Monday, September 3, 2007

Crime and Punishment

“The New York Times” published an Op-Ed column by Laura M. MacDonald entitled “America’s Toe-Tapping Menace,” in which the writer, referring to the recent scandal involving Senator Larry Craig’s solicitation of gay sex in a Minneapolis airport bathroom, high-mindedly declared, “Clearly, whatever Mr. Craig’s intention the police entrapped him.” Say what? As evidence, Ms. MacDonald suggests that the arresting undercover officer had to have “responded” to Craig’s “coded signals” for Craig to have been nabbed in the first place. This is like saying that if a dealer goes up to an undercover officer posing as a junkie and offers him drugs and the guy “responds,” playing along that he’s an addict before the arrest, it’s entrapment. MacDonald is disregarding the very fact that Craig – not the officer – made the first move. If this is a case of entrapment like MacDonald believes, then a heck of a lot of streetwalkers deserve to have their criminal records erased.

Which brings me to MacDonald’s second erroneous point. “Public sex is certainly a public nuisance, but criminalizing consensual acts does not help.” What world is Ms. MacDonald living in? Society criminalizes consensual sex all the time – notably with regards to whorehouses where no innocent person has ever accidentally stumbled upon a sex act (unlike, say, in a Minneapolis airport bathroom). This is not a gay rights issue. Public indecency, lewd behavior, be it gay or straight, is against the law. (And yes, soliciting sex in itself is not a crime and the airport sting is most likely unconstitutional, blah, blah, blah. Regardless, this case has zip to do with sexual orientation.) If one cannot walk around flashing others, why should he be allowed to engage in public sex? No one, especially a gay homophobic statesman, should be above the law.

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