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Things Not to Do in Minneapolis-St. Paul

It's the little things that make someone take notice of you. The way you wear your hat. The way you sip your tea. The way you tap your foot in a stall in the men's room of the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.

The headline of the story I read at CNN.com was "Craig: I did nothing 'inappropriate' in airport bathroom." For me, the headline should have read: "Minneapolis Supercops Hip to Gay Sex Signals!" God, as Mies van der Rohe told us, is in the details. And the details of how Sen. Larry Craig (R-ID) got popped for alleged lewd conduct are so arcane that even some of those TV CSI cops have gotta be going "what the huh" on this one. Craig was ID'd by police Sgt. Dave Karsnia, who was working undercover in the bathroom because, apparently, after the stress of going through security, airport bathrooms are a hot spot for a pre-flight happy ending. Oh, those Midwesterners.

Anywhooo...

According to the police report filed by Karsnia, Craig entered a stall next to his and blocked the door with a rolling suitcase. Karsnia's razor-sharpened "I know what those people are thinking" instincts told him that "individuals engaging in lewd conduct use their bags to block the view from the front of their stall." To a lesser cop, such blockage might appear to be the result of the stall's 3-by-4 dimensions. But lesser cops end up writing parking tickets in Milwaukee, not working vice in an airport men's room. Karsnia adds that Craig "then tapped his right foot," a signal used by persons wishing to engage in lewd conduct.

Note to anyone using a public toilet in Minneapolis: Turn off your iPod!

Craig did, in fact, engage in other damning behavior, such as "running his hand underneath the partition wall three times," which, in truth, does scream gay sex. But clearly the most damning indictment of Craig is, well, his damning indictment of himself. Craig pleaded guilty to the charges and paid about five bills in fines.

Now, I've got to tell you, I don't care about Craig's sex life, no matter what kind of encounter he may — may — have been looking for, as long as it was with a consenting adult. But pleading out to those charges on that scant evidence? I get maybe he was hoping this would all go away, but pleading guilty rather than fighting such a weak charge? He took his suitcase in the stall and tapped his foot? Was Craig vacationing on Mars during the O.J. trial?

In the dog days of summer, I guess Craig's misadventure in June does the job of salaciousness passed off as breaking news. To me, the bigger news is the supposition that was passed off as sleuthing.

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I'd like to thank Sen. Craig for learning new things of what not to do in a public restroom. Though, I'd have preferred this tidbit of information to stay with the undercover cops. There are just some things I don't want to hear when it comes to parents, preachers or politicians.

Also, for a person like Craig who's lived that long and half his life in government, how could he be so dumb? I hate to judge anyone but he put himself in such position by pleading guilty to the charges. If there was no evidence of a said action, why would he have pleaded guilty?

I know some folks hate the burden of litigation, so they'll rather settle the charges. But this charge was based on his personal character, a cause he has fought against in the past. If there was one thing he should have taken the long road of litigation, it should be about this alleged charge. Again, I don't judge but I don't need to in this case; Craig did that for me.

Sent by Moji | 3:38 PM | 8-29-2007

I find this story very alarming for three reasons: A) How can a married man with several grown children be in the closet? B) Is an airport bathroom the only place he can pursue a partner? C) Is that officer for real in citing the signs he was using?

Actually, I lied, also I find this story very alarming because based on what was reported, this man is gay yet opposes gay rights. He has an identity crisis. That my friend is why he pleaded guilty; he doesn't even know who he is.

Sent by rashid | 3:47 PM | 8-29-2007

Oh come on, John! True, police around the country regularly engage in entrapment of gay men (or "I'm not a gay man!" men) but was is compelling in this story is something you didn't mention. Apparently, the tipoff that Sen. Craig was lookin' for love was that he spend 2 minutes looking for just the right stall. Now you and I both know that there are unwritten manrules about hanging out even for 30 seconds in men's rooms.

I wholeheartedly agree with you about not caring about two consenting adults having sex, but I do mind a self-loathing hypocrite who uses his power to curtail others' rights. I'll freely admit I'm in schadenfreude heaven right now...

Sent by Willis N. | 4:51 PM | 8-29-2007

Why doesn't the author mention the peeping tom activities Craig engaged in before going into the adjacent toilet stall? This activity provides a clear basis for the police officer's suspicions. Perhaps midwesterners aren't as stupid as Ridley implies?

Sent by Yon Yonson | 6:41 PM | 8-29-2007

GOP= Gay Ole Party

Sent by John D | 9:46 PM | 8-29-2007

Craig should resign. Period. He's guilty by his own admission. A gay man involved in anti gay legislation is simply wrong. The people of Idaho elected and reelected him on Craig misrepresenting himself. He is not the man they think they elected. Do the right thing senator.

