public. If you only need a couple cases to ban sex than all forms of sex should be banned because they have been performed in public.

      DrBehavior, why did David Vitter not vote against straight interests? Because he is straight. Society doesn't shame straight people for being straight that they have to go in the closet. Do we have to teach gay people what the closet does? Larry is gay. He didn't want that getting out so he did everything he could to distance himself from being labeled gay. Larry Craig did NOT create that situation. Society did. I don't defend what he did but I understand why he did it.

    1. Lee Hall on Sep 1, 2007 11:04:40 PM:

      One reason the two situations were treated differently could be rank and homophobic hypocrisy. Another could be rank and misogynist hypocrisy. It's hardly odd to hear that using a female body as an instrument for physical gratification gets applause in our culture.

      Your comments in the Newsweek debate with Michelangelo Signorile ("Legitmate Journalism or Witch Hunt?") were thoroughly helpful; thank you for presenting that commentary.

    1. North Dallas Thirty on Sep 1, 2007 11:18:53 PM:

      My dear Sean, that was only one of many examples; there are plenty more ( http://salem-news.com/articles/august182006/silly_sex_laws_81806.php ).

      The difference is that it's harder for heterosexuals; after all, a man can't just casually stroll into a women's restroom or locker room and start soliciting. For gays, that's not a problem; therefore, it would be expected that gays would be arrested at a higher rate for soliciting and having public sex just on that alone, given that lack of extant restraint on behavior.

      And again, Sean, What I said, sean, was that you were the best reason yet I'd seen for recriminalizing sodomy, given your insistence that your sexual orientation means you can solicit and have sex in public restrooms frequented by unwitting adults and children.

      Gays like myself who staunchly and adamantly oppose both and who applaud the police and municipalities who enforce laws against both are an argument against the need to criminalize it; however, it seems we're rather small in numbers.

    1. Sean on Sep 2, 2007 10:16:06 AM:

      NDT, what about the seedy world of prostitution? Female prostitution is so wide spread that the police barely do anything about it. It's out in the open on the streets.

      If the police cared about enforcing the public sex laws they would also stake out the beaches, lover lanes, malls, movie theaters etc. where straight people go to have sex.

      The only reason they do these stings to catch gay men is because it's a small problem. It's confined to only certain areas. Straight people get away with soliciting sex and having public sex all the time because the police and society don't care. The law is NOT enforced equally.

    1. North Dallas Thirty on Sep 2, 2007 12:55:53 PM:

      "NDT, what about the seedy world of prostitution? Female prostitution is so wide spread that the police barely do anything about it. It's out in the open on the streets."

      Uh huh.
      ( http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2007/08/12/BAVTRH7RA.DTL&hw=prostitution&sn=008&sc=283 )

      "If the police cared about enforcing the public sex laws they would also stake out the beaches, lover lanes, malls, movie theaters etc. where straight people go to have sex."

      As they do.

      ( http://salem-news.com/articles/august182006/silly_sex_laws_81806.php )

      Magical how that works, isn't it?

    1. Sean on Sep 4, 2007 1:56:06 AM:

      NDT, you need help. You are so self-hating. The link you provided to Salem News show how straight people condone public sex as I have said. Everyone (except one) brushed off the public sex. Why aren't you calling for there to be a ban on all sex after you read that?

      The other story: the girl was let go for soliciting sex and they don't say what the pimp was charged with.

    1. North Dallas Thirty on Sep 4, 2007 2:46:30 PM:

      What the Salem Newslink showed is that, regardless of how much straight people bitch, the law is enforced, and they don't get a free pass.

      Furthermore, having sex in a public park is not "private". Like spoiled children, these people whine and cry that they shouldn't be held accountable for their irresponsible behavior.

      And on the SFGate one, reread the first two paragraphs.

      As for "self-hating", why? Because I trust the police to do their jobs honestly and fairly? Because I don't have sex in public restrooms and have no use for anyone who does?

    1. Sean on Sep 4, 2007 4:17:58 PM:

      NDT, you simply do not know what the police and justice culture is like. It is very slanted against gay people. You should read up on it. Here is an article about how police departments are too lazy to classify gay hate crimes, hate crimes and just label them robberies giving the assailants less punishment.

      http://64.233.169.104/search?q=cache:qDGxkFhnWrsJ:www.chronline.org/PDFs/Express%252010-2005%2520Article.pdf+gay+inequality+police&hl=en&ct=clnk&cd=41&gl=us

      Ok, I reread the SF article. It does say what he was charged with.

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