by Charles Marowitz
(Swans - November 19, 2007) Let's say, for argument's sake, that Senator Larry Craig -- "wide stance" and all -- did make a come-on to a plainclothes police officer in a Men's Room in a Minneapolis airport on June 11th, 2007. The only crime for which he might be convicted is "solicitation"; that is, soliciting sex from another male, presumably gay or, as in this instance, pretending to be.
I tried to find a parallel charge that might be applied to a heterosexual in similar circumstances (although we have to bear in mind that Craig claims not to be gay) and, for the likes of me, could not find one. If a randy heterosexual make-out man wishes to "pull" a young, sexy chick, he is obliged to haunt singles bars, dance halls, or other such public places where straights gather. Once the object of his desire sails into view, he is obliged to "shoot a line"; that is, generate whatever fancy "come-on" he feels might initiate a conversation. That done, he would proceed to "court" the object of his affection with whatever charms he might be able to muster, be they wit, humor, or intellectual foreplay. If the member of the opposite sex responded, it is quite possible the male and female would leave together or arrange a tryst for another night at which time their mutual attraction could be further tested. Occasionally, I suppose, our macho make-out man might possibly score on the very same night -- but that is not as commonplace as films and TV episodes might lead one to believe. Women tend to spend a lot of time gauging the attributes (or lack thereof) of the man who is pursuing them for sexual favors. If he scores on the first encounter, he is a very fortunate Casanova indeed. But in most cases, a kind of sub-textual interaction is initiated, which, if he is accepted, concludes with a sexual tryst and possibly the start of an ongoing relationship -- although if one or the other partner becomes disenchanted, a one-night stand might well be all that is achieved.
The young male about whom we are speculating is engaged in sexual solicitation -- minus, of course, the formal codes and signals that seem to exist in the gay world where the placement of earrings or neckerchiefs apparently indicate certain sexual preferences. But if heterosexual solicitation is an everyday occurrence and generally accepted by the populace, it seems to me cruelly unjust to make the same activity a crime when it occurs among two members of the same sex. Indeed if we are strictly to define the common characteristics of solicitation -- i.e., intrusion of privacy, overbearing aggressive behavior, naked attempts to impose one's will on unwilling others, we must admit we are all solicited day and night by, for instance, an army of unwanted telemarketers who are guilty of precisely those encroachments. If they were not disembodied voices on the other end of a line (almost invariably from India) but persons appearing at our doorway, the case for legitimate manslaughter might well be extended to include them.
The fear in the case of Senator Craig is of course not moral, but political. If a Republican Senator is charged with the crime of solicitation and exposed to the American public as a crypto-homosexual, that is yet another nail in the coffin of the Republican Party and one they would desperately attempt to remove before it became irreparably wedged in the woodwork. The shaming of Larry Craig is nothing more nor less than the conservative reaction to sin that festers behind their attitudes regarding same-sex marriage, national health coverage, immigration, and refusing women the right to curtail pregnancy if they so choose. We saw their hysterical moral stance in full force during the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal when a random act of fellatio was thought to be calamitous enough to impeach a president and tar and feather every member of his party who didn't help construct the gallows. The overreaction to Clinton's dalliance was a clear indication of how fanatically certain Americans enforce their Islamic sense of righteousness. A blow job is to them the equivalent of someone wiping their backside with the Stars and Stripes, and the prospect of diverting millions of dollars to poor children who need medical aid, the first step on that slippery slope that leads to a Stalinist dictatorship or, what is worse, a British-styled socialized medicine. One cannot escape the vengeful morality of those whose code of honor is so strict that atheism, marital infidelity, government regulation, and abortion loom on their horizon like the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.
I have a profound resistance to Larry Craig's political beliefs and would love to see him replaced by a more liberal politician, but when I consider the hangman's fervor with which people in his own party would like to tighten the noose around his neck, I am more appalled by their vengeful scruples than I am by the victimless crime of solicitation. On a par with other firmly held convictions, it is not as gross as sending young men and women to their certain death in Iraq or applying torture to people who are denied legal counsel or the right to a fair trial.
It is hard not to view Larry Craig as yet another victim of the widespread homophobia that flourishes in the twisted minds of a majority of Americans. His being banished to the outer reaches of the Congress is a palliative to those hypocrites who believe that by so doing, family values, moral rectitude, and Love of God are in some way strengthened. It is part of the same impulse that would like to see gays herded into especially upholstered, perfume-scented, pink-curtained Auschwitzes so that the more upright members of society might be protected once and for all. And, to the extent that it is a reverberation of that bigotry, it behooves us to point out that there is a grueling inequality between the way young heterosexual men and women are permitted to maneuver their way into bed and the way we would penalize gays for acting upon the same sexual impulses.
Let us start a petition declaring that heterosexuals who are not formally introduced to one another in the presence of their respective families with a representative from their appointed church standing by are banned from seeking out sexual partners. Surprising as it may be, the names of hundreds of thousands of Americans supporting such a resolution might be collected in a matter of days. Then, we would have to sit down and seriously begin to confront the hypocrisy that throws a pall over America as forbiddingly as the ozone layer that threatens the survival of our planet.
If you find our work useful and appreciate its quality, please consider making aMoney is spent to pay for Internet costs, maintenance and upgrade of our computer network, and development of the site.