Slate editors squabble about the Idaho senator's bathroom arrest.
Of course you plead guilty in this situation to minimize the publicity, whether you think you're guilty or not. The punishment is a fine—vs. what would have been a much bigger national scandal.
Chadwick Matlin: Has anyone gotten a comment from Minneapolis' airport police about the previous complaints in this stall? How frequently were wide stances disrupting travelers' routines?
Shafer: The lavatory in question was so busy that airport authorities had to use air traffic control computers to queue users to their seats.
Dickerson: But apparently the bathroom was not so busy that a guy could peer through the crack in the stall door for two minutes without someone saying, "Move along, buddy." I'm devolving into dorm room hypotheticals here, but if a guy looks into a stall for two minutes and the person being spied upon doesn't say "shove off," isn't that presumably the initiating signal for the peeping tom to start the toe tapping?
Thomas: But remember, the cop's been in the stall for 13 minutes. He's sitting there waiting to be propositioned.
Weisberg: Look, there's a cop sitting on a john in a smelly airport bathroom and he only gets to leave when he arrests somebody. I'm saying if he can't make it sound any worse than that, it really wasn't that bad.
Shafer: June, so you're saying a cop shouldn't police lavs?
Thomas: I'm saying we should focus on finding Osama Bin Laden in Waziristan. I think there are laws policemen take way too much pleasure in enforcing, and this one is right on top. How many people challenge (much less win) charges like this?
I can think of no less enticing a place for cottaging than an airport restroom at noon. For one thing, we all know that there are cameras everywhere in airports. I have no expectation of privacy anywhere in an airport. We're all taking the policeman's statement to be entirely truthful—and I'm not so sure of that.
Shafer: I'm fine with public lavs being no-sex zones and for police to enforce such bans. Just because you think some cops like to enforce this law isn't an argument against enforcing it.
There's a whole culture of anonymous sex by men who don't identify as gay, which I assume is the senator's case. They don't want to go to gay bars or other places to meet men because they're married, they're hung up, they're priests and don't want to be found out. They crave the anonymity. (When I ran City Paper we did a big feature on the culture of anonymous sex in public places in the District.)
Thomas: I'm sure you're right about the senator not identifying as gay.
Personally, I think cottagers are out of their minds (such is the damage caused by homo-hating, societal and internal), and I have no brief for harassment of bathroom-users who simply wish to use the facilities or can think of no other place they'd rather hang out for a couple of hours when in the airport.
Photograph of Larry Craig by Alex Wong/Newsmakers. Photograph of Larry Craig on Slate's home page by Charles Dharapak/AP Photo.