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August 28, 2007

More Republican gay bathroom sex
Posted by Teresa at 07:14 PM * 455 comments

Remember Florida legislator Bob Allen? The one John Scalzi mocked to such excellent effect? Step right up, because we’ve got another winner. He’s not as colorful as Bob “Jackson and a hummer” Allen, but on the other hand, he is a member of the United States Senate.

Senator Larry Craig, (R) Idaho, has offered an explanation for what he was doing with that police officer in that public restroom that meets the usual high standards of plausibility:

(CNN)—Sen. Larry Craig said that he “overreacted and made a poor decision” in pleading guilty to disorderly conduct after his June arrest following an incident in a Minneapolis airport bathroom.

Tuesday, in his first public statement on the arrest, the Idaho Republican said he did nothing “inappropriate.”

“Let me be clear: I am not gay and never have been,” said Craig, who has aligned himself with conservative groups who oppose gay rights.

With his wife by his side, Craig said he is the victim of a “witch hunt” conducted by the Idaho Statesman newspaper. “In pleading guilty, I overreacted in Minneapolis, because of the stress of the Idaho Statesman’s investigation and the rumors it has fueled around Idaho,” he said. “Again, that overreaction was a mistake, and I apologize for my misjudgment.”

Being under investigation by a newspaper back home causes you to “overreact” and plead guilty to a charge of soliciting gay sex in a public restroom? That’s creative.
He added: “I should not have kept this arrest to myself, and should have told my family and friends about it. I wasn’t eager to share this failure, but I should have done so anyway.”

A police officer who arrested him June 11 said Craig peered through a crack in a restroom stall door for two minutes and made gestures suggesting to the officer he wanted to engage in “lewd conduct.”

Craig’s blue eyes were clearly visible through the crack in the door, Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport police Sgt. Dave Karsnia wrote in the report he filed. “Craig would look down at his hands, ‘fidget’ with his fingers, and then look through the crack into my stall again,” Karsnia wrote in documents accompanying the arrest report.

Craig said the officer misinterpreted his actions.

Yeah. Because straight guys are forever gluing themselves to the cracks in bathroom-stall doors in order to stare for minutes on end at some other guy who’s got his trousers down.
After he was taken for questioning, the police report says, Craig pulled out of a Senate business card and asked the officer: “What do you think of that?”
I think that’s what we call compounding the error.
Senate Republican leaders are calling for an ethics committee review. A GOP leadership aide said senators were especially concerned about the business card allegation.
Sounds like they’re getting ready to cut him loose.

Isn’t there some theoretical limit on the number of times highly-placed conservative Republicans can be caught out this way?

Comments on More Republican gay bathroom sex:
#1 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2007, 08:18 PM:

Cottaging conservatives, my, my. I wonder what positions Senator Craig has taken on gay issues.

#2 ::: Mike Bakula ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2007, 08:26 PM:

Well, if nothing else the limit of the judicial function as arrests approach Congress equals 201...

#3 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2007, 08:33 PM:

Isn’t there some theoretical limit on the number of times highly-placed conservative Republicans can be caught out this way?

Certainly. The theoretical limit is equal to the number of Republican Congresspeople still in office. The practical limit is equal to the number of gay Republican Congresspeople who cruise for sex. Of course there are other kinds of embarrassing sex scandals they can be caught out in, so the practical limit may not be as small as it might seem.

#4 ::: Dan ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2007, 08:36 PM:

But... but... These are the "Family Values" people!

#5 ::: Michael Weholt ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2007, 08:39 PM:

Could we show a little compassion here?

#6 ::: McMartin ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2007, 08:46 PM:

I can't tell if #5 is seriously intended or not, but pleas for compassion to someone who is (a) a closeted X and (b) a vocal opponent of X rights seem misplaced, at least for compassion related to that someone being outed as an X himself.

I state this generally, though lately X has always been equal to "gay".

It's not merely the great galloping hypocrisy, nor simple "lol teh ghey"; it's that it's an almost textbook example of chickens coming home to roost.

Is it sad that we live in a world where he'd be reduced to this kind of thing? Sure. But he bears a significant part of the responsibility for that world to begin with.

#7 ::: Bob Oldendorf ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2007, 08:50 PM:

I was fumbling toward saying something like this, but Susie Bright said it better:

The GOP Narcissists aren't the exception to the rule— they ARE the rule. They personify the very sexuality they campaign against. If they vote against gays, we know they're queer. If they're hopped up about "child porn," we can guess their internet habits. If they hold up monogamous marriage as a Christian ideal, we know they're adulterous, blasphemous fools.
#8 ::: JC ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2007, 08:54 PM:

Rationally, I totally understand that what I'm seeing is selection bias. (i.e., the radically homophobic public officials who are actually heterosexual and have utterly ordinary sex lives are never in this sort of circumstance. So, they can't be caught in it.)

However, it's times like this when it feels like, yes, everyone who takes the anti-gay rights position, whether it be for political advantage or deep, inner conviction, is, in fact, a traitor to his brethren.

#9 ::: Dawno ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2007, 08:55 PM:

McMartin @ 6 - you really need to click the link in #5.

#10 ::: JC ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2007, 09:02 PM:

Oops, it's just occured to me that what I wrote can be easily interpreted as minimizing the issue. I don't mean that at all. Even if it really is selection bias, there are still an amazingly large number of radically homophobic Christians engaged in rather hypocritical sex acts. (Not to mention, anonymous sex in a public bathroom can not be one of the safer things one can do.)

#11 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2007, 09:05 PM:

Bob @ 7: Y'see, they know that what they're doing is wrong, so they want good strong laws and lots of social stigma attached to those activities to give themselves a bit more incentive to stop.

Yeah, that's the ticket.

#12 ::: Todd Larason ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2007, 09:11 PM:

JC #8: I've come to believe that one reason this is so common is that some of these men at least are fully convinced that they actually are straight. Since they "know" they're straight, and yet find sex with other men almost (or entirely) irresistible, they assume that the same is true for all other straight men. That explains the otherwise incomprehensible theories that gay people recruit children, and that gays need to be stigmatized or everyone would be gay, and that it just takes one same-sex encounter to "turn" someone gay.

Of course, for some people that's giving too much credit. Some of them know what they are and are just fine persecuting their brothers, just so long as the rules don't apply to them.

#13 ::: Seth Breidbart ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2007, 09:13 PM:

Bruce #3: I hope the limit is once each.

#14 ::: McMartin ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2007, 09:16 PM:

Dawno @ 9: I did click before posting. It's just that I've been on the Internet so long that my satire detectors have burned out entirely.

#15 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2007, 09:19 PM:

Great. First, we keep being reminded how the GOP has sent America down the toilet. Now, we have to think of toilets as a place where Republicans have sex. At long last, Madame, have you no shame?

#16 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2007, 09:23 PM:

Just as the little b is convinced that Fredo is a good, talented, honest man brought down by a politicized D.C. flinging mud at him.

The spouse has a song he wrote inspired by Pastor Ted that he will be singing during his set in San Francisco's "Hardly Strictly Bluegrass" festival in October. (At least at the moment it's on the set list.) It begins:

"I'm guilty,
of Sexual immorality
Won't you please,
Punish me?"

There's so many now, this one song for Pastor Ted will have to stand in for them all.

#17 ::: Michael Weholt ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2007, 09:26 PM:

Wow. Vandalism. Smells like Gay Panic to me.

#18 ::: John Houghton sees monotonous spam above... ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2007, 09:28 PM:

The sooner deleted, the better.

#19 ::: John Houghton ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2007, 09:29 PM:

Deleted whilst I and Michael typed. Youse guys are good!

#20 ::: James Killus ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2007, 09:30 PM:
Isn’t there some theoretical limit on the number of times highly-placed conservative Republicans can be caught out this way?
Certainly. The theoretical limit is equal to the number of Republican Congresspeople still in office.

This assumes that departing Republicans caught in gay sex scandals are not replaced by other Republicans who are then caught in gay sex scandals. This is a very dubious assumption. I do not see even the number of Republicans as a theoretical limit, as there is no reason to assume that any of these guys are gone permanently and the Republican base would vote for a serial molester of underage barnyard animals before it would vote for "liberals."

I also see that no one here is really considering the erotic appeal of the forbidden. Closeted Republicans want their kinks to be illegal or at the least, very, very frowned upon, because otherwise, it would not appeal to them.

#21 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2007, 09:33 PM:

So ... are Republicans suddenly starting to solicit gay sex in restrooms, or have they been soliciting gay sex in restrooms all along but no one reported it?

#22 ::: Mel ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2007, 09:35 PM:

Craig has been quite vocally anti-gay-rights.

There are two things that annoy the hell out of me here:

(1) Craig has been much more vocal about denying that he's gay than about denying illegal activity. Which one is he actually charged with? THAT'S RIGHT, ILLEGAL ACTIVITY. Because being gay is NOT ILLEGAL. So I should think that would be the more important part of clearing his name.

(2) Various press outfits have been using terms like "accusations of homosexuality." When was the last time anyone was "accused" of heterosexuality?

And I think Todd Larason has it dead-on. (I wouldn't be surprised if it's related to the well-documented psychological phenomenon among anti-abortion-rights conservative women of "My abortion is okay and necessary, but yours makes you an immoral slut." Regardless of one's attitude towards homosexuality or abortion, those are pretty hypocritical attitudes.)

#23 ::: John Houghton ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2007, 09:39 PM:

Republican Gay Sex, oh the shame of it all!
(No, silly, not the Gay part, the Republican part).

#24 ::: Another Damned Medievalist ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2007, 09:41 PM:

What I don't get is how they think soliciting strangers in public toilets is going to be more discreet than picking up rent boys or using an expensive escort service. Or, you know, just having an affair with someone who's actually interested and really doesn't want any publicity himself?

#25 ::: Michael Weholt ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2007, 09:43 PM:

#20 James Killus: ...I also see that no one here is really considering the erotic appeal of the forbidden. Closeted Republicans want their kinks to be illegal or at the least, very, very frowned upon, because otherwise, it would not appeal to them.

Could be that, but I think it's a power thing. I'm the Man and I can write my own rules. That part comes out especially when you get to the preposterous denials and/or explanations to dismiss their behavior when they get caught. Politicians pretty much by definition are defined by their attraction to power. Which isn't bad in itself, of course, assuming the politician is prepared to assume all the responsibilities that come with power.

But I think for a lot of politicians it's about the power part, not the responsibility part. If a guy was into responsibility, he'd cop to what he did when he got caught at it. More or less like Barney Frank.

He got caught. He said he was an idiot. He said he was a homo. So, you know, he takes responsibility for his stupid behavior. The voters in his constituency said (and have said for years), yeah, okay, you were stupid, you're a homo, but you represent me well and so you got my vote.

It's the denials and the bullshit "explanations" that scare me about these guys. What more indication do we need that these guys are completely into power and totally out of control?

#26 ::: julia ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2007, 10:29 PM:

Of course they're going to cut him loose. Unlike Sen. Vitter's state, Sen. Craig's state has a Republican governor.

It's funny that so few of the stories about his wife and children and grandchildren mention that he married his wife and adopted her children after his first round of denying he was gay in the early eighties...

#27 ::: julia ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2007, 10:37 PM:

Jim @ 21: I'll never forget the edifying spectacle of Barney Frank calling the press and announcing that if the attempt to pinkwash Tom Foley didn't end Right. That. Minute. he was going to start naming gay Republican names.

It stopped right. that. minute. This was back in Newt days. It was the only ginned up faux-scandal the bombthrowers abandoned (damn, I love me some Barney Frank, parenthetically)

And yes, the press knows.

#28 ::: Josh Jasper ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2007, 10:40 PM:

Outside of the irony and hilarity of it all, this should shine a bright light on anti-gay harassment by cops.

First a cop who probably lied about being in a public park to check on burglaries leads on a man who then makes the mistake of offering him money, and now, Craig, deserving of a karmic kick in the ass as he is, gets busted for little more than some "wink wink nudge nudge". What he did is less aggressive and offensive than what het couples do in bars.

The point I hope you all pick up on is that homophobia among police (as well as republican congresscritters) is an institutional problem, and by ignoring it, it's not going to get better, it'll get worse.

We need to stop police from singling out gay men for cruising busts. That's the lesson, folks.

Oh, and to avoid the mistake John Scalzi made about me, I'll be real clear here. I'm not on Craig's 'side'. I'm against homophobic police, no matter who they bust.

Which is not to say don't laugh. I mean, this really is damn funny. But please, understand that what Craig and Allen wen through as gay men is something that out gay men go through too - the police are actively out to get them.

Police harassment caused the Stonewall Riots. It's going on today. Everyone is a potential target if cops think you're gay.

#29 ::: Nat ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2007, 10:51 PM:

Josh, I definitely believe there's a lot of homophobia in the way police officers conduct cruising busts, but at the same time I think I'm a lot happier if nobody ogles me through the crack in a restroom stall, gay or straight.

I'm pretty okay with Craig getting nailed for this. Maybe it's "less aggressive" than what people do in bars, but if I'm in a bar I'm expecting people to hit on me. The same isn't true if I'm sitting in a stall with my pants around my ankles.

#30 ::: mythago ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2007, 11:07 PM:

We need to stop police from singling out gay men for cruising busts.

Kind of ironic that such a harsh police atmosphere only flourishes when, say, United States Senators are fighting hard to oppress gays.

Oh, an interesting addendum is that while Craig made the rather implausible claim that he made all this unfair pleading-to without a lawyer, he apparently later claimed to have a lawyer when he contacted the police department.

#31 ::: A.J. ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2007, 11:30 PM:

I'm starting to understand why the "family values" conservatives don't like gays -- their gays are idiots.

Let's forget about the moral issues here. There's a glaring practical problem: If you're a public figure and you're cruising for sex in men's bathrooms, you're taking comically stupid risks.

Unless, of course, what you really want is to get caught...

#32 ::: Jon H ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2007, 12:07 AM:

"We need to stop police from singling out gay men for cruising busts. That's the lesson, folks."

Hey! Guess what! Even in a 100% gay-friendly America in which nobody felt compelled to live in the closet being gay bore no stigma two things would be true: 1) A subset of gay men would be trying to hook up in public places 2) Nobody would want to be stepping over used nasty rubbers at the airport bathroom.

And don't even try claiming that there is no gay subculture of cruising and engaging in sex in public or that the only people who do so are closet cases.

If I'm sitting in a bathroom stall at a rest stop, at 3am, using it as intended, and the only other person around is trying to get in the stall with me, that's frigging *menacing* is what that is, not harmless cruising by some poorly-adjusted closet case.

#33 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2007, 12:10 AM:

Maybe he was just canvassing for votes.

#34 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2007, 12:26 AM:

Todd Larason #12: Oh. My god. Epiphany. Seriously, it all makes sense now. I never thought of it that way. Thank you!

#35 ::: Jon H ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2007, 12:28 AM:

Personally, I'm waiting for photos to surface of LaHaye and Jenkins, in flagrante.

#36 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2007, 12:34 AM:

#33:

"Hi, I've been screwing you in congress for many years, and now, I'm here to do it in person."

#37 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2007, 12:35 AM:

#35: I'm waiting for security camera shots of Ralph Reed, naked, in a petting zoo, after hours.

"It's the hair that gave it away, wasn't it Vern? I known I seen it before, on that gentleman that buys season tickets every year."

#38 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2007, 12:39 AM:

#17, 18, 19 above: the (now deleted) vandalism was posted from....

dns 69.202.87.204
nslookup 69.202.87.204
Canonical name: cpe-69-202-87-204.twcny.res.rr.com
Addresses:
69.202.87.204

#39 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2007, 12:50 AM:

If Craig had been smart, he'd have stuck to The Handkerchief Code.

#40 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2007, 01:20 AM:

A. J. @ 31, Another Damned Medievalist @ 24

There are some people, gay and straight, for whom sex is inextricably bound up with danger and risk. They can't not pick the riskiest behavior, from one point of view or another. If they don't have political power to bet against being outed in a (at least to their constituents) scandalous situation, some of them will risk being beat up by gay bashers (who may or may not be cops), or being exposed to HIV.

It's sad really, because this is very self-destructive behavior, and it often puts others, their ostensible "loved ones" at risk as well. But it's hard to feel sympathy for them when they're so hypocritical about it. And notice that even that can be a part of the game they're playing, because if they keep their own behavior unacceptable to society, they've kept the danger up high where they need it to be.

#41 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2007, 02:03 AM:

Bob, #7: Reading thru that essay, I found a link to this down near the bottom. She's calling it a "love triangle gone bad", which is a bit of a stretch from the linked article itself; OTOH, if any of the people involved had been female, I don't think there'd be any doubt at all that there was a sexual aspect to it, so I'm inclined to agree with her.

#42 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2007, 04:16 AM:

It's such a squalid situation.

Can't the guy afford to go to a hotel?

#43 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2007, 05:04 AM:

Glenn Greenwald has a very thorough blog entry up detailing how right-wing commentators all said Craig's sex life was nobody's business last October, and how the very same commentators now think it's shocking and appalling and he must resign.

#44 ::: Shani ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2007, 05:49 AM:

No, not really. Why else would they all be so obsessed with it? It's sad but true. Most people couldn't bring themselves to care quite so much about gay people living normal, easily accepted lives unless they were disturbed by the idea on a very deep level.

There was a study* a while back that measured men's physical reaction to male-male pornography. The homophobes (who identified as completely straight and said they'd had no same sex encounters) reacted much more dramatically than straight men who felt no need to punish homosexuals.

* apologies for not looking up a scholarly link, but here Is a random article on it with names etc

#45 ::: Michael Weholt ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2007, 06:49 AM:

#28 Josh Jasper: Police harassment caused the Stonewall Riots. It's going on today. Everyone is a potential target if cops think you're gay.

The riot at the Stonewall started when the patrons of that bar got fed up with the regular police raids. They were in there minding their own damn business and the cops, pretty much on a tedious schedule, kept busting the joint.

They key point here being, they were minding their own business.

I am a tireless advocate for gay rights. There is, in fact, harassment of gays by the police and by many others and it needs addressing, but the right to have sex in public or to hit on people in restrooms isn't a full citizenship matter. It's a matter of interfering with other people who are trying to mind their own business while doing their business. It is, apart from anything it might be called, inconsiderate in the extreme.

Maybe it would be a better world if our society was, in fact, run more along the lines of bonobo society, but that just isn't the way we do things at the moment.

Pointing out examples of genuine police-state harassment is useful -- for example, the Georgia State Police arresting two gay men in their own home -- but using for your example vice squads staking out public restrooms... well, as I say, that makes the thing into a civil rights struggle between the humanites and the bonoboites. I just don't see the usefulness of it.

#46 ::: Josh Jasper ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2007, 07:34 AM:

#45, from Michael Weholt, The riot at the Stonewall started when the patrons of that bar got fed up with the regular police raids.

There are regular police raids at parks, and at mens rooms which are used by gay men who can't come out.

Are you folks creeped out by that? You want police to bust the men for doing that? Then explain to me why you're not asking for police to bust ham handed pick up artists in bars, clubs, and on the streets who're much, much worse and much creepier.

This *IS* a double standard.

the police harrasment not as brutal as Stonewall was, and it's not an attack on a known gay venue, but the double standard is there staring you in the face. Gay men get busted for something straight people get away with. Somehow hitting on a guy in a bathroom is worthy of arrest, but a man doing the same thing to a woman in a bar gets a pass from the cops.

The thing is, most straight men I know of are creeped our by being hit on by gay men in any venue. But making an experience where you're creeped out worthy of an arrest, and not applying that same standard to what women go through bears examining, not defensiveness.

Please stop with the "some of my best friends are gay" defensiveness and actually listen to queer people when we tell you what homophobia and a targeted campaign of police harassment looks like. If you're not willing to do that, you're only a defender of gay rights when it's convenient, and when you get to define the situation.

#47 ::: Michael Weholt ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2007, 07:50 AM:

#46 Josh Jasper: There are regular police raids at parks, and at mens rooms which are used by gay men who can't come out.... Are you folks creeped out by that? You want police to bust the men for doing that? Then explain to me why you're not asking for police to bust ham handed pick up artists in bars, clubs, and on the streets who're much, much worse and much creepier.

Your view requires the equivalency in function of bars and public toilets. I don't see it. I don't think most folks see it. If you can establish that equivalency in everybody's minds, you might make some progress on this point here, I guess.

#48 ::: Rob Hansen ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2007, 07:58 AM:

Sorry, Josh, but I'm with Michael Weholt on this. If someone makes of either gender makes a pass at you in a social setting you can accept or refuse it as you see fit. I don't consider when I'm sat in a cubicle taking a dump to be a social setting. The one time someone tried this I told him to f*ck off. He did. Very quickly. In such a situation I consider his actions harrassment, frankly.

#49 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2007, 08:11 AM:

Josh Jasper #46: I'm with Michael Weholt and Rob Hansen on this. Being hit on in a bar (and this is not an exclusively heterosexual matter) is a very different thing from your privacy being violated when you're engaged in a necessary natural act.

#50 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2007, 08:16 AM:

I believe that the cops routinely bust men who offer money-for-sex to female undercover officers in public parks, and don't hesitate to bust men who enter women's restrooms.

#51 ::: Michael Weholt ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2007, 08:24 AM:

#50 James D. Macdonald: I believe that the cops... don't hesitate to bust men who enter women's restrooms.

Okay, we need a little clarification here. I'm presuming you don't mean to equate a gay man entering a men's restroom with a straight man entering a women's restroom. Jeez, I hope not. Otherwise there are going to be a lot of law-abiding gay men bouncing from one foot to the other in public places, bending forward slightly, holding their hoo-haws and turning bright red in the face.

#52 ::: Mris ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2007, 08:40 AM:

Not even just the stereotypical park bathroom late at night, Josh. An airport bathroom. So if my 5-year-old godson is being taken to his grandparents' house, this is where he has to perform bodily functions. His parents don't take him to singles bars at night. If they're flying, you damn betcha they take him to the bathrooms at MSP. I don't think it's unreasonable for his folks not to want to have to answer questions about what those men are doing and what that noise is and what's that on the floor and so on. You can absolutely decry homophobia among police without having to defend sex in the airport bathrooms to get there.

#53 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2007, 08:50 AM:

Just curious, but what was it about my comment at #39 that got it tagged for moderation before posting?

#54 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2007, 08:51 AM:

I can understand arresting a straight man in a women's restroom better than any man in the men's room, but I can't think of any non-obvious reasons for a guy to be in there-- men's room is broken, escorting a daughter or someone else who needs assistance, things like that.

I can sort of see the equivalency between parks and bathrooms if the men have no other social/sexual venue*, but the case is weakened by the fact that this particular man seems to have been pretty bad at it. If everyone present is there for the same reason, fine. If the bathroom-sex-people can differentiate between potential hookups and people who do not want to be bothered, less fine, but not as bad as accosting someone who is completely uninterested.
Making eye contact with the guy at the sink as you walk in and both of you understanding the signals? Okay, there are sexual trends/subcultures I don't really understand, but it's not skeezy in a 'this is how you hook up'** way. Looking in the stalls, which may contain people who are not participating*, and going on from there? Not so much.

Some of the general freakedness may also be because most people I know think of bathrooms, even stalls, as private. Under most circumstances, you don't talk to others. It's a place you can't be bothered. The collision of my private mental bathroom space with 'just like a bar'-- which is definitely public and social-- is not terribly pretty.


*this is the wrong phrase, but I don't know the right one.
**I'm still a bit icked by the public setting and sanitation, but that's not the primary issue.

#55 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2007, 08:52 AM:

Okay, let's say "men entering a women's restroom for the purpose of getting a date."

#56 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2007, 08:53 AM:

Mris, you nailed another thing I couldn't figure out how to bring up. Many thanks.

#57 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2007, 08:57 AM:

#53: The URL includes members.aol.com, which is a string that appears in an unGhodly amount of comment-spam.

#58 ::: Mris ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2007, 09:41 AM:

I realize that there's a certain "won't someone please think of the chiiiiildren" tone to bringing up the 5-year-old. But as limited as the choice in where to get sexual contact may be for some gay people, the choice in where to deposit bodily wastes at the airport is still more limited -- and, I would venture to say, more urgent.

#59 ::: salvador dalai llama ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2007, 09:43 AM:

#25: Michael Weholt:

Actually, Republicans (well, with the exception of Lincoln) were all straight until J. Edgar Hoover. He seduced Roy Cohn, Roy Cohn seduced John Foster Dulles, and it went on from there. The Gay Republican Domino Effect really set the tone for the fifties--McCarthy was egged on by the leadership so that nobody would pay attention to all the hot gay Republican sex that was going on in bathrooms all over Washington. William F. Buckley (come on! Is there anyone more fey than WFB?) brought it to a younger generation in the sixties. For a while there, John Birch Society meetings made parties at Allen Ginsberg's place look like Presbyterian potlucks.

#60 ::: Karin ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2007, 09:48 AM:

Joel @11 and James @20: The Daily Show had some pretty amusing commentary on the "lure of the forbidden" angle here, vis-a-vis the Bob Allen incident.

"It makes the fruit forbidden, which is that much hotter. And we all know what they say about hot fruit."

#61 ::: Michael Weholt ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2007, 10:01 AM:

#58 Mris: ...But as limited as the choice in where to get sexual contact may be for some gay people...

Actually, these days, I don't buy the "limited choice" thing. Craigslist is everywhere. So is www.gay.com. Not to mention the proliferation of sites with more, um, focused tastes such as www.alt.com. If the desire is for completely anonymous sex, there are plenty of guys on CL looking for that very thing.

The internet is the best thing to happen to gay sex since Plato. Nobody actually has to go to parks or restrooms or other public places to solicit sex these days. Hell, if you are hot under the scrotum and can't hold it long enough to get back home to your keyboard, there are plenty of internet cafes you can use to arrange something quickly. I've seen it done.

No, it isn't limited availability. It's a preference. Or a compulsion. Or a pathology. Or something. I'm not prepared or trained to say what it is exactly, but I know it isn't lack of availability.

#62 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2007, 10:03 AM:

Karin #60: It's good over ice cream?

#63 ::: theophylact ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2007, 10:36 AM:

Dave Bell #42: It was a stopover to change planes. He probably didn't have time for a hotel.

As far as I'm concerned, his real offense was showing the cop who had arrested him his Senate business card and saying, "What do you say to that?"

#64 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2007, 10:48 AM:

There was a time when gay men could only meet in sleazy circumstances, when being "out" was suicide. Even gay bars were illegal, which is why the raids that led to the Stonewall Riots (yes, three days' worth) happened.

If it's impossible to meet for sex without breaking the law, then the law is unjust, and busting people for it is unjust.

But those days are long gone, and may they never return. Today gay people can meet in a significant fraction of the places and ways straight people can. (There are lots of de facto restrictions; if a straight guy asks a female coworker out once, is turned down, and does not ask again, he's OK. If a gay guy asks a male coworker out once and is turned down it could end his career, depending on the company. This is even in the NYC area.)

Having sex in public restrooms is a thing only gay men do. It is and IMO should be illegal, but the issue of oppression is comparatively subtle now. If the police respond to complaints (as they were in Craig's case), that's one thing. If they devote vice resources to nabbing gay men at the expense of keeping what used to be called "mashers" out of the parks, that's another.

Jim, the problem with your examples at 50 and 55 is...well, "the law forbids rich and poor alike from sleeping under bridges." Straight men don't go into women's restrooms to get dates. Non-smokers are forbidden to smoke on airplanes, but that doesn't bother them.

Now, I think sex in a public restroom (especially in an airport, FCOL) ought to be illegal, as should smoking on airplanes. But that doesn't mean that devoting resources to that crime can't be homophobic; it just means that the issues are relatively subtle.

#65 ::: mythago ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2007, 11:02 AM:

If the police respond to complaints (as they were in Craig's case), that's one thing. If they devote vice resources to nabbing gay men at the expense of keeping what used to be called "mashers" out of the parks, that's another.

And whether they respond to (and make it clear that they will respond to) complaints about sexual harassment or activity by heterosexuals in public places.

Michael et al are acting as if the question is "Is it OK for gay men to have sex in public restrooms, and for police to bust them if they do?" That's not the question. It's "Why are the cops setting up sting operations targeted at gay men?"

Because, as Shining-Armor Clad Defenders of Gays all know, there is a very long history of vice-squad operations targeted at gays because they are gay, not because they uniquely are leaving condoms lying around in public spaces or harassing children.

And speaking of harassment, any moderately-attractive women could tell you that harassment (up to and including the physical) happens to women in public places all the time.

#66 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2007, 11:05 AM:

mythago 65: I agree entirely.

#67 ::: Alan Braggins ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2007, 11:09 AM:

> Having sex in public restrooms is a thing only gay men do.

I'm not convinced that's entirely true. Having sex in public restrooms with random strangers they have just met there, rather than sneaking in with their existing partner, perhaps, but the "thrill of risking being caught" thing can be there for straight couples too. Unless straights just make up stories about it.

#68 ::: Sarah S ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2007, 11:12 AM:

#65

Yep. See, for example:

http://hollabacknyc.blogspot.com/

http://www.blanknoiseproject.blogspot.com/

http://www.streetharassmentproject.org/

and so on...

#69 ::: Michael Weholt ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2007, 11:32 AM:

#65 mythago: Michael et al are acting as if the question is "Is it OK for gay men to have sex in public restrooms, and for police to bust them if they do?" That's not the question. It's "Why are the cops setting up sting operations targeted at gay men?"

Michael et al are acting as if the question is "Is it OK for gay men to have sex in public restrooms..." because Josh made that the question.

Look, I believe Josh has a perfectly valid and valuable point underneath all the anger and hostility and baloney, a point that I actually agree with completely.

Straight men should learn to cope with gay men hitting on them in the same way that women have learned to cope with straight men hitting on them. Or, alternatively, if it is a crime per se for gay men to hit on other men, it should be a crime per se for straight men to hit on women.

The second alternative, making it a crime per se for men to hit on women, seems a bit much to ask of a species that relies on sexual reproduction for its survival. That does not mean that there shouldn't be limits on behavior. Harassment, above and beyond playfully hitting on somebody, is harassment and there should be measures against it.

Let me say it again. I completely agree that police harass gay men for hitting on men. I agree that it is unjust. I believe that it comes from a societal flaw that causes straight men to be freaked out by gay men hitting on them. It is wrong.

I will wager one whole American dollar that all the "et als" you refer to in here agree with me on all of that.

In fact, the question in this discussion is precisely what you said it wasn't. Is it okay for gay men to hit on other men in public restrooms? The answer of Michael et al is "no". There is a time and place for everything, and being hit on while trying to take a dump in peace is the wrong time and place. Is it okay for gay men to hit on men in other places where, under similar circumstances, straight men hit on women? I'll wager that the answer of Michael et al in here is, "yes, of course". Or, at least that it should be okay, even if because of flaws in our culture it isn't yet.

#70 ::: HG ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2007, 11:46 AM:

I'm saying this as a gay man, but Craig was completely out of line in this situation, regardless of whatever homophobia the police may show. Most people just go to the restroom to expel waste in private, and the privacy is critical rather than optional.

I've used the bathroom in a public building before and washed my hands after and found, on top of the trash, a used condom. I don't care if the people who put it there were gay or straight or bi. I don't want to see it there. Sex is not what the bathroom is for.

#71 ::: Josh Jasper ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2007, 11:52 AM:

I'm sorry, he was *having sex*? See, I missed that part.

I think it was because he wasn't. But in your mind, Xopher, you turned what I was saying into an excuse for gay men having public sex in bathrooms, or in parks.

The last 3 times I saw people having sex in central park they were straight couples. And yet the police squads with the sting operations failed to stop them. Because they weren't there.

