Friday, August 31, 2007

The Senator Craig Transcripts

So, the transcripts of the post arrest interview of Senator Larry Craig have been released. See Transcript of Police Interview of Sen. Larry Craig, (Aug. 30, 2007). The entire tapes transcript is worth a read. They remind us that the promise of Lawrence v. Texas, 539 U.S. 558 (2003) has still a ways to go. But the most interesting aspect for me was the way in which the solicitation was made and the arrest pursued:

DK: Okay Urn, I just wanna start off with a your side of the story, okay. So, a

LC: So I go into the bathroom here as I normally do, I'm a commuter too here.

DK: Okay.

LC: I sit down, urn, to go to the bathroom and ah, you said our feet bumped. I believe they did, ah, because I reached down and scooted over and urn, the next thing I knew, under the bathroom divider comes a card that says Police. Now, urn, (sigh) that's about as far as I can take it, I don't know of anything else. Ah, your foot came toward mine, mine came towards yours, was that natural? I don't know. Did we bump? Yes. I think we did. You said so. I don't disagree with that.

DK: Okay. I don't want to get into a pissing match here.

LC: We're not going to.

Transcript, supra.

So allow me to be a bit provocative: As the tapes make clear, the state continues to take as its basic premise that same sex solicitation is closer to prostitution and other acts of lewdness, than it is to the casual solicitation of affective (sexual) interest between people of different sexes (and specifically between adult men and women). The state spends little time policing against any but the rudest forms of solicitations of sexual interest between men and women. The state devotes a tremendous amount of energy on vice--both sex for hire (whatever the sex of the participants) and sex between (in this case) men. That conflation ought to trouble us today far more than it did back in the days before Lawrence. Until the expression of sexual desire among anyone but heterosexual couples is uncoupled from the prostitution/lewdness construct, the expression of non conformist sexual desire will remain suspect, irrespective of the availability of the safe harbors" of civil unions and "gay" spaces.


Aimee said...

I'm new to the blog and an incoming 2L at UW Law.

I think Larry brings up a very important point about how nonconformist sexual desire is still suspect. It made me think of the Gig Harbor high school incident where parents asked the authorities to alert them if their daughter engaged in any "unusual behavior" and the dean showed them the video surveillance tape of her kissing another female student. Displays of affection between persons of the same sex seems to be at best, "unusual" and cause for alarm, or worse, entangled with prostitution/lewdness.

Mary Whisner said...

It's odd to think that toe-tapping can be criminal. Of course, the Minneapolis airport police would say that the context makes all the difference.

CNN just had a segment about crackdowns nationally against sex in public places. What is the harm they are addressing?

Two possibilities: (1) the risk of someone soliciting you when you're not interested; (2) the risk of walking in on two people engaging in something you don't want to see or overhear.

(1) seems to be a very slight harm. If the man in the stall next to yours taps his foot and waves his hand and you're not interested (or you don't know the code), you can ignore him and go about your bathroom business. It might creep out some men to imagine that other men would be interested in them sexually, but toe-tapping is minor compared to the verbal come-ons many women receive from men in public places (not to mention the unwelcome physical contacts).

(2) seems more serious. Are they prosecuting people for toe-tapping and hand-waving in order to discourage the actual sex acts?

The Minneapolis airport police said they'd set up the sting because they'd had complaints. I'm curious whether it was complaints about attempted pick-ups or complaints about people "doing it" in the restroom.