Thursday, August 30, 2007

On Larry Craig

This was not a topic I planned to address. The problems with discussing politicians' private lives are many, and those private lives are largely none of our business. I said "largely" which means that there are some exceptions. The ones I view as valid is when the politicians engage in illegal activities, especially if those activities intertwine with their jobs as politicians, and the cases where a politician's private choices directly clash with his or her stated political ideals or opinions. The latter incongruence is useful to analyze because it gives us more information on how truthfully the stated political beliefs are held, for instance.

Now, the Larry Craig case (a conservative, "pro-family", anti-gay Senator apparently caught soliticing for gay sex in a public toilet) does fit those exceptions, assuming that what Craig did was illegal. So does the earlier case of Senator Vitter (Louisiana, married) admitting to using prostitutes, a crime in the jurisdiction he was at the time of the events. Senator Vitter also promoted "pro-life" policies, such as abstinence and marital fidelity, yet his own life choices revealed the difficulty of walking his own talk.

Given that the Craig case fits my exceptions rule, why was I not going to write about it? Because it is being used for gay bashing, mostly.

But now Republicans are trying to make him go away altogether, to appeal to the homophobic part of their base. Note that his resignation is called for by conservatives who found no need to call for the resignation of Senator Vitter. That the Vitter case was about heterosexual sex (with no dead girls) and the Craig case is about homosexual sex may be one cause for the different treatment. But a more important one is the fact that Craig would be replaced by another Republican Senator, whereas Vitter's state has a Democratic governor who might nominate a Democrat to take his seat.

So I got annoyed by the political exploitation and decided finally to jump in and join the fray. Heh. In any case, the focus on the discussions on Craig I've followed have been on predatory behavior in public toilets. This, in turn, is associated with homosexuality. Senator Vitter's case is somehow less serious because he contacted for the "massage services" by phone.

Perhaps. But predatory behavior is something many women have experience with and not only in same-sex contexts. Come to think of it, mostly not in same-sex contexts. That's why the toilets are traditionally the place one uses to escape too ardent propositioners.

Still, is it really true that openly gay men would regard public restrooms as the place to find sexual partners? I'm not sure, but I suspect that this behavior has much to do with being in the closet and therefore being unable to go to the places where sexual partners are usually found. If I'm correct in this, then what happened to Larry Craig is partly a consequence of the policies that his party pursues, policies which try to keep gays in closets and ashamed of their sexuality.
This post has no links because I'm very lazy today and because I have a niggling headache which gets stronger whenever I think of doing some research.