And it's funny how no female police offices I've ever heard of go trolling parks looking to sucker men into making offers of public sex. No, that happens only to gay men. And yet straight couples have sex in public parks all the damn time.

And Mris found it necessary to mention children, because any time gay men are discussed, someone inevitably brings out children as something they put in danger.

All Craig possibly did was make a minor pass at someone. Nothing more.

Michael, if I wasn't angry about this, I'd be numb.

#72 ::: Michael Weholt ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2007, 12:00 PM:

#71 Josh Jasper: Michael, if I wasn't angry about this, I'd be numb.

Anger is good. Numb is bad. You should be angry. A lot more people should be angry. I'm just thinking it could help matters if you assume more people are starting out on your side than you might, at first, think, is all, and maybe framing your arguments with that assumption in mind, is all.

#73 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2007, 12:03 PM:

it's funny how no female police offices I've ever heard of go trolling parks looking to sucker men into making offers of public sex.

I've heard of this happening, although usually they're trolling on street corners, since that seems to be a more common location for such business transactions.

#74 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2007, 12:04 PM:

Josh, we all know that Craig was trying to have sex with that police officer in that airport toilet.

#75 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2007, 12:05 PM:

Josh, 71: And it's funny how no female police offices I've ever heard of go trolling parks looking to sucker men into making offers of public sex

Because straight hookers stand on street corners, so female police officers doing vice stings stand on street corners too. Female police officers who go trolling in parks are looking for rapists.

#76 ::: Gursky ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2007, 12:11 PM:

The Grey Lady's coverage of this is hilarious. They start out talking about the recent string of political scandals, sexual and otherwise, and how funny (demoralising, if you're naive/self-righteous enough to be Republican) it is that they've all come from one side of the aisle. They decide, for the sake of due diligence, to mention Rep. Billy Jefferson, a Democrat from LS (the gentleman with bricks of cash in his freezer), leading the paragraph off with this gem of dry biting wit:

"Republicans, of course, do not have an exclusive hold on scandal."

That "of course" is genius.

Crazy homophobic conspiracy theories aside (#59), I really think this is more than just a perception bias at work here. Yes, maybe there is something about these politicians that leads them to risk-hungry sexual behavior. But more than that, I think they are just fairly inept, both at seeking sexual partners and at weaving bumbling denials afterwards. Is there some strain of conservative politics right now that tends to promote folks that are ham-fisted boy-men with hard-ons for danger? I don't know, I just know that neither are traits I want to see in leaders of the nation.

#77 ::: dermott mcsorley ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2007, 12:14 PM:

So many Republican sex scandles,I just cant keep them straight.

#78 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2007, 12:14 PM:

While it's true that "think of the children" is often a marker of a dishonest argument appealing to emotion rather than reason, sometimes it means just what it says.

I bring my three-year-old daughter into the mens toilets rather than bring my adult self into the ladies. I don't want to bring her into somewhere gay men are having sex. I'm not suggesting that the gay men having sex in toilets are going to attack us, or want to have sex with her, or that she will be in any danger.

I wouldn't take her into a place where anyone is having sex, and I really do have to bring her into airport toilets.

#79 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2007, 12:21 PM:

it's funny how no female police offices I've ever heard of go trolling parks looking to sucker men into making offers of public sex.

You might try Googling on police + prostitution + sting

The last time a guy hit on me was in the DVD section of the Borders Bookstore in Concord, NH. I was by myself, wearing my leather motorcycle jacket. I had copy of The Birdcage and Priscilla, Queen of the Desert in my hand and was looking for A Chorus Line when a nice young man struck up a conversation. I said "No thanks," and that was that.

Look, I'll make you a deal: I won't take a dump on the bar if you won't hit on me in the toilet. Fair enough?

#80 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2007, 12:25 PM:

Josh Jasper:

Here are the distinctions I see in the Craog case.

1: There were complaints. I can tell you, from a personal POV, if some guy was staring at me sitting on the toilet in a public place, I'd complain. I not much of a shrinking violet. When I was younger, and prettier/softer looking, I got lots of male attention. Being straight it was educational, but it wasn't horrible. Sometimes it was even flattering.

But not in the toilet. The setting is wrong.

2: Do cops target gays? Yes. Is that wrong? Yes. Does that wrongness make this case, ipso facto wrong? No.

3: Do cops fail to look for straight men? No, and this is where I am treading thin ice. I think your failure to see the female vice cops who go cruising for johns might be a bit of confirmation bias. For all the reasons given above, that's not the sort of thing which is going to take place in toilets (at least not at the point of solicitation; I have no problem believing there are men who ask prostitutes to duck into a stall to take care of the business.

Those are issues which relate to the legality of selling sex. Putting aside the question of the value of legalising prostitution, public toilets aren't the place to have sex, either professional or personal.

Would I be happier if Karsnia had waited for a more overt act, but having been hit on, I can believe he knew what was going on. Since the charge which was dropped was for the peering, there might be some aggrandising of the charge (going for the sexual one, instead of the more sustainable one) which relates to the social "ick" factor is a problem.

Then again, IIRC, the one he copped to was the lesser offence.

Should anyone who wants to be allowed to arrange the consensual pleasure of their choice? Absolutely.

Should people be allowed to make advances on people in places they are vulnerable? Should they be allowed to make me put up with them engaging in those consensual acts (of a nature our culture deems private) where I have to interact/take notice?

No.

Should the inequities which exist in the present enforcement of those issues be addressed? Yes.

(Maia just called, I have to pick her up... I had other things I thought I wanted to say, they will have to wait).

#81 ::: Jon H ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2007, 12:29 PM:

Josh wrote: "I'm sorry, he was *having sex*? See, I missed that part."

Don't play stupid, it's not becoming. Or believable.

If Craig was trying to ask the guy out, he could have done so, not surreptitiously gawked at the guy and played footsie from the stall next door.

If he wanted to pick up a date, why use the bathroom, and not, say, an airport bar?

I would submit that people don't generally look for attractive and interesting dates by peeping through a crack while those people are on the toilet poopin'.

The fact is he was seeking anonymous sex in a bathroom stall.

#82 ::: Josh Jasper ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2007, 12:33 PM:

#79 James D. Macdonald You might try Googling on police + prostitution + sting

I said public sex, not prostitution.

When was the last time you heard of undercover female cops going up to men in parks, and asking if they'd like to have sex, not exchange sex for money.

Have you ever heard of that? I've never heard of that. But in this case, Craig was busted by officers looking for nothing more than a gay man trying to arrange a hookup. Allen was busted for solicitation, but the officer was obviously looking to bust a queer. He strung Allen along, and probably would have just busted him for lewd conduct. The solicitation was a bonus because Allen was an idiot.

#74 Niall McAuley -

We all know no such thing. In the Allen case, Allen specifically suggested that the bathroom was too public.

God, the homophobia in here is getting cloying.

#83 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2007, 12:39 PM:

Josh, what part of "sex does not belong in public toilets" is homophobic?

#84 ::: Leah Bobet ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2007, 12:40 PM:

#69, Michael: Straight men should learn to cope with gay men hitting on them in the same way that women have learned to cope with straight men hitting on them. Or, alternatively, if it is a crime per se for gay men to hit on other men, it should be a crime per se for straight men to hit on women.

Could I possibly put forward as a third option -- that maybe men could stop hitting on people so much? Instead of everyone else having to learn to cope with it?

They don't call it "hitting on" because it's something you look forward to experiencing every morning when you wake up.

#85 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2007, 12:43 PM:

Josh, I know it and you know it, and yelling about the violence inherent in the system won't change that.

#86 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2007, 12:49 PM:

Michael 69: I agree with this too.

Josh 71: I didn't mean to mischaracterize what you said. But "making a minor pass at someone" would be saying "Hey, wanna go to my room?" I think he should be allowed to do that.

He peered into someone else's toilet stall, and gave other signs indicative of wanting sex not later, but right there in a public place, and a confined one at that.

Now I compulsively tap my feet. One time, when I was young and naïve, I was in a public restroom in Boston (at NorEasCon II, I think it was), and my tapping gave the wrong impression to the guy in the next stall. When he stuck his head under the wall, the shocked expression on my face made him withdraw quickly. I was a little freaked out, but that ended the incident.

There are cops who would have done what I did on purpose and arrested the other guy. There MIGHT be cops who would have arrested me for tapping my feet, but absent the peering and touching feet and sticking the hand under I doubt it.

You're right about most of the rest of what you say. Sex in Central Park should either be OK for all, or for none, and enforcement should be evenhanded.

#87 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2007, 01:00 PM:

Johh: Perhaps your equating the Allen case (First a cop who probably lied about being in a public park to check on burglaries leads on a man who then makes the mistake of offering him money [#28] I'm not even going to address the number of times I've been, "lead on" without offering the woman money to let me performm a sexual act on her, but I think you characterisation of the Allen case a trifle... focused) to the Craig case might have something to do with the confusions of being hit on for sex in public (which is what happened here) and paying for it.

Because, as you keep stressing, Craig didn't offer to have sex in public (though the oficer thought it's what he wanted, and such a desire is what he pled to), which means the parallel (of men offering to have sex; right here, that you are pointing to isn't likely to happen in the women's room.

No, the guy who goes in there to hit on someone is going to get arrested, and if he's trying to get sex, the charge is more likely to be assault, rather than indecency.

Therein lies my thought that what Craig did was wrong. A public toilet is not a place where I presume a social context where hitting on people to be appropriate. Staring at me while I'm using the facilities borders on assault, in a way which doesn't occur when I go to a bar.

A bar has a social context which is, at least slightly, sexualised. If someone hits on me while I'm in one, that's part, and parcel, of what goes on in bars.

It's not part and parcel of what goes on in toilets.

Having been followed into one, by someone who wanted to convince me that I wanted to spend some "quality time" with him, I can tell you, I felt uncomfortable, and vaguely threatened, in way which I've never felt in bars, even when someone was more phsycially forward than I wanted.

Why? Because that's what happens in sexualised social settings. People flirt, they hit on each other. Sometimes they go too far.

But none of those things invade any sense of, integral, privacy.

(p.s. Maia is fine, her bike went flat and she needed the car, all is now well; though my errands will take a bit longer)

#88 ::: Jon H ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2007, 01:01 PM:

"Josh, what part of "sex does not belong in public toilets" is homophobic?"

Josh seems to think anonymous public sex in toilets is inherently part and parcel of being gay, as opposed to being a kink favored by a subset.

I don't think he's doing gay people any favors on that score.

It's a bit like the people saying criticism of Michael Vick's dog torture is racist.

#89 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2007, 01:03 PM:

Am I the only gay man here who feels threatened and intimidated when someone hits on me in a public restroom? (Or at least I recall that I did. Hasn't happened to me in years, for some reason.)

Am I the only gay man here whose primary thought when someone peers into the stall in which I am defecating is "mugger" not "oh, boy, sex"? And whose second thought is that I'm about to get bashed?

I do not think so. If so, though, how many of you are below average height and have a manner that is, shall we say, anything but aggressive?

Part of the reason sexual solicitations in restrooms have to be stopped is that they're intimidating, at least to a person of my stature and general Pooh-Bear demeanor. If you want to "make a pass" at me, do it where I'm not enclosed in a steel box with my ankles hobbled. Better still, do it where I can easily escape from you if I'm not interested in your pass.

#90 ::: Jon H ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2007, 01:10 PM:

Terry wrote: "Why? Because that's what happens in sexualised social settings. People flirt, they hit on each other. Sometimes they go too far."

Also, there's more freedom of movement in a bar, and less isolation, than there is in a bathroom stall, or even a bathroom overall.

It's entirely natural to feel safer in a larger, populated room. It's not just you vs. the miscreant. (Obviously this could go wrong in situations where everyone else is on the side of the miscreant, but those are probably quite rare.)

#91 ::: A.J. ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2007, 01:11 PM:

Josh,

The problem is not that gay men get busted for cruising in bathrooms. This is asinine behavior, and the cops are right to be busting people for it, whatever their personal motives.

The problem is that the punishment for this behavior is unreasonably harsh. It should be a simple fine, not anything you have to go to court for.

#92 ::: Laertes ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2007, 01:12 PM:

I'm not freaked out about peering into the stall. The cop made that sound scarier than it surely was.

What in all likelihood actually happened as Craig walked past the stall glancing out the corner of his eye as he passed, just like any guy who's looking for an empty stall. You can't see much that way, but you can tell if a stall is occupied.

And I expect that if you walk just a tiny bit slower, and pay just a tiny bit more attention, you can tell the difference between a guy sitting there reading a newspaper and a guy who's watching the door closely, offering eye contact to anyone who passes.

It's not very likely that some straight who's just there to void his bowels is going to pass the eye contact test, nor in fact even notice that there was a test, but even if he does, the remaining stages of the protocol (foot tapping, hand waving, etc.) will filter out anyone who isn't looking to get picked up.

My points here are:

- Any guy who's wailing about how he wouldn't want a stranger staring into his stall or playing footsie with him is overreacting. No such thing would have happened to him. All he'd have suffered would have been the sight of a well-dressed man walking by his stall looking for an empty, no different than what happens during any visit to a public washroom. Maybe a lot of approaches aren't as smooth as Craig's.

- Craig was definitely looking for sex.

- Craig was almost certainly looking for sex On The Premises, but good luck proving that to a jury. They showed the badge before they got him to do anything that proved this beyond a reasonable doubt. Craig could quite plausibly claim that he was looking there for a partner to fool around with elsewhere.

- Which brings us to why this is so nasty: The sting relies upon the natural reluctance of a closet case to offer a plausible and effective defense of "I wasn't gonna do him THERE." Instead, our victim is stuck denying that he was cruising for sex at all, which he has to say if he isn't prepared to come out, but which won't fool anyone who doesn't want to be fooled and in no way constitutes a plausible defense.

I'm sympathetic to the goal of preventing people from having sex in airport lavs. Place a guard outside--that'd stop it. Or use plainclothes officers to patrol the washrooms and catch people in the act.

#93 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2007, 01:14 PM:

Josh Jasper #82: God, the homophobia in here is getting cloying..

Oh, stop it. Stop it right now. I was sympathetic to a few of your points (let me stress that "a few"), but sympathy is gone.

Stop accusing friends of being enemies. Yelling at people who agree with you for not agreeing completely in all cases, no matter how ridiculous, is a stupid waste of time. Notice that none of the gay men responding seem to be taking to your "if gay men do it, it must be right" argument--I suppose to you this means we're all self-loathing messes.

Your "view all by" goes back to 2005. You've been here longer than me, certainly long enough to know better. That was a ridiculous accusation, one that shouldn't be pulled out the instant things aren't going 100% your way.

#94 ::: Lance Weber ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2007, 01:18 PM:

Josh #82: God, the homophobia in here is getting cloying.

If you can find a more reasonable, open minded group that engages in civil discourse on any imaginable topic, I'd like to meet them. Seriously. Maybe Jake's Place if you can find it.

I've been absorbing your point of view and giving it the due consideration I give to just about any poster here, but I'd have an easier time if you went a little lighter on the shrill and heavier on the thought provoking discourse.

#95 ::: Jon H ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2007, 01:22 PM:

Laertes wrote: "Craig could quite plausibly claim that he was looking there for a partner to fool around with elsewhere."

He apparently had a connecting flight to catch, which makes this rather unlikely.

#96 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2007, 01:28 PM:

Is it time to take a deep breath?

#97 ::: Michael Weholt ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2007, 01:32 PM:

#96 Serge: Is it time to take a deep breath?

I think so, yes.

It's discouraging to see a bunch of people who probably agree with each other on this question at a rate of about 95% sliding into a bit of a feeding frenzy.

#98 ::: Lance Weber ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2007, 01:34 PM:

Maybe Jake's Place Mary's Place.

500 demerits off my SF geek rating.

#99 ::: Laertes ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2007, 01:35 PM:

#95: Hrm. Good point. I hadn't thought of that. That sort of changes everything. I still think that his technique, as described, was pretty considerate in that it'd be unlikely to be noticed by anyone who didn't want to play, but it does become absolutely clear that he was cruising for an on-the-spot hookup, and so some kind of "public lewdness" or disorderly conduct charge seems appropriate even though the badge came out so early.

Well, good. Feeling sympathy for Craig was ruining my enjoyment of this scandal. I take my schadenfreude neat, thanks.

#100 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2007, 01:38 PM:

Josh, your reaction to the 'think of the children' argument is why I didn't bring it up-- but it's unwarranted. We're using 'child' as the best example of 'person who is not interested in public sex', 'person to whom it is inappropriate to suggest public sex' and 'person who should not be exposed to public sex'. Kids are present in airport bathrooms, because bathrooms are not for sex.
Your points may be okay in general, but not in this specific case. If this is the best example you have of police homophobia, you've already lost the argument. Just because the police may have an additional motive doesn't mean his actions were not wrong.

#101 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2007, 01:39 PM:

Laertes: Unless we are to assume, out of hand, the cop is lying, this wasn't a couple of peering in to see if the stall was empty (which I must say, in almost all of the toilets I've been in,; is usually pretty obvious. Most have doors which are balanced to be open, unless locked. Feet are usually visible without the need to peek).

A police officer who arrested him June 11 said Craig peered through a crack in a restroom stall door for two minutes

Two minutes. I'm not short, but I am slight (though of a less Pooh-bear disposition than Xopher) and someone staring into my stall for two minutes is going to have me nervous; mostly because I think I'm being cased for a mugging, but still nervous.

As to your comment that, "no such thing would have happened" that's an assertion which flies in the face of anectdote (Xopher's, and mine; though I went into less detail). This is a case where I have empirical evidence which is contra your claim.

I have had people enter my stall. They got short shrift, but it did happen, and so telling me it "won't" happen, just becuase the guy looking to see if I am turning the place into a tea-room is going to be clued in to my not doing that will be so smooth/swift as to avoid my notice, well it ain't so.

Granted, I am a lot more aware of my surroundings than most (to the point of that some might call it a cultivated paranoia) and am willing to write off most such things as people who have less situational awareness, or figure out that I am there to use the toilet, not have a fling, but that subtlety doesn't make it right.

Further, people who are looking for sex in a public toilet are wrong, no matter how subtle they are. Think I'm cute... fine. Make a pass at me in the bar, I'll turn you down as politely as the pass deserves.

Make an offer in the john, and the level of polite goes way down. Press the issue and I might call a cop.

I find it amusing (though not surprising) that the issues of Craig's hypocrisy (and stupidity of defense) have been lost. We are arguing the merits of letting people make passes at people in a public john.

#102 ::: julia ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2007, 01:45 PM:

I'm not uncomfortable with going after him for looking through the crack in the door. It's seizing an intimacy the person hasn't offered, and that's not right no matter who's been doing it to who.

I am a little uncomfortable with the fact that a lot of the people who are really disturbed by what happened seem to be particularly disturbed by the waggling hand and foot business, which is not all that much more bald than plenty of approaches I've seen coming from men to women.

Crude, yes. Vulgar, yes. To be spurned, certainly.

Something that should be prosecuted under a criminal charge which basically says that you squicked somebody?

Be a different world if that's how it worked.

I'm also a little uncomfortable with the "had to be there" factor playing into this, because it at least leaves open the question of how much the target's availability to the approach is voluntary. I probably don't *have* to walk past construction sites...

#103 ::: Josh Jasper ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2007, 02:03 PM:

#86 Xopher He peered into someone else's toilet stall, and gave other signs indicative of wanting sex not later, but right there in a public place, and a confined one at that.

This is interesting, because in a similar scenario, when actual conversation started, Rep. Allen did *not* suggest sex in a toilet stall. Craig, on the other hand, didn't even get a chance to start conversation before he was busted.

What psychic sense leads everyone to conclude that Craig was different than Allen?

He might well have been asking for public sex, but it's certainly not proven, and we've got an example of a second gay closeted republican busted in similar circumstances who did not offer sex in a bathroom stall.

So it's not inevitable that he was asking for sex in the bathroom. Perhaps he was, perhaps he wasn't.

#104 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2007, 02:22 PM:

Josh, if I understand correctly, after all the peering and foot-tapping and foot-touching, he extended his hand under the partition. I've never been into bathroom sex, but from what I read from people who are, that's an offer of a handjob.

If you're going to discuss these things, you have to be aware of the language of gestures and signs in which they are conducted.

And also, doesn't the fact that he pled to a lesser charge imply that he knew he was actually guilty of something? You don't believe his absurd denials now, do you?

#105 ::: Jon H ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2007, 02:24 PM:

"He might well have been asking for public sex, but it's certainly not proven, and we've got an example of a second gay closeted republican busted in similar circumstances who did not offer sex in a bathroom stall."

No, Allen offered sex and a Jackson, so it didn't really matter where it was supposed to take place.

#106 ::: Laertes ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2007, 02:48 PM:

#101: Two minutes. I'm not short, but I am slight (though of a less Pooh-bear disposition than Xopher) and someone staring into my stall for two minutes is going to have me nervous; mostly because I think I'm being cased for a mugging, but still nervous.

I apologize for my lack of clarity. I'm not asserting that the cop is lying. I'm suggesting that the peering would have been extremely brief--not even noticeable--had the officer not offered and maintained eye contact. The story the officer tells is entirely consistent with my theory, unless he's claimed (and this is possible) that he didn't make eye contact with Craig, or gave Craig a hostile look, or waved him off, or similar. I'll bet good money that the cop looked him right in the eye, immediately, and smiled for that whole two minutes.

As to your comment that, "no such thing would have happened" that's an assertion which flies in the face of anectdote

Another clarity error on my part. When I wrote that "no such thing would have happened" I meant to refer specifically to this case at hand. From all available reports, Craig performed an elaborate protocol, obviously designed to sort out willing sex partners from unaware bystanders without causing anyone any undue embarassment, shame, or loss of face. On that basis, I argue that had I or anyone here been in that stall, we'd never have noticed Craig's approach. That's what I was fumbling toward when, in that same post, I wrote "maybe a lot of approaches aren't as smooth as Craig's."

The oaf who follows you into the washroom, breathing down your neck, offering to spend some "quality time" deserves the beating he's very likely to get. But whatever Craig's sins, and by every indication they are legion, making clumsy and aggressive passes at unreceptive washroom patrons doesn't seem to be among them.

#107 ::: Jon H ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2007, 02:53 PM:

"But whatever Craig's sins, and by every indication they are legion, making clumsy and aggressive passes at unreceptive washroom patrons doesn't seem to be among them."

Perhaps. But if the airport bathroom gets a reputation as being a good place for anonymous sex, it'll get more such traffic, and the likelihood rises of getting more aggressive oafs and fewer delicate operators like Craig.

#108 ::: KCShaw ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2007, 03:06 PM:

Laertes, I think you have a point about the eye contact. On the other hand, I'd think that cops tend to be a little more observant of what's going on around them in a public place, which might easily lead to eye contact. At that point, all the hand-twitching on Craig's part was a misinterpretation of the cop's continued eye contact--although you've got to wonder how desperate poor Craig was not to notice the cop's facial reaction (I'm guessing the cop wasn't looking too enthusiastic; maybe he just couldn't figure out what on earth the guy in the next stall was doing--I mean, was he out of toilet paper or what?).

Still, the story's funny because it was a Republican senator. Anyone else and it would just be sad.

#109 ::: Yusifu ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2007, 03:17 PM:

Like Josh, I find the tenor of many comments here disturbing. What disturbs me here is a lack of empathy for a certain group of men who have sex with men, and a lack of sensitivity for the ways in which homophobia has created gay sexual subcultures.

I'm writing as a gay man who thinks that sex in public restrooms is gross and who'd prefer that it didn't go on. But tearooms are not precisely about gay life. Many men who have sex under such circumstances don't identify as gay. In the past, public toilets were one of the few places men could meet other men for sex. Obviously things are enormously better today, but still many men are riddled with shame. Going on Craigslist, or to a bar, or to a bathhouse, is *admitting* that they want sex with men. That's too hard for them. Tearooms evolved in a homophobic society, fulfilling a powerful need for a substantial minority of men, and they continue to do so. They're a part of straight-homophobic culture as much as they are of gay culture. Sure, some gay men find partners in tearooms too, but that doesn't change their origin. As long as our culture makes young people ashamed of same-sex desires, we're all responsible.

So what's so bad about tearooms? Yes, it's pretty disgusting to think of having sex in a restroom. It's also gross to think of coming upon people having sex. And it's not nice--or intimidating--to be solicited when you're not interested. But the whole culture of tearoom sex (read *Tearoom Trade*--it's old but very good) is dedicated to ensuring that non-participants will never notice it. Of course there guys who misjudge. They solicit straight guys (slightly built or not) or have sex in view of a five-year-old. But overall I'd bet it's pretty rare. And even judging per capita, is the conduct of straight men any better?

Policing public restrooms, conducting sting operations is an old and very homophobic police activity. The majority of the commentators here seem to assume that the officer in question was quietly sitting in the cubicle and only acted when Sen. Craig's actions got too overt. But his whole reason for being there was to arrest guys attempting to have sex. He was *trying* to be solicited. I'd bet he was giving a lot of signals of interest. Getting stared at for two minutes sounds bad, but I rather imagine that the cop was not showing disinterest. These sting operations aren't a case of simple patrolling; they're often about entrapment.

So why are tearooms such a big problem? Many of the reasons given here are hypotheticals--the risk children might see sexual activity or that non-participants might be solicited. Do those justify sting operations rather than patrols in response to specific complaints? Don't you suppose homophobia is part of the justification? Clearly it was in the past. Does the existence of the internet really change things so much? As a gay man--one who does not and has never had sex in tearooms--I can assure you that it hasn't.

None of this is meant as a defense of Sen. Craig. He's a homophobic asshole, and his having sex with men doesn't change the fact. I enjoy his being outed in embarrassing circumstances. But I don't think the police should have been in that restroom. And I'm very sad so many people on the left disagree.

#110 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2007, 03:21 PM:

The reports that I heard included the information that the congresscreature had his bag placed at the front of the stall in a manner designed to prevent people from looking down under the stall from the front to see if there were e.g. a pair of legs (or two pairs of legs...) in the stall.

The police were doing the sting due to complaints about sex-in-the-men's-room that the people who use the aiport wanted stopped. An airport public latrine is not a private residence or private room, etc.

The congresscreature were he an "ordinary" gay male, could post a personal ad in a paper, come out on Making Light informing the public he were a gay male seeking partners, etc. That's not what he pled guilty to, however. He pled guilty to socially unacceptable criminal behavior....

Early this year my house was broken into, and the copper piping ripped out by the criminals. Now if I had contracted with someone to go into my house and remove the pipes, that would not have been a crime.... they were present in my house without my permission committing acts of destruction--which would not be acts of destruction and would not be illegal, a plumber been replumbing my house under contract from me.

My point there, is that the same actions, in the same place, are legal or not legal depending on the context.

The context of the congresscreature is that he is a right wing screed Republican, hostile to same gender partnership rights, hostile to "liberal" social views, and part of the rightwing theocracy gang pushing state intolerant Kheristianity. He has a public guise of heterosexual socially narrow-minded bigotry and intolerance, and there he was, caught in a sting for stereotypical male-male cruising behavior for anonymous sex, the sort that helped spread HIV all over the USA.

The word "hypocrite" isn't strong enough. He appears to be not only a public, but perhaps also a private liar, unable/unwilling to admit to himself that he is NOT a salt-of-the-earth heterosexual of the sort that he extols as the only "natural" and appropriate lifestyle/personality. I suspect that he may have his view of himself through a massively distorted filter which shows him to himself as he wants the public to see him, with the same-gender sexuality piece of himself compartmentalized off into a corner which shows up in denialable circumstance as "massage the bad data points out of the data set" exceptions, which he can pretend to himself are nonexistent--much as the hypocrisy in "A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man" with fornicating and then getting the sin removed and expunged in each confession session, or the fellow that a well-known SF/F writer told about meeting the same fellow whose line, week after week, approaching another man for sex, was, "I've never done this before...." The fellow probably believed his story, his view of himself likely being that of a heterosexual, and expunging any memory or action that didn't fit that self-image, out of brain even while it was happening....

But getting back to the congresscreature, surreptitious homosexual sex is the only sort that someone trying to masquerade as Family Values Hetero is less likely to get caught at while also hiding the homoesexual activity from -himself-....

His entire LIFE is a lie, a big, fat, sordid, self-contradicating, self-image-perjury,hypocritical LIE. His entire political foundation, is a lie. He's either out of touch with himself (highly likely I suspect) or a knowing liar and hypocrite, or some of both--lying to himself and avoiding looking too hard lest his hypocrisy affect him consciously.

The big point is that he has built a political life, at the expense of women, sick people who can't afford/get commercially-available healthcare, homosexuals, non-Kheristians, and any others deemed socially dispensible/unworthy/offensive/distasteful to the rightwing screed crowd.

And suddenly a mask comes off, and he shows up as one of the people he ranted about and wanted ousted from the world -he- thinks that should exist....

#111 ::: Laertes ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2007, 03:21 PM:

#108: Craig didn't misinterpret anything. The officer was in the washroom in plainclothes specifically to arrest cruisers like Craig. He'd been briefed on the protocols, and gave the signals he needed to give to keep the process moving ahead.

#112 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2007, 03:26 PM:

PS -- I forgot to mention that back when I was stationed in Cheyenne Mountain, one of the sergeants who moonlighted as a gas station attendant in Colorado Springs, said that the same woman kept showing up asking for the key to the bathroom every 15 minutes. He wondered, and then realized what was going on, when he happened to see her and a man go into the restroom together--the woman was a prostitute, who turning her tricks in the gas station bathroom...

#113 ::: Josh Jasper ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2007, 03:27 PM:

Xopher, I'm unaware that was a signal, and I do know gay men who engage in the bathroom hookup culture. No one I know of signals like that. Usually some form of attention getting is made, and actual speech happens. The trick is, if eye contact or physical is continued, that's the signal to figure out what the guy being contacted wants. From what I know (which is admittedly not firsthand) , it's whispered if it's a public bathroom, and not if it's at a gay event (Pride, etc...)

#114 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2007, 03:30 PM:

Yusifu: the arresting officer was reported to be responding to "civilian complaints regarding sexual activity in the men’s public restroom".

#115 ::: Josh Jasper ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2007, 03:31 PM:

#111 Laertes - In the Allen bust, the officer helped by responding to signals, and agreeing to go off for sex somewhere. Chances are, he was hoping for a bust for sex in the park, but lucked out with the solicitation.

You will never, ever see female cops pulling this routine this to bust men looking for public sex

It does not happen. Ever, so far as I know. Gay men are a special category.

#116 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2007, 03:31 PM:

#113 Josh Jasper

What part of the USA are you from? I suspect that different areas have different Secret Sex Solicitation Codes; there are all sorts of other regional social behavior differences, so what should surreptitious pickup signals be the same?!

#117 ::: KCShaw ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2007, 03:31 PM:

Laertes #111: Oh, okay. I didn't realize that.

What a weird job. "What did you do today at work?" "Well, I sat in a public restroom stall trying to convince men I was interested in having sex."

#118 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2007, 03:32 PM:

The business card thing mystifies me. "What do you think of that?"
What does one *say* to that? 'Well, I guess I win the office pool,' doesn't have quite the right tone. It's the sort of rank-pulling that I probably couldn't respond to respectfully.

#119 ::: Josh Jasper ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2007, 03:39 PM:

#110 Paula Lieberman : An airport public latrine is not a private residence or private room, etc.

Neither is a public street corner, or a cafe, or a subway car but I know women who've been hit on in those venues. They complained to the police? Where were the police after they complained? Why was there not this level of sting operation?

I'm not saying hitting on people this way, or any way is acceptable. It's only the discrepancy in response that gets me angry.

