MARC ACITO: The summer I was 16, I was hanging out drinking beer in the woods, when we saw the cops pull up nearby.
MELISSA BLOCK, host:
Commentator Marc Acito.
ACITO: Naturally, we ran. But it was dark and, well, we've been drinking beer. And I grazed my head on a low-lying branch. It was just a bad scratch. But anyone who's had head wound knows it makes a lot of blood. Within seconds, I looked like Carrie on her prom night. What I'll never forget was turning to my friends gathered around me panicked and terrified as I asked for their help, only to see everyone back away. It was just a temporary reaction, but it taught me an important lesson: In a moment of danger, the human instinct is to get as far away as possible.
I've been thinking about that summer night as I watched Senator Larry Craig's friends leave him for dead while the media buzzards come to pick at his carcass, friends like Senator John McCain, Norm Coleman and Christopher Bond have all backed away, as Craig bleeds.
Judging from the cheerful chatter on the Internet, liberals and conservatives seem to have finally found an issue to unite them. Everyone seems to think Craig should go and fast. I'll admit it. As a gay man, I've enjoyed Craig's humiliation. I haven't had this much fun since Congressman Mark Foley and Pastor Ted Haggard were both featured in the media in their own gay sexcapades.
After all, Senator Craig received a zero rating from the Human Rights Campaign on gay rights issues. If he's a closeted homosexual who voted against gay citizens, then he deserves the comeuppance, right? But as we all step away from the bleeding man, perhaps we should use that opportunity to take a look at the larger picture. Men like Foley and Haggard and Craig did not create the homophobia that they espouse. They inherited it. And if Senator Craig is gay, one can only imagine the toll a life in the closet has taken. I'm not excusing men looking for love in all the wrong places. But no one seems bothered or even interested that Craig might have been entrapped, that there might be something wrong with the police using a cute, blonde cop as bait.
If Senator Craig were an ordinary citizen, would the gay community be decrying this arrest as another example of police harassment? The modern gay rights movement began in 1969, when the police raided the Stonewall Inn. You'd think we'd be more sympathetic. But no, we're all too busy enjoying our schadenfreude.
But as the joke videos get forwarded to our e-mails, and the late-night comics take their shots, we should remember that we're watching Larry Craig's life implode.
In 1998, a man who was arrested for public sex killed himself after he was identified by the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. If Senator Craig's story ends the same way, none of us will be laughing.
BLOCK: Marc Acito lives in Portland, Oregon.
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.