Sent by Brian K. Britza | 8:27 AM | 8-30-2007

"Karsnia adds that Craig 'then tapped his right foot,' a signal used by persons wishing to engage in lewd conduct."

Whodda thunk that the word 'his' could be confusing? Honestly, I first read it like you, that 'his' meant Craig's. After reading the police report, I saw that 'his' meant Karsnia's. Not that it really matters - it still all seems to be plausibly deniable, even if it IS one of them things that makes you go 'hmmm'.

Sent by Gary | 10:07 AM | 8-30-2007

Funny, I can't remember all of the liberals having this reaction to President Clinton's poor sexual behavior. The reason Craig pleaded guilty instead of fighting it, was simple, he knew he was in the wrong. He did the honorable thing and took responsibility.
People can be gay and appose gay rights on principle. I know of several homosexual conservative men who are in opposition to most of the insulting gay rights fanatics that are using them for their own political gain. Another funny thing is that the media doesn't like to give the full story on this and give them any airtime. Craig, like others in the same situation with his career and family would have persecuted my everyone, including you, and you and you.

Sent by Daniel | 11:59 AM | 8-30-2007

Part 1. I just heard the tape recording of the police officer's interrogation of Larry Craig in the Minnesota airport. I was shocked! This tape seems to strengthen Larry Craig's account of what happened. Recall that until now, the only account we have had was the police report, written by the officer who arrested him. The police officer was clearly trying to force a testimony out of Craig; the officer even got angry a few times when Craig wouldn't say what the officer wanted him to say. Losing his patience, Craig kept saying that he needed to catch his flight. Maybe that's why Craig finally decided just to plead guilty to the charge of disorderly conduct so that he could be on his way and catch his flight.

Part 2. Let's step back for a minute and assess the situation. Back in the early 1980s, Craig was accused of coming onto a gay page. He denied the gay page's accusations but since then, he has faced unrelenting suspicion that he is gay. I believe that people will go to great lengths in order to confirm their hypothesis about something or someone, even if that means exaggerating data that supports their hypothesis and ignoring data to the contrary. As a research analyst, I've learned that we do this almost unconsciously. It's human nature. Kevin Richards, the reporter from the Idaho Statesman, fits this description. After all, the reporter interviewed over 300 people to build evidence to support his story. That sounds an awful lot like a witch hunt to me.

Part 3. I can't help but feel bad for Larry Craig, his wife, and his kids. What if this media circus leads Craig to commit suicide? Wouldn't the media feel ashamed if that happened?!

Part 4. It has been interesting to hear the media's reaction to this tape recording. Since the tape recording was released this afternoon, some media anchors aren't sure whether to swim against the current of the rumor river or to continue to allow themselves to be swept along by the inertia of public opinion, which has been fueled by left-leaning media moguls craving a scandal among the so-called family-values Republican party. Rather than acknowledge that they may have been wrong about Craig (an embarrassing thing for an anchor to admit on TV, especially after having made ferocious accusations for the past 48 hours), some in the media are falling back on the fact the Craig pleaded guilty. But let's not forget, he pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct, not to lude behavior in a public place. He was probably worried about this incident fueling the suspicions of the Idaho Statesman, which he knew was already on the brink of publishing a nasty story about him. So he pled guilty hoping the whole incident would just go away.

Part 5. MSNBC interviewed Kevin Richards, the reporter who wrote the story in the Idaho Statesman. Now, there's an objective person to interview about this tape recording. Rediculous! Of course Richards is going to downplay the significance of this tape recording. His credibility as a journalist is on the line! He wrote the story!

Sent by Harold | 6:19 PM | 8-30-2007

I have lived in Idaho for 27 years and Craig has always considered himself to be a good judge of the "evil-doers." Now he has trapped himself between a cop and a hard place. Senators like this only take actions to further themselves in the most efficient way possible; this career politician needs to dust off the want ads because closet cases like this dont get support from the uber-reds.

Sent by L. Schritt | 7:18 PM | 8-30-2007

What a great example of a journalist altering a story so it comes out the way HE wants. Ridley's main point seems to be that there was no plausible case against Craig: "...pleading guilty rather than fighting such a weak charge? He took his suitcase in the stall and tapped his foot?" The Senator is alleged to have stared through the crack of the toilet stall door for two minutes, to have extended his foot well under the partition to make physical contact with the police officer, and to then wave his hand under the partition as well. His behavior after the the police officer identified herself would also seem to indicate guilt.