Police go out of their way to bust gay men for things they let slide among heterosexuals. That's a problem. That's all I'm saying. It's not about endorsing that behavior, it's about a call for equal enforcement, and a look at why we have unequal enforcement.

#120 ::: A.J. ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2007, 03:41 PM:

Diatryma @ 118:

"You're under arrest" is the correct answer when a public official pulls that sort of nonsense.

#121 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2007, 03:42 PM:

This research largely substantiates the picture drawn by Humphreys in his classic study,Tearoom Trade: Impersonal Sex in Public Places. Consistent with his observations, most tearoom participants (a) communicate through non-verbal gestures and seldom speak, (b) do not associate outside the tearoom or attempt to learn one another''s identity or exchange biographical information, (c) do not use force or coercion or attempt to involve youths or children, (d) are primarily heterosexual and married, (e) depart separately with the insertor leaving first, (f) commit their sex acts out of sight of the entrance and accidental exposure, (g) do not undress or engage in anal sex, (h) break off sexual contact when someone enters the washroom, (i) rarely approach straight men, (j) read and write sexually explicit homosexual graffiti, and (k) linger inside and outside the washroom for someone to appear. In addition, (1) fellatio is generally not reciprocated and fellators are usually older men; (m) most offenders are neat in appearance; (n) some engage in series and simultaneous encounters; (o) encounters are brief, usually not exceeding twenty minutes; and (p) few have criminal records with the exception of those previously convicted of similar offenses.

#122 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2007, 03:44 PM:

You will never, ever see female cops pulling this routine this to bust men looking for public sex

What, female cops going into a men's room to solicit men for sex? No. But trolling for johns on the street, yes: that's been done many, many times. I've seen it in police-procedural novels from the sixties and seventies.

I suspect that if there were complaints of sex acts in a women's room, they'd send in a female cop. It's probably enough less frequent that it isn't a problem - one advantage women have is that two women going into a motel room together don't get much attention.

#123 ::: Ben Engelsberg ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2007, 03:47 PM:

First, a moment of paranoia:

It seems unlikely that this type of behavior (being busted in gossip-worthy sexual situations) is new. Why is it getting so much attention now? The fact that it is of so little genuine consequence but is so engaging makes me think of misdirection. Are Craig & Allen being thrown to the dogs to provide distraction?

Now, having gotten that off my chest...

While I am sure that there are greater than average (whatever that may be) levels of homophobia in America's police departments, I don't know that this plainclothes detail is representative of it. The detail was created in response to complaints and previous arrests. Apparently, the bathrooms were known to be a trouble-spot. I can think of plenty of situations where such details have been set up because of complaints which have no homo/heterosexual bias. One such would be the unmarked police car which is routinely parked at a local "lovers leap", and which is responsible for routinely busting college kids and others for fogging up the windows on their '89 Chrysler LeBarons.

#124 ::: Alexander ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2007, 03:48 PM:

Xopher@89: No, and no, and I'm about average height, but pretty burly.

It's really not OK to be using an airport restroom as a tearoom/cottage. People have no choice but to use the place, and seriously guys, we've come a long damn way from Joe Orton's day. I get that some people get off on the risk, but that doesn't make it acceptable behaviour. Some people get off on dumping on each other. Good for them. But please, not in a public restroom. I feel exactly the same way about straight couples bonking in restrooms (or on trains, buses, and planes for that matter).

If that restroom was becoming well-known, and much complained about, then it was the police's job to start busting people in there. I call bullshit on accusing the Making Light crowd of homophobia. Yes, sometimes police actions are homophobic, and that's bad, but in this context: no, they should have been in there.

As for Craig? I pity him for being so horribly broken that at the same time that he maintains the fiction of his family values and rails against almost everything I count decent, he has managed to acquire a knowledge of the toilet trade that I have failed to pick up in nearly twenty years as an out gay man. I also laugh, but bitterly.

#125 ::: Michael Weholt ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2007, 03:49 PM:

#118 Diatryma: What does one *say* to that?

What the cop in this instance did (and said) was place the business card on the counter and ask, again, the (now self-identified) Senator for his driver's license.

But I agree with you. It would be hard not to come up with some smart-ass remark. Or, at least imagine you came up with the perfect smart remark and pretend that you actually said it when you relate the story to others, at a later date.

Truth may be stranger than fiction, but I haven't noticed any reluctance on its part to recruit a little help from bullshit when it makes for a better story.

#126 ::: Ben Engelsberg ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2007, 03:51 PM:

(Re: My comment at 123... so much MEDIA attention now.)

#127 ::: Josh Jasper ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2007, 03:53 PM:

Paula : What part of the USA are you from? I suspect that different areas have different Secret Sex Solicitation Codes

New York. And it's possible, they do. But on the other hand, Laertes's comment is valid. The cop probably tried to pull the entire thing out. We don't know where it started, and how much eye contact the cop made back.

We do have the Allen case, in which the cop certainly did respond with indications that he was gay, and was looking for sex.

This is what cops do in cruising busts. It's standard practice, and it goes back to anti-sodomy laws. Back when there were anti-sodomy laws, police would initiate the contact, often dressed as gay men, with hankies or leather caps, or whatever they thought was appropriate.

Keep in mind that this goes back only to the 1970's. Many of the cops involved in these busts are still on the force, and are senior personnel setting policy. They were told back then that what they were doing was important work keeping the world save from deviant queers. I doubt they've suddenly become liberal an their views on busting gay men for being gay men.

#128 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2007, 04:10 PM:

Ben #123: if Craig resigns now, a Republican Governor appoints a scandal-free Republican to take his seat and defend it at the next election, so the Liberal Media are trying to make him resign because he's SO GAY!

Unlike Vitter, who must not resign because he is NOT GAY! and represents in a state with a Democratic Governor.

#129 ::: Josh Jasper ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2007, 04:13 PM:

#122 ::: P J Evans -
What, female cops going into a men's room to solicit men for sex? No. But trolling for johns on the street

Again, have you ever heard of a female cop soliciting *non paid* public sex from men in order to bust them for something like public indecency?

#130 ::: Sarah S ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2007, 04:16 PM:

#129 Josh

I haven't. Though I suspect that this may be that there are an awful lot of breast fondlers, willie wagglers, and public masturbators running around and keeping the cops busy *without* any solicitation.

Of course, none of this thread of your argument has much bearing on the point that the sting was set up in a spot that had been gathering complaints about the solicitation going on there.

#131 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2007, 04:18 PM:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/08/02/AR2007080201855.html

Google on female cops undercover soliciting

And there ARE places where heterosexual couples going at it get busted for "lewd conduct"....

And there are all sorts of restrictions about what
s allowed within 500 feet of a school, including convicted pederasts, in lots of US states...

Meanwhile, I am wondering why Josh Jasper seems hellbent on turning this into a referendum regarding Intolerance of Homosexual Males--especially since there is a contingent in here of homosexual males who regard the congresscritter's actions as reprehensible and the congresscritter as deserving punishment.

It is NOT "homosexuality" or social view of it that is is the issue, the issue is that a rightwing acts-like-homophobe member of the federal legislature of the United States of America, got nabbed in a sting set up to stomp on sex-in-airport-latrines, aka public "lewdness" behavior the airport-going citizenry found criminally offensive--and the same public lewdness clauses DO get applied to heterosexual activity, however arbitrary and capricious the enforcment might be... it's the sort of thing that happens with speeding tickets, when one person gets nabbed despite there being 30 others the cop didn't go after, or ASCAP/BMI raids on restaurants and bars, where ASCAP/BMI sends people into an area and picks on 3 establishments playing music without a license and hits them with big whopping copyright violation fines....the 25 other establishments in the vicinity might skate completely, but that doesn't let the ones charged off the hook... the intent is enforcement, to prove a point and cause the rest of the scofflaws to start complying with the law...

#132 ::: Ben Engelsberg ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2007, 04:19 PM:

Josh @ 129: Do women solicit men for unpaid public sex anywhere? If they do, does it generate police complaints?

If not, why would a female cop ever do so?

#133 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2007, 04:20 PM:

Josh, have you ever heard of "civilians" complaining to the police about being in the ladies toilet at an airport and being propositioned for casual sex while taking a shit?

Perhaps that's why the sting operations focus on the toilets where this DOES happen.

#134 ::: Jon H ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2007, 04:25 PM:

" one advantage women have is that two women going into a motel room together don't get much attention."

Heck, women going into the bathroom together is not only accepted, it's a bit of a clichéd joke.

#135 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2007, 04:28 PM:

Hm, so, I'm trying to understand the gist of the complaint.

The scenario, as I understand it, goes like this: People complain to police about gay men having sex in public restroom. Police send undercover male cop to bust gay men trying to have sex in public restroom.

The complaint is that this is homophobic because the police don't send undercover female cops into public restrooms (or some similar public place) to bust men trying to have het sex in a public place.

If the police got complaints about gay men having sex in a public restroom, at what point does the police hit the threshold for sending someone undercover? One complaint? 20? Let's say the number of complaints that triggers an undercover officer being assigned is "G" (g for gay).

The next question is what is the threshold for the number of complaints of heterosexual sex occuring in a public place that triggers the assignment of an undercover officer? Let's say the number is "S" (s for straight).

It would seem that the "homophobia" flag should be raised if (G != S). i.e. if the police get one complaint for gay sex in a public place and send an undercover cop immediately, whereas they same department got 20 complaints of straight sex happening in some public place before assigning an undercover officer, then that would reflect a bias towards investigating homosexual activity.

Note that both cases would have to involve non-prostitution situation. No sex-for-money stuff, to try and keep things on an apples-to-apples comparison.

At which point, it occurs to me how much of a sheltered life I've lived, because I have no clue how often het sex occurs in public places as compared to how often gay sex occurs in public places.

One could find out how often arrests are made at a particular police department, but that could simply reflect police bias. I have no idea how many complaints are made to the police about het sex occuring in a public place versus gay sex occurring in a public place.

It seems that the number of arrests for not-for-money sex in a public place is skewed towards the homosexual crowd, but I have no idea if that reflects a homosexual thing or a police bias.

This seems to be the only statistic by which one can judge whether the police are biased homophobes or not. And since I don't have those statistics, I can't say either way.

The other issue is that you can't hang out in a public bathroom and look for heterosexual sex. A woman in a men's bathroom (or a man in a woman's bathroom) sets off more immediate red flags. Whereas a man can hang out in a men's room and look for gay sex without setting off immediate alarms simply by his presence.

Which means the occurrence of gay sex in public restrooms may naturally be higher than the occurrence of straight sex in a public restroom, by the fact that one is easier from a logistical point of view than the other. Which means a higher proportion of police operations targeting gay sex in public restrooms doesn't automatically flag as institutional homophobia. Illegal straight sex may use different, easier, venues.

Which means, the only way to compare apples to apples is to find some common ground to judge. The number of complaints versus the number of investigations would be a fairly direct way to measure, although that might reflect a bias in the people doing the complaining. The better, but more difficult, way to really say with any certainty that apples-to-apples there is bias would be to find total population numbers and compare that to the police operations.

Some other bits:

It does seem that the police do investigate complaints of prostitution, both gay and straight, so I suppose that might be another way to figure out if there is a institutional bias. Do the number of gay versus straight prostitution arrests reflect the population distribution of gay and straight prostitutes?

It might be hard to get population numbers, but it should be possible. If estimates for a city is that it has a total prostitute population of 100T, with straight being S% and gay being G%, but the arrest rate is (S-BIAS)% for straight and (G+BIAS)% for gays, then that reflects an institutional bias.

As I said, this whole discussion has revealed how little I know about certain aspects of the human condition. I can't make even a guess that I would trust to base a judgement off of. Otherwise, what's left is comparing apples to oranges and trying to prove or disprove homophobia off of that, which doesn't work.

#136 ::: Ben Engelsberg ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2007, 04:32 PM:

I've just re-read the linked article. It occurs to me that Sen. Craig deserves far worse than he's been getting!

For soliciting sex in a mens room? No. The fine he paid seems adequate to that. For attempting to use his position in the Senate to intimidate/coerce/influence a police officer? No, heinous as that is, the public humiliation he's receiving seems commesurate. No, folks, Sen. Craig FAILED TO FLUSH A PUBLIC TOILET, and for that, he should be summarily shot.

#137 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2007, 04:35 PM:

Josh Jasper #119

Thule story:
I got hit on by a Danish national.
I said no.
The Danish national then hit on a male US service member. I was laughing to myself....
One of the male officers up there said, "Now I know what it feels like to be on the receiving end of [unwanted] passes from men." He was in his early 30s and had had no experience with being propositioned by other men, to that point.

The security police did NOT arrest the Danish national, either for propositioning women, OR for propositioning men.

As for women going to the cops regarding unwanted propositions, unless the person is a stalker, rotsa ruck getting any useful positive response and assistance. "You should be FLATTERED by the attention" is a more typical response from the general public. You think cops are homophobic, when it comes to being female and getting hit on, it's 50-50 if some male doesn't think that one should be happy at what THEY regard as a compliment.

I expect that in my years I got hit on by men looking for female sex partners a LOT more than you ever have, or will, get hit on by men looking for female sex partners... and contrary to US cultural heritage, males hitting on women rarely females rarely feel ANY compunction about pushing their intent in public... they don't resort to sneaking into corners lest they be caught unless they're trying to hide it from wives and families--in which case the wife might be e.g. sending a PI after them looking for evidence of an adulterous affair. Hmm, there ARE women employed to try to lure men into affairs in e.g. vicious divorce cases, I believe....

#138 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2007, 04:46 PM:

Greg, just because the cops get more complaints about gay sex doesn't make it fair to target gays.

If society as a whole, or even just the male half of it, is homophobic, counting complaints from the public is not enough. You haven't factored in the difference between a woman giving it away in a heterosexual place (Woo-hoo!) and Big Gay Al trying to do the same (Call the cops!).

#139 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2007, 04:46 PM:

I expect that in my years I got hit on by men looking for female sex partners a LOT more than you ever have, or will, get hit on by men looking for female sex partners

I think there's a typo there somewhere. What it's got to do with cops investigating illegal behaviour, possibly with some insitutional bias, though, I don't know.

#140 ::: Jon H ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2007, 04:47 PM:

Josh wrote "Again, have you ever heard of a female cop soliciting *non paid* public sex from men in order to bust them for something like public indecency?"

Have you ever heard of *women* soliciting non-paid public sex from men?

Have you ever heard of women *congregating* to do that, as men do?

Women rarely behave like horny men. If you have a problem with that, well, tough.

Trust me, if straight men could wave a wand and change this situation so getting some female tail were as easy as going to the nearest adult video store's peep show booths, it would have happened a long time ago.


#141 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2007, 04:50 PM:

Niall, from my post at 138, I said "The number of complaints versus the number of investigations would be a fairly direct way to measure, although that might reflect a bias in the people doing the complaining."

#142 ::: Josh Jasper ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2007, 04:56 PM:

Have you ever heard of *women* soliciting non-paid public sex from men?

Yes. I've been to bars where hook-ups of that sort happen. They're not hard to find. In fact, *I* have been propositioned for sex, in public, by a woman I just met that very evening.

Next question.

#143 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2007, 04:58 PM:

Yusifu: A point of clarification, the comment on my build wasn't about it making more attractive, but rather as to the level of unease I might feel from physical disproportion (nor did the ""oaf" in question on the different occaision actually use the phrase quality time, rather he assumed; probably because I was situationally aware enough to spot him looking at me; while headed to the latrine, and I make eye-contact with people [this may be part of why my 5'9" 120 lbs. gets a lot of room on buses, and the like; I don't blink when someone looks at me, but I digress onto a subject I don't understand; i.e. why people tend to give me a wider berth than it seems the ought to feel the need] so he may have assumed I was cruising).

Josh: If you want to argue for public sex being acceptable, feel free.

If you want to argue that public sex ought to be prosecuted equally for straights and gays, I'm with you.

If you want to argue that it's not right for police to offer the chance to break the law to people who are in places where the law has been broken in just that way... I'm a little less on your side, even though I think casting temptations in the way of the weak-willed isn't completely kosher, but those who are going to prey on people, I'd rather they did so to a cop (or someone like me) than to someone who isn't prepared to deal with it.

As has been pointed out, Craig plead guilty. He's got the money to have fought this. He could have made the same case you are making; e.g. he didn't "do" anything, and this is a cop who doesn't know what he's talking about.

The business card and the guilty plea (as well as his either responding to the clues of the cop, or just liking to spend two minutes scoping out the guy in the next stall before blocking his off and going in to wave his hands and tap his toes; while [apparently] not trying to take care of the more expected business of the location [which would probably save you, Xopher, from being picked up]), lead me to think he was cruising for sex in a public place.

That's iffy, in my book. It's not the place I'd be looking to find someone to head to someplace more private; but I'm not into zipless-fucks, so I'm not the best authority on that.

But this is guy who's spent a lot of time pushing for exactly this sort of police action, so I don't really have any sympathy for him in this circumstance, no matter how much I might have for someone so conflicted that this the only way they can find release.


Just because there is an inequity in the enforcement of the law isn't a justification for ignoring the law.

Since there isn't the large culture of restroom sex among lesbians, and the soliciting strangers for hetero-sex in that way isn't possible (though I know people who have decided they liked each other enough to find someplace private and made their way to a handicapped porta-john (roomier, you know).

And I have zero problem with that (so long as they aren't tying up the facility for so long that it impedes those who want to use it for its designed purpose.

It's when the fist-swinging starts to hit my nose that I take offense.

#144 ::: Todd Larason ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2007, 05:01 PM:

Ben #136: are you sure that tidbit wasn't being used to imply that the Senator hadn't been using the toilet for its standard use?

This restroom had been used as a tearoom for several months at least and was apparently somewhat well known (link not safe for work and the like). In September 2006 there was a report of a security guard watching the door, and starting in June there were a steady stream of reports of people being arrested there; the first one following a meeting set up on Craigslist.

It would be interesting to know how many complaints there actually were, who made them, and when, as well as what measures were taken to deal with the problem (assuming for the moment that it is a problem). Removing the stall doors would be drastic but presumably would have worked. Would shortening them have? Or lengthening the walls between stalls?

If the goal is to stop certain behavior in a certain place, it seems to me quietly arresting and punishing people who partake of the behavior will only work if the population of such is very small, so you'll quickly punish all such and they'll get the message. In a busy airport, where the population is transient and ever-changing, that doesn't seem likely to be the case, so for arrest and punishment to work as a deterrent you've got to make sure the people entering the area become aware that such punishment is likely, which (prior to this publicity) doesn't seem to have been the case.

#145 ::: Jon H ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2007, 05:07 PM:

"Greg, just because the cops get more complaints about gay sex doesn't make it fair to target gays."

I see what you're saying but it is most applicable to, say, busting a gay man for trying to chat up a guy at a bar, when that would not be actionable if it were a man and a woman.

I don't really have a problem with busting people if they are engaging in activities that are substantially outside the social norm for the situation, and don't only differ in terms of gender.

Hetero bathroom sex, for instance, is quite rare for the most part. Manhattan hipsters and celebrities might get it on in trendy bars, and get away with it, but that is hardly a representative sample. Nor should the behavior of people in Manhattan or LA clubs be the standard for behavior in Minnesota airport bathrooms or Florida public parks.

I would guess that anonymous gay sex in tearooms is far more common than even non-anonymous hetero public bathroom sex.

"If society as a whole, or even just the male half of it, is homophobic, counting complaints from the public is not enough. You haven't factored in the difference between a woman giving it away in a heterosexual place (Woo-hoo!) and Big Gay Al trying to do the same (Call the cops!)."

Whether the woman gets in trouble is likely to depend on how she looks, and where she is. A hot woman in a bar, a college girl on a beach during spring break, a girl who jumps on stage at a concert - they are likely to get away with it.

That said, police do ticket women who expose themselves at Mardi Gras or spring break events - if they catch them.

#146 ::: Ben Engelsberg ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2007, 05:13 PM:

Todd @ 144: But, the Senator himself explains that he had adopted his "wide stance" in order to make use of the facility.

I can see this now. If the demonstrable use of the toilet actually becomes material in the case, Sen. Craig's argument may, in fact, go down in history as the "Full of Sh*t" defense.

#147 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2007, 05:14 PM:

Josh, I think what you're running into here is that a lack of hard statistics allows people to interpret behaviour in a way consistent with their worldview.

If someone thinks that women in general don't solicit men for illegal sex, then your anecdotal evidence may prove it possible, but it won't change the person's overall worldview.

Unless you have proof so strong that it overcomes the resistance associated with changing a worldview, then I don't think you're going to make any progress in changing other people's opinions.

If there are S% occurrences of illegal straight sex acts and G% occurrences of illegal gay sex acts going on in the world, but the arrest/prosecution rate is S-BIAS and G+BIAS, then you have proven institutional bias, and if you have the numbers to back it up, I think you'll probably find some peopel here will chagne their worldview.

As it is, however, people generally do not inspect their worldview and find fault based on nothing more than allegations and anecdotal evidence. That seems to apply to both sides of this discussion. No one really has any hard information to support their worldview. Poeple have their worldview which interprets the world, and they simply argue that their interpretation is correct because, well, because it's their worldview, which we generally assume to be a fact of truth.

Our basic default assumption to our worldview is "that's the way it is". And this has been mostly a hundred messages of everyone saying life is they way their worldview says it is, without really stepping outside their worldview and providing any sort of hard information that would support any particular interpretation.

I really have no idea if the occurrence of illegal straight sex acts versus illegal gay sex acts are in proportion to the arrest rates or not.

No clue.

And while that seems to be the only way to objectively analyze possible institutional bias, neither the people saying there is bias nor the people who say there is not bias, neither have given evidence that would cause me to commit to their side.

I don't have a dog in this fight, so I could honestly accept either conclusion. But there hasn't been anything here to prove either view.

#148 ::: Jon H ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2007, 05:15 PM:

Josh wrote: "Yes. I've been to bars where hook-ups of that sort happen. They're not hard to find. In fact, *I* have been propositioned for sex, in public, by a woman I just met that very evening."

Propositioned? For sex *right there*?

You knew her all evening? You mean she didn't just communicate her interest through foot taps and meaningful looks? Why, compared to bathroom loiterers, you were practically married.

How about in a situation similar to the case in question? Not a bar, where people are probably intoxicated and often looking to hook up for the night.

I think you have blurred the definitions and contexts (wolf-whistle on the street = chatting up in a bar = loitering in restrooms = glory hole adventures; all the same thing!), which is probably advantageous if you want to argue for unfettered public sex.

#149 ::: Michael Weholt ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2007, 05:26 PM:

#147 Greg London: ...neither the people saying there is bias nor the people who say there is not bias...

Is there really anybody in here who is saying there isn't any bias with regard to how cops treat gays and how they treat straights? Show of hands?

I think the question is whether cops staking out public restrooms is discrimination against gay men. Some of us are saying that cruising for sex in public restrooms is a violation suitable for citation, without reference to sexual orientation. Others are saying it isn't suitable for citation.

Those of us who think it is a violation suitable for citation may or may not concede that cops staking out such behavior is evidence of harassment of gays.

But I don't think I've read anything in here by anybody that maintains the cops, more or less at the behest of society in general, don't discriminate against gays.

#150 ::: Sisuile ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2007, 05:32 PM:

First, can we all just agree that Craig was in the wrong? He's pled guilty to a crime, which usually means he did something wrong. Can we agree on this? Good.

Josh Jasper- By and large, it does no good for a woman to complain of harassment to the cops. Paula's right. While I have heard of female cops arresting people for public lewdness, solicitation, etc., the one specific example I remember hearing about, the cop was off duty and in a bar and the guy wouldn't leave her alone. They don't need to arrange sting operations, they just need to go out (and if they go out to a place where their friends complain about the boors, oh well). The general response I've recieved when I complained about unwanted attentions fell into one of two categories: "Take a guy with you then, if you don't want to get picked up." or "If you don't like it, don't go there/out."

I think you may be seeing shadows that aren't present in this case. I've not seen people here flatly denying that there is homophobia in the police dept. I have seen them saying that sex in public restrooms is not appropriate*, that when complaints are made about public sex, the police should investigate and attempt to stop it for the public good,** and that Craig is a sleezbag. We're not saying that the police are always in the right! Hell, in this crowd? There are a lot of us with a deep seated suspicion that if the police are doing it, it's probably not going to go well or be of benefit to anyone other than those who can pay. So take your accusations and bold tags and think about with whom you're talking. You've been here long enough to know that this is probably one of the least homophobic mixed-preference crowds you'll run across.

*and that sex in public is generally not appropriate, hetero or homo.
**since in Mlps public lewdness and exposure are, in fact, crimes. It is theoretically in the interests of the public good to stop crimes from occuring.

#151 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2007, 05:37 PM:

Sisuile 150: this is probably one of the least homophobic mixed-preference crowds you'll run across.

Indeed, this crowd is less homophobic than some all-gay crowds I've been in.

#152 ::: Michael Weholt ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2007, 05:44 PM:

#151 Xopher: Indeed, this crowd is less homophobic than some all-gay crowds I've been in.

Also, astonishingly, less racist. I don't mean I'm astonished this crowd is not particularly racist. I mean that I've been astonished at times at how some gatherings of gays can be astonishingly racist.

Also, how some gatherings of minorities can be astonishingly homophobic.

I guess I'm astonished a lot. Also, I, myself, astonish a lot of people.

On the whole, it's all astonishing to me.

#153 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2007, 05:47 PM:

Michael 152: You certainly astonish me on a frequent basis. I like being astonished. It's a kind of learning.

#154 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2007, 05:48 PM:

Astonishing.

#155 ::: Josh Jasper ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2007, 05:49 PM:

John H : Yep. Pretty much on the dance floor, being rubbed up against. She asked for a darker section of the club. I declined.

#150 ::: Sisuile :

You're right, this place is fairly un homophobic, but on the other hand, I calls it as I sees it. Any time a gay man is busted for cruising, I do actually suspect homophobia played a part, because often, it does. And often, straight people are given a pass for the same behavior.

It's a hot button issue. I suppose I could try and be more of an acceptable person in this crowd and not point it out, but I'd really rather not. If you drill down, you'll see I took a similar stance on language and immigration issues. It's possible those were under a different email address.

I can be a bit of a firebrand when it comes to calling people on what I see as racist, nationalist, or homophobic behavior. I tend to err on the pissed off side, because I think sometimes someone being pissed off about things helps.

Also, when going after things like wikipedia admins, it gets fairly fast and furious here. If that tone is tolerated about things like wikipedia, but poo-poohed about this, it says something about the crowd here.

#156 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2007, 05:49 PM:

Aaaaagh! I've reached scantout on 'astonish'! I. hate. that.

#157 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2007, 05:53 PM:

Michael Weholt: I don't have any surprise at the racist nature of some set of homosexuals. Nothing in human nature requires that a minority identify with any other minority (cf. some of Steve Gilliards comments on how the Black Community doesn't see, as a group, the equivalence of civil rights for homosexuals with civil rights for blacks).

The cultural baggage which comes of being human isn't disolved by being part of an intrinsic subset. If being gay were a choice (which I don't think it is) then yes, I would be more surprised, because if one chose to belong to a persecuted minority, one ought to have empathy for other such groups.

#158 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2007, 05:55 PM:

Josh, you can certainly come here and rant. But you should expect people to call you on the parts of your ranting that are irrational, or appear to be unsupported by data, or are poorly argued.

If nothing else, this should help you refine your argument for the next time you rant this particular rant. You'll be ready with the story of the woman trying to get you to go to a dark part of the club, for example. (BTW, did you complain of this illegal solicitation for public sex? Why or why not?)

I'm only a third kidding. It's one of the most valuable things about ML IMO; the opportunity to have one's own shaky beliefs either cleared away or solidified.

#159 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2007, 05:56 PM:

Josh Jasper #155: I tend to err on the pissed off side, because I think sometimes someone being pissed off about things helps.

Do you see how it has demonstrably not helped anything here? How it has gotten people who largely agree with you angry at you? This is not helpful.

I also do not understand your comparison with discussions of wikipedia. Not only the subject and tone but also who that tone is being directed at is completely different. Not particularly comparable.

#160 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2007, 05:57 PM:

Terry 157: I've often stated that gays are much more welcome in fandom than fannish types are in the gay community. That's why I'm much more inclined to hang out with fans.

I mean, I'm pretty weird even for a fan. But only in the gay community is that automatically seen as a bad thing.

#161 ::: Michael Weholt ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2007, 05:57 PM:

#155 Josh Jasper: I tend to err on the pissed off side, because I think sometimes someone being pissed off about things helps.

On the one hand, I agree with you completely. Larry Kramer has done humanity a lot of good by being almost continually pissed off.

On the other hand, it is important to give people the chance to not live up to your worst expectations of them.

#162 ::: Michael Weholt ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2007, 06:02 PM:

#157 Terry Karney: Michael Weholt: I don't have any surprise at the racist nature of some set of homosexuals. Nothing in human nature requires that a minority identify with any other minority...

Oh, I agree completely and take your point. It's just that, you know, I guess I thought my own tribe, so vulnerable in its own right to discrimination and mindless hatred, would manage to do a bit better. But you are right. That's not the way human beings work.

#163 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2007, 06:06 PM:

Larry Kramer is a good example. I don't necessarily disapprove of him, in fact I agree that he's done a lot of good. But hang out with him? NO WAY. He's an obnoxious jerk from all reports.

Much more obnoxious than our Josh, who we do want to hang out with. For internet values of 'hang out' (at least).

Can we go back to gloating about how an evil homophobe got hoisted with his own petard (or his attempts to hoist someone else's petard)? I think that this bastard getting caught in a homophobic sting is a GOOD THING. Even (or possibly especially) if he really was completely innocent.

Consider: If he's guilty, he's a hypocrite and hypocrites deserve to be exposed and punished.

If he's innocent, it shows the damage homophobia, and homophobic police behavior, does to society (even if you do not consider actual homosexuals to be people, or part of society), and it does it at the expense of someone who, while he may be innocent of this particular transgression, is far from an innocent, decent, or worthy person.

It's all good. I hope it ruins his life.

#164 ::: Rob Hansen ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2007, 06:08 PM:

Xopher @104: he extended his hand under the partition. I've never been into bathroom sex, but from what I read from people who are, that's an offer of a handjob

Ah, so *that's* what that meant that Saturday afternoon I was minding my own business and taking a dump in the toilets while visiting the National Gallery in Trafalgar Square, here in London. I am now enlightened.

#165 ::: Laertes ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2007, 06:11 PM:

#150 Sisuile: First, can we all just agree that Craig was in the wrong?

Sure. I'm with you so far. Behavior that's perfectly acceptable in the washroom of a bar isn't neccesarily acceptable in an airport lav.

He's pled guilty to a crime, which usually means he did something wrong. Can we agree on this? Good.

Sadly, we cannot, on both counts. There are any number of "crimes" that involve doing nothing wrong. And there are any number of reasons to enter a guilty plea when one is not, in fact, guilty of the charge to which one is pleading.

"He plead guilty therefore he did something wrong" is about as convincing as "OJ was acquitted, therefore he didn't kill anyone."

#166 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2007, 06:12 PM:

Josh: I haven't see a lot of shushing your tone. What I see is, just as with the wikipedia threads you mention, people disagreeing with your argument.

I am certainly not calling you out for how you speak your mind. Get me going on torture and the level of heat, and even vitriol, can get pretty high; pretty fast. I may be calm and reasoned and rational, then someone will say something really stupid and I'll lose it (as I did here

I have a hard time (which is partly normative bias) recalling times when passion, qua passion, was criticized here.

#167 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2007, 06:13 PM:

Rob 164: Hopefully not kicking yourself for not recognizing it.

#168 ::: Laertes ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2007, 06:14 PM:

#155 Josh: Also, when going after things like wikipedia admins, it gets fairly fast and furious here. If that tone is tolerated about things like wikipedia, but poo-poohed about this, it says something about the crowd here.

