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    September 14, 2007

    Opening the door a tad on Craig

    Posted by: Chris

    Mspairport Yes, I know I wrote before that the "case was closed on Craig," but we should be so lucky. I received an interesting email from a respected reader of this blog, Charlie Rounds, founder of RSVP Vacations, longtime activist and a Minneapolitan (who knew they called themselves that?). 

    Charlie offered this tidbit, in response to the claim that Larry Craig had to leave the secured area of the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport to visit the restroom he claims he happened upon:

    I can clear up the security question -- there is no way that he had to leave a secured zone and re-enter to get to this bathroom. All gates at the Lindbergh Terminal are accessible after entering security -- there are no exceptions. Being a Minneapolitan, in the travel industry, and flying at least once a month I am pretty familiar with the airport.

    I've read elsewhere that some of the posts on CruisingForSex.com, the ridiculous (and ridiculously popular) website that facilitates tearoom cruising, second Charlie's recollection about the location of the restroom.

    Even still, the most damning piece of evidence I cited in that "case closed" post was Craig's recorded reaction to being arrested. "You solicited me," he told the undercover cop. That single utterance eradicates any reasonable doubt about Craig's intentions in that restroom.

    But it doesn't answer the constitutional questions raised about his arrest. And just like the ACLU defended neo-Nazis to defend First Amendment rights for all of us, the fact that Craig is a self-hating homophobe doesn't lessen the important safeguards on police misconduct that could be established if he prevails. Why Craig? Because the nation is watching.

    For a complete news summary on the Larry Craig scandal, click or bookmark: http://gaynewswatch.com/larrycraig



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    1. Double T on Sep 14, 2007 7:58:08 PM:

      Police Misconduct?

      Chris, you don’t have a leg to stand on with this one.

      We have accepted limitations on our 1st amendment rights.
      You can’t scream “fire” in a crowded theater.

      Airports have been deemed “controlled environments” The Moonies( or whoever ) can no longer solicit for donations from travelers. And I think it is completely justified to say gays can’t solicit for toilet sex in the Mens’ Room. And let’s be honest, the sex is happening there. Not at some 4 star hotel suite.

      How would you have the police maintain law and order?

    1. Citizen Crain on Sep 14, 2007 11:33:16 PM:

      I thought you were a lawyer, Double T? If so, you ought to know better. If an act is legal (much less constitutionally protected), then you have a First Amendment right to solicit it. Sex is legal and in fact constitutionally protected if it's in private, consensual and between two adults.

      If Craig were soliciting private, consensual, adult sex, then he has a First Amendment right to do it in the restroom, at the gate, or walking through the security line through the metal detector.

      If the government wants to place a "reasonable time and place restriction" on that type of speech, then it has to be very clear about what speech is forbidden, when, where and why.

      If your point is that Craig was soliciting public sex, which is not constitutionally protected, well then you and I will disagree that foot-tapping and hand-waving are sufficient evidence of such a specific communication.

      And let's remember he WASN'T arrested for soliciting public sex. He was arrested for "disorderly conduct" and "invasion of privacy" and pled guilty only to the former, which is an incredibly vague provision prohibiting actions that "reasonably alarm and offend."

      In my book, that's unconstitutionally vague, subjective and amounts to political correctness run amok. It also invites exactly the type of police misconduct that occurred here.

    1. Double T on Sep 15, 2007 1:37:32 AM:

      C-squared, I wish this had not taken place inside an airport; it would open up so many options for debate. But, it is what it is, a U.S. Airport.

      In the early 90’s, the Supreme Court has ruled that airports are not "traditional public fora" for Free Speech purposes. Citizens do not have an unlimited free speech right in airports.

      Unlike the concept of the "public square," airports have not historically been created or made available for various speech activities. The Supreme Court has held that airport terminals operated by public authorities are nonpublic fora. Supporters of the this restriction further contend that travelers are a "captive audience"

      Accordingly, any ban or restriction on First Amendment activities needs only to satisfy a "reasonableness" standard. I therefore argue that any reasonable and prudent person would consider bathroom sex solicitations a legitimate restriction.