I have nothing against homosexuality. But only a reporter with a point of view to foist on us would fail to agree that there was substantial evidence of seeking sex with a stranger in a public place.

Sent by David | 9:22 PM | 8-30-2007

Entrapment of gay men--especially the most closeted, vulnerable men--is simply wrong, and has been long opposed by gay rights activists. So, I'm finding it puzzling that so many of my fellow gay rights advocates are not even trying to steer the media focus on a longtime cruel police tactic. Instead of taking the opportunity to address a longstanding issue, it appears, sadly, we're just watching gleefully as an opponent falls, turning this into another move in the ruthless game of power play politics in America.

Sent by John | 9:50 PM | 8-30-2007

I am so tired of this ...thats why I left the Republican party. Hello, anyone out there??? What about our deficit and the 50 billion about to be added? My wife and I are usually too tired for sex after caring for our children and working, my point...there is ALOT more to life than sex. Let's get our priorities straight and advance this countries standing in the world despite possibly gay and definitely stupid lawmakers.

Sent by Jeff | 9:54 PM | 8-30-2007

This has all seemed extremely odd to me from the beginning of the reports. I certainly want to know more about this Karsnia dude. I want to know if anyone can corroborate his "gay sex signals" as true. Is this officer a homophobe who gets some kick out of entrapping gays, especially closeted gays (who are the most likely to engage in this type of public facilities sexual solicitation) he can intimidate and embarrass? Did he react overzealously when he discovered whom he had entrapped this time? I mean I thought he said he usually just takes the admission and lets the perpetrators go, or did I get that part confused. Why did Craig plead? Perhaps because he has endured the pressure of having his sexual preference challenged for so long, and felt everyone would jump to the exact conclusions they now are. I have had to use a public facility while wearing business attire before, and I did spread my legs outward from the knee in a seated position to prevent my trousers from dropping all the way to the filthy floor, and I did set my roller luggage against the closed stall door (I sure wasn't going to leave it outside). If the Officer says that his left foot contacted Craig's right foot, that means his claim of Craig's left hand being the one stroking the bottom of that stall IS less plausible as it would have had to have come all the way across the Senator's body and the stall to get to that side the Officer was on; why not simply use the hand nearest the Officer? A lynch mob formed on this too quickly, admittedly due to the Senator attempting to keep it quiet, but quiet perhaps not for the reasons assumed.

Sent by charles deeter | 10:22 PM | 8-30-2007

I've already had sex with the officer. Maybe the senator was just not his type.

Sent by Andy Whitehurst | 10:32 PM | 8-30-2007

I read and then listened to the transcripts of the arrest interview and I'm shocked that it takes so little to get arrested. I don't know what Craig was thinking. Maybe he was looking for sex, and maybe he wasn't, but there were no witnesses other than the officer, and while his behavior might or might not have been suspicious, it was, part by part, and viewed in the worst light, nothing more than distasteful. Believe me, I'm no fan of Craig's, but the real criminal behavior here might actually be on the part of the policeman or the institution he serves. It is tragic that so many people can't see that, beyond the weird combination of titillation and irony, thst there is a serious issue of civil rights. Hey folks! If it can happen to a Senator, believe me, it can happen to you.

Sent by Chris Harlan | 1:16 AM | 8-31-2007

What did Mr Craig do? He peeked into the stall and fidgeted his fingers. Then he entered the stall next to Karsnia's. What happened inbetween? Smiles? Fidgeting? Tapping? How did Sgt. Karsnia signal to Craig that he (yes, Karsnia) was ready for the next step? That's how I see it - two adult men played a game of signals, apparently well known to both of them, a signal, a response, a signal, a response??? oops, one of the players was just??? teasing???
I mean, I'm not cool with Craig's hypocrisy, but I'm also sooooo not cool with witch hunting. What kind of gestures will we be arrested for? Will just one "obvious" tap be enough to put a gay man behind the bars? Craig didn't assault anybody, didn't rape anybody, didn't force anybody to do anything non-consensual. Trained and experienced police officers are used to arrest gay men for fidgeting and tapping, while rapists of women are running loose.

Sent by ela | 6:11 AM | 8-31-2007

I was working in Washington when Wilbur Mills, then the Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, one night drove his car very drunkenly into the tidal basin with stripper Fanne Fox on his lap. Now, that was a scandal to be proud reading about. Shock value of scandals has devolved into Mickey Mouse. No wonder the left is all but dead and left as an abused whipping orphan. It's a good thing I'm Buddhist and don't get all cranked up about the illusions created by the illusion makers. I spent some time in Idaho. You'd be surprised at some of the stuff that goes on in the state Ernest Hemingway chose to end it all. I don't know a lot about this Senator Craig. Don't care. Except the Peter Principle states that he was in all likelihood one of the few honest politicians.