I offer Laertes' Law: As a Making Light discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Wikipedia approaches one.

#169 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2007, 06:16 PM:

Josh, I have to agree with the others. It's your evidence and your arguments I question. I'm enjoying the hell out of your tone!

#170 ::: A.R.Yngve ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2007, 06:20 PM:

How many Republican Congressmen/Senators have admitted to being HIV-positive (when not because of infected blood transfusions)...?

An HIV-positive Senator/Congressman could become a spokesperson against risky sexual behavior and for legal partnerships/safe sex.

Or maybe cases of high-ranking politicians with AIDS are just covered up...

#171 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2007, 06:25 PM:

#147 Greg London: ...neither the people saying there is bias nor the people who say there is not bias...

Michael@149: I think the question is whether cops staking out public restrooms is discrimination against gay men.

I say "bias", you say "discrimination". It parses the same for me.

But I don't think I've read anything in here by anybody that maintains the cops, more or less at the behest of society in general, don't discriminate against gays.

Except that the police, as far as I know, aren't breaking down doors, bursting into poeple's bedrooms, and enforcing the laws against sodomy.

So, it becomes a matter of subjective enforcement of what is and is not "lewd" and similar laws, and the police are the ones who are or are not being subjective in that enforcement.

Josh's first post on the subject, #28, says: We need to stop police from singling out gay men for cruising busts. That's the lesson, folks.

So, the question is a matter of "singling out", of using creative interpretations for homosexuals, versus granting a wide berth for straights. And the only people who could do the "singling out" are the police.

And the only way to figure out if they actually are singling out is to look at the statistics of the whole population versus the arrests.

#172 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2007, 06:25 PM:

addenda, re Josh and tone: I don't even think the comments on your "shrillness" were all that chilling of your tone.

One might see it as concern trolling, but one might also see it as a plea that you look at your audience.

It's borderline, and I can see that you might take it as people telling you the merits of your argument were hurt by how you said, not what you said.

It also seems to me that no one said the arguments were meritless because of how you said them.

Xopher: Fen are an odd lot. I know some who, by virtue of age and religion, I think, harbor some discriminatory attitudes toward gays (think they ought not be allowed in the Boy Scouts), but don't have any personal problem with them, and even took a part in a movie where they were, obviously, gay (the subtext of the film had pretty much all the male characters being a little on the fey side).

So yeah, I can see where being a fan who was homosexual would be easier than being a homosexual who was a fan.

#173 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2007, 06:27 PM:

Greg 171: Except that the police, as far as I know, aren't breaking down doors, bursting into poeple's bedrooms, and enforcing the laws against sodomy.

Do you believe that this has stopped? Or does the name Bowers v. Hardwick mean nothing to you?

#174 ::: Lance Weber ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2007, 06:28 PM:

Laertes #168: Maybe we could setup a regex filter on ML that would automatically close threads once they'd reached critical mass for the following phrases: wikipedia, xkcd, puns, knitting, recipes, poetry

#175 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2007, 06:28 PM:

gah! that first graph was badly done.

I meant to say that, re Josh and tone, I see now that there were comments which said you were shrill, and that...

Sorry.

#176 ::: Rob Hansen ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2007, 06:32 PM:

Xopher @ 167: Nope. Just thought it was bloody rude. I prefer not to be disturbed when using a cubicle in the manner intended by its designers.

#177 ::: j h woodyatt ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2007, 06:32 PM:

I hesitate to jump into this discussion, but I have a viewpoint I haven't seen anyone else has offer... so, I'll throw it up and see if it wins any sympathy.

I don't see a problem with U.S. Senators having a kink for anonymous sex. Some of my best friends are deviant sex fiends. I don't see any reason to expect my senators to be any less weird. I also sympathize with folks who would rather not find used condoms in the trashbins when they go to wash their hands in public restrooms. I completely concur that unwanted sexual advances while your trousers are down and you're sitting on the pot are intimidating and bordering on assault.

I'd simply suggest that the traditional approach to dealing with this problem involves more than just sending the cops to run sting operations and round up the kinky types for punishment. If you're serious about keeping the restrooms from turning into temporary blowjob autonomous zones, then you have to consider finding ways to encourage the people who like to have anonymous sex to do so in more appropriate, less public venues.

To that end, getting all cranked up to drive out the legitimate businesses trying to cater to market demand by providing a private place for interested participants to hook up for anonymous hrglhglhrhghring is probably counter-productive.

In San Francisco, they closed all the bath houses in the late 1980s, with the predictable results. Lesson learned: enforcement has relaxed somewhat, and we now have plenty of options from which people who like anonymous sex can choose, and I never get propositioned in the men's rooms in this town. I've never heard of it happening. Doesn't mean it doesn't happen anywhere, but it sure doesn't seem to be happening in the restrooms I use.

Maybe Minneapolis-St.Paul should consider letting a few bath houses open up. It might help keep the public restrooms clean and comfortable for those of us who just want to do our business and catch our next flight.

p.s. When Larry Craig flashed his U.S. Senate business card, that was probably the low point in the whole affair. I say throw him in the hole for that alone. The rest of this story just makes me want to howl at the moon.

#178 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2007, 06:40 PM:

Josh@155: Any time a gay man is busted for cruising, I do actually suspect homophobia played a part, because often, it does.

Except you don't have any proof that it does often.

And often, straight people are given a pass for the same behavior.

Again, same thing. You have asserted something as truth, with nothing to prove it.

If that tone is tolerated about things like wikipedia, but poo-poohed about this, it says something about the crowd here.

The only thing poo-poohed here is assertions of fact without anything to back it up. I mean, you can state your opinion and you can get fired up over something you see as wrong, but you can't get mad at people for not being convinced of your assertions if you've nothing to back them up with other than anecdotes.

Yes, there are homophobes in every walk of life. I'll agree with that.

But you state that there is institutional bias in the enforcement of laws against sex in public places. But you have no real evidence to prove it. And I have no anecdotes to go on.

So, what you get is that people state their views and no one changes their opinion.

No one has a problem with you being passionate about something important to you.

It's just that few people are going to change their opinion about something based mainly on your opinion.

If you're arguing institutional bias in teh police, you'll need something a little more concrete than anecdotes if you plan on getting other people to get on board.


#179 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2007, 06:44 PM:

j h woodyatt writes:
I don't see a problem with U.S. Senators having a kink for anonymous sex.

"Family Values" senators who've voted against gay rights at every opportunity?

Okey-dokey, we'll remember you, too.

#180 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2007, 06:56 PM:

Greg London: But you state that there is institutional bias in the enforcement of laws against sex in public places. But you have no real evidence to prove it.

Focus. We all know it's true. It's irrelevant.

#181 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2007, 06:56 PM:

Xopher@173, since sodomy laws were overturned in 2003 by Lawrence vs Texas, any police prejudice would shift to the use of other laws and creative interpretations.

#182 ::: cathy ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2007, 06:58 PM:

Do you believe that this has stopped? Or does the name Bowers v. Hardwick mean nothing to you?

Actually, in Bowers is that the original intent of the bust was not gay sex. They were there to arrest him on an outstanding warrant for something else entirely, a warrant which allowed them to enter his home. At that point, the cops found him in bed with his boyfriend and tacked the sodomy charge onto the other other charge when they arrested him.

However, I am in complete argeement that adults should not be arrested for engaging in consensual sex acts in their own homes.

#183 ::: j h woodyatt ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2007, 07:00 PM:

It's enough for me that they vote against gay rights at every opportunity. I don't need to know they're sexual hypocrits before I'll decide not to like them.

I suppose I should have said that I don't particularly like having my U.S. Senators be closet cases. That makes them prone to being on the receiving end of blackmail.

On that note, I hope everyone here notices that the GOP elite has pretty quickly pulled the rug out from under Senator Craig. They must have all known about him all along, but they waited until his sexual habits were exposed before they dumped him. That ought to tell you everything you need to know about how the GOP keeps its message discipline from cracking under the pressure.

#184 ::: MD² ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2007, 07:05 PM:

All, right, before reading all those comments, a (somewhat) logical explaination that struck me earlier while cooking: this is all a sublime display of esprit de corps.

One member of "the group" (trying to stay inconspicious here, please spare me) got arrested for soliciting sex in a public restroom. We may not know who it was, the scandal may never have broken out of very private and tight circles (stop thinking about gay sex, would you ?), but for those in the know, the idea that this man person might bear the weight of the shame alone is intolerable, thus each they go, reiterating the sin mistake crime of their savior leader fellow group member, trying to feel closer to him stay in his good grace take their share of the burden of shame that beffel him/her.

Or something like that.

#185 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2007, 07:14 PM:

Niall Focus. We all know it's true. It's irrelevant.

For something that everyone knows, Josh certainly is getting a lot of grief for something. I'm not sure what people are disagreeing about, but there certainly are a lot of people disagreeing.

#186 ::: j h woodyatt ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2007, 07:25 PM:

"Or something like that."

Yeah, yeah... I just think MSP could use a few good bath houses. Hell, put one inside the airport terminal for all I care. I just hate to see cops getting detailed to hassle TehGay just because a bunch of prudes want all the local deviants to have to drive to Milwaukee to get their freak on legally.

#187 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2007, 07:37 PM:

Greg: Check the link in my first comment in the thread. The Serious People backed Craig in October because his sex life was no-one's business.

Focus. It's not about one closet case caught cruising.

It's all political. This was all known last October. They defended him. They're cutting him loose. He's just chum. Shark-bait. They'll appoint some other stooge and then defend his Senate seat.

We're arguing about Craig because we're allowed. He's history, and we're allowed to trash him.

#188 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2007, 08:03 PM:

Random thoughts:

This whole event appears to be a clear as crystal illustration of the law of karma. What goes around comes around. Gloating strongly discouraged.

The Very Important Republicans are now calling for Craig to resign; not because he's gay (oh, no, of course not!) but because he pleaded guilty to a criminal act. One wonders if they would be saying the same thing if he'd pleaded guilty to jaywalking, or littering, or -- yes, that is a rhetorical question...

I can't help but notice -- because he's trumpeting it everywhere -- how important it is for Craig not to be designated as gay. It's more shameful and frightening to be labeled gay in his world than it is to be discovered looking for a sexual encounter in a public restroom. Which illustrates how homophobic and unhinged much of this country still is. And no, I don't think Craig was seeking sex in the Minneapolis airport bathroom for the thrill of it. Nuh-uh.

#189 ::: yugenue ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2007, 08:04 PM:

I am pretty bad with the Google fu, but here are a couple of stories of hetero bathroom sex getting busted that I came across in a minute of searching. FWIW.


#190 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2007, 08:08 PM:

Greg: The question of bias isn't one that concerns me. I am reasonably acquainted with cops. Because of that I this, as institutions, Police Dpts. are pre-disposed to think ill of homosexuals (it may be that all they see are cruisers and predators, and the us/them skell/citizen distiction is stronger because gays are more "other").

But that's not what caused the disagreement.

At its root some of us think that cruising public restrooms is, at best, marginal. That doing so in a venue such as an airport is right out (because of the isolated nature of them. If there is one, remote tearoom in Griffith Park, I can avoid it, and be; reasonably, certain that folks using it for trysts are going to be discreet, for certain values of discreet.

The same is not true of the toilets at an airport.

The bias of cops isn't, IMO, material to the issue. If someone is cruising an airport lavatory, that person runs a legitimate risk of being arrested (I am willing to stipulate that they can cruise like that and not, ipso facto be doing harm), because the chance of harm to others can't be completely mitigated (the lavatories in lots of the airports I've been in, i the past four years don't have doors, but rather S-curves; which means someone who walks quietly can find themselves there, without enough warning for the deeds to be put on hold).

So far as I can see, Josh is arguing that because if the bias, the offense should be ignored.

The argument, in the main, has been that the offense isn't something which maps directly to heterosexual interaction.

#191 ::: Chuck ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2007, 08:14 PM:

Josh@155 "I suppose I could try and be more of an acceptable person in this crowd and not point it out, but I'd really rather not. [...]
I can be a bit of a firebrand when it comes to calling people on what I see as racist, nationalist, or homophobic behavior."

As far as I've seen, the requirements for being "an acceptable person in this crowd" are little more than "not being a total jerk." Part of that is reading other people's responses and engaging those responses, instead of immediately dismissing them ("Next question."), playing the victim card, painting yourself to be the embattled champion of truth against a closed-minded society, or making ridiculous accusations of homophobia on a forum such as this.

I realize this is more caustic and belligerent than the tone of the rest of this thread, but I get incensed whenever I see people so transparently attempting to manipulate others' sympathies and tolerance. It was tiresome enough in John Scalzi's blog linked at the top of this post. It became downright insulting when you accused him (John Scalzi!) of not being sympathetic enough to gay men.

Jon H summed it up best back in #88:
"Josh seems to think anonymous public sex in toilets is inherently part and parcel of being gay, as opposed to being a kink favored by a subset. I don't think he's doing gay people any favors on that score."
There are plenty of people, gay and straight alike, who are perfectly able to have fulfilling sexual lives without soliciting sex in public bathrooms and invading other people's privacy. Lewd conduct in public is not an inherent part of being homosexual, and it's insulting to imply in any way that it is.

You claim in #119:
"I'm not saying hitting on people this way, or any way is acceptable. It's only the discrepancy in response that gets me angry."
If that's true, then the argument is as petty and pointless as complaining about police setting up a speed trap on one highway on-ramp instead of another.

I'm surprised and disappointed that all the side-tracking didn't end with James Macdonald's comment in #79:
"Look, I'll make you a deal: I won't take a dump on the bar if you won't hit on me in the toilet. Fair enough?"

#192 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2007, 08:53 PM:

Huh oh... The thread seems to be reaching the I-didn't-say-what-you-say-I-said-and-here's-what-I-really-said stage, with fine parsing of meanings, and the forgetting of what this is all really about. That usually leads nowhere good. The bottom line is that a hypocrite got caught doing what he decried others doing. Remember Gary Condit's comments about Clinton and marital infidelity?

Oh Hell...

#193 ::: MD² ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2007, 09:11 PM:

@j h woodyatt (#186):

Either I was so "inconspicious" I didn't make any sense (wouldn't be the first time) or my post 3AM brain has lost too much of its linguistic intelligence (or whatever it's called nowadays), but I don't really understand your post if it happens to answer mine.

For the record: at first, when I was told sodomy between two consenting adults in the privacy of their home was a crime in some North American states, I thought it was either an attempt at humor, or some poor anti-US propaganda.

Sigh...

#194 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2007, 09:15 PM:

Terry@190: So far as I can see, Josh is arguing that because if the bias, the offense should be ignored.

Well, that can't be exactly it, can it, because bias on the part of cops has nothing to do with whether some behaviour is right or wrong.

I don't mean to be dense, but I just don't get that.

I don't particularly want people having sex, gay or straight, at the park while I'm trying to play frisbee golf.

behind your own closed doors, or the closed doors of a hotel, or even a rent-by-the-hour booth, I don't care what you do to get your kink on. Behind a stall in a restroom where I'm trying to use a toilet, I have a slightly more problematic issue with that.

that's gay or straight, doesn't matter, in case anyone was thinking this was some subconscious homophobia coming through.

I think there is a gradient of expectations which would say that there are appropriate times and places for certain things. And not everyone should have to put up with an individual wanting to do anything at anytime.

So, I don't have a problem with the idea of a law limiting sexual conduct in public places. I have a problem with police misusing the law to target some group they don't like. But if that's the case, then the law may need to be made more specific to reduce the potential for creative interpretations and misuse by police. That police misuse the law shouldn't mean the law should be thrown out.

#195 ::: j h woodyatt ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2007, 09:29 PM:

MD², I just don't think I'm allowed to express esprit de corps if I'm not actually, you know, in the corps. Though, I suspect if I were in the corps, so to speak, I'd probably be saying the same things I am now, except for different reasons.

#196 ::: MD² ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2007, 09:39 PM:

All right, so I just didn't make any sense.

I'll take this as a hint I should take my pills and go to sleep.

#197 ::: MD² ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2007, 09:39 PM:

All right, so I just didn't make any sense.

I'll take this as a hint I should take my pills and go to sleep.

#198 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2007, 09:44 PM:

Greg: I think that is exactly it.

Josh Jasper #29 The point I hope you all pick up on is that homophobia among police (as well as republican congresscritters) is an institutional problem, and by ignoring it, it's not going to get better, it'll get worse.

We need to stop police from singling out gay men for cruising busts. That's the lesson, folks.

He did say, I'll be real clear here. I'm not on Craig's 'side'. I'm against homophobic police, no matter who they bust.

But when the structural difficulties in applying that standard to bathrooms was pointed out (i.e. it's a quirk of culture that the offense to which Craig pled guilty [though not the only one with which he was charged] is pretty hard to make stick to straights/lesbians), he did some handwaving and said that didn't matter.

So it seems to boil down to, this sort of thing should be allowed because to enforce it means singling out gay men.

At least that's the way the arguments seem to add up, to me.

#199 ::: LinD ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2007, 09:44 PM:

Not having read any farther than #79 so far, I was given to read some of the comments to my husband. Who volunteered this bit about "what about the chiiiiiildren" post.

It's not just the children. Think about the parents and grandparents having to answer those questions. Take pity on the adults, too.

#200 ::: Todd Larason ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2007, 09:45 PM:

The more I think about this, the less clear cut the "appropriate" vs "inappropriate" distinction becomes to me.

Consider the case of Lonnie Latham, which made news for similar hypocracy / ridiculous-explanation reasons. Ignore those issues for the moment, though.

Was the arrest reasonable? The police claim (as in this case) to have been responding to citizen complaints, this time of male prostitution. He propositioned a plainclothes officer in the parking lot of a hotel, which I'd normally not consider a reasonable thing to do.

But as anyone who lived in Oklahoma City knew, the Habana Inn isn't just a hotel; it's the central fixture of what little there is of a gay district.

Were the citizen complaints about the area? I don't doubt it, but I suspect they were more of the nature "there are gay people there" than "there's prostitution going on there". As far as I can remember, it's an area bounded by freeways and major roads on all sides with no residences mixed in, so there aren't any homeowners who may have accidentally gotten mixed unlike (unlike at least one of the major female prostitution strolls in OKC).

But then the question becomes, how do people know that's the gay area? How do family travellers not accidentally book rooms at the Habana Inn? Is it wrong to find humor in NY Times food writers who accidentally stumble across it without realizing it?

#201 ::: j h woodyatt ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2007, 10:00 PM:

Let me clarify my remarks: I don't think I want to crank on the individual cops in the Larry Craig case.

I see no reason to believe or disbelieve they were acting out of personal homophobic animus, and I'm willing to grant the benefit of doubt until somebody persuades me otherwise. I think it's entirely possible the policy they were enforcing was basically the result of rampant homophobia in the community they were policing.

Here's the way that works: the local sex brownshirts can't bear to let any meeting place for anonymous hookups operate in the open, so they make sure nobody can open a bath house (or similar business) anywhere convenient. This drives the deviants into conducting their trade in semi-private places where it's technically public lewdness. At that point, they can send in the cops, and this— they hope— will drive all the weirdoes away, maybe to San Francisco or Salt Lake City or something.

Alas, no— it doesn't work like that. People can always stay one step ahead of the vice squad, and everybody knows the police have more important things to do than cranking on TehGay, so it never gets the resources and time it would require to really bring down the hate and put a stop to the hrglrghrlrhhrghrghlhing in public once and for all.

Once again, I'm not really all that annoyed with cops. I'm also not entirely unsympathetic to the tearoom contingent. It's the pinheads who think paying the cops to solicit for sex in the airport bathrooms is so much better in the long run than allowing a bath house to open and do business in their town. Those people need to be roundly mocked.

And, oh yeah, Senator Craig says, "What do you think about that?"

I reply, "I think you're a dumb-ass who still hasn't caught the clue that you were only useful to the GOP elite until they could no longer rely on your loyalty in exchange for their help in keeping your sexual proclivity from becoming front page news. What do you think about that?"

#202 ::: julia ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2007, 10:29 PM:

It's an interesting question - one of the traditional arguments against gay being members of the military and the intelligence services and holding high security clearances is the likelihood of blackmail (Sen. Craig, by the way, opposes gays in the military).

It seems to me that the risk is not in being gay, but in being closeted - there's no point in threatening to out someone who's out.

Sen. Craig, on the other hand, has quite the active secret life, apparently, and is trying to keep it from his family and his constituents. I don't see how he can possibly keep his security clearance by the logic of his own side.

#203 ::: mythago ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2007, 10:38 PM:

Trust me, if straight men could wave a wand and change this situation so getting some female tail were as easy as going to the nearest adult video store's peep show booths, it would have happened a long time ago.

Trust me, no, it wouldn't. Because there are some things that go along with waving that magic wand, such as thinking of females as other than "tail", sometimes being the recipient rather than the aggressor, and dropping the whole notion that a woman who acts like a horny man is a slut, a whore, free game for rape, or the rest of the two-faced mentality that an awful lot of the "if only the bitches put out more" straight-male crowd possess.

(And while I have no idea whether you are of that mindset, Jon H., I do have to wonder when you insist that you've never heard of women propositioning men.)
Seems to me that Josh is extremely suspicious that the police are applying the "no public sex, no harassment" standard in an even-handed manner. Perhaps they are, and Josh is mistaken. But is it really so hard to understand why Josh feels that way? Especially in light of comments that suggest that "hitting on" women is OK, hitting on men is OK as long as it's not me kthx, and gay men having sex in bathrooms is wrong because thinkofthechildren!?

#204 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2007, 10:49 PM:

I'm remembering a thread of many months back, in which Teresa said that people are not entitled to make other people be involuntary participants in their "scenes." She was referring to e.g. situations in which Person A is leading Person B around by a leash and such things at conventions in open hotel areas, rather than adults with consenting audiences in private parties.

It seems to me that propositions in public latrines as described, fall under that rule...

#205 ::: Michael Weholt ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2007, 11:10 PM:

#203 mythago: Especially in light of comments that suggest that "hitting on" women is OK, hitting on men is OK as long as it's not me kthx, and gay men having sex in bathrooms is wrong because thinkofthechildren!?

Identify those who made these arguments in this thread, and where they made them, so they can appropriately respond to them, please.

#206 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2007, 11:54 PM:

#202 Julia:

This suggests one very good reason why we might be seeing a lot of gay Republicans in positions of power with tendencies toward inappropriate and embarrassing stuff like trying to f-ck the pages or pick someone up in a mens' room. Perhaps having people like that in positions of power is really good for party discipline. You could even imagine someone sufficiently evil choosing to back guys with some kind of sex scandal brewing in the background, when they wanted to run for Congress.

#207 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2007, 12:24 AM:

Mythago, #203: What Michael said in #205. You've made a seriously unpleasant allegation about the content of this thread. Back it up, please.

Greg, #178: When you assert that it's "unproven" that homophobia usually plays a part in how the police deal with cruising, you're basically saying "I have no real understanding of this issue on which thousands of people have spent years of study. Please spoonfeed me statistics." Guess what: Homophobia plays a large part in how the police deal with gay people, period. I often appreciate your literal-minded Let's Analyze This Dispassionately As If We All Arrived Here From Mars Three Hours Ago methods, but this isn't one of those times. You're not helping.

Josh Jasper, passim, you would do yourself and your arguments a world of good if you would just knock off the boldfacing. We're not actually stupid and we don't need to you to be constantly highlighting the important parts lest we miss them. Also, jumping to the conclusion that the people you're arguing with--a set that includes several gay people with histories of political activism--are all "homophobic", doesn't really help your case. Yes, it's possible that they're all Self-Hating Gays, and only Heroic You are capable of seeing through to the Pure Light Of The Truth. It's also possible that you're wrong.

#208 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2007, 12:55 AM:

Michael, #69: Well said. Especially the idea that men should get used to it in the same way that they expect women to be used to it.

I got into a huge argument with a co-worker once because he was relating a story about some guy who'd punched out another guy at a bar for offering to buy him a drink, and I said that was wrong. I asked him whether he'd think it was right if he offered to buy a woman a drink in a bar and she punched him out. And, of course, I got the "But that's DIFFERENT!" whine. No, it's not. Women are expected to politely decline; men should be able to do the same.

Leah, #84: Part of the problem is that there are different levels of sexual approach, all of which (in current American popular usage) are covered by the term "hitting on". It ranges from Jim's description in #79 all the way up to outright sexual assault. We can borrow the term "chatting up" from our British friends for the lower end of the scale if we like -- but that doesn't change the fact that not all hitting on is created equal, at least not in the way the phrase is currently used.

Terry, #101: Not quite the same thing, but there is a reason that I will not attempt to use any restroom stall that doesn't have a working lock. Without fail, no matter how many other stalls are in the restroom, the next woman to come in WILL PUSH OPEN THE DOOR OF THAT ONE without bothering to check for signs of occupancy. It's happened enough times that I've gotten downright paranoid about it.

And yeah, if someone stared at me thru the crack in the stall door for two minutes, I'd be all about calling the nearest cop or other security person. That's a THREAT.

Yusifu, #109: I agree with some of what you say. I would agree with much more of it if we were not talking about a restroom in an airport terminal. An airport is not a tearoom, and should never be expected to fulfill the functions of one.

#209 ::: Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2007, 01:09 AM:

Hey, you know what this thread hasn't had yet? It hasn't had anyone playing a disability card. Let me fix that.

I have a severely screwed immune system with cascading complications, including the sort of wretched metabolism that makes me overweight, prone to gas, and subject to erratic needs for lavatory time. I've become mildly agorophobic in recent years, and a significant part of it is this last matter: not being able to do the minimal relaxation necessary to give my addled guts the relief they need is painful and embarrassing and I hate it enough that I will pass up opportunities to go places I can't count on that modicum.

Lots of things can contribute to that unhappy state for me, starting wtih lack of basic hygeine. But yes, gay cruising has has been a factor in me no longer feeling comfortable spending any extended browsing time in several bookstores and music stores, various places I've lived. As I once shouted at a jerk looking for someone to blow, "You can go home and beat off! I can't wait till I get home for this! I can't even wait to get next door! Leave me the fuck alone!"

Now, fortunately for humanity at large, my kind of condition is rare. But other conditions that lead gentlemen (and other guys) to prefer privacy in the bathroom aren't all that rare at all. Among my immediate circle of friends, I think of the guys with irritable bowel syndrome, the one with recurring kidney stones, a couple with surgical or other scars over which they have to change dressings, and so on. Some are chronically sick with something that makes their privacy important, others simply have such a condition right at the moment. Bute very last one of them deserves a chance to do their business with some jerk taking their presence as license to begin trolling for any kind of sex.

I am genuinely sympathetic to the reality of bigoted zealous closure of places that could serve as alternative rendezvous. I don't think wanting quick anonymous nookie is wrong in any way that should interest the law, at a minimum. But dammit, people aren't just wanting bathroom privacy because they're homophobic prudes. Some of us have entirely other concerns we wish to keep private...and of those, quite a few are things that others would wish us to keep private, if they knew. There just aren't that many elimination fetishists in the world.

#210 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2007, 01:19 AM:

Lee: I didn't go into that for other reasons.

I don't use urinals.

1: I am vulnerable, they are often placed so that one can't see the door when using them.

2: I have only ever been mugged while using one.

So I use a stall, irrespective of need. And I lock the door.

#211 ::: j h woodyatt ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2007, 01:30 AM:

albatross @ 206: "You could even imagine someone sufficiently evil choosing to back guys with some kind of sex scandal brewing in the background, when they wanted to run for Congress."

Think bigger.

When I went to the 1996 RNC in San Diego to watch the greedheads cavort in their native habitat, I'm pretty sure I witnessed the systematic entrapment of delegates using prostitutes. It all seemed rather out in the open too, complete with a San Diego Union-Tribune article about how the local escort services were all booked solid for the entire week of the convention. I wrote about my observations that night here [link: original unedited Usenet article].

Illustration: shortly after midnight, the four of us noticed a man in a suit accompanying a young woman in her twenties and wearing an impossibly revealing dress. They made the rounds and he introduced her to a half-dozen or so men in their fifties. An hour later or so, after she had shown several of them the color of her underwear on the dancefloor, she skulked off toward the elevator with three of them in tow.

That's what I saw. I remember it clearly. Here's what I wrote off the cuff not long afterward, just so you know I'm not embellishing on my memory years later.

Now you know what was going on here. I won't insult your intelligence. At three in the morning as I wrote this, I was sure those three guys were right that minute trying to navigate their way back to the Milky Way galaxy before the convention session began the following morning. Some would say this was an example of Republican evil. I disagree. These guys weren't evil. They were simply wrong. Wrong, I tell you.
No, here's who's evil: the guy who introduced her around. I fully expect that the delegates she lead off to do the hokey-pokey with will be approached sometime after the lab finishes processing the film by the entity that paid for her services. They'll be making a proposal for how they can show their loyalty to the party apparatus and avoid nasty public inquiries into character issues at the same time. That's evil. Pure fucking jam it into your ears and collapse on the floor evil.

Sure, they might have been strippers, but I didn't think so. Yes, this might not have been blackmail. It could have just been some guys out having fun.

This was the night before the voting. They were, in fact, delegates. Another in my group recognized them from earlier that day when he was on the floor of the convention. The guy who brought the young woman around? We never saw him before or again. Does anybody have a better explanation for what I saw?

I don't feel like I need to read that Glenn Greenwald piece about how the GOP has switched off the love for their boy Larry Craig. At this point, what I want to know is why this story about his earlier conviction ever saw the light of day, much less right now. What did Senator Craig do (or fail to do) that made keeping his guilty plea off the front page no longer an operative strategy?

#212 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2007, 01:44 AM:

albatross @ 206

That makes a lot of sense; I've seen this sort of thing. A long time ago I quit a job at a startup company; as I was packing things up on my last day I swung by the CEO's office to see if he could listen to a few home truths. When I said, "Bill, you do know, don't you, that your engineering manager is incompetent," he replied, "Yes, that's why I gave her the job. If she doesn't know how to do the job she has to do whatever I tell her."

I guess the CEO must have been a Republican; at his next company he held out in the offshore headquarters for three years before cutting a deal with the Feds. In the meantime his daughter and his best(?) friend were indicted and convicted.

#213 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2007, 02:10 AM:

Terry@198: So it seems to boil down to, this sort of thing should be allowed because to enforce it means singling out gay men.

I guess I ruled out that parsing because saying "we should make it legal because the police use it to in a discriminatory way" is to me like saying we should make murder legal because it's been statistically shown that murder convictions are enforced in a racially biased way. That it is racially charged would indicate reason to get rid of the death penalty and to put checks in to correct for racial prejudice, but it does not mean to get rid of the law against murder.

It seems so counter intuitive to me that I'll just have to take your word that he meant it that way.

#214 ::: clew ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2007, 02:12 AM:

I also have been annoyed by the race-to-the-bottom standard that mythago lays into in #203, although I would have phrased it less furiously, more as Lee does in #208.

I was getting the sense of the race, oddly, mostly from Josh Jasper. When told that gay men should be allowed to be sexually aggressive in the way that straight men often get away with, I am not convinced. No-one should expect to get away with that.

By 'sexually aggressive' I mean behavior that would work very well as the precursor to a mugging, and one of the reasons I don't go into bars much is the blurry line between that and 'hitting on'. If this limitation annoyed me more, I would be a lot more furious about anything that seemed to imply that the problem with trapping your target in a small place was that it was a man in a restroom, not a woman in a bar where 'that's normal'; and several comments here have cheerfully referred to bars being sexualised, hitting-on type locales. (I assume the comments were thinking of quite safe, mutualistic, pickup styles. I think it's a little naive to believe that those are the national norm.)