      (I'm "sampling" with my writing)

    1. Double T on Sep 15, 2007 1:44:18 AM:

      CC, And yes, I didn't address all of your concerns. Sorry I can't right now.

    1. Double T on Sep 15, 2007 6:22:14 AM:

      oK, I'm back. Craig was charged with a "gentlemen's agreement". I agree to this, you agree to that. Now that he has broken that agreement. The gate's of Hell are wide open.
      And I hope MN hits him with everything under the sun.
      I'm sorry to be a prick, but the truth is Craig hoped that "no one" would notice.

    1. Andoni on Sep 15, 2007 2:46:57 PM:

      A colleague of mine from the ACLU who earlier in his career defended men accused of soliciting sex in bathrooms had this to say about the Craig incident:

      "Many of the men I represented earlier in my career were completely innocent.
      I know this because in about 25 or 30 of my cases the arresting
      officer made a tape recording of his encounter with my client. These
      recordings showed me in many cases that my client said and did nothing
      to justify his arrest. One client was arrested when the cop mentioned
      the name of the local gay newspaper, and my client said he read it
      every now and then (Most of my clients would say "What's that?" when
      the cop mentioned a local gay bar or newspaper.) In the more common
      scenario, which apparently is like the Craig situation, the guy may
      have eventually succumbed to the signals he got back from the cop.
      But for cases where tapes were available, I had to listen to 30 or 45
      minutes of signaling back and forth, with the cop offering
      encouragement all the while, before the defendant finally did or said
      something illegal

      Personally, I don't understand the attraction of bathroom sex, any
      more than I appreciate the appeal of NASCAR or organized religion.
      But I do understand that my fellow humans enjoy things that I don't.
      I have only been offended once in my life by someone's sexual
      overtures in a restroom. About 20 years ago, I was in a shopping mall
      restroom when a man stood at the next urinal way too close to me and
      stared at my penis. I left the bathroom in disgust. A month later I
      was in court for an unrelated matter and discovered that the man was a
      security guard hired by the shopping mall. A number of men were in
      court that day, having been arrested by this creep. All were pleading
      guilty to “disorderly conduct.""

      It is precisely for the reason that many of these cops go to any extreme….and then lie, to capture someone, that I hope Senator Craig wins and the light of day shines on these sting operations. The “Tearoom dance” is so intricate, that no unwilling person will accidentally be accosted by someone looking for sex. Each overture has to be answered by the correct response, in a series that may go 5 or 6 rounds. There is no such thing as an unwilling participant here. When the cop responds with a signal, the cop is giving his consent.

      Furthermore, what about all the sexual propositions (mostly heterosexual) that occur at the airport bars and lounges. Double T, do you think the government can shut these behaviors down according to your thesis because they are done “inside an airport?”

    1. Double T on Sep 15, 2007 10:53:25 PM:

      Andoni, Barbie and Ken in the airport bar. Are they having sex there? Is she climbing under the table to blow him?

      Then to answer your question, yes the government should stop it.

      And do you really believe the police are just wandering the countryside trying to entrap people who just happen to have an extra wide stance and just happening to be reaching for a little tissue?

      Andoni, how would you have the police address the problem of Tearooms?

    1. Andoni on Sep 16, 2007 9:07:59 AM:

      Double T, I think there is huge difference between actions and words (or silent signals). Sure, if two people are caught having sex in public ……and public is both a bathroom or bar/lounge in my opinion……ARREST THEM. I can’t think of anyone who would argue they had a right to have sex in public.

      However, if it is merely, words, “Like, hey baby, you’re cute, can I buy you a drink? Wow, I would like to get to know you better. Here’s my number. How about if we go back to my room and have a drink?” or hand and foot signals meaning the same thing, then it should not be illegal.

      The minute the person on the receiving end of this soliciting, says, “No, I’m not interested” or “Go away” or does not give some sort of consent for the initiator to continue (responding in the correct Tearoom signals that he/she is interested), then that should be illegal. Person A is bothering, badgering, harassing person B and if person A doesn’t stop, he could/should be arrested.

      And to repeat, the way to stop this is to arrest them when they do the act, not in conversation leading up to the act. The conversation (or hand foot signals) may merely be leading up to a “let’s get out of here and go somewhere private where we can do it.”