I see where there's a news article reminiscing on how the FBI kept tabs on Coretta Scott King. Excuse me, but duh? Then I have to remind myself that the Freedom of Information Act has recently released all this information about the CIA that everyone already knew. Like using Sam Giancana to try to kill Castro and all that. Then I've got to doubly remind myself that the public needs to keep their heads buried in the sand. Illusion is the better way to avoid panic and paranoia. Sure. There was a lone gunman and he did it all by himself. Lee Harvey Oswald. Sirhan Sirhan. James Earl Ray. All three of them just up and one morning decided to become lone assassins with no help from anybody.

Sure. A halfway sane man comes to realize that people have to believe in Disney to keep themselves from running helter-skelter through the streets in sheer fearful panic. Illusions maintain tranquility in the neighborhood.

There was also an article about the controversy of the army using their Ray Gun technology for crowd control in Iraq. The non-lethal variety of weapon's technology makes a human body feel as though it's on fire inside. What a concept. In the Iraqi desert, no less. Then I got to thinking that people have a right to fear what molecular bending deterrence they can bring down on an unruly crowd. Something like that mind bending ELF wave technology the army used to capture Manuel Noriega in Panama, and drive the Branch Davidians wacky in Waco. For non-lethal technology, it's worthy of fear and respect. So, maybe the left has a valid reason to lie down and die in safety and tranquility.

Back when I was in college, I was living in an apartment complex inhabited by unruly, left wing college type crowd. There was this stately black lady who moved in. She had these mysterious looking fellows around here. Guys you didn't want to make angry. She kept to herself. It was obvious that she wore sunglasses and a wig at night. But whenever I saw her, she smiled and was cool. Asked her once if she wanted to come and party with us. Sit around and talk politics or music or whatever. Never happened. Then one morning, real, real early in the morning..bam the apartment complex is full of FBI agents swarming and screaming for everyone to get down and all that Bruce Willis movie type stuff. But the gal was gone. Someone slipped her prior warning. We later learned she was Angela Davis. She was eventually arrested. After a long and very public trial she was acquitted of all charges. But it was something that morning watching all those ticked off FBI agents running around screaming for everyone to get down.

You know, I don't know what this Senator Craig was about. Don't really care. Survival of the fittest is being able to take care of yourself. But I can't help with my gut feeling that this Craig guy was set up by somebody. Like he was close to Mit Romney. Say? You don't think the left is getting savvy again with dirty political fighting? You don't think the left is learning trade secrets from the right, do you?

Naw. My hunch is that it was his wife who set him up. Knew her husband's patterns. Paid off a cop to follow him. She probably wants a hefty divorce settlement or something really Mickey Mouse like that. Fred call aka bigbro

Sent by fred call | 10:22 AM | 8-31-2007

Doesn't anyone feel sorry for Larry Craig? Forced into a lifetime of confusion by this nation's systemic homophobia, the poor guy is now taking it from the right for his presumptive sexual orientation, from the left for reading his alleged failure as being gay, and from both sides for so mishandling the arrest/plea procedures. Larry Craig was born in the wrong land, probably a century too early, and he's now toast. He really bungled things this summer, and maybe on some level that's been his longtime personal narrative, but this is not entirely his doing. We're all complicit in this sad story.

Sent by Steve | 10:38 AM | 8-31-2007

It seems the Minn./St. Paul police have nothing better to do then hang around mens airport toilets waiting for a foot tapper? Is there a ground swell from concerned citzens for this effort? What did Mr. Craig to wrong? I think he was lured into entrapment by the secret toilet police.Has rape,robbery and murder gone away? How about Terrorism? Sounds like a railroad job to me. Shame on Minn./St.Paul and there toilet police. They acted like nazis.

Sent by Roy Suarez | 5:18 PM | 8-31-2007

Say what you want. I spent three hours and thirty dollars on food beverages, and sundries at the Minneapolis Airport recently while waiting for a connecting flight and felt like I had been fleeced. Forking over $500 dollars would have been enough for me to plead not guilty to anything if I truly was.