#215 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2007, 02:36 AM:

"several comments here have cheerfully referred to bars being sexualised, hitting-on type locales"

I think we should hesitate to categorically characterize all such comments as "cheerful," or to conclude quite so readily that everyone making an observation is thereby approving 100% of every aspect of the state of affairs.

Beware mindreading.

#216 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2007, 02:50 AM:

clew@214: When told that gay men should be allowed to be sexually aggressive in the way that straight men often get away with, I am not convinced.

Aggressive can be anything from hostile to assertive, bold, energetic, vigorous, or intense, most of which are traits that can be channeled for Good.

I know you said that by "sexually aggressive", you meant behavior that would work very well as the precursor to a mugging, but that means either that Josh favors gay men being violent, or folks are talking about different things when they use the term aggression.

"Violence" is probably a better term as precursor to a mugging type behaviour. Violent meaning physical force, emotional force, pain, or injury.

Being aggressive, depending on who you ask, might be nothing more than pursuing what you want, which can still maintain a respect for other's space. Violence does not respect the other person's space.

#217 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2007, 02:50 AM:

Let's assume for a moment that Senator Craig really, like he claims, isn't gay. That all the foot-tapping and finger-waving, etc., in that airport restroom was all innocent behavior that only coincidentally matched up with behavior of people cruising for bathroom sex.

If so, what are we to make of his guilty plea to something he wasn't guilty of? And of his apparent assumption that no one would ever find out about that guilty plea? (That assumption panned out nicely, didn't it?)

I suggest that, if that were the true scenario, it's actually MORE of an argument for urging his resignation from the Senate.

Because what kind of guy would make that kind of boneheaded, irrational, just-plain-wrong decision?

Craig should be asked to resign. Not because he's gay. Not because he solicited sex in a public facility. But because he's a senile old fool who can't be trusted to make rational decisions in high-pressure situations.

- - - - -

Here's a modest proposal:

Designate one stall in a men's room as available for sexual meetings. To prevent offense to other people in the men's room, you could have the side panels and the door reach from floor to ceiling, and have the panels and door meet tightly to prevent voyeurs from observing.

You could give such an arrangment it's own special IKEAish name. Something like, oh, a "Closet".

#218 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2007, 02:53 AM:

Being one of the people who discussed the sexualised aspect of bars, cheerful isn't the word I'd use.

Not all bars are sexualised. Not all flirtatious/chatting up/hitting on behaviour is created equal.

Done in an open place, where one has the option to leave/seek help in enforcing a lack of interest the sexual interplay in a bar/party/sporting event, is a fine thing.

I don't see anyplace where I've said anything that implicitly (much less explicitly) says that trapping anyone to make an advance/pass/proposition is acceptable.

My observing the state of affairs is just that, and doesn't endorse (nor, for that matter, condemn; out of hand) that state of affairs.

#219 ::: Jon H ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2007, 04:18 AM:

mythago wrote: "Trust me, no, it wouldn't. Because there are some things that go along with waving that magic wand, such as thinking of females as other than "tail", sometimes being the recipient rather than the aggressor, and dropping the whole notion that a woman who acts like a horny man is a slut, a whore, free game for rape, or the rest of the two-faced mentality that an awful lot of the "if only the bitches put out more" straight-male crowd possess."

Um, and anonymous gay sex with strangers is, what, respectful lovemaking? That is the context we're working in here. 'Tail' is exactly what the tearoom/anonymous public sex fans are looking for. We are not, I don't think, working in an idiom of romantic love or lifelong dedicated marriage.

I was positing a situation in which *one* male could, by magic (ie not ever gonna happen in the real world if that's not quite clear for you) create a situation where SOME women behaved like the men who frequent tearooms. Which, they don't. Sure they proposition guys at bars and whatnot, but they don't lurk in the back of adult video stores in pathetic packs like men do.

Somehow you seem to have turned this into a scenario where a guy could wave a wand and change a particular woman into a Gor-style sex slave against her will. That's the only way what you write makes any sense.

That's not what I described at all. What I meant was that one guy, possibly a complete jerk, could do it and change the entire world. The wishes of everyone else don't enter into it, all it takes is one horny thoughtless guy with a magic wand.

Do you honestly believe that no man would *ever* do that if given the magical power to do so? Seriously? Seriously? Not even the 'Girls Gone Wild' schmuck?

(And incidentally, what I had in mind was *not* 'all women become witless sex slaves' or anything like it. Just that some subset of hetero women would begin to turn up at tearooms just like a subset of gay men do, instead of trying to meet people at bars. It wouldn't take many such women to make porn shop attendance figures skyrocket.)

Sheesh. I suggested a hypothetical situation to highlight that women simply do not behave like male tearoom afficionados. They do have their own, more discrete, methods of hooking up for one night stands or shorter. But it still isn't the 'help yourself' buffet the men set themselves up as.

I don't see where you get off acting like I'm freakin' John Norman just because I posited an inherently impossible hypothetical (which you misunderstood, but that may have been my writing.)

#220 ::: Jon H ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2007, 04:31 AM:

Josh wrote: "John H : Yep. Pretty much on the dance floor, being rubbed up against. She asked for a darker section of the club. I declined."

Hm. Are you sure she meant sex, or just making out for a bit before leaving together?

Is making out as bad as a handjob in a bathroom? I dunno, probably not in the general opinion. 'Acceptable behavior' is probably the stuff you'd wag your finger at junior high schoolers for if you caught them.

Sadly I haven't seen people having sex in clubs, not even the gay disco some friends took me to in Chicago about a decade ago, that had video walls of gay porn. But then I'm not much of a clubber.

#221 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2007, 04:43 AM:

Some of the accounts of this case make me wonder...

What sort of physical setup, in a public restroom, makes it easy for somebody to glance into an occupied stall to check if it is occupied, and make eye contact?

Haven't you Americans heard of doors? Those flat, opaque, things with hinges that can be used to temporarily block an aperture?

#222 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2007, 05:02 AM:

My reactions to the idea of gay sex have changed over the years. Partly, it's from meeting gay people, and knowing it. Partly it's from changes in the generally admitted sexual landscape.

When I was a teenager in the UK, oral and anal sex were real taboo breakers. These days, partly through the medium of the internet, they're almost gender neutral sexual acts. I find myself thinking, if it's OK for a guy to do this to a woman, what makes a man different?

But my fantasies may not map all that well with what I would be capable of, or what anyone else would want to do. And maybe I'm too curious for my own good. Whatever, these days it feels way too late.

#223 ::: ethan sees spam ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2007, 05:25 AM:

j h woodyatt #211: At this point, what I want to know is why this story about his earlier conviction ever saw the light of day, much less right now. What did Senator Craig do (or fail to do) that made keeping his guilty plea off the front page no longer an operative strategy?

Hmm...looking at his voting record for recent months, he seems to have stuck pretty much entirely to the party line. Something upcoming he'd mentioned voting the "wrong" way on?

#224 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2007, 05:30 AM:

God frackin' dammit, every single time I "see spam," I see it again the next time I post. Sorry about that.

#225 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2007, 06:03 AM:

ethan @ 224... You definitely ought to be ashamed of yourself.

#226 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2007, 07:49 AM:

Hmm...looking at his voting record for recent months, he seems to have stuck pretty much entirely to the party line. Something upcoming he'd mentioned voting the "wrong" way on?

The story broke on the day Gonzales resigned, and knocked Gonzo right off the front page.

#227 ::: mayakda ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2007, 08:40 AM:

Further to Jim @ 226:
I've read that Sen. Craig resigning is not a net loss to the Republicans, since the Governor Otter, being Republican also, is sure to appoint a Republican replacement.

#228 ::: Michael Weholt ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2007, 09:04 AM:

#221 :Dave Bell: Haven't you Americans heard of doors? Those flat, opaque, things with hinges that can be used to temporarily block an aperture?

Doors? Oh! I see what you mean. We call those "boots".

But to answer your question previous to that one, the door in a bathroom stall most often consists of a swinging (usually it swings inward, but not always) metal, opaque thing that, sadly, when closed, often leaves a space between itself and the jamb on either side. Sometimes that space can be up to a half-an-inch, maybe. Plenty of room for crack peeping if that is your thing.

These things are usually cheap crap, manufactured in bulk, made for the convenience and benefit of the building owners rather than the tenants or their visitors. Often the latches are broken so you have to hold the door shut while you are engaged in other business.

And I was kidding about the "boots" part, by the way. Lest anyone believe something on account of they read it on the internet.

#229 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2007, 09:26 AM:

Dave Bell @ 221

I agree. Every time I visit the USA and have to use public restrooms I am amazed, again, at the level of not-privacy compared with most public restrooms in the UK. Doors and side panels reaching barely from knees to head height, gaps between door and frame (and often between frame and side panel) wide enough that it can actually be difficult not to catch a glimpse of the person inside the stall as you walk past. Makes me uncomfortable - and that's in the Ladies.

But I suppose (as indicated by Michael Weholt @ 228) the savings in material make the design cheaper.

#230 ::: julia ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2007, 09:48 AM:

mythago wrote: "Trust me, no, it wouldn't. Because there are some things that go along with waving that magic wand, such as thinking of females as other than "tail", sometimes being the recipient rather than the aggressor, and dropping the whole notion that a woman who acts like a horny man is a slut, a whore, free game for rape, or the rest of the two-faced mentality that an awful lot of the "if only the bitches put out more" straight-male crowd possess."

Um, and anonymous gay sex with strangers is, what, respectful lovemaking?

No, but both are considered to be equally using each other. The convention for casual sex involving a woman and a man is that the man is the subject and the woman is the object.

I think there's a fairly good case for the theory that one of the things that freaks people who are freaked out by teh gay is that a man is willing to become the object. Certainly there appears to be a distinction between how gay tops and bottoms are.

#231 ::: Lance Weber ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2007, 10:15 AM:

Jim #226: Speaking of strange jobs, "Oh, I'm the Keeper of Politically Lethal Secrets. Whenever the cabal needs a good distracting scandal, I just pop open my handy dandy box of index cards and pick someone to destroy."

#232 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2007, 10:28 AM:

Serge (#192) on the stage this thread is getting (devolving) to: well-said! Petty debate (and yes, some of this is becoming petty as well as vicious) nearly always crops up on a thread where there's any room for argument, and I like it no better than he does. Yes, I could always choose to go elsewhere instead of wearing out my wrist with continual skimming, but something eloquent and interesting might still show up.

Lance Weber (#163): Maybe we could setup a regex filter on ML that would automatically close threads once they'd reached critical mass for the following phrases: wikipedia, xkcd, puns, knitting, recipes, poetry. Actually, some of that is what gets me reading again. ML reverts to the norm!

#233 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2007, 11:00 AM:

Faren @ 232... Hopefully this won't devolve into something like the infamous sky-is-evil thread. To avoid such a state, I think that what we need here is puns. (Do I hear ethan say "Nooooooooooo!!!") The original subject is so... ah... rich with possibilities.

#234 ::: mythago ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2007, 11:26 AM:

Somehow you seem to have turned this into a scenario where a guy could wave a wand and change a particular woman into a Gor-style sex slave against her will. That's the only way what you write makes any sense.

Maybe that's the only way it makes any sense to you. Because you don't seem to have given much thought to WHY women don't pack tearooms, other than That's Just How Women Are.

But thank you for the long explanation of what women do and don't do. Being a woman, I would have no idea about any of that stuff.

#235 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2007, 11:30 AM:

"Quick! Send in the clones!"

#236 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2007, 11:43 AM:

231, 233: So, you mean this could be just another Republican stall tactic?

Quick and fairly relevant pop quiz: who said, of whom, "So you are the young man who has used the Mother of Parliaments as a public convenience?"

#237 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2007, 11:49 AM:

ajay @236
231, 233: So, you mean this could be just another Republican stall tactic?

Yes, they're using this in loo of addressing the real issues.

#238 ::: Sarah S ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2007, 11:58 AM:

#237 abi

Oh, I don't know. I think they're making some headway in flushing out the real problem.

Me, I find the whole discussion rather draining.

#239 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2007, 12:00 PM:

I don't see a problem with U.S. Senators having a kink for anonymous sex.

To which was replied:
"Family Values" senators who've voted against gay rights at every opportunity?

"Family Values Senators" is a subset of "U.S. Senators". Just being a senator is no reason not to have any given kink. It's being a hypocrite that's the problem, and Craig is.

#240 ::: Jenett ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2007, 12:20 PM:

Ben @ #123:

For about 4 years (ending about 2 years ago when we moved location for other reasons), I was regularly doing group ritual in a park not far from the Minneapolis airport.

We'd regularly see cars driving down the road, past the field and park building we used, down to the far parking lot (nowhere near anything, and in the summer and fall, generally surrounded by 5+ feet of prairie grasses.) They'd be back there a short time (too short for a walk, too long for photos of flowers or something), and then drive back up.

About a year into that, we started seeing a *much* more regular police presence - maybe every hour or ninety minutes - not just park police, but St. Paul cars (where the park was, though it was a county park, not a city one, technically.) We finally asked one of the park police precisely why.

Turns out that it had become common for people to pick up people (and from what he said, both heterosexual and homosexual: some prostitution, but not all, and more straight than otherwise) at the bars and clubs not far from there, and come down to the convenient secluded parking lot, do their thing, go away. It wasn't just evenings: they'd be going through the afternoon, too (when there were often families, dog-walking people, etc. around.)

Now, there's a lot of historic differences between the St. Paul and Minneapolis police forces, and all sorts of other things. But that makes me think that there's some even-handedness going, locally.

#241 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2007, 12:46 PM:

abi... Sarah S... We're stalling. Better latrine never.

#242 ::: Emma ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2007, 12:53 PM:

(holds nose, runs away gagging) SEEERRRRGE...damnit...none of those...haven't you've been told none of those...ever again?! :-)

#243 ::: janeyolen ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2007, 01:04 PM:

You are all missing the best part of the story from Barney Franks. Doncha just adore him?

He said Senator Craig shouldn't resign because " "It's one thing to say that someone can't be trusted to vote without being corrupt, it's another to say that he can't be trusted to go to the bathroom by himself."

Jane

#244 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2007, 01:08 PM:

Emma... There I am, toilet... I mean, toiling to cheer things up even though I'm pooped and this is all I get. Sniff...

#245 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2007, 01:16 PM:

mythago@234: WHY women don't pack tearooms, other than That's Just How Women Are.

OK, I'm interested in hearing how you can explain why women don't pack tearooms that doesn't at the same time say that's how women are. It seems that you're both using the generalization statement "women don't do X because of Y". You both seem to agree on "X"=="Women don't go to tearooms". And while Jon is talking about a hypothetical situation where X is different, you're disagreeing on "Y", which I don't think was his point.

Women don't go to tearooms because kryptonite used in public toilet construction would sap their superpowers.

Jon's talking about a hypothetical where women go to tearooms. And you're disagreeing about the kryptonite.

#246 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2007, 01:19 PM:

I think they're making some headway in flushing out the real problem.

OK, that's it. Urinal lot of trouble now.

#247 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2007, 01:19 PM:

I think they're making some headway in flushing out the real problem.

OK, that's it. Urinal lot of trouble now.

#248 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2007, 01:25 PM:

Great... Everybody is going to pile on me now?

#249 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2007, 01:27 PM:

You know, Serge...I'm afraid we're just papering over our differences.

#250 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2007, 01:29 PM:

Macdonald #226

The story broke on the day Gonzales resigned, and knocked Gonzo right off the front page.

Blame it on Too Much Wildlife and Global Warming... but Schmuck's misadministration is working on bigger worse things. The ship of state's been having those issue with birds of a feather flocking together getting caught up in the rigging and fouling the lines. But "never met a national park or federal land that shouldn't be turned over to less-than-remediation-cost-lease for mining, grazing, logging, etc., Schmuck and his associates are working diligently to change the subject and extend their abominable flimflamming and bamboozling of the public: this past several day's stall and focus on sh*t tactics, are designed to make the problem fly the coop and get rid of avian issues, clip the claws of the harpies of the shore via find a rocky outcrop to be a lure-at-crag, and paste things over for all bird toe gone--sail ease.

#251 ::: Josh Jasper ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2007, 01:30 PM:

#166 Terry Karney

It's not so much the shushing of my tone, but of putting arguments out that I've not made. Scalzi made the mistake (which he admitted to, as I recall) of seeing me as defending Allen, when in fact, I wasn't. What I was doing was pointing out the disparity between cruising busts, and a lack straight people being busted for the same thing because police are homophobic.

People here get mighty defensive when I point that out in this context. probably because they really don't like Sen Craig. I don't.

I also don't like the idea of public sex. But I like even less that (a) similar behavior by straight people gets less to no police attention, and (b) that people are in denial about it, and are rather defensive about having it brought up in the first place.


Patrick, #207

Josh Jasper, passim, you would do yourself and your arguments a world of good if you would just knock off the boldfacing. We're not actually stupid and we don't need to you to be constantly highlighting the important parts lest we miss them. Also, jumping to the conclusion that the people you're arguing with--a set that includes several gay people with histories of political activism--are all "homophobic", doesn't really help your case. Yes, it's possible that they're all Self-Hating Gays, and only Heroic You are capable of seeing through to the Pure Light Of The Truth. It's also possible that you're wrong.

Sorry about the boldfacing. It's a stream of consciousness thing. I'll try and moderate it.

Is it possible I'm wrong, sure. But honestly I'm trying to make a point about cruising busts and homophobia among cops, and it's getting lost in discussion of how it's not really a problem.

I tend to view the attempts to sweep it under the rug with suspicion.

#220 Jon H - Sex in the Clintonian definition? I dunno, but my hand was being guided to places that I'd count as having sex. It's not like I've never seen straight people outside of clubs in LA having sex in the shadows either.

The core of it is that het couples have plenty of public sex. Since we're on the topic of airports, what about The Mile High Club

I know people who've 'joined'. Het couples. It's a known phenomenon. I've known people to flirt with the person sitting next to them on airplanes. I've had friends tell me about being hit on while in the air, on a plane, by a fellow passenger, or even by the flight crew.

It may not get the same squick level as bathroom sex, but it's certainly on the same level of public acts.

Again, I'm not saying that public sex is a good thing. I'm saying that the law has one unspoken standard for straight people, and one unspoken standard for gay people, and gay people get treated worse.

This is not about the specific instance, just that it's part of a greater trend.

#252 ::: alsafi ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2007, 01:41 PM:

I think what mythago is saying here is that women are culturally discouraged from treating sexuality in the same way that men do--that tearooms are an almost wholly male phenomenon because men's sexuality in our culture is constructed as aggressive, fearless, and (mostly) consequence-free. Women's sexuality is none of these (traditionally, in our culture), and so women do not frequent tearooms. It's not something that inheres in being female, but part of womens' sexual inculturation. Therefore, to "wave a magic wand" and have women act more like men, sexually, would not involve turning them into Gor-like sex slaves. What it would require would be a remaking of our entire cultural gender constructions--women would have to be freed of the burden of being (and being taught that we are) sexual gatekeepers, able to have sex without fear of consequences (from being labelled a "slut" to pregnancy to being certain that if violence starts, she's going to get the worst end of it), and generally not being widely sexually objectified. In short, to enjoy the same sexual expectations as men. So by that light, when someone wishes women were sexually freer and then objectifies them in the same sentence--I can see where it wasn't meant that way, but I do see irony in it.

#253 ::: alsafi ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2007, 01:43 PM:

Don't feel bad, Serge--every great artist feces a little poo-pooing sometimes.

#254 ::: Sarah S ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2007, 01:46 PM:

Greg @247 and Serge @248

I know. Whole thread's gone to pot, hasn't it?

#255 ::: Claude Muncey ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2007, 01:59 PM:

I normally would not pipe up in this kind of conversation, but it's a real shame when we let a perfectly good discussion sink to this level. Here we are, plumbing the depths . . .

#256 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2007, 02:01 PM:

Josh@251: I'm not saying that public sex is a good thing. I'm saying that the law has one unspoken standard for straight people, and one unspoken standard for gay people, and gay people get treated worse.

Well, if you agree that sex in public restrooms should remain illegal, then it's a matter of trying to get the police to enforce the law in proportion to the total incidents. Because even if you change the law to be specific, the thing gay men are getting busted for would still be illegal. So, again, the problem isn't with the law, it's with the enforcement.

Josh@129: have you ever heard of a female cop soliciting *non paid* public sex from men

I think this should qualify as entrapment, either gay or straight, if the officer initiates. I know it happens, and that's probably one place where the law and police procedure could be fixed. Craig, I believe, initiated the conversation, but I think the case with George Michael, the officer initiated the deal.

Finally, in digging around, the closest thing to a statistic I could find was an uncited claim at wikipedia: Cottaging is more common among gay and bisexual men than among lesbians or heterosexuals,

Which would then mean that arrests for cottaging will skew towards gay men, without neccessarily indicating institutional bias.

If wikipedia is wrong, you might want to find an external source and fix it.

#257 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2007, 02:05 PM:

Josh #251

I remember hearing about at least one hetero couple that got busted on a plane flight and charged.

The ones I heard about who didn't get busted, went into the toilet and locked the door. Sen Craig was "reaching out from the other side," he wasn't in a locked room with a consenting adult, he was reaching out to a cop.

Your outrage regarding your claim that cops are in general homophobes who target homosexual males for police harassment and leave heterosexual male/heterosexuals couples involved in coitus or maneuvers heading in that direction undisturbed, is an issue that is off on a different angle than Sen Craig, sanctimonious noxious hypocrite, and Alberto Gonzales, distract the public with a juicy scandal from his under-many-clouds resignation.

That is, with the herring running and herring gulls all around (the standard seagull is a herring gull, and seeing them at a herring run, fighting so hard over the fish with one another that I saw one fish get away even though it had been caught by a bird, in the squabble among the gulls after the fish was in the catching bird's beak!,), you're throwing a week old dead reeking carp in....

Hmm, that analogy, er, reeks. Trying again--the issue of police brutality/homophobia/lack of sensitivity/intolerance is a side issue regarding Sen Craig, hypocrite apparently, caught up in a sting operation which resulted from patron complaints about expectations that someone in an airport should be able to use the facilities without being accosted by sexual predators or folks mistakable for sexual predators, and by persons engaged in various activities considered inappropriate for audiences that are not consenting adults to be "treated" to.

Your upset comes off to me, as if you are trying to hijack the thread to focus on a particular political issue which is a hotbutton for you. Hijacking panels at conventions, as analogy, generally gets considered to be in bad taste and poor judgment. The issue of police discrimation/bigotry/etc. is wider that allegations of homophobia, and gets into treatment of women (I seem to recall a VERY recent story of a cop in Massachusetts who raped a woman who had approached him for protection again a sexual predatory situation or some such), treatment of minorites--race, creed, color, national origin-- etc. That overall get back to the Republicrap agenda, which has been stripping the government at all levels in the USA of resources and will and personnel interested in fairness and equal opportunity and ensuring protection and assistance for those being discriminated against, in favor of returning the pie slicing to what it was in the 1950s where the perception was that all but a sliver of the pie was -owed- to white heterosexual Anglo-saxon Christian males, anyone else allows to exist was an inferior due maybe sufficient income for a hovel out of sight and gruel for nourishment, and in suitable pursuits such as cleaning, dead end clerical jobs, mindnumbing factory jobs (exported to China and Indonesia and Eastern Europe these days where the exchange rate makes the labor cost maybe $2 a day... compared with four times that at least in the USA per hour...), etc., and no effective voting rights.

#258 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2007, 02:08 PM:

It's only a few people making atrocious puns. The porcelain-t majority want to talk about the issues!

#259 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2007, 02:10 PM:

Josh at 251: I'm not saying that public sex is a good thing. I'm saying that the law has one unspoken standard for straight people, and one unspoken standard for gay people, and gay people get treated worse.

Josh, I believe -- correct me if I am wrong, please -- that what you are saying is: the culture is still, in general and in most places, extremely uncomfortable, to the point of phobia, with public expressions of gay sexuality, and that this applies to a wide range of behavior, from something so harmless as public flirting, to consensual sexual encounters in bathroom stalls.

I think you're absolutely correct. The widespread resistance to secular gay marriage proves that you are correct. Is this fair? Of course not. Should it change? Sure. And those changes should reach to a whole bunch of places, including issues of how the law is interpreted and applied.

But making public bathrooms equally accessible for homosexual and heterosexual cruising isn't where I want to put my energy for change. I think airport bathrooms are not appropriate places for sexual encounters of any sort.

And, oh, I love Barney Frank.

#260 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2007, 02:19 PM:

Josh: I think you are seeing people accuse you of arguments you not made, when they haven't.

I don't see anyone here saying you are defending Craig, qua Craig.

What I do see is a crime (which you think ought to be a crime) which you say ought not be enforced.

Or that it needs to be enforced 100 percent equally.

Or, perhaps, that 100 percent of het offenders need to be punished, because they make up a smaller slice of the pie, and proportional parity would make it look as though male homosexuals were being targetted.

No, I don't actually think you believe in the last, but it is true that there aren't that many (save from the Lovers' Lanes, which tend to get cruised because of what they are, not who goes there. You want to make Greg's point re stats, the bust/holler stop ratio at such a place is where to find the evidence).

But as Gred said, there are more men crusing for tearoom sex than there are hets looking for a place to go.

If you look at my posts, my complaint isn't that people are getting together for trysts of a casual nature. None of my business. I don't even care if they go someplace where people will know what they were doing; so long as they are reasonably discreet (e.g. Paula's example of locking the door to a closed room).

Two, three, four, people (pic your mix) want to go into the handicapped porta-john, power to 'em (I reccomend first thing in the morning, just after they've been pumped).

If they want to duck into the steamroom at the gym, then I have some reservations (I prefer to be a consenting partner to any voyuerism in which I take part).

That's the difference.

Situationally, given the ratio, I would expect to see more gay men arrested for it, just as I expect to see more teenaged/early twenties guys arrested for street racing, and stock brokers for insider trading.

They are the one who do it the most.

#261 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2007, 02:19 PM:

alsafi@252: Therefore, to "wave a magic wand" and have women act more like men, sexually, would not involve turning them into Gor-like sex slaves. What it would require would be a remaking of our entire cultural gender constructions

Ah. But magic wands can do that too, can't they? I mean, when someone's specifically flagging their statement as a hypothetical, magic wand kind of thing, well, it seems a bit unfair to quibble about the level of magic required. Level 10 Mage or Level 12 Cleric, I mean really, it's still only in the realm of Dungeons and Dragons.

when someone wishes women were sexually freer and then objectifies them in the same sentence--I can see where it wasn't meant that way, but I do see irony in it.

But the magic wand thingy was refering to women flocking to tearooms, which would imply that these women would be objectifying the men they are pursuing for their sexual adventures.

#262 ::: Jon H ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2007, 02:19 PM:

#248 Serge: "Great... Everybody is going to pile on me now?"

I've been signalling madly. Didn't you notice?

#263 ::: Jon H ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2007, 02:24 PM:

mythago wrote: "Maybe that's the only way it makes any sense to you. Because you don't seem to have given much thought to WHY women don't pack tearooms, other than That's Just How Women Are."

WHY women don't is utterly irrelevant to what I'm trying to say, no matter how irate you are about the issue of why women's sexuality is the way it is.

#264 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2007, 02:26 PM:

Josh Jasper @ 251

Context and interpretation is everything. For example, reading this thread, I didn't take it that other people arguing with you didn't acknowledge that cops are more likely to react negatively to consensual gay sex than to consensual heterosexual sex, rather that (a) they saw that as incidental to the point that Senator Craig is a lying hypocrite; (b) were pointing out that there are levels of heterosexual activity in public that are thought of as unacceptable, as well as levels of homosexual activity that are considered unacceptable in public.

There also seems to have been an interpretation that you are arguing that gay men ought to be able to have sex anywhere they please, including in public. Personally I feel that the more explicit the activity (whether hetero or homo), the less acceptable it is in a public place - and particularly in a public place where children might be present.

Re. The Mile High Club: "I know people who've 'joined'. Het couples. It's a known phenomenon. I've known people to flirt with the person sitting next to them on airplanes. I've had friends tell me about being hit on while in the air, on a plane, by a fellow passenger, or even by the flight crew.

It may not get the same squick level as bathroom sex, but it's certainly on the same level of public acts."

Yes, some heterosexual couples boast about joining the Mile High Club. They also get prosecuted, at least sometimes, for this activity - particlarly when it takes place in the main cabin in such a way that other people become unwilling observers. I'm not sure however that we're speaking the same language as one another, since you appear to be treating "flirting = being hit on = having sex" while I would consider these three activities along a spectrum.

#265 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2007, 02:33 PM:

Based on the latest puns... Dare I say that I feel flush with success?

#266 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2007, 02:35 PM:

Dare I say that I feel flush with success?

We must be in sink. I was about to spout the same thing.

#267 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2007, 02:38 PM:

alsafi #252:

How would you determine whether it's something that inheres in being a woman (at least in the statistical sense, as with, say, height or physical strength) or something that's socially constructed?

#268 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2007, 02:42 PM:

I suspect that the Republicans are planning to go with the flow and rename themselves the Lavatory Party.

#269 ::: Seth Gordon ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2007, 02:49 PM:

Fragano @ 268: Not patriotic enough. I suggest "the American Standard Party".

#270 ::: Sarah S ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2007, 02:50 PM:

#268 Fragano

Actually, I think you won the whole pun thing way way way back in comment #1. Without even trying. I've been giggling about that since yesterday morning.

#271 ::: Claude Muncey ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2007, 02:50 PM:

We must be in sink. I was about to spout the same thing.

Actually, when I read that I was throne for a loo-p.

#272 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2007, 02:50 PM:

The level of discourse is rapidly streaming downhill, an effluent of contrapuntitive wordplay, eliminating more rational ejaculations.

#273 ::: Sarah S ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2007, 02:52 PM:

...and I honestly cannot believe that no one has, as yet, noted that we can now all celebrate the revelation that Craig is merely a fourflusher.

#274 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2007, 02:58 PM:

Josh #251:

I think I just got what you were trying to say, which makes sense. Here's how I read this, translated to another domain:

The police bust some noted antidrug crusader for buying crack in a public park in DC. Lots of people talk about how the guy had it coming for hypocracy, or speculate on why these antidrug crusaders keep getting in trouble for drugs.

Someone comes along and says "Geez, you know, the cops busting people in public parks mostly end up arresting blacks, and this sucks, because whites do about as much of this sort of thing as blacks, but they don't get arrested very often."

Now, an argument pops up about how nasty it is to have public parks taken over by drug dealers, to have to step over crack pipes and needles to take your kids to the playground in the morning, etc.

And just as in that case, there's this problem:

a. This is a genuine public nuisance (both selling drugs in public parks and cruising bathrooms for sex).

b. There is plenty of prejudice and discrimination against both blacks and gays, in particular among the cops.

c. The behavior that creates the public nuisance is disproportionately done by blacks/gays, so if you enforce laws against it, you will arrest a lot more blacks/gays than whites/straights.

To the extent you're saying "it sucks that a white kid smoking dope gets treated differently by the cops than a black kid smoking dope" or "it sucks that a gay couple screwing in public gets treated differently by the cops than a straight couple," I agree.

To the extent you're saying "so we shouldn't enforce those laws, and we should accept the added public nuisance to decrease inequality," I disagree. (I am not sure you're saying that at all, though.)

Am I understanding your point? I was definitely missing it before, so maybe I'm getting closer.

#275 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2007, 02:59 PM:

Oh dear what can the matter be
Senator Larry Craig play in the lavatory
In the news from Sunday til Saturday
Ev'ryone's heard he was there.

The first allegations
He was in the closet
He married a woman
The gossip to pause it
But then he got caught
By a cop and the laws it
And ev'ryone's heard he was there.