      No Tearoom initiator wants to get caught, so he is very careful to go through a whole series of signals to make sure the other person really knows what is happening and is giving consent. If the initiator doesn’t receive back the correct responses, he moves on to someone who does give the correct responses, thereby consenting.

      If they have the sex in the bathroom, then arrest them if they are caught in the act, not while they are talking or communicating.

      Double T, would you approve of cameras in all the stalls to catch people in the act of either signaling (your verboten line) …or actually doing it (my verboten line)?

    1. Double T on Sep 16, 2007 3:12:20 PM:

      Andoni, you are passionate about your position. WOW!!!
      Ok, I’ll give you a run for your money.

      Cameras in the stalls? Paaaleaze. No one wants that ( and btw, it has been tried ).

      If you refer my “thesis” on public speech in airports. And airports not being public squares designed for free speech, this same argument could be made for Public Bathrooms. I think I know what the Men’s Room intended purpose is, and I’ve yet to walk in and hear someone reading out loud the “Toilet Monlogues”.

      I don’t want Public Bathrooms patrons to get carte blanche to carry on like this. In your world, the future would be every time I went to the bathroom, I would be force to walk the gauntlet of pervs standing there moaning as I walk by.

      This Tearoom nonsense needs to end. What you are talking about is not the use of first amendment rights, but the ABUSE OF THEM.

    1. Andoni on Sep 17, 2007 7:53:16 AM:

      ABUSING the First Amendment? My experience is that when someone feels people are abusing the First Amendment, they really are saying that they are offended with what is being said, done, protested, etc. and want to shut it down, not have to see it, etc.

      I have been arrested because certain people in authority in my city felt I was abusing my First Amendment rights by protesting in favor of more government action for people with AIDS (back in the 1980’s) as well as in the early 1990’s doing silly stuff to get attention for gay rights in my city. The public, the city government, and the police were offended by my message and my actions. Thankfully, because of a strong and broad First Amendment I was acquitted in both instances. In those days, gay rights and HIV rights were very offensive topics to most people in Atlanta.

      I will grant you that the primary purpose of a bathroom is to be used as a bathroom. But do we want to have government (or some airport authority) determining what the primary purpose of every facility is. Do you think they should then determine that the primary purpose of an airport bar/lounge is to drink? The authority might also determine that it is a place to socialize too, but do you think they would ever go so far as to officially designate it as a place to pick people up for sex? If they don’t officially designate the bar as a “pick up” area, then the police should be stinging people in the lounge as well as the bathroom.

      Like you, I don’t want to go to the bathroom and get solicited (and I really haven’t), but I also don’t want to go to the bar and get solicited either…..and I have.

      I believe the First Amendment is there to cover a very broad area of speech, conduct, performance, etc. If we outlaw everything that offends you, offends me, offends Tom, Dick and Harry……… we will be living in a totalitarian state. If we made a list of things from everyone in the population that people are offended by, we will create a list that includes almost everything. For instance, I’m offended by all the Christian preachers who claim I am bad, unnatural, going to hell, etc., but I know if I somehow can find a way to shut them down, that eventually I am going to (or someone else will try to) shut me down.

      It’s a slippery slope and I would rather have the First Amendment very broad in its protections, than to chime in with those who want to start moving the boundaries to cover a smaller and smaller range of activities. Once that starts, we will be sorry, very sorry.

    1. Double T on Sep 17, 2007 1:41:26 PM:

      Dear Andoni, We are already on the "slippery slope". We have been since day one.

      Sorry to hear about your arrest. I mean this sincerely.

      We currently have restriction already placed upon our speech. My argument is that with the RIGHT or free speech also comes the RESPONSIBLY of free speech. Can free speech be abused, yes it can. I can scream fire in a crowded theater and watch as people are being tramped running for the door. I can lie about how queers are the devil’s servants, take money from God fearing people and then run to the restroom for a quickie.

      Yes my friend, free speech can be abused.

      And if some Christian Fundamental is preaching in the restroom while I’m pissing, by all means, throw his ass in jail too.

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