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NPR's Scott Simon Shares His Take On Events Large And Small

Reflections on the Sen. Larry Craig Case

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Sen. Larry Craig's (R-ID) arrest for actions in a public bathroom leads to questions about whether the police should be out looking to arrest people for their sexual behavior.


I think I've finally realized what's made me uncomfortable about the arrest of Senator Larry Craig. Mr. Craig didn't leave the Senate this week although he'd said he would resign at the end of the month after pleading guilty following his arrest in a men's room at the Minneapolis Airport. Instead, he was in court this week trying to withdraw his plea.

It's not the crime for which Senator Craig has pleaded guilty that makes me squirm, it's the exaltation among so many that another hypocritical politician has been exposed. When I was a young reporter in Chicago, police used to go on what they called, please forgive the expression, fruit busts. Police officers knew about bathrooms in bus stations, bars and parks where they could find men trying to meet up with each other. The men they arrested - consenting adults -often turned out to be married with wives and children. It is painful to recall today how many lives were ruined by such arrests. Happy families shattered, useful careers obliterated, decent people were driven to suicide.

I thought those days were past. I simply do not understand why in 2007 police are still going out on fruit busts. It sounds like something for Tehran not Hennepin County, Minnesota. Mr. Craig was charged with disorderly conduct. That's the kind of charge you usually brought for throwing beer cans off a roof or smashing store windows. Larry Craig didn't drop his drawers, groped someone or approached a child. He tapped his foot and wiggled his fingers at someone he thought was a consenting adult.

For those who believe Mr. Craig deserves this humiliation because he's a hypocrite who publicly disdains homosexuality but refuses to accept that he might be gay. I guess by now I have seen enough of life that I prefer to see someone as a real, complicated human being rather than brand him or her a hypocrite.

Human life, including sex, abounds with hypocrisy, faithlessness, carelessness and people who say I love you when they only mean I want you. People who say my spouse doesn't understand me when they really mean my spouse knows me too well. Most adults can supply their own examples.

Maybe Senator Craig, whether or not he reassesses what he is, which is none of my business, will begin to understand the anxieties of gays who still live in fear and inequality. And I wonder if people who applaud Larry Craig's arrest because they believe a hypocrite has been unmasked really want to arm the police with a moral license to set traps that catch people in hypocrisy.

That's the kind of trap most of us would step into someday.

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Simon Says

Simon SaysSimon Says

NPR's Scott Simon Shares His Take On Events Large And Small