Oh dear what can the matter be
Senator Larry Craig play in the lavatory
In the news from Sunday til Saturday
Ev'ryone's heard he was there.

Alberto Gonzales resigned
From the cabinet
But then a scandal erupted
To sideline it
Now no one mentions Gonzales
On the net
Craig took attention away.

Oh dear what can the matter be
Senator Larry Craig play in the lavatory
In the news from Sunday til Saturday
Gonzales goes skating away.

Oh dear what can the matter be
Senator Larry Craig play in the lavatory
In the news from Sunday til Saturday
Throw the whole bunch into jail.

#276 ::: Claude Muncey ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2007, 03:01 PM:

Not patriotic enough. I suggest "the American Standard Party".

I could accept that change, but if they try to confuse people by adopting a symbol similar to the Democratic Party's, that would be a horse of a different Kohler.

#277 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2007, 03:01 PM:

Seth #269:

I've heard the claim that the first proposed name for the Weekly Standard was the American Standard, and that they decided on the current name after a trip to a public mens' room. (I never before thought to wonder what they *did* in there, though.)

#278 ::: Jon H ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2007, 03:01 PM:

#252 alsafi: "when someone wishes women were sexually freer and then objectifies them in the same sentence--I can see where it wasn't meant that way, but I do see irony in it."

WTF? Did I ever say I had a magic wand or wished I had one to do this?

Reading skills, people, please.

#279 ::: alsafi ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2007, 03:02 PM:

albatross @ 267

I'm not entirely sure--that's a pretty fuzzy line, and I don't think even the psychologists and biologists have got it fully sorted out. But I've read enough anthropological research on sexual customs to feel I'm on pretty firm ground asserting that sexual mores like: women who have lots of sex see their reputations mainly tarnished by it while men who do are (generally) thought of as virile, or: older women with younger men are less socially acceptable than older men with younger women--is largely constructed rather than inherent, since it's not like that across all cultures.

#280 ::: Jon H ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2007, 03:03 PM:

The Republicans should promise to make America a shining tile upon a hill.

#281 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2007, 03:05 PM:

Interesting random thought: Why did he give the cop his business card? I wonder how often that works, at least in the sense of getting a cop to say "Oh, sh-t, I don't want all the hassle of *that*. Maybe I'll let him go with a warning."

#282 ::: Lance Weber ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2007, 03:06 PM:

Great, I back got here too late and all the o-pun stalls were taken. I really have to hand it to you guys - I'm all tapped out.

#283 ::: Josh Jasper ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2007, 03:10 PM:

#257 Paula Lieberman Your upset comes off to me, as if you are trying to hijack the thread

By all means, have the thread back. It's yours. I'm done trying to explain anything. There's clearly no point to it.

#284 ::: alsafi ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2007, 03:11 PM:

Jon @ 278,

I'm not attacking you or your post--I read it without parsing it closely enough to worry about who exactly was acting, thought "huh, ironic, that," smiled and went on. I'm just trying to explain what I understood mythago to be saying, which had nothing to do with making you out to be Norman-esqe at all, and in fact went in the totally opposite direction. So when you remove the mote* in your own eye, brother, perhaps you'll be better able to see to remove the one interfering with my reading comprehension.

* I know it's supposed to be a log, but I don't actually think there's any more wrong with your ability to read than there is with my own.

#285 ::: Jon H ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2007, 03:25 PM:

alsafi wrote: " I'm just trying to explain what I understood mythago to be saying, which had nothing to do with making you out to be Norman-esqe at all, and in fact went in the totally opposite direction. So when you remove the mote* in your own eye, brother, perhaps you'll be better able to see to remove the one interfering with my reading comprehension."

Even with the explanation, it shows that mythago went barking up the wrong tree, as explained above. Why women avoid tearooms is irrelevent given the postulated existence of a magic wand and a dork ready to use it. Unless you and mythago would like to delve into the operating principles of vaguely described magic wands, and argue why such a wand would be insufficient.

Afterward you two might try explaining the problems inherent in Einstein's gedankenexperiment about a train travelling at the speed of light.

Mythago seems to have read my comment as "If I could force a woman into being a tearoom-frequenting sex kitten I'd be all over that." That's what I get from the vehemence of her response.

Which is light years away from what I said or meant.

#286 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2007, 03:30 PM:

I'm done trying to explain anything. There's clearly no point to it.

Well, let's just say that your explanations were, as explanations, less than clear. When this was pointed out, you complained that we didn't understand what you meant, and used the same example that people were saying didn't apply.

I don't want to be in a restroom where someone is engaging in what amounts to public sex, even if the stall door is closed and locked.
I think that public intercourse is a bad idea - although if you're behind the bushes in a park, and not making a lot of noise, I'll try to ignore you.
I don't want some random stranger trying to hit on me for sex. Even if I know the person, if I say no, I want them to understand that I mean no.
These are, IMO, inappropriate activities.
It's the unwanted and public that's the problem, not the people and their preferences/gender/etc.

#287 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2007, 03:30 PM:

albatross: I am afraid this will be a different sort of derailment, but there are some flaws in the argument vis-a-vis some drugs.

If the punishments for acts done equitably by straights/gays were vastly different, then the analogy would be strong.

But the punishment for crack is much higher than it is for powder.

The only apparent difference is that crack is done by blacks, powder by whites.

The problem (as I think I keep saying) that I have with Josh's argument is that the number of offenders isn't the same, straight/gay.

Do I think discrimination against gays by cops is bad, you bet.

Do I think it, prima facie, a result of that discrimination that causes more gays to be busted for cruising? No, because (unlike the problems of who/why/how there's a vast discrepancy between black/white arrests for drugs) the numbers aren't equivalent.

#288 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2007, 03:30 PM:

You people making all the bathroom puns are despigotable.

Josh 283: Stomping off in a huff really will make me think less of you, which nothing else in this thread so far has done. I think some of us in the thread do understand what you're saying, and even agree with parts of it. Clarity of explanation won't eliminate fundamental disagreement; to that extent, explaining further clearly is pointless.

#289 ::: Evan ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2007, 03:32 PM:

I'm finding myself in sympathy with Josh, here.

I've been going into men's rooms for, oh, about 37 years now--I even went into one at the Minneapolis airport once--and I've never noticed men hitting on each other, or been hit on myself to the best of my knowledge.

I assume the reason for this is not that it never happened around me at all, but that I was oblivious to it. For all I know, I've walked right past a couple of guys surreptitiously jerking each other off in the can and never known a thing--in which case, how was I harmed? \/\/hatever, say I.

For that matter, I feel certain I've walked past stalls where men were jerking off solo. But again, since I never knew about it, I don't see how it harmed me. Here's the thing, though: Have cops ever mounted a sting operation to arrest public-restroom masturbators? If so, I've never heard of it. Why is it different? A duet's no more unsanitary than two arias, as far as I can see.

Now, if the police report is accurate, this guy Craig went into a bathroom, put out a few subtle, understated signals, progressed to slightly less subtle signals after the cop responded in kind, but remained quiet and unobtrusive throughout. Someone in a third stall, or at the urinals, or washing hands at the sink, would've been entirely unaware that any of this was going on.

Honestly, if this is how men who hook up for sex in bathrooms go about it... well hell, I applaud them for their discretion and restraint. And I can think of about a hundred things I'd rather see scarce police resources used for than to catch such people. (But, apparently, police resources have been used to catch dozens of them at that one airport alone).

And I can't help thinking that the reason the Minneapolis police department sets their priorities this way is that they find the concept of gay sex inherently ooky. And that is a double standard.

#290 ::: alsafi ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2007, 03:33 PM:

I don't disagree that it was irrelevant to the discussion, and also considering the lack of magic wands. I was just--as I would think suits anyone in the fluorosphere--trying to shed a little illumination into a spot I thought was unecessarily dark. And I did think mythago's response was vehement. So I attempted to rephrase it in a less bite-y way.

So lay off.

#291 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2007, 03:33 PM:

And Senator Craig has been telling Lysol over the news.

#292 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2007, 03:34 PM:

I may be able to look in again, but I have to scarper off, as I have 3 hours to be on the way to the airport.

For the first (and perhaps only time) I am not jealous of the people who made it to WorldCon, because I have a better trip.

Tomorrow morning, I'll be in Quito.

Day after that, on a boat in the Galapagos.

#293 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2007, 03:36 PM:

Have a fantastic trip, Terry.

#294 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2007, 03:37 PM:

Xopher: we have more on tap, punsters will just circle the bowl like vultures.

#295 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2007, 03:38 PM:

He's trying to portray himself as Mr. Clean, but now he'll never get the country's Top Job. If he ran for President he'd get quite a Swiffer boating, I promise you that!

#296 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2007, 03:39 PM:

Xopher: Wordplay, after all, is a fixture of the place.

abi: I plan on it, thanks.

News if I can send it, pictures when I get back.

#297 ::: Lance Weber ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2007, 03:40 PM:

I just remembered a great story from the Onion a few years back. As tribute, I would now like to offer a more plausible version of events on behalf of Senator Craig:

On my inbound flight to MSP, first class was being serviced by a couple of male flight attendants who were talking about how great the Glory Hole was at the airport. As a fine, upstanding member of the Republican party, I was surprised to hear that any kind of patriotic monument would be celebrated in a socialist regime like Minnesota and I determined I would see it while laying over between flights. I interrupted the attendants and asked them for directions to the Glory Hole at the airport - but they suddenly got too busy to talk to me. They were almost acting like they were trying to keep it secret. Once I showed them my business card however, boy they straightened right out, even respectfully smiling as they told me how to find it.
After we landed, one of the flight attendants walked me over to the monument's entrance, but when I offered to include him in the photo-op he suddenly remembered he had another flight to catch. In his hurry, the young man may have gotten me turned around, because the inside of the place looked a lot like a men's room. I went door to door, looking through the crack of each one, asking if this was the Glory Hole, but most of the visitors were pretty rude. When I got to the last door, a very helpful man confirmed that this was indeed the Glory Hole. When I asked him if he wouldn't mind sharing a look at it with me, he jumped up and started yelling at me about being "under arrest".

Here's the original story.

#298 ::: alsafi ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2007, 03:41 PM:

Ooh! Have fun in Galapagos!

#299 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2007, 03:41 PM:

tap-tap-tap -- in a tree, it's a woodpecker after grubs.

tap-tap-tap -- in the airport bathroom, a different type of pecker's involved.

#300 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2007, 03:44 PM:

Paula 299: A peckerwood?

#301 ::: Jon H ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2007, 03:44 PM:

Come on folks, why can't we all respect Senator Craig's right to private-see?

#302 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2007, 03:55 PM:

Seth Gordon #269: Somebody might actually suggest that.

#303 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2007, 03:57 PM:

Sarah S #270: Thank you.

#304 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2007, 04:00 PM:

Terry Karney #292: Have a wonderful time!

#305 ::: Lance Weber ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2007, 04:06 PM:

<dumb_farmboy>
Umm, Galapagos means the real islands where Darwin did his thing right? It's not another code word used by You People™ is it? Because I didn't know there was an alternative meaning for tearoom until I read this thread...
</dumb_farmboy>

#306 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2007, 04:06 PM:

Huffily-puffily
Senator Larry Craig
urgently wanted
anonymous sex.

Seeing him hoisted
by his own petard
is even funnier
than Oedipus Rex.

#307 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2007, 04:06 PM:

There are Seeing Eye Dogs, versus being dogged by private-see?

I wish Barney Frank would out the Opposition.

#308 ::: jere7my ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2007, 04:07 PM:

I've seen some analogies drawn in this thread — comparing bathroom cruising to cruising in bars, for instance — and they seem like the wrong road to go down. There is no precise heterosexual analogy for public restroom sex, simply because there's generally no reason for people of the opposite sex to be in the same bathroom, and bathrooms offer unique social constraints.

Public restrooms, at least men's rooms, are places of isolation — not only do most men not expect to be propositioned there, they don't expect to be acknowledged there. Certainly not in the stall or at the urinals, and usually not at the sinks. Probably this is a remnant of homophobia; I think it's also a relief to have one public place where conversation is never required.

Bathroom stalls are also constrictive — there's not a lot of freedom of movement, and the only exit is easily blocked. That can make unfamiliar activity outside your stall feel threatening.

The best mix of privileged isolation and physical constriction I can come up with outside a men's room is anywhere you're expected to be in your stopped car for an extended period of time — at a drive-in, or on a ferry, or in a traffic jam. I'd be willing to bet that anyone who went from car to car at such a place, knocking on windows, soliciting sex, would be busted, whatever their gender or orientation. It's not that asking someone for sex is necessarily bad — it's that it's unexpected, it's a breaking of a comfortable social barrier, and it can be perceived as a threat if you don't know what's going on.

Now imagine you're partly undressed, and there's nobody else within earshot, and your movement is further hampered by the pants around your ankles.

I found it very unpleasant, to put it mildly, when I was doing my business in a department store stall and glanced down to see an eyeball peering at me through the inch-diameter hole in the stall wall. At the time, I didn't know (and still don't, I guess) that the fellow was seeking sex; I think I thought it was more likely drug-related. But I knew I definitely didn't want to be eyeballed while my pants were down, whoever it was and whatever their reason for it. When I hear about "peering" that's what I think of; I'm not sure it's better if it's done through a crack in the stall.

I imagine that increased familiarity with restroom cruising procedures would decrease miscommunications and misinterpeted non-threats — that may be a legitimate spot where homophobia plays a role, since an awkwardly offered and politely refused proposition is less likely to generate a police complaint than an ominous figure with opaque motivations. But there's still going to be a fundamental incompatibility between "I want bathrooms to be a place I can hook up with people" and "I want bathrooms to be a place of privacy where I don't have to acknowledge other people." Whatever subtle system of codes are in place, someone who's cruising is still attempting to communicate with someone who probably doesn't want to be communicated with, and that seems like an intrusion to me. That's not the case — or less obviously the case, when it is — in a bar or a bookshop, where social commerce is commonplace; I think it's less reasonable to say "I want bookstores to be a place of privacy where I don't have to acknowledge other people," though most of us probably feel like that from time to time.

If it were common practice to come in and whistle eight bars of Jesus Christ Superstar while washing your hands as code for "Hey, want some sex?" I'd find it a lot less objectionable. But in my (very limited) experience it's more intrusive than that, and worthy of police scrutiny.

#309 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2007, 04:17 PM:

Lance Weber @305:
Yes, astonishingly enough, the Galapagos Islands in this conversation are the islands where Darwin did his entirely non-sexual* thing.

-----
* Despite being the home of the blue-footed booby.

#310 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2007, 04:22 PM:

abi, don't forget the red-faced boobies either.

#311 ::: Lance Weber ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2007, 04:23 PM:

Abi #309: I should know better than to try and setup my own straight lines here, you totally beat me to the punchline. Well played, madam!

P.S. I've now added "Top Abi in a ML post" to my life's TODO list. Nothing like high aspirations!

#312 ::: Sarah S ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2007, 04:24 PM:

#309 abi

Well, they *were*.

Give the thread time. Someone will defile them soon!

#313 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2007, 04:30 PM:

Lance, 311

abi is a sub?!

Meanwhile, the theocrats are even more pernicious in the US Government and given free reign/rein by them that I realized (see the open thread). State religion...

#314 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2007, 04:46 PM:

Is there still time to register a preference for renaming the Republican Party? I favor the Grand Old Potty.

#315 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2007, 05:06 PM:

In case anyone still thinks Craig could have been "misinterpreted," this writer thinks he "could teach [Toilet] Cruising 101."

#316 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2007, 05:22 PM:

Great Porcelain Gods!

Does this mean the stars have aligned and the ancient ones are about to return with indoor plumbing for everyone?

Is Cthulhu's true form about to be revealed?

#317 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2007, 05:27 PM:

Is the Senator's middle name "Ralph" ?

#318 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2007, 06:18 PM:

Lance Weber @ 305
Thank you for admitting your ignirance as to an alternative meaning of the word "tearoom". I'd just about decided it must be America in origin. I've had a sufficiently sheltered life that it was reasonable I hadn't heard of it, but I checked with a couple of less sheltered male friends and they hadn't come across that meaning either.

Oh well, it's always good to expand one's vocabulary!

#319 ::: Todd Larason ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2007, 06:39 PM:

I didn't know this usage of 'tearoom' prior to this incident (although I encountered it on Nelson Minar's writeup, not this thread). It's apparently from T-Room for Toilet-Room.

In retrospect, the first tearoom I encountered was probably the men's room at the Belle Isle library in Oklahoma City when I was maybe 6 or 7. By 13 or 14 I was actively wondering where all those cute 18 year old girls offering blowjobs were when I was around, and how they were sneaking into the men's room to write their graffiti. It wasn't until I was 18 or 19 that the light suddenly dawned. Yes, in some ways I was very sheltered.

#320 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2007, 06:47 PM:

Paula @ #313 - With her collection of leatherworking tools and the picture of abi that Serge shares, I just can't imagine her as sub*.

Oh, and the way she keeps us in line in the comments here. Of a certainty, not a sub.

*When I read your comment, my first thought was of naval vessels, and I was excited by the thought of the ?SS Abigail Sutherland.

#321 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2007, 06:51 PM:

Paula Lieberman #317: According to that online encyclopædia which shall not be named, it is 'Edwin'.

#322 ::: mythago ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2007, 06:55 PM:

Why women avoid tearooms is irrelevent given the postulated existence of a magic wand and a dork ready to use it

Except in the real world, it's less like a magic wand and more like a genie lamp. You know, where the genie fulfills your wish but not really in the way you'd like it to. So J. Hypothetical Dork may bitch about how he'd like a magic wand, but he doesn't really. Because he'd have to give up some of the other things that go with the current state of affairs, and he doesn't really want to. If he did, there are things he could do to help that along right now.

The relevance to the thread is the discussion about how gay men having public sex is not treated in the same way that straight couples having public sex is handled.

#323 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2007, 06:57 PM:

BTW, since comments are down at Whatever, Susie Bright has linked to the John Scalzi post referred to at the top of thist post.

#324 ::: Howard Peirce ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2007, 07:09 PM:

Here are two anecdotes I've been thinking about all day. I don't really have a point, and I'm not sure what to conclude about any of this. So feel free to skip ahead to something more contentious.

1976: I'm 12 years old. Everything I know about sex I learned from reading Heinlein. Which is to say I know nothing. Anyway, my Dad got some tickets to a private group showing of King Tut's Treasures at the Field Museum in Chicago, three hours' drive away. We leave home at 3:00 AM in order to get to the museum by 7:00 AM. We arrive about 6:15, nothing's open, the town is dead, and I need to go to the bathroom. We find a public men's room in Grant Park. I'm a kid from small-town Indiana, and know next to nothing about sex of any kind, let alone cottaging. At this hour, the restroom was empty, but it gave off a really weird vibe. As I read some of the graffiti that was everywhere, it was absolutely clear to me that this was a place where men have sex with each other. Tearooms are not subtle places. If the experience affected me, it was to turn me off to anonymous sex, 'cause it sure didn't make me gay.

1983: I'm 19, and a friend of mine and I have decided to go to New York City completely unprepared. Day 1 in town, we're walking around, and, once again, I have to go. No one had told us how hard it is to find a public restroom in Manhattan. My buddy says, "Here's a department store -- they're bound to have a restroom." And so I find myself heading for the men's room at Macy's -- the same men's room that would later be immortalized in David Sedaris's famous radio monologue. I get there, and it's like stepping into Petronius's Satyricon. (Or at least Andy Milligan's Vapors.)

I stop short and try to think of what to do next. Someone makes eye contact with me, and I say in a loud, measured voice, "I just really need to take a shit, and then I'll be on my way." An older, effeminate man says, "Use this stall, honey," and points me to the one stall without a glory hole cut in it. And I did my business and left, and no one bothered me.

Should I have to walk a gauntlet in order to void my bowels? No. But it's an inevitable and unavoidable consequence of a society in such deep denial about the spectrum of human sexual behaviors.

Hell, it's not like we can build public tearooms separate from public lavatories, exclusively for cruising men. Who would use them?

#325 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2007, 07:21 PM:

Terry Karney,

Since you were still here a little while ago I'll hope you still are to see me wish you a glorious trip to the Galapagos.

#326 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2007, 07:39 PM:

mythago@322: it's less like a magic wand and more like a genie lamp.

I think you just argued that someone's hypothetical situation is wrong because it conflicts with your hypothetical implementation of their hypothetical situation.

Or, to borrow from Adam Savage, "I reject your imagination, and replace it with my own."

#327 ::: Todd Larason ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2007, 07:46 PM:

Howard #324 -- 12 year old you was sharper than 12 year old me, it seems.

Was the Sedaris radio piece for This American Life? All I'm finding with the obvious Google is his bit on working as a Christmas Elf there. Or was the tearoom bit part of that story and I'm just not remembering?

#328 ::: moe99 ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2007, 08:17 PM:

Just to let Josh know that it's not all skewed against gay men: The principal of my kids' elementary school was removed after it came out that he and the school secretary had pled nolo contendre to public indecency charges when they were caught in his Corvette next to a golf course where she was giving him a hand job. Their actions were noticed by the neigbors who called the police.

I have no quarrel with what folks do in private. Indeed, I have a brother who is gay and I know keenly what he went through in his earlier years because I was the only sibling he confided in our Catholic family.

But sex in public places, particularly bathrooms, is no longer needed in today's society except for those few who are still so closeted that they cannot risk even a Craig's List ad. And it offends the other members of the public occupying those places. Truly it's a problem of extreme selfishness at its very root--not caring about how your actions affect others--just wanting to get your rocks off.

I have as much pity for Craig as i did for the principal.

#329 ::: Michael Weholt ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2007, 09:15 PM:

I can't stand puns so I regret I have to return to the actual topic of discussion.

Which, by the way, reminds me of something... I imagine this is selection bias, probably, but I often notice that when a discussion of gay issues goes on for some time, and after it gets heated, we see a lot of complaining about how pointless the discussion has become. I notice it in a lot of discussions like this maybe *because* I take part in a lot of discussions like this. So, I don't know, maybe it happens in all sorts of discussions where things get heated but I only notice it in discussions of gay issues. I just mention it because it is an impression I have. I'm perfectly willing to admit I'm no perfect judge of the matter.

But here's the question I wish I'd thought to ask Josh before he left...

Granting, arguendo, that police stake-outs of mens rooms is evidence of unjust harassment of gays in particular -- which, to my amazement, I have come to see the justification for saying -- what exactly should our Plan of Action be?

I can support efforts to stop the police from staking out only gay cruising sites. I mean, if they are going to do that, they should do it equitably.

But, god damn it, I don't want guys cruising bathrooms. I'm sorry, I just don't think that it's unreasonable to want to not have to deal with that when I'm going to the bathroom. The potty is for going to the potty. I don't think the fact that I feel that way makes me Self-Hating, or anti-sex, or anti-gay-rights.

So given that I feel that way, I don't think it's reasonable to ask me to oppose bathroom stake-outs if bathroom stake-outs are what cut down on bathroom cruising.

Or, you know, is there some other plan of action I should take? I'm willing to listen to reason here. I'm willing to admit I lack the imagination to think up some other Plan of Action. So, I wish I had some guidance here.

I can grasp that I should oppose police stake-outs of known gay cruising sites if the purpose seems to be nothing more, nothing less, than harassment of gay people. That is, if people are doing their thing and it's not bothering other people, I see no reason for the police, except for harassment purposes, to engage in stakeouts.

But I don't believe it is reasonable to ask me to accept cruising in public restrooms. If consenting to that is the price I'm supposed to pay in order to get on the right side of things here, then, I'm sorry, there is no middle ground we can stand on. I wish I could help, but apparently I can't.

So... what exactly should my Plan of Action be here? Please note that condescending bullshit or tone will be marked down for what it is. If you have a respectful answer to give, please give it. If you want to be a smart-ass, you have every right to do that, of course, but I don't really see the point. It's an honest question.

#330 ::: Seth Breidbart ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2007, 09:30 PM:

Howard #324: Hell, it's not like we can build public tearooms separate from public lavatories, exclusively for cruising men. Who would use them?

Put the entrances in lavatories, so nobody outside knows who's going there.

#331 ::: Jon H ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2007, 09:37 PM:

mythago wrote: "Except in the real world, it's less like a magic wand and more like a genie lamp. You know, where the genie fulfills your wish but not really in the way you'd like it to. So J. Hypothetical Dork may bitch about how he'd like a magic wand, but he doesn't really. Because he'd have to give up some of the other things that go with the current state of affairs, and he doesn't really want to. If he did, there are things he could do to help that along right now.

The relevance to the thread is the discussion about how gay men having public sex is not treated in the same way that straight couples having public sex is handled. "

Okay, now you're just ranting on a soapbox following your own obsessions based on bizarre misreadings of what other people wrote.

You're like a small child demanding that other children color dinosaurs in blue because the version in your mind's eye is the only correct one.

Feel free to do so, but please avoid casting aspersions on people due to your warped interpretations of their comments.

But frankly I don't see any point in engaging in discussion with you.

#332 ::: Seth Breidbart ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2007, 09:51 PM:

Sure, the bathroom is for voiding. But the sidewalk is for traveling; so why should construction workers (to pick a canonical example) be given a pass?

Partly I think it comes down to "What does the owner want?" I think police staking out the men's room in a gay bar is just wrong. In a random store, where the owner requests it because customers complain, it's appropriate.

#333 ::: Michael Weholt ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2007, 10:01 PM:

#332 Seth Breidbart: Sure, the bathroom is for voiding. But the sidewalk is for traveling; so why should construction workers (to pick a canonical example) be given a pass?

Of course I don't know that they should be given a pass.

#334 ::: Seth Breidbart ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2007, 10:06 PM:

Michael #333: But then we start getting into Freedom of Speech issues.

#335 ::: Karen ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2007, 10:13 PM:

I've been reading this, fascinated, since last night, and am honestly curious about something. (Well, lots of things, but I'll keep it to the one for now.) There are many things other people do in public bathrooms that disgust me. Pee on the seat. Pee on the floor. Smear on the seat. Fail to flush properly. Improperly dispose of menstrual supplies. Okay, sorry, you get the idea. Gut-level disgust, fear of germs. The idea of sex happening nearby does not inspire that kind of reaction. Scorn, maybe, or shock. The thrill of having a good story to tell when I left. (Leaving bodily fluids, condoms, etc. on the seat would be icky, but that's aftermath.) My reaction is "Get a room," not "Get a cop!"

So would I rather use (1) a reasonably clean public toilet where other folks sometimes cruised, or even discreetly coupled, or (2) a port-a-potty where everyone's waste is unflushed, surfaces are all filthy, paper is often absent, etc.? It's obvious. So I'm wondering about the folk here who have expressed such disgust - how much of the "ick" is due to things like condoms on the floor, and how much to the sex itself? Because janitors are way cheaper and less authoritarian than cops, and airport cops might have other pressing jobs to do.

(BTW, you can tell I'm a regular reader (lurker), not a drive-by, from your logs, correct?)

#336 ::: Michael Weholt ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2007, 10:24 PM:

#334 Seth Breidbart: But then we start getting into Freedom of Speech issues.

Right, I agree with you, but do we have to then, to be fair, have to interpret bathroom cruising as freedom of speech?

How do we do this fairly, is what I'm wondering. I mean, for me to say, well, I'm going to the bathroom so that trumps everything... that just seems kind of lame if I, at the same time, grant freedom of speech considerations to sidewalk encounters with construction workers.

I, in fact, can see that the harassment women have to face on the street is just as annoying as what I would have to face in a cruisy bathroom. So that leaves me with the choice, to be perfectly fair, of either having to put up with the "freedom of speech" of bathroom cruising, or advocating resistance to harassment of women by refusing to grant it the legitimacy of freedom of speech.

This is what I can't figure out. It is not reasonable, in my view, for me to have to grant bathroom cruising the legitimacy of freedom of speech. But, likewise, it is not reasonable for me to withhold the legitimacy of freedom of speech for assholishness of boorish behavior toward women on the street.

I am quickly coming around to Josh's point of view, here, people, out of logical necessity, so somebody please help me out. I really don't want to go there.

#337 ::: FranW ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2007, 10:35 PM:

There's *should*, and there's *is*.

It should be safe for a man to go into a public toilet and take a crap without being intimidated, propositioned, or exposed to other men having sex. And it's totally unfair to say, "If you don't want to risk those things happening to you, then don't use public toilets. Cross your legs, or wear a Depends diaper."

It should be safe for women to walk down the street or through a park after dark without being raped. And it's totally unfair to say, "If you don't want to risk being raped, then don't ever go out by yourself at night. Spend your kids' food money on a taxi rather than walking half a mile home from the bus stop."

Women have lived with this problem for centuries. And, me, I'd rather the cops worked on making the streets safe from rape than making the gents' toilets safe from suggestive hand gestures. But admittedly I'm a woman and so probably have a skewed view.

#338 ::: clew ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2007, 10:50 PM:

#336: And there's the reason that the legal standard of "reasonable man" is sometimes altered to consider the viewpoint of "reasonable woman".

From the viewpoint of one such, me, boorish behavior towards women is so indistinguishable from systematic behavior to keep us in line that it loses a great deal of its defensibleness as free speech. Yes, it would be much nicer if I did not reasonably have to fear that boorish behavior would be followed by actual assault. Of course, in that world, a reasonable woman wouldn't react to it as if it were the warmup for a protection racket, and the collision of values wouldn't arise.

Anecdotally, in my experience, construction workers are generally amiable and nonthreatening, even when being more overtly flirtatious than office workers and young idle men.

#339 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2007, 10:55 PM:

I think police staking out the men's room in a gay bar is just wrong. In a random store, where the owner requests it because customers complain, it's appropriate.

That's probably a good rule of thumb to implement into procedures/law. Craig was busted in an airport bathroom, so that probably still gets a pass. Can we assume that public places like airports and such are "public" as far as who the owner is?

The police raiding the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar, would be breaking this rule of thumb, though.

All in favor, say aye or clop your hoof two times.

#340 ::: MD² ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2007, 11:08 PM:

@Michael Weholt (#329):

Well, to quote from j h woodyatt (#186): Yeah, yeah... I just think MSP could use a few good bath houses.

A solution that seems reasonable enough. If I may reframe it: Acknowledge the existence of, or create (or more exactly "allow the creation" of - as noted, places officialy sanctioned to that purpose would fail) a set of places designed with the express purpose of accomodating that kind of sexual encounters. Treat those that chose to ignore those for other public places like you would any exhibitionnist or person having sex in a public place. Give others their space.
Make sure police workforce used to track that peculiar crime is in accordance with statistics of occurences, used in places in which it is deemed needed, and proportionate to the one used to bust other similar crimes of a more heterosexual nature.

Et voilà...

*Sigh*

Problems are so easy to solve when you don't really have to deal with them.

I mean, I could as well recommand to do away with all the unrequired, wasted, social pressure.

Not trying to play the smartass here. The proposition (not really anything new, isnt it ?) really seems sensitive enough to me, not ideal, but, well, decent enough for all parties involved.
I'm probably not unreasonable enough for the real world (though I am proposing to trust statistics).

#341 ::: j h woodyatt ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2007, 11:26 PM:

Howard Pierce @324 writes: "Hell, it's not like we can build public tearooms separate from public lavatories, exclusively for cruising men. Who would use them?"

Actually, we do build them. I know of several that do very brisk business not far from my house. Last night, I looked on the web to see if there are any near the Minneapolis airport, but it seems that the nearest such establishment is in Milwaukee. I could be wrong. I'm certainly not an expert in finding such places, and they do tend to advertise in media I don't often consume.

