August 28, 2007

Yet Another "Family Values" Conservative Busted in the Boys' Room

Surprise, surprise, surprise... another conservative Republican, anti-gay equality politician has been caught soliciting sex in a public men's room. This time around, it's Idaho's Senator Larry Craig.

Idaho senator pleads guilty after men's room arrest

A Republican U.S. senator confirmed on Monday that he had pleaded guilty to a charge of disorderly conduct earlier this month after he was arrested in June in a men's' toilet at a Minnesota airport.

Sen. Larry Craig of Idaho was arrested by a plainclothes police officer investigating complaints of lewd conduct in the men's public restroom at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, according to a police report cited by the Capitol Hill newspaper Roll Call.

In a carefully worded statement, Craig gave no details of the incident that prompted his arrest on June 11 but confirmed that he had pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct.

"At the time of this incident, I complained to the police that they were misconstruing my actions. I was not involved in any inappropriate conduct," Craig said in a statement...

In a June 2006 Senate vote, Craig voted in favor of an amendment to the Constitution to define marriage in the United States as a union between one man and one woman. The amendment was defeated by one vote.

Craig is a strong advocate for the rights of gun owners. He has a close association with the National Rifle Association and at one time sat on its board of directors.

In October last year a gay rights activist claimed in a Web log that Craig had had several gay relationships. Craig's office denied it, saying the allegations were "completely ridiculous" and had "no basis in fact."...
Craig has also voted against extending federal hate crimes legislation to include homosexuals.

It occurs to me that if these guys were honest both with themselves and with the electorate, they could use this to advance their self-loathing agenda. Craig could have come out and said, "As a gay man, I don't think hate crimes protection should include homosexuals and I am opposed to same-sex marriage." He would have spoken with an additional air of authority, as it were. That wouldn't answer the question of why people like himself and the rest of the growing list of his colleagues caught out in gay and heterosexual misconduct expend so much energy making the lives of people just like themselves, and ultimately their own lives, miserable. Still, one must use the tools that you have at your disposal at the moment. Wasn't that what Senator Craig was trying to do on June 11? It describes the activities of Bob Allen and Glen Murphy quite well, too. In fact, at the rate these guys are going down, perhaps the right-wing should consider combining their apparent proclivities with their religious bent and a bit of humor and announce their new slogan for the upcoming elections: Using the tools God gave us to bring on the Rapture.

Well, maybe not. Just a thought.

What I and many, many others would like to see seems even less likely than a humorous new slogan for the right. That would be a society in which people didn't feel the need to dissemble about their orientation in the first place, one in which sex wasn't such a terrible boogeymen hiding in the dark of the closet in the first place. What is it we're so afraid of as a culture? Or is it something other than fear that's behind our creation of the taboos? Could it be that what we're doing is getting off on the secretive nature, the possibility of "getting caught", acting like furtive sex-junkies for the sheer thrill of it?

I'd like to see a society in which every person could be open about their proclivities. I'm not talking about anything that doesn't involve informed consent here; exactly the opposite, in fact. We should open enough about it that sex education, and not this silly "abstainance only" nonsense pushed by the very guys who keep getting caught picking up anonymous partners in public restrooms, starts at a young age. By the time some hypothetical child has to come to terms with his or her sexuality, that child should be well-equipped to do so head-on and comfortably. That child should understand what's happening to him when puberty hits. There shouldn't be any veil pulled over this particular peculiarity of human biology.

Wouldn't it be better to stop passing judgments and definitions on people based on what they prefer to do with their genitalia? That we should even have to talk about it, that anyone should care in the first place about the sexual orientation of someone with whom they share no intimate involvement, turns any talk of "morality" into a mockery in the first place. Nothing can be called moral that sets up a choice between dishonesty and social leprosy for someone like Larry Craig. We can look down on Craig for his hypocrisy but we must also understand that his hypocrisy is exactly the same as that advanced by our sexually confused culture in the first place. We can despise him for his lying and cheating on his married partner, but we must then be honest ourselves and realize that if it weren't for our culture's ostracizing of gay men in the first place he well might have never married a woman in the first place in his long-term effort to repress and/or disguise his true orientation. We cannot, and should not, separate recognition of wrong-doing with that of the pitiful plight of men in Craig's position.

The irony here is that there's nothing inherently non-conservative about being gay. That there should be any conflict of these concepts is a superficial social construct at best. I am not about to endorse conservatism because I am not a conservative, and I am not endorsing homosexuality because to do so is just as stupid as it is to condemn it for the same reason it would be stupid to condemn a preference for green apples over red. That our culture ties sexuality to political philosophy in the first place is a non sequitur, though, and one we'd best be rid of. There is nothing inherently conservative, liberal, or Marxist about a particular sexual orientation. It says nothing about the values and priorities of a particular person that they prefer one gender over another as a partner. Larry Craig is living proof of this, I think, though precisely because of the necessity of his dishonesty we will never be able to sort out how much of his socially conservative ideology was him and how much of it was a reaction against what he knew himself to be. As long as sex is taboo, this question will never go away.

So while we point derisive fingers at men like Mark Foley, Larry Craig and Bob Allen, we need to see in them what our culture doing to millions of people who live their lives far out of the media's bright eye. Every day, these people have to make choices about whether they will be able to advance in their careers or be truthful about whom they love. This is not a healthy situation for our society, and more importantly it's a punishment inflicted upon people who've done nothing wrong, who are good and decent people and useful, contributing members of our society whether or not we ever find out what's in their hearts.

America needs to grow up. These people aren't criminals, they're not vectors of contagion anymore than anyone else, they're not even different. Sexual orientation only matters, it only becomes a problem, when we as a culture make it so.

In the meantime, all these conservatives looking for love in men's rooms and on street corners and who knows where else could do their country no greater service than to get together and come out as what they really are en masse. They could be leaders and take the risk instead of being cowards and hypocrites who advance themselves through self-flagellation and, even worse, the unjust and unwarranted denigration of so many others. All they need do is be honest for once; wouldn't that be better than being caught out by some blogger, cop, or investigative reporter in the first place?

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