Sent by Richard Gibson | 8:22 PM | 8-31-2007

Och, I'm not going along with that "he knew he was in the wrong" reasoning. False confessions are the Dirty Large Secret of law enforcement. Remember the Central Park Jogger? Three totally uninvolved kids interrogated and told, "just sign this and then you can do home"? Study after study shows that about 20% of the population is so compliant with authority that they'll confess to whatever they're told to. True, one doesn't expect a Senator to be so easily intimidated by a cop, but who knows? Strange city, stressful situation (and obviously a set-up); maybe he feared something a lot worse if he didn't "co-operate."

Sent by Lars Mylad | 11:56 PM | 8-31-2007

I know little of Mr. Craig's character but I can't help being amused by this incident. It makes me chuckle.

All of these Republicans, who like the Catholic clergy are supposed to be staunch advocates of "morality" and "family values" (read: anti-gay), are turning out to be closet homosexuals.

I only wish I could see the faces of humorless Republicans across the country as they witness this offensive-to-them spectacle and ponder the fact that their beloved party may be crumbling.

Sent by Mark | 5:05 PM | 9-1-2007

Bigbro's Top Ten Ways to Get a Date While Sitting in a Bathroom Stall:

10. Take off your shoes and socks and wiggle your toes suggestively.

9. Flush cherry bomb down the toilet. But don't run away.

8. Bouncing a basketball.

7. Throw a handful of cats-eyes marbles across the floor.

6. Play Moody Blues, Knights in White Satin on Dolby surround-sound speakers, with black lights and incense.

5. The sound of a champagne cork flying.

4. Flush three times real fast. Wait half a minute. Flush two more times. Wait. Flush four more times.

3. Ricochet a Frisbee off the ceiling.

2. Yodeling.

And Bigbro's Number One Way To Get a Date While Sitting in a Public Bathroom Stall:

1. Say real loud, Wow! That was really hard shaking those Secret Service agents. But now I'm all alone.

Sent by fred call | 5:46 PM | 9-1-2007

Daniel knows "several gay men?"? Hmmmmm

Sent by lee haven | 6:42 PM | 9-1-2007

oh come one, some of you people are so disingenuous. the police man did not just say to himself that evening, "Hyuck, hyuck, Ahm a-gonna go get me one o' them fags!"
It is clear this was a problem location, people were complaining about it, and it was listed in on-line sex info sites.
Does anyone expect that if Karsnia had not been a police officer, one of those guys would have been sucking the other one off in two more minutes? And any one of you citizens might have walked into the facility and been startled by it. Two guys having sex is not something I want to see in a public restroom, but
keeping people from having sex in public places is not something the individual citizen can do...it is the job of the police.

Sent by tony | 8:57 PM | 9-1-2007

Please just get over CLINTON !!!!!

Sent by JohnK | 9:06 PM | 9-1-2007

Why do so many liberals bend over backwards "accept" the utterly outrageous behavior of cruising for b--- jobs in a freaking AIRPORT MEN'S ROOM!I mean, I don't even really like sitting down in a public toilet to take a crap under normal circumstances, I guess it's a little stretch for my "privacy boundaries". But then imagine you sit down to do your business in a public way where everyone can smell and hear, only to listen to two homosexuals groaning and moaning as they...share their intimate moments together in the next door stall! I mean, I don't feel comfortable with two straight people making out on the beach either. But at least there's some distance between them and me! I would feel totally ok with a straight couple getting arrested for having oral sex on a public beach anywhere in the country!! And people wonder why gay men are occasionally beaten up by outraged average Joes?
Why doesn't a story like this make people scratch their heads and wonder what is going on in the brains of these men to be compelled to desire totally anonymous sex in TOILET STALLS!!

Sent by Jon | 9:32 PM | 9-1-2007

Three liberal moral messages emerge from this story:
1)A closeted homosexual deserves whatever he gets from his indecent behavior because he is disloyal to the gay agenda
2)One must take care not to comment on the outrageous nature of a sizable number of homosexual men. Sex in public restrooms is just another "lifestyle choice"; who are we to judge another's sexual preferences?
3) It's always fair to question the motives and methods of the police when it comes to investigating vice crimes.

Sent by Jon | 2:15 AM | 9-2-2007

if this is how the Senator handled this situation w/out consulting his lawyer, family or co-workers is this also how he is conducting business in the Senate?

Sent by JP | 9:55 PM | 9-9-2007

I always tap my feet in the stall. But never, not even once, has some guy in the next stall tried to hit on me.

If someone ran thier hand under the stall wall, I would probably think they were out of toilet paper and offer them some.

Ignorance is bliss (until it gets me thrown in jail for lewd behavior).

Sent by Mark Wells | 9:52 AM | 10-20-2007