Interestingly, the ones with which I am passingly familiar (don't ask) have rooms set aside— away from where all the action takes place— that have (gasp!) functioning commodes in them, complete with privacy stalls, for the convenience of the patrons who need to take a break from all the hrghlrhlrhgllhgrhghing going on elsewhere in the building.

You know what that tells me? It ain't the thrill of getting off in public restrooms that's the main attraction for the participants. It's the anonymity. This really isn't that hard to understand, is it?

An interesting question is whether Minneapolis (like many other cities around the world) is home to any private clubs of the sort aimed at facilitating anonymous het encounters, and where gay men are typically not welcome and often refused membership. One wonders whether some enterprising businessman who tried to set up a legitimate private tearoom in Minneapolis would more quickly run afoul of the law there than a similar business catering exclusively to het couples would.

Hmmm.... I'll bet if I apply some Google searching to this question when I'm happily behind my own firewall, I'll be able to answer it to my satisfaction. Anyone want to bet what I'll find?

#342 ::: Seth Breidbart ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2007, 11:36 PM:

FranW #337: If you mean to establish some similarity between being propositioned and being raped, I strongly disagree.

Prohibiting intimidation I might agree with; but by whose standards? Not everybody finds the same things intimidating. Some people will be intimidated by someone the size of a pro football player, even if the latter is just washing his hands.

As for exposure to "other men having sex", well, the general question is "What is it OK to expose people to when they don't want to observe it?" Someone preaching a religion you object to? Partial or total nudity? Where do you draw the line?

Personally, I think "don't scare the horses" and "don't block traffic" are good places.

(And why isn't a bathroom stall considered private enough? It certainly is considered private against an invader.)

#343 ::: Lance Weber ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2007, 11:43 PM:

Michael #336: You are much more likely to be charged with disorderly conduct for exercising your "freedom of speech" in a public restroom than you are on a sidewalk!

A fact for which I am quite thankful by the way. Imagine your typical urban sidewalk scene of dealers/buskers/beggars banging at the door of your bathroom stall...

#344 ::: Seth Breidbart ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2007, 11:47 PM:

Karen #335: (BTW, you can tell I'm a regular reader (lurker), not a drive-by, from your logs, correct?)

I don't have access to the logs. I can tell you're worth responding to based on what you wrote.

I can't really answer your question, because I don't think things should be banned merely for being icky. (Though see my comment above about the owner; if ickiness drives away customers, then the owner is certainly entitled to prohibit it.)

#345 ::: Seth Breidbart ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2007, 11:51 PM:

Greg #339: I would consider an airport terminal to be owned by the airport authority or the airlines, so it's less public than the sidewalk. (For instance, admission is rather restricted, to most parts of the terminal.)

It's a difficult call what a government agency (like the airport authority) can prohibit; somewhere between what the government can prohibit in truly public places, and what a private property owner can prohibit in his own property. I'd say it's closer to the former. I don't know where to draw the line.

#346 ::: jere7my ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2007, 11:58 PM:

FranW @ 337:

You say, "Women have lived with this problem for centuries. And, me, I'd rather the cops worked on making the streets safe from rape than making the gents' toilets safe from suggestive hand gestures."

Would you also prefer that the police ignore a peeping tom who's cut a hole in the wall of the women's changing room in Macy's? That seems to be more on a par with being peered at in a men's room — both are indeed fairly minor incidents, certainly not on a par with an act of violence, but both seem bothersome enough, to me, that I would want the police to have a word with the offender. I'd like the cops to hurry up and arrest all the serial killers and mob bosses, too, but I still want them to show up if someone steals my bike.

I can't speak for you, of course, but I would guess that you'd be unhappy if you caught a peeping tom gawping at you and someone here told you, "I'd rather the cops worked on making the streets safe from rape than making Macy's dressing rooms safe from harmless perverts."

Karen @ 335: I can't speak for anyone else, but I think I answered you @ 308. Nearby sex isn't a problem for me (it certainly may be for others), but being leered at while my pants are down, and without knowing the intentions of the peeper, definitely is. I think that's a pretty widespread attitude. (I would also prefer people not pee on the seats, of course. I'm a bit of a dreamer; I'd like to have my urinal cake and eat it too.)

#347 ::: Jon H ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2007, 12:17 AM:

341 wrote: "You know what that tells me? It ain't the thrill of getting off in public restrooms that's the main attraction for the participants. It's the anonymity. This really isn't that hard to understand, is it"

I think Howard might have been alluding to that. A dedicated cottage for cottaging has a major problem that a regular bathroom does not - the dedicated cottage lacks all plausible deniability.

"Senator goes to bathroom in airport" is not by itself newsworthy.

"Senator seen entering tearoom" is very newsworthy.

Even if a tearoom were available, people like Senator Craig wouldn't use it. They'd stick to the bathroom. Some men would avail themselves of the facilities, but not all.

#348 ::: Seth Breidbart ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2007, 12:21 AM:

Jon H #347: That's why I recommended that the tearoom have an entrance through the toilet. All that's seen is someone going into the toilet.

#349 ::: Jon H ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2007, 12:29 AM:

Seth #332: "Sure, the bathroom is for voiding. But the sidewalk is for traveling; so why should construction workers (to pick a canonical example) be given a pass?"

One reason would be that, usually, people have a lot more freedom of movement on a sidewalk than in a bathroom. And if one is traveling on a sidewalk, movement is happening, so the offender will (usually) be out of sight and earshot quite soon.

There are, of course, exceptions!

Bathrooms, on the other hand, are small - sometimes VERY small, and are a limited resource. You may not have any alternatives.

Ladies - how would you feel about needing to use the women's bathroom, but finding a group of catcalling men loitering around the entrance to the only one available?

#350 ::: Jon H ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2007, 12:30 AM:

"All that's seen is someone going into the toilet."

Perhaps. On the other hand, people who don't like gay men would know just where to go to photograph them (or beat them up).

#351 ::: Magenta Griffith ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2007, 12:36 AM:

This is a long thread and I don't remember who said what, and it's late at night here in Minneapolis.

We have plenty of gay bars and other venues here.
The homophobia level is, IMHO, fairly low. There are bars that cater to a number of different tastes.

The Minneapolis airport has, or used to have, small rooms you could rent by the hour to use as a private office, but my partner and I used to giggle about going and renting one for an hour for another purpose entirely. This was pre-9-11 when you could just go to the airport. I don't know if those office-by-the-hour rooms are still there, but I'm sure that someone who was intelligent and planned ahead could find out, and pick someone up of their preferred gender at a bar, like a normal person, then go to the rented room. Heck, there are three or four hotels within five minutes ride by light rail from the airport. You pay cash, and say you only need the room for a couple of hours.

Craig's "sin" in my opinion, is sheer stupidity. Which knows no boundaries of gender, sexual preference, or anything else.

#352 ::: j h woodyatt ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2007, 01:02 AM:

Jon H writes: "Even if a tearoom were available, people like Senator Craig wouldn't use it. They'd stick to the bathroom."

There'd be fewer of them, and that would mean they'd have a harder time making rendezvous's. The problem would probably not be noticed enough to generate complaints to the cops. If it still did, then— throw the book at those people, I say.

Plenty of famous people have been well-known patrons of bath houses. Roger Stone allegedly got plenty of action with who-knows-how-many-people without having to cut a plea deal with a prosecutor, and as far as we can tell, it hasn't done any harm to his career in the GOP at all. Some bath houses are private clubs with strict privacy requirements. You'd think a U.S. Senator, or a rich televangelist, or a wealthy Hollywood actor, could flash his business card and get a private escort to the glory hole of his choice without anybody seeing him come or go from the building.

They seem to have no trouble getting this kind of service at fine restaurants.

If that's still not good enough, and we're talking about someone who is just not going to be satisfied until he's crawling around on the floor of a stall in an airport bathroom, then I've got no problem pointing the FingerOfShame™ at him and calling him an uncivilized barbarian. Throw the goddamn book at him. Leave the vast majority of enthusiasts for anonymous hrghlrghlrghhling to enjoy their sport in peace and privacy, I say.

#353 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2007, 01:03 AM:

this is my two cents, which may not be worth to much. And I haven't looked very deeply at this because work just took a sharp, unexpected turn that has got me all in turmoil

This senator, who is in a party that reviles gay people, and himself professes to be a bastion of the community, gets busted in a place that there already is notice of illegal solicitation going on, so it's being watched. It's a public restroom, they're supposed to be safe, clean places to do one's business and get on with it.

He apparently knows what it takes to solicit a sexual act in this bathroom and goes through those actions to solicit sex. He got busted.

There's a place in hell for people like him, he's a special kind of hypocrite. I've got no patience for those, he deserves everything he gets. He does not appear so mentally ill that he can get a bye for that reason. I have absolutely no sympathy for such assholes.

I do have to admit that I cannot visualize the most butch, out there lesbian I know soliciting sex in a bathroom, I guess it can happen. But my whole thought about sex in a bathroom, especially a public toilet is 'eeeuw.'

I'm guessing that a lot of women in general would say that.. Just guessin'

#354 ::: j h woodyatt ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2007, 01:15 AM:

Magenta Griffith writes: "...but I'm sure that someone who was intelligent and planned ahead could find out, and pick someone up of their preferred gender at a bar, like a normal person, then go to the rented room."

Yeah, but where's the fun and spontaneity in that?

Seriously, I think part of the attraction [for the gay enthusiasts and the merely sporty alike] is the quickness of the decision process. Think of a bath house or a tea room like one of those sushi restaurants where the food comes around on little trays or boats. You pick what you want, and you start eating it right there without having to place an order or wait for it to be prepared. [Sushi is probably more popular than hrghrglhhging, or at least so it seems to me, but you get the idea.]

p.s. At this point, I think I've collected enough material for a five minute comedy routine. Thank you, and good night. Remember to tip your waiters. They work hard for your money.

#355 ::: Todd Larason ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2007, 01:35 AM:

Am I the only one who now finds himself wondering exactly what the differences are between hrglhglhrhghring, hrglrghrlrhhrghrghlhing, hrghlrhlrhgllhgrhghing, hrghlrghlrghhling and hrghrglhhging?

If I was someone else, I'd find a way to use them all in a poem.

#356 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2007, 02:15 AM:

Seth, #342: As for exposure to "other men having sex", well, the general question is "What is it OK to expose people to when they don't want to observe it?" Someone preaching a religion you object to? Partial or total nudity? Where do you draw the line?

Well, one place to draw that line is, "when getting away from it places an unreasonable burden on the observer". And a public toilet facility, which may be the only one for some distance in any direction, definitely falls under that rubric.

FTR, I think your attempts to obfuscate this situation by bringing in completely unrelated issues are despicable. It is typical of the kind of underhanded, in-bad-faith argument I've come to expect from certain subgroups, but that doesn't mean I have to let it slide when it happens.

#357 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2007, 02:47 AM:

Am I the only one who now finds himself wondering exactly what the differences are between hrglhglhrhghring, hrglrghrlrhhrghrghlhing, hrghlrhlrhgllhgrhghing, hrghlrghlrghhling and hrghrglhhging?

What I've been wondering is, why this particular species of euphemism in the first place?

Is it onomatopoetic?

#358 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2007, 02:48 AM:

Todd @ #355, you've gotten further than I have. I was just wondering about the origin of the term(s).

#359 ::: Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2007, 03:04 AM:

I read these labels and I think "So that's what the murlocs in World of Warcraft really want."

#360 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2007, 03:28 AM:

It appears that the Google Ads AI is having trouble passing its version of moral judgment on the contents of this thread. This being the twenty-first century and all, one would expect it to be smarter than that. heh.

#361 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2007, 03:41 AM:

Lee @356
FTR, I think your attempts to obfuscate this situation by bringing in completely unrelated issues are despicable. It is typical of the kind of underhanded, in-bad-faith argument I've come to expect from certain subgroups, but that doesn't mean I have to let it slide when it happens.

That's a bit strong, don't you think? I read the comment as being in good faith, and I can see the validity of using other hot-button issues to test the bounds of this one.

It's one thing to say that you've seen it used in bad faith by certain subgroups*, but quite another to accuse a fellow regular here of malice. The whole point about such arguments is that they sound reasonable, mostly because sometimes they are reasonable.

Are you OK? That comment seems a little uncharacteristic of you.

-----
* Which is a barely veiled "you people"

#362 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2007, 03:46 AM:

Todd @355:
At least they all rhyme.

#363 ::: A.J. Luxton ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2007, 04:31 AM:

In weird related news -- well, some background: I'm a trans androgyne, pretty visibly queer, presently passing as female (and using the women's restroom when there is not one of those blessed little closets with a unisex logo on the door) for reasons of convenience.

Today I was totally hit on by a lesbian in there. As in -- somewhat handsy flirting and some very loaded questions about my sexual identity/orientation. And immediately thought of this thread (which I've been reading, though not posting in) and the great contentiousness over the gender politic of bathroom dynamics.

Now, as far as I could tell, immediate sexual conduct wasn't in the plans. But it was still amusing in light of all this. It's not aphoristic of female bathroom behavior at all -- that's the only instance I can report firsthand, secondhand, or thirdhand! But for every rule there's an off-kilter exception, and I'm usually glad to encounter them. (Also, I rather liked her. I'd probably be less mellow about it if I hadn't.)

#364 ::: Michael Weholt ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2007, 05:24 AM:

Okay, I know I'm the one who complained about puns, but this headline from Guardian Unlimited is too, um, hard to pass up:

"Rising Officer Netted Sen. Craig"

#365 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2007, 08:59 AM:

Comments from the Bogota airport:

I do know of lesbians soliciting women to go into the bathroom with them, for a quikie, of some sort. It's not an exact parallel, but it does happen.

Trip, so far, uneventful. Colombia has better Airport Security than the US (though the sample size is limited). Scenery is nice, weather is cool.

#366 ::: Sam Kelly ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2007, 09:06 AM:

Sssnnnghrffffll?
Hrglhglhr hrgfl hl?
Gdrblbrblhrbngbl gbl gl g g g g glbgl.
Hrglrghrlrhhrghrghlh gl gl -
gm grawwwww grf grawf awfgm graw gm.
Hrvlplrvk - drvlplrvk - plrvrdkrt - drplvdvksh?
Shlgraw gfok gfok hrghlrhlrhgllhgrhgh gfok splfok!
Zhrghlrghlrghhl gkh gh gfok!
Ghrhf hrghrglhhg grhf?
Grmbl mbl bl -
blm plm,
blm plm,
blm plm,
blp

#367 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2007, 09:22 AM:

Interesting what a good night's sleep can do.

alsalfi@252: Therefore, to "wave a magic wand" and have women act more like men, sexually, would not involve turning them into Gor-like sex slaves. What it would require would be a remaking of our entire cultural gender constructions

alsalfi, it occurred to me this morning why this bothered me. When I get a client come to me for coaching, they usually have some specific goal or issue or something that they want to deal with. But in working with them to get there, we usually run into some cultural things that are getting in their way. Maybe it's a small culture, like their parents, or slightly bigger like their work environment, or maybe it's something that can be found in the nooks and crannies anywhere on the planet.

I don't change the culture that surrounds them. But I do work with them so that they can make choices independent of whatever cultural pressure is telling them to do something they don't want to do.

My wife and I both do coaching, and one area of focus we offer is relationship coaching. While I've never had a client say they want coaching to go to a tearoom, just working with a client in the basic dating scene or the long term monogamous relationship can bring up plenty of cultural pressures to act in a way that doesn't work for an individual.

The thing is that you don't have to change culture. When working with a client stuck in some cultural conversation that is leaving them really unsatisfied, a lot of it comes down to helping them identify what the cultural conversations are, and helping them sort out what they really want to do. Some of that sorting out means identifying stuff that might simply be a "f-you" to the culture that the person doesn't really want to go through, but might be driven to rebel. Or maybe they go from one cultural conversation to a different one, and neither one really works for the individual. Stuff like that.

But individuals can get free of cultural conversations without changing the culture. It doesn't require a magic wand. It requires the ability to see oneself and to see the culture one lives in.

#368 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2007, 09:36 AM:

A.J.@363: Today I was totally hit on by a lesbian in there.

Hm, I keep thinking about this bar I went to when I was contracting in my younger days down in Florida. I liked the bar because they had cool live bands every weekend. But an oddity of the place was that the bathrooms were mixed gender. First time, I thought I went into the wrong door. Back out. Check sign. No, it says "mens". So I go back in and pass the ladies chatting by the sink. Only had to pee, but now I go to a stall and close the door.

I kept going to the bar because I was really into guitar back then and the bar always had awesome blues or rock bands playing. After a while, I'm using the urinal with women in the room.

I never walked in on people having sex in the bathroom. The bar didn't have a reputation for that, at least among any of my albeit geeky coworkers. I may have missed a whole subcultural thing, I don't know. But it is interesting recalling the transition of expectations as I adjusted to a culture of coed, apparently non-sexual, restrooms.

I must admit, the restrooms seemed a lot cleaner than the typical, male-only toilet in a typical bar.

#369 ::: alsafi ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2007, 10:23 AM:

Greg @ 367

I think that, on an individual basis, that's pretty true, though I also think there are parts of enculturation that are not at all easy to change even once aware of them (though awareness is a required first step). I guess I read the notion as being a wider one (here I admit to being hopelessly ignorant of the workings of magic wands). So while it's possible to change things for one woman here, and another one there, that's not a practical way to change things for all (or most) women in our society. For every woman that fights against her enculturation, 2.4 are born who will grow up swimming in it and may or may not have the opportunity or strength to opt out.

So sure, part of the responsibility is mine, to try and opt out of the enculturation I don't like. But I don't see it as value-less to also say "hey--could we work on changing some of the culture so that other girls and women don't have as hard a time?"

#370 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2007, 10:23 AM:

All that punning (before it somewhat petered out) and no blatant "magic wand" jokes? What's wrong with You People?

#371 ::: alsafi ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2007, 10:25 AM:

Maybe wee people just didn't have the balls for that one. ;)

#372 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2007, 11:02 AM:

alsafi, I didn't mean to minimize the difficulty in stepping out of some cultural expectations. I've done it. I've watched my clients do it. It can be really hard sometimes.

while it's possible to change things for one woman here, and another one there, that's not a practical way to change things for all (or most) women in our society.

But it's practical in that I'm actually able to do it one-on-one. When I talk about making the world a better place as a whole, I end up talking about it a lot but not doing much. For the last couple years, I've volunteered for a local group that collects holiday gifts and basic neccessities for two local shelters. I can talk about how it shouldn't be that way in the first place, but that won't actually help anyone. When I volunteer, I do a little bit to make life a little bit nicer for maybe a hundred specific people.

And as far as my one-on-one clients go, the way I look at it, they're just as much a part of the cultural conversation as anyone else.

Hm, the slogan "Think globally, act locally" just took on new meaning for me.

#373 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2007, 11:12 AM:

Seth #342 [and aren't you in Yokohama, and if not, why not? I didn't get around to doing the paperwork to get a current passport....]

As for exposure to "other men having sex", well, the general question is "What is it OK to expose people to when they don't want to observe it?" Someone preaching a religion you object to? Partial or total nudity? Where do you draw the line?

Freedom of speech includes neither the right or privilege to subject an audience, and particularly an unwilling audience, to one's speech. Again, it goes back to Teresa's comment many months ago regarding making people be part of a scene involuntarily.

There's a blurry region regarding awareness and ignorance. Someone who is bound and determined to block out all information to themself about the scientific method, that the planet is a spheroid and not a flat earth, etc., has the right to ignore Reality or try to... trying extend that willful ignorance to others without their permission and censor the existence of the information, is different than ignoring something personally. My rancor towards the Southern Baptist Convention has its basis in that organization's presumption that my life and soul are not MINE, but theirs to harvest and rework to their values and beliefs and universe view... they don't respect me, they don't respect my values, beliefs, my life... I exist as a target for them to make compliant to their credo and lifestyle... and I regard that as evil. They apparently have no respect for the book of Jonah, which is emphatically multicultural (the scene for example in which everyone except Jonah is beseeching their god/gods for the storm to end, and the attention goes to Jonah asking him why he, unlike everyone else on the ship, is not praying for deliverance) and which advocates in no uncertain terms forgiveness and mercy.

Meanwhile, regarding being subjected involuntarily to proselytizing at government facilities....

http://www.truthout.org/docs_2006/083007A.shtml

"Pentagon Chaplain Accused of Aiding Proselytizing
By Jason Leopold
"t r u t h o u t | Report

"Thursday 30 August 2007

"On the heels of a scathing report issued by the Defense Department's inspector general that took high-level Pentagon officials to task for allowing an evangelical Christian organization unfettered access to the Department of Defense (DOD) to promote its fundamentalist agenda, comes word the Pentagon's top chaplain opened its doors yet again to another evangelical group whose leader recently spent two days at the facility proselytizing, passing out Christian literature, and "saving souls."

"Kistler's service "was designed to impose itself on Pentagon members who had merely gathered for lunch in the courtyard. That is to say the primary purpose of the courtyard space is for informal social gathering - not religious services. If the Chaplains wish to change the purpose and function of the space they need to inform military members in advance. Setting up an amplified Evangelical service in the midst of a military lunch crowd is an opportunistic approach to 'ministry' and an attempt to proselytize which is not permitted in the U.S. Armed Services.""


#374 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2007, 11:31 AM:

Lee #356

From where I'm sitting, there's an impedance mismatch between your communications methodologies and Seth's.

What you seem to be interpreting as despicable attempts to obfuscate, are instead someone else having a different outlook and analytic and communcative style than you have.

FWIW I don't see it as malicious, or even Seth applying his [often wretched, when it comes to effects on other people.... Seth, for example, is one of the few people on the planet who considers me going ballistically angry, to be amusing ] sense of humor to the discussion, in the post of his that you find offending. (But then, often I write or say things that empirically other people find difficult to follow... long ago in a telephone conversation Seth remarked that it didn't matter if anyone might be tapping the line, they wouldn't be able to follow the conversation we were having [Seth and I were NOT having any such trouble, but some third party trying to follow...]...).

#375 ::: jkr ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2007, 11:41 AM:

"Senator goes to bathroom in airport" is not by itself newsworthy.

"Senator seen entering tearoom" is very newsworthy.

Even if a tearoom were available, people like Senator Craig wouldn't use it. They'd stick to the bathroom. Some men would avail themselves of the facilities, but not all.

I suspect they'd use the bathroom (for their sexual purposes) anyway for other reasons too. Earlier in the thread, people alluded to what I'll call the turn-on of the sleaze factor. Or, more simply, by shame.

Some people are turned on by the "dirtiness" and/or inappropriateness of the situation. If you're having sex in a public bathroom, you're necessarily violating common taboo (as well as laws, in many cases), and that can be a thrill in and of itself. Alternatively, they may feel so much internal conflict about their own sexuality (heterosexual, homosexual, whatever) that they want to enact it in a place that "matches" their own sense of dirtiness. Or, for that matter, they may have some wish to be caught and stopped--personally I think that that accounts for a lot of the closeted-lawmakers' political beliefs and activities.

(And none of this, if it needs to be said, is meant to ignore the huge role of society/religion/culture/etc. in making people thus ashamed of their sexuality, and setting up the situation--just focusing on effects rather than cause for the moment.)

#376 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2007, 12:23 PM:

Michael 336: Freedom of speech is not absolute. You don't have the right to say to your stockbroker "Sell this stock which I have heard from an inside source is about to go down," for example.

It's not the speech that is controlled, but the act of which the speech is an agent. Conspiracy is another speech-agented crime.

Solicitation and harassment are both things society needs to control (I'm a little dubious about the first, but not the second). I don't see a free speech issue here, really.

IANAL&TINLA. I'm talking about ethical philosophy of those of us (like me and Michael) who believe in free speech as a critical quality-of-life issue for society.

#377 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2007, 12:26 PM:

Am I the only one who now finds himself wondering exactly what the differences are between hrglhglhrhghring, hrglrghrlrhhrghrghlhing, hrghlrhlrhgllhgrhghing, hrghlrghlrghhling and hrghrglhhging?

I'd guess "duration". Anyway, it's my euphemism of choice from now on.

"The couple were arrested and later fined $250 each for public hrglrghrlrhhrghrghlhing"...

#378 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2007, 01:54 PM:

abi, #361 and Paula, #373-374:

Paula has laid out a very good explanation of the reason Seth is not arguing in good faith; he's trying to make a "freedom of speech" issue out of something which is no such thing, and he appears to be doing so in the classic Magic-Word Argument way -- expecting everyone else to back down simply by his invocation of the Magical Phrase.

I have been heavily sensitized to this kind of underhanded argument by long exposure in a couple of Usenet fora. I don't let it slide for the same reason that I no longer let other forms of liberal-bashing slide in my presence: I refuse to be marginalized for my beliefs.

As to the "certain subgroups" phrase abi was concerned about, there are two primary groups from whom I have come to expect this sort of argument as a matter of course: right-wing fundamentalists/Dominionists, and Libertarians. What this says about the similarities between the ideologies of the two groups is left as an exercise for the reader.

#379 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2007, 02:21 PM:

With apologies to the Bard*

Coming thro' St Paul, poor body,
Coming thro' St Paul
He tappit oot his secret needie
Comin' thro' St Paul.

O, Larry's a' caught, poor body,
Larry's aan the wall
He tappit oot his secret needie
Comin' thro' St Paul.

Gin a body meet a body
Comin' thro St Paul
Gin a body hrglrgh a body -
Need a body bawl?

Gin a body meet a body
Comin' thro' the men's
Gin a body hrlgrh a body -
Need the world end?

-----
* And I don't mean Shakespeare.

#380 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2007, 02:29 PM:

Seth #345:

When nobody can keep disruptive or offensive or dangerous stuff from happening in public spaces, one result is that private spaces take over. If the police can't run druggies and drunks out of the public parks, then parents don't take their kids there, and the result is that the only safe spaces are the ones someone owns and over which someone will enforce rules of behavior. If we were to end up with rules that said that the police were forbidden to do anything about sex in mens' rooms on public property, all kinds of public spaces would become much less pleasant and safe to use. And that would make everyone in the whole society poorer.

IMO, there has been a tendency in this direction (yielding control of public spaces so they become unsafe and nasty) since I've been an adult, driven largely by an interaction between the libertarian/free market idea that everything should be private anyway and a certain part of social liberalism which is inclined to see all social control as evil.

#381 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2007, 02:41 PM:

A senator, heading for the forum
paused in the necessary for a quick stroke,
preferably from some most randy bloke,
before going back out to the quorum;
he was the sort who each day would bore 'em
but none could his status or power revoke.
Then when arrested he thought it a joke
declaring he was high cockalorum.
The moral of this story should be plain
even to those who hide beneath the sheet
and think that only liberals have sex
in other than the missionary vein.
Cockiness will always itself defeat
and fate will ever the self-righteous vex.

#382 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2007, 02:51 PM:

I think this whole "Seth not arguing in good faith because of his Freedom of speech comment" sort of misses the context of that comment.

in 332, Seth said "the bathroom is for voiding. But the sidewalk is for traveling; so why should construction workers ... be given a pass?

He then comes up with what I think is a good rule of thumb for police procedure: "What does the owner want?"

in 333, Michael responds to the hypothetical contruction worker scenario by saying construction workers should NOT be given a pass.

in 334, Seth then replies that (coming down on construction workers) would be a Freedom of Speech issue.

Well, yeah, it would. Having had mandatory training at a number of places of employment about how to avoid a sexual harrassment lawsuit, yeah, I don't want the cops to enforce "unapproved comments" laws on the sidewalks.

If you think the police abuse something like a law against lewd behaviour, what the hell do you think they could do with a law against impolite language? Arrest the darkies that don't call whites "master" or make some white folk feel nervous. Arrest the queers that make a pass at a straight man and causes him to question his masculinity.

someone other than Seth actually turned the topic from lewd behaviour laws to controlling speech, sayign we shouldn't give construction workers a pass. And Seth rightly pointed out the only way to do that would veer into Free Speech territories.

So it seems unfair to accuse Seth of changing the topic when a review of the posts show he didn't. And once the topic was changed to a speech issue, it seems equally unfair to accuse Seth of arguing in bad faith for saying that regulating "approved" speech would be a matter of Freedom of Speech.

#383 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2007, 02:52 PM:

I asked about the apparent ease of making eyecontact with somebody in a restroom stall.

Michael Weholt and dcb answered.

Unless the descriptions are non-typical, I find it difficlt to imagine how any couple could indulge in a sexual act in a restroom without being noticed. Here in the UK, we do have doors and partitions which don't reach the ground. There's a gap of a few inches, enough to make cleaning easier. But it would need a little effort to look to count the feet.

There isn't a row of straining heads visible above the door tops.

I find myself wondering how commonplace this reported design was when Isaac Asimov wrote The Caves of Steel.


#384 ::: Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2007, 03:02 PM:

I will freely admit to having lost a significant chunk of my belief in the absolute value of freedom of speech in recent years, and it bothers me a lot. I worry a lot about what happens when discourse gets fettered...but I also worry a lot about what happens when people are forced to be either more oblivious, more callous, or more glib and superficial than is their nature simply to get through routine tasks in public. I'd like to believe that it's possible to cultivate free exchange and self expression without losing from my surroundings my fellow wimps, frail flowers, shy bloomers, and the like.

It's true that a society in which people are never challenged or confronted with unfamiliar thoughts and actions and ways of life is in trouble. But a society in which large chunks of the population go out into public constantly tense, suspicious, and afraid is also in real trouble. I'm unhappy with the etent to which those most inclined to expressive acts at others' expense so often prevail; Usenet: The Lifestyle seems unhealthy to me. But I genuinely don't see how to protect all I'd like to protect, nor how to rank them when they conflict. I just feel very weary sometimes of the very thought of once again foraying out into a public space that is in so many ways hostile to what I and others need for our own fullest self-expression.

#385 ::: Michael Weholt ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2007, 03:57 PM:

#382, from Greg London: in 333, Michael responds to the hypothetical contruction worker scenario by saying construction workers should NOT be given a pass.

Well, to be precise, I said, "Of course I don't know that they should be given a pass."

#386 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2007, 04:49 PM:

Bruce, #384: I think that much of your concern -- and mine as well -- relates to the abuse of "freedom of speech" claims by bullies, online and otherwise. And this relates back to the whole issue of online and public courtesy, and Paula's observation that freedom of speech does not entitle anyone to an audience. What we seem to be losing is the balance between freedom of speech and the equally important freedom not to be FORCED to listen to it.

#387 ::: Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2007, 05:29 PM:

I agree, Lee. I just wish I had more of a sense of what to do about it.

#388 ::: Barbara Gordon ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2007, 06:28 PM:

Apologies for slight derailment, but the several references to 'pants around the ankles' and 'hobbled at the ankles' reminded me of something that's puzzled me before.
I'm female, wear trousers by preference, and have never found it necessary to lower my trousers past my knees in the loo. I've asked a couple of female friends about this, and they too would not need to drop trou to the floor, most especially in a public lav. (Granted, not much of a statistical sample.)
Do men really let their trousers fall to the floor of a public washroom?
Ick.
-Barbara

#389 ::: Michael Weholt ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2007, 06:41 PM:

Do men really let their trousers fall to the floor of a public washroom? Ick.

I certainly don't.

#390 ::: jere7my ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2007, 07:08 PM:

Barbara @ 388:

While some men do drop their pants to their ankles — I know I've seen belt-ends lolling at the inter-stall boundary — I think "Pants around your ankles" is largely a colloquialism. I'm not sure it matters here — pants around your knees make it almost as hard to move quickly as pants around your ankles, and will certainly expose all the same things one might not want exposed (unless one is wearing Hello Kitty gaiters).

#391 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2007, 07:23 PM:

#338 Barbara

Is that stripping the discussion down to the skin, or going on a shorts excursion?

#392 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2007, 07:47 PM:

The NYT is reporting that Senator Larry Craig will resign tomorrow.

#393 ::: Scott Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2007, 08:05 PM:

Paula (391) Is that stripping the discussion down to the skin, or going on a shorts excursion?

Well, as long as the discussion is brief, I'm sure nobody will mind....

#394 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2007, 08:53 PM:

Faren -- obviously we needed somebody to prick us back into action....

#395 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2007, 09:44 PM:

An article in the WashPost says that anonymous sex in public places is a compulsion.

#396 ::: MD² ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2007, 11:25 PM:

What we seem to be losing is the balance between freedom of speech and the equally important freedom not to be FORCED to listen to it.

"You have the right to speak, not the right to shout."

"You/I have the right to speak. I/You have the right not to listen."

I'm sure there's a bumper sticker right there, just in reach...

"Just because you're free to speak doesn't mean I have to care."

Barf... I guess I still prefer the first one.

A post "The will of man made visible" thread one:

"Your freedom of speech's troubling my pursuit of happiness."

How did that all old heraldic bearing went already ? Oh, yes:

"Qui me parle me fait honneur. Qui se tait me fait plaisir."

#397 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2007, 11:57 PM:

Lee@386: What we seem to be losing is the balance between freedom of speech and the equally important freedom not to be FORCED to listen to it.

Well, we call it a freedom, but really, the first ammendment is a restriction on congress.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble

What's left, then, is whatever agreement that people can come to. And it seems there is a consensus that people in general do not agree to be an audience for someone's bathroom tryst.

#398 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2007, 02:39 AM:

MD^2, #396: Hmmm... how about "Your freedom of speech doesn't mean I have to pay attention"? IMO that seems to get the point across nicely.

Greg, #397: True, and that's one of the points that's been repeatedly raised about net.moderation. But the bullies' claim that ANY restriction on their abuse, in ANY context, constitutes censorship is also one of the underhanded kinds of argument I was referring to above. And the eventual result is exactly what albatross mentions in #380 -- that without restrictions on what can be done in a public space, the public spaces become the exclusive property of the bullies and abusers, who sneer, "If you can't take it, you're free to go somewhere else."

Also, re #372: In point of fact, what you are doing does help to change things for the better everywhere. Yes, it's a small drop in a very large bucket -- but every individual who learns to think past the crippling constraints of the culture that surrounds them is one more voice for change in that culture, and what causes gross cultural change is a change in the ways that individuals think.

I used to have this argument regularly with my parents when I was young and on fire with idealism. They'd say, "You CAN'T change the WORLD," with that kind of emphasis which is code for, "so why bother even trying, just suck it up and deal". And I'd respond, "No, but I CAN change the little part of it that touches me. And if enough of us do that, the world WILL change."

I still believe that, although the ways in which I go about doing it have changed, as I have, with increasing age.

#399 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2007, 03:31 AM:

Michael Weholt @329:

"Granting, arguendo, that police stake-outs of mens rooms is evidence of unjust harassment of gays in particular -- which, to my amazement, I have come to see the justification for saying -- what exactly should our Plan of Action be?"

Send an officer in uniform around regularly just to let everyone know they are being watched, rather than posting an undercover officer who pretends to be interested in getting some action.

#400 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2007, 04:12 AM:

Lee @ 398

As a front-edge baby-boomer, I grew up with the notion that I could change the world, as did my entire generation. Now on the other end of my life I hear a lot of my cohort whining that it just wasn't possible. Not only are they wrong in that we can change the world, we have changed the world. Not always in ways we like or expected or even recognize, but change it we did. Some of us worked harder and believed more in that than others, but we all had an effect.

Nor was necessary to drop everything else and become a crusader for your favorite kind of change. In fact, you may have more long-term effect if you keep a life for yourself, because change spreads from person to person; the more people you touch personally, the more the changes you make spread.

The world I see around me today is not something I'm always comfortable with. On even days I think things are getting better; on odd days I think things are worse; I'll probably never be able to see enough of it to know. But I can look out there and see changes that I approve of, and which I had a small part in creating. Feels a lot better than being impotent against the impersonal forces of a cruel and uncaring world.

#401 ::: A.J. Luxton ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2007, 05:25 AM:

Greg @ 368 -- your bar sounds like heaven. I've heard from many people who've gotten kicked out of one gendered bathroom, then the other; and I'm dreading the inevitable.

Scott Taylor @ 393 -- It's certain to fly.

#402 ::: A.J. Luxton ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2007, 05:34 AM:

abi @ 379: How many times in my life are you going to make me nearly snort beer out my nose? Should I scan a thread for your name before bringing beer? By which I mean: well done.

Nicole @ 357: it certainly sounds onomatopoeic, doesn't it? Hrgh! Hrghlh!

#403 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2007, 08:40 AM:

Making your way in the world today
Takes everything you've got.
Taking a break from all your worries,
Sure would help a lot.
Wouldn't you like to get away?
Sometimes you want to go
Where nobody knows your name,
And they're always glad you came.
You wanna be where you can see,
Our troubles are all the same
You wanna be where nobody knows
Your name.

dadi dadi da daaaaa di daaa....

(filmed before a live sting operation)

#404 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2007, 09:35 AM:

A. J.: The problem is, the question of what it's onomatopoetic for has, depending on how my mental ear processes the thing, several answers, none of which I actually want to know anything about.

It really has an effect on how I approach the morning Scope bottle.


I like Allan Beatty's proposed solution. Entrapment of any sort makes me unhappy.

#405 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2007, 10:43 AM:

Allan 399: The problem with that is that it requires that police presence at all times when you don't want the activity to occur. I'm unhappy with entrapment, too, but it's not entrapment if the perp makes the first approach.

If there are UCs in the bathroom, even if they only arrest people who approach them, word will pass that anyone you approach in that particular bathroom could be one. Then periodic visits by the UC cops will be sufficient.

The trouble is that cops are human and they like to make arrests. Prevention-by-presence is a necessary part of their task, but not one they're fond of, or consider a priority. So they slip into the gray areas, and then into outright entrapment.

#406 ::: Michael Weholt ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2007, 11:07 AM:

Well, it occurs to me that sometimes the oldest solutions are the best solutions. Public restrooms ought to go back to the enormously civilized tradition of having a Gentlemen's Room Attendant. Hand you a clean towel, brush the lint off your shoulder, check your bald spot for excess shininess, keep the inter-stall hand jobs to a minimum.

It's a respectable job with a long tradition, and even better it can't be outsourced overseas.

#407 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2007, 11:25 AM:

Lee@398: But the bullies' claim that ANY restriction on their abuse, in ANY context, constitutes censorship is also one of the underhanded kinds of argument I was referring to above.

Regarding bullies, if government is nothing more than an arbiter of agreements between citizens, then the strength of an individual bully becomes irrelevant and we advance into the realm of language, not physical force.

#408 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2007, 12:47 PM:

Michael Wenholt @406:
In the Netherlands, the restroom attendant is alive and well as an institution. In public toilets, in department stores, and indeed pretty much everywhere but Schiphol Airport*, there's someone sitting by the entrance.

You pay about 20 Euro cents to get in, though I have had that waived in the case of a diarrhoea-stricken child and no change in my pocket.

-----
* Schiphol uses other means to discourage toilet sex, probably, but I've no idea what. But I don't think Dutch society has quite the same views of homosexuality; I think they're mostly post-tearoom/cottaging here.

#409 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2007, 01:01 PM:

RE bathroom attendants:

Occasionally I read about cities dealing with the issue of public restrooms by installing fancy coin-operated automated units. Almost inevitably, they get abused, used for shooting up or quickies or just plain vandalized.

The cost of the things is rather extraordinary.

Why not put up public johns? Modern, easily cleaned, vandal-proof public restrooms . . . with attendants. Not "here's a towel sir" attendants, but someone rough and ready and equipped with a radio as well as a brush.

In bad areas, between the Gents' and Ladies', you put a police booth.

#410 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2007, 01:23 PM:

Bruce Cohen at 400 speaks of boomers not recognizing the changes we've wrought, good and bad: I suspect more of them are male than female, first of all- I know damned wel, as someone born in 1952, that every aspect of my life is different from and supperior to what my grandmother's was at an equivalent age (my mother was at the fighting edge, and at 55 was only behind in certain aspects of medical care). For a lot of us (generationally speaking) I suspect the kicker is the law of unintended consequences. Now that various land-use and water quality issues I dedicated my early adulthood to are law, I'm faced with horrid housing developments of zero-lot-line three story houses plopped on forty acre square slike surreal grey aspics.

I don't hear many of my out-of-the-closet contemporaries bemoaning the loss of the cottaging culture (The Capitol Lake swimming area mens room, for instance), though.

#411 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2007, 01:31 PM:

Brief notes...

Transcript of police interview w. Craig from ABC

I don't understand the issue here; by the officer's account, Craig groped a police officer in a public restroom (and was masturbating as well). What would you expect the officer to do? It wasn't in a gay bar, it wasn't any place where one might reasonably expect sexual activity or solicitations--it was a public restroom.

#412 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2007, 02:21 PM:

re #411:

Huh? I just read the transcript myself, and saw nothing to indicate groping or masturbating.

#413 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2007, 03:08 PM:

JESR, #410: I think you had a braino there. Forty acres is plenty of space for a very large house indeed! What you're describing are McMansions, which are typically installed on lots 40 to 60 feet square.

#414 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2007, 05:31 PM:

#412, correction on the groping; self-stimulating with his hands while peering at the officer and touching the officer with his foot. Poor schmuck. But a poor schmuck who ought not be anywhere near sex-crime policymaking.

#415 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2007, 06:27 PM:

Lee, sorry, but I mean numerous three-story zero-lot-line houses jammed on forty acres- lots usually, what, 25' X 50' per house, which puts 32 per acre. (I live on a forty, with one other house and about fifteen cow-calf pairs, myself). The same configuration also comes in ten-acre chunks, and in either case there's usually 10% of the subdivision taken up by roads,drainage features, and open spaces, no native vegetation except where I've had to fight for it (and I'm tired of fighting these things, after thirty-five years of meetings and EIS critiques) and absolutely inppropriate landscape trees, usually Sweetgum and London Plane trees, which provide no bird habitat and are hazardously tall and brittle after ten or twenty years in this climate. Too much impervious surface, too many cars, and, in my neighborhood, no walkable schools or stores, so multiple car trips per household every day.

But at least all those people are not living on quarter-acre lots on septic systems, with no provision for stormwater retention, which was the situation I was struggling against back when this started. And there are farm protection laws for us, and open-space taxation, neither of which were easy to get.

#416 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2007, 06:52 PM:

Lizzy L @ 392
The NYT is reporting that Senator Larry Craig will resign tomorrow.

The BBC is saying that he has announced his resignation "effective from 30 September."

#417 ::: Chuck ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2007, 07:16 PM:

I"m disappointed that nobody has yet (as far as I can see) made mention of this line from the AP coverage of Craig's resignation:

"Among those attending was Republican Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter, who will appoint a successor for the remaining 15 months of Craig's term."

I'm admittedly not up to speed on the lingo, but isn't "Butch Otter" just a "Spear" or "Rod" away from being a made-up gay porn name?

#418 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2007, 03:23 AM:

JESR @ 415

A 1250 square foot lot? The mind boogies. Our first house was just under 1000 sq. ft. in floor space, and I thought we had a small lot* at 1/8 acre. I never realized they were putting McMansions on such small lots; the ones I've seen have looked larger than that.

But I agree, I prefer it to the obscenity of the 10 acre lot with the 10,000 square foot house in agricultural–zoned areas. They rip out all the trees (that's a lot around here) and plant rectilinear rows of sapling firs and call it a "Christmas Tree Farm". I'm not even sure they have to sell any to get away with it. Those things were sprouting like toadstools in the late 90's.


* Actually we did, for that block. The house next door had a 1.5x standard lot; the difference had been taken from ours.

#419 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2007, 03:37 AM:

JESR @ 410

You're probably right that the ones complaining are men, and white men at that. As bad as racism is in this country now, it was worse when we were born, and I think few people of color would prefer to live in 1950s America than now.

While I would bet you'd find a lot of people here on ML who had arguments similar to Lee's with their parents, I suspect that it was far less common than modern mythology would have us believe. A lot of our cohort didn't really want to change things, especially if they grew up in white, male, middle-class privilege, so the changes that did come were not welcome to them.

In the last few years I've started to be the target of the standard stereotype of older people: they're automatically conservative and nostalgic for the time of their youth. And it may be that some people really do feel that way. Me? Not no, but Hell No. The times sure are weirder than they were, but they're also better in a lot of ways, big and small. Of course, that acceptance may just be because I've been reading sf since I was seven, and always did live a little more in the future than most of the people around me.

#420 ::: A.J. Luxton ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2007, 05:46 AM:

Bruce Cohen above:

I have a theory (maybe it's bunnies! no, sorry) that people, in general, as they get older, orbit closer around their core personality traits. Neophobes get more neophobic; neophiles get more neophilic, if sometimes more particular about it.

One of my partners has arrived at middle age, and... I don't know if transhumanism is something you can be staunch about, but he definitely seems to get stauncher about it over time. (What an odd word, staunch!) Damn mundanes get off our lawn.

#421 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2007, 08:37 AM:

Bruce 419: In the last few years I've started to be the target of the standard stereotype of older people: they're automatically conservative and nostalgic for the time of their youth.

I like to whack that prejudice on the side of the head by starting a sentence with a traditional "stop listening" phrase like "When I was your age..." and then ending it with something unexpected like "...we had it really easy compared to you." Or "Kids today...seem much more thoughtful and engaged than I remember being at that age."

#422 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2007, 08:51 AM:

"Kid, I can remember men walking on the Moon and supersonic airliner services crossing the Atlantic."

Oh heck, let's do it properly....

"I've seen things you people wouldn't believe. A Saturn V splitting the night at LC39. I watched Armstrong walk the dust of Tranquility Base. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain. Time to die."

#423 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2007, 09:18 AM:

I remember when calling someone on the phone and saying "Where are you?" was a ridiculous thing to do. You'd be amazed how long it takes some of the youngest generation to understand why.

#424 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2007, 10:41 AM:

#419 Bruce:

The thing is, while I think the world is a better place to live now than 1950, it's probably not better in every possible way. A lot of nostalgia for the past has to do with wishing for the parts of the past that genuinely worked better, without wishing for the parts that were lousy. You can wish for more of a sense of community and lower illegitimacy rates without wishing for the return of Jim Crow laws and computers as expensive tools used only by large organizations with lots of money. You can wish to give up massive wiretapping on everyone all the time, without wanting to give up angioplasty and statins.

#425 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2007, 11:29 AM:

Here's a strange tracking of the change of society.

My kids (3 and 5) are spending a lot of time watching a DVD of Tom and Jerry cartoons - the old ones, before they talked a lot or were nice to each other. And the main human character in the cartoons, whose face is never shown, is a heavyset woman with dark skin.

I had a moment's lurch, thinking What am I showing them? What racist stereotype of black servants are they soaking up?

But the thing is, they have even less experience of paid service than they do of racism. They have no idea that people would be hired to live in someone else's house and do all the work. They perceive her as the owner of the house.

Which gives us a stereotype of a large, assertive African-American woman owning a magnificent house.

#426 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2007, 12:32 PM:

Bruce Cohen @418, We stayed in a friend's house in Missoula which is in an improved version of a zero-lot-line (so called because one wall of each house is on the lot line) development- aesthetically improved, because rather than the covenants mandating a uniform roof color and a narrow range of pale neutral siding colors the houses are a riot of saturated greens, rusts, and yellows, and environmentally improved because it was built on brownfield. The houses also range from single story two bedroom 1000sq ft to two ad a half story 3000 sq ft ones on double lots.

Contrast my nearest neighbors, where on larger (by ten feet of width) lots the houses are all painted various shades of taupe with black roofs and were built after logging the doug fir then using power shovels to pull up and grinders to dispose of "young" Oregon White Oak, where young means one to two hundred years old, then flattening the rolling country side so that all the houses share a common lack of vista of Mt. Rainier towering over them all.

Compared to the VHA houses built in the early fifties, the developments have better construction standards, especially wrt windows, insulation, roofs and siding, and more features to encourage both community interaction (covered front porches, sidewalks, pocket parks) and private exterior spaces (the kind of fencedback garden one takes for granted in Great Britain) but they share, alas, the dependence on private transortation and lack of walking access to retail: if you forget to buy cat food or toilet paper, you can't hand your twelve-year-old a ten and a list because the nearest grocery store is two and a half miles away and there are, in that space, two long stretches with no sidewalks and two intersections so dangerous that the school district provides bus service for kids living within four blocks of the school on the other side of the intersections.

And at 419: I mostly encounter the nostalgia for the fifties from women when they are just older than I am and are middle class and from the more urbanized bits of the midwest. My own perceptions were formed by hearing Mom describe being replaced, when she retiredfrom her state job to get married, by a man who was immediately paid four times her salary on the rubric that "men have to support their families" even though he was just then married and still childless, and she had been supporting her widowed mother and three younger brothers. I learned about privilege by growing up at the tipping point between "rural working class" and "white trash" in a mostly-Indian neighborhood were we were the rich and powerful people.

My perceptions of Larry Craig come through a similar filter: I grew up with some gay boys who either left home early and moved to the city (and, two of them, died in the first big AIDS wave) or stayed home and closeted and pretty much miserable, sometimes marrying and compounding the misery. I look at him and I see my friend Sydney, who finally left the Church and found a partner before he died. I'm sorry for him, but I have to say having witnessed cruising women in the TESC sauna in the early seventies and the Percival Landing showers in the early eighties, I would pretty much prefer not to have to witness the nitty-gritty of other people's sex lives.

#427 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2007, 02:38 PM:

abi @425: Agatha Christie once said, "when I was young I never expected to be so poor that I couldn't afford a servant, or so rich that I could afford a motor car."

As an aside, when I went searching for who it was that said what I could vaguely remember so I could quote it here, Charlie Stross's blog was near the top of the Google search list.

#428 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2007, 02:31 AM:

I think a lot of the "family values" movement depends on illusions of sexuality.

It's possible to assemble a set of reasons for a society to protect women, some of them gender independent*. But women are not, as a class, sweet and innocent virgins happy to wait for the right man. Places such as Second Life, by allowing people to interact in some anonymity and safety, may be as significant a change as the affordable motor-car.***

* Is it a coincidence** that the "family values" movement has nothing to say about gay rape in prisons?

** Probably a matter of power fantasies, a way of de-sexing men not of their class.

*** Be fair: Mrs. Craig can log on too, and working out a fantasy with a real person is rather more than just watching it in a porn movie.

#429 ::: Raphael ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2007, 10:11 AM:

I'm late for this, but some general thoughts on the whole thing-

I wonder how long it will take until the first porn pages specialized in fake Republican gay bathroom sex show up- "By day they preach family values- get instant access now and see what they get up to at night!"

Some people early in this thread have said that pretty much all the radical homophobes are gay, and that homophobia in general is perhaps mainly an expression of being in the closet. Fair point, but I think that perhaps, the main reason why so many people get so worked up about homosexuality is the exact opposite- it's because so many people aren't gay. If you do can make sure that anger, hate and prejudices mostly hit a group to wich you clearly don't belong, it means that you'll be pretty safe from these things yourself. And you have to worry less about sinning and doing wrong if the people around you think that the worst sin in the world is something that you aren't even interested in doing.

I've failed morally a fair amount of times in my life, both by reasonable moral standards and by those of old style religious conservatives. But I've never even tried to have gay sex. So I guess it would be pretty nice and comfortable for me to convince myself that homosexuality is incredibly, horribly wrong, and to help to make sure that most other people think like that, too. I could be sure that, no matter what I might have been wrong, my sins are nothing compared to the since of "those people", and I could be sure that the people around me would think that, too.

But of course there could be some kind of correlation between the closet cases and the level of homophobia. I guess if someone is many things, and one of them is that he's a homophobe, it's probably more likely that he's straight, while if someone passionately talks about the horrors of sodomy all the time, it's probably more likely that he's a closet case.

#430 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2007, 11:09 AM:

Greg@407: as a practical matter, the government commonly does not have the granularity to arbitrate between citizens at the level a bully operates at. You're also ignoring the effect of a bully getting into the government and distorting the arbitration process.

#431 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2007, 11:40 AM:

Chip@430: as a practical matter, the government commonly does not have the granularity to arbitrate between citizens at the level a bully operates at.

That was in reply to Lee's post at 398, which said in part "... net.moderation. But the bullies' claim that ANY restriction on their abuse, in ANY context, constitutes censorship"

I suppose I could have said "any trusted-third-party organization" instead of "government", but I think the general principle still applies. Any trusted-third-party, like the government or moderators or whatever, generally come up with rules that limit behaviour that, ideally, would reflect the behaviour that its members agree to follow. At least if one takes the "government as arbiter of agreements" approach.

The government doesn't legislate the typical schoolyard bully, but I wasn't talking about that sort of bully. I was more refering to anyone who uses force to get what they want from people who do not agree to give it to them. Battery, robbery, rape, homicide, are all laws that can be viewed from the idea of government as an arbiter of agreement between citizens.

Then if the first ammendment is a restriction on what government can outlaw, what is left on the list of "outlawable behaviour" is what would be behaviour by one person against another that the other did not agree to.

So, when the bully (anyone who uses force) complains that any restriction is an infringement on their right to do anything, anytime, to anyone, then you point out that they still do not have the right to do soemthing to someone who didn't agree to have it done to them.

#432 ::: Ursula L ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2007, 10:43 AM:

And a new twist on this, from NPR this morning.

Apparently the senator left a voice mail on the wrong person's phone, explaining that he didn't say he was resigning, but only that he is planning to resign, but that he might still change his mind, and he's hired a lawyer (the same one who represented Monica Lewinsky!) to try and vacate his guilty plea.

They also quoted someone (I can't remember who) as saying that since he only plead to a misdemeanor, he shouldn't be expected to quit, since senators don't generally resign over a single misdemeanor (the example I heard was speeding.)

#433 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2007, 10:48 AM:

Whatever else Senator Craig is, he is dashed unlucky...

#434 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2007, 12:57 PM:

Correction, he didn't grope a police officer. Did, ah, "fidget" while staring at the officer. And it seems he's going to try to get the conviction removed. If he thinks he can, he's going to keep his seat.

#435 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2007, 01:13 PM:

Randolph @ 434

Well, since he did sign that plea deal, with the waiver of the presence of a lawyer, and its statement that he understood the charges, I think Craig is up the creek. (Information from Talking Points Memo, which is, as you might think, paying attention to this.)

#436 ::: midori ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2007, 02:13 PM:

#425, abi, on Tom and Jerry cartoons

But the thing is, they have even less experience of paid service than they do of racism. They have no idea that people would be hired to live in someone else's house and do all the work. They perceive her as the owner of the house.

Which gives us a stereotype of a large, assertive African-American woman owning a magnificent house.

I was a little (anglo) kid in the 70's, and I assumed that it was her house too. I did know that the kind of speech she used was stereotyped, because none of the black women I knew talked like that. They were much too serious for that kind of thing.*

I thought the old stereotypes were pretty odd when I ran into them, because they were so "other" from my experience. (Also, because the set of 1970's stereotypes on TV didn't match either, e.g. "Good Times" and "Fat Albert.")

#437 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2007, 04:10 PM:

Randolph 434: Correction, he didn't grope a police officer. Did, ah, "fidget" while staring at the officer. And it seems he's going to try to get the conviction removed. If he thinks he can, he's going to keep his seat.

Will he take a wide stance when he sits on it?

#438 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2007, 07:21 PM:

Xopher, #437: "Will he take a wide stance when he sits on it?"

Snicker. If only...

Really, I think no good can come of Craig's attempt to get his conviction reversed and keep his seat. If he succeeds, it will be a victory for special rights for the rich and powerful, it's not going to be a victory for gay rights, and it means one more winger stays in the Senate.

#439 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2007, 07:40 PM:

At this point, there's a good chance that the scandal will, for the most part, just wither away, like it did for Ted Kennedy. Senator Craig's supporters will still be able to reply to criticism with "B-b-but Chapparglebargledribbleburble!"

#440 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2007, 08:20 PM:

I, too, would rather not witness other people's sex lives. (In all truth, from a strictly aesthetic point of view, I would often prefer not to witness my own, but that's by-the-bye.) I more-or-less ensure that I don't witness them by regarding them as none of my goddam business whatsoever, unless they are actually unlawful. And even then, I'd hedge. Soliciting sex in public is a public nuisance, I suppose, but no worse. It's about as bad as littering or allowing your barbecue smoke to drift across your neighbour's yard. Not as bad as running a light or stealing a candy bar. (Soliciting aggressively, with implied menace, is a different matter altogether, but we're not talking about that.)

I wish politicians could get hounded from office for arrant hypocrisy, and this bloke deserves that. But he isn't. He's been a hypocrite for many years, and profited greatly. Instead, he's being hounded from office for making Certain Gestures in a men's room. Feh.

#441 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2007, 08:31 PM:

I'm with midori, I never even thought until now that the lady in the Ben & Jerry cartoons didn't own the house. Born in 1972.

#442 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2007, 08:48 PM:

It occurs to me, also, that it's going to be very tempting for Craig's electoral opponents to play-up to anti-gay sentiment. No good can come of this.

#443 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2007, 09:03 PM:

#440, from Dave Luckett: there was a bit more going on than a simple pass made (in a restroom? ick!) The police report is discrete ("fidgeting" in scare quotes), but Craig seems to have been peeping and self-stimulating as well. So there was harassment and "lewd conduct" as well. Personally, I'd be happy to see Craig slid smoothly out of office, for whatever reason; perfect justice isn't something we get in politics. Unfortunately, that doesn't seem likely. This is going to be a mess...

#444 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2007, 09:21 PM:

Tania 441: TOM and Jerry!!!

Ben and Jerry is a cartoon series about a mouse who's always trying to catch the container of icecream, but is continually frustrated...its socially-progressive, indeed at times explicitly-socialist message got it taken off the air pretty quickly, though.

#445 ::: Michael Weholt ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2007, 09:46 PM:

I have to say I'm on the side of those who say the Senate Ethics Committee should keep its nose out of this sordid affair. Craig's up for re-election next year; let his constituents decide if they want to keep him as their senator. The Ethics Committee should concern itself with political corruption, treason, and so forth. Let it concentrate on cases such as those of Stevens from Alaska.

#446 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2007, 09:52 PM:

Xopher #444: That could work; you could name each cartoon episode after a different flavor of ice cream, which would be the story hook. Phish Food, Jamaican Me Crazy, Vermonty Python and Chunky Monkey would be standout episodes. And don't forget the Cherry Garcia musical road trip episode....

#447 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2007, 03:01 AM:

Michael Weholt, #446: "let his constituents decide if they want to keep him as their senator".

Do we really want his opposition tempted to attack him for being gay? Sounds like it would be a setback for gay rights to me.

#448 ::: Michael Weholt ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2007, 07:00 AM:

#447 Randolph Fritz: Do we really want his opposition tempted to attack him for being gay? Sounds like it would be a setback for gay rights to me.

I think kicking him out of the Senate for fear his opposition would attack him for being gay would be a setback for gay rights. That's all we need. More charges of The Gay Agenda (with actual proof this time). Not to mention the fact that it would be wrong for his fellow senators to kick him out over something like this.

I was born in Idaho but I've never voted there. If the people of Idaho want to re-elect him, that's their business. If his opposition wants to conduct a campaign attacking him for being gay, it's up to the citizens of Idaho to decide what to do about it.

#449 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2007, 08:16 AM:

Michael #445:

The only part of this scandal I can see that would deserve involvement of the ethics committee is the bit about trying to get out of being arrested because he's a congresscritter. Though I'll admit that this seems pretty small compared with some of the bigger stuff they have to deal with.

#450 ::: Christopher Davis ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2007, 09:39 AM:

Michael (#445): As albatross noted in #449, there's an ethics question on the attempt to use a "get out of jail free" card.

In my mind, there's also an ethics question in that he signed a legal document that he is now trying to repudiate on the grounds that he didn't fully understand it. WTF? He's a Senator. Yeah, they've voted for lots of things they've never read (cough cough PATRIOT Act cough) but using that as his justification? He's either unbelievably incompetent or blatantly lying, and in either case I think there's good reason for the Ethics Committee to look into it.

#451 ::: Michael Weholt ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2007, 11:20 AM:

(1) The number of times a U.S. Senator has handed somebody a business card and said "What do you think of that?" has to be up there in the millions. Granted, he was handing it to a cop who was in the process of booking him, but it would be a stretch to get from handing somebody a business card to convicting somebody of "trying to get out of jail free." As albatross says, there are more important things for the Senate Ethics Committee to spending its time on -- cases of genuine political corruption. It plays into the hands of corrupt senators (if any) to degrade the ethics process by concentrating on something like that.

(2) He has a perfect legal right to try to undo his guilty plea. Whether he will be successful is another question, but unquestionably he has the right to hire a lawyer and try to undo what he did out of stupidity, or panic (in pleading guilty) or whatever. That is not an issue of ethics. The man is a complete dope. He can't even dial a stinkin' phone with any sort of competence. If I was a citizen of Idaho, I'd be deeply embarrassed by him. But I am not a citizen of Idaho. It's their decision. There may very well be genuine ethical violations in his career as a Senator. If so, the SEC should go for it. But as I say, to degrade the ethics process by nailing him on this sordid but trivial affair is to make room for all the truly corrupt senators (if any) to waltz away. It's Hallmark Hall of Fame Theater of Ethics. I'm for spending time on the real thing.

#452 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2007, 12:01 PM:

Michael Weholt, #448: "I think kicking him out of the Senate for fear his opposition would attack him for being gay would be a setback for gay rights."

Getting kicked out because he's an embarrassment to his party might cost them a few gay votes it's not likely to earn them any votes. This makes it a net gain for the opposition, which I support. (Yes, that's a grim way to think about it. Politics.)

"If the people of Idaho want to re-elect him, that's their business."

Sure. But that's not my point--I just would much prefer not to see that campaign.

#453 ::: Matt Austern ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2007, 01:23 AM:

Chiming in a week late... In #329, Michael Weholt asks what our Plan of Action should be to deal with sex in men's rooms.

My proposal: nothing. I agree that it's a problem in principle, but I don't feel that all problems merit a plan of action. Sometimes the problem isn't big enough to warrant one, and sometimes any likely plan is likely to be worse than the problem.

In this case I think both are true. Conceivably I'm oblivious or I'm leading a sheltered life, but this is just not a problem that has ever affected me. If we're going to have a societal plan of action to solve men's room problems, I'd rather devote our resources to problems that I do experience regularly. Some of my candidates would be dirty floors, empty paper towel dispensers, bathrooms without diaper changing tables, stall doors that don't close securely, and just not enough public bathrooms in cities.

#454 ::: Dan Hoey ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2007, 08:40 AM:

MD² (#340) suggests providing separate but equal places for sex in airports. An article in the gay paper The Washington Blade quotes psychologists claiming that homophobic gays (like Larry Craig, apparently) seek sex in inappropriate places so that they can tell themselves they aren't gay. So providing assigned places of assignation probably wouldn't get him out of the WC.

This is the fruit of the social stigmatization of gays, and Michael's (#329) best bet is to accept our collective responsibility for creating it and to embrace the participants. Only by removing the stigma can we help people like Larry choose to get their blow jobs from their husbands, as God would have intended.

#455 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2007, 10:52 AM:

#453 Matt:

Presumably, this is best handled by local police or property owners. A nationwide or statewide solution would probably be a bad fit everywhere. If guys having sex in a local restroom are causing a problem, presumably it's not too hard to deal with that. Most places, it doesn't appear to be a problem, which either means that guys aren't fking in there, or that they're so discrete that nobody notices; in effect, these are the same situation.

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