Sunday, September 02, 2007

Keywords: flimsy, entrapment, who cares?

This whole Senator Craig story about airport bathroom hookups seems pretty flimsy. Not a word was spoken, yet the cop somehow knew that tapping one's foot in a restroom stall means "I am looking for gay sex," rather than "I hope I finish in time to catch my flight."

Now, which one is the gay one?

I am usually overjoyed when a conservative, gay-hating, family-values Conservative hypocrite is caught with his pants down, but this story is just odd.

12:00 PM - Cop enters stall, noticing that not all stalls are occupied.

12:13 PM - Cop notices Craig standing outside his stall, fidgeting. Cop implies that Craig had targeted him for sexual mischief. Cop doesn't seem to think that all the stalls could have filled up in the intervening 13 minutes, and that Craig may be fidgeting because he has to go. He reports that Craig looks through the crack between the door and the stall, from three feet away.

12:15 PM - Cop notices person in stall to his left departs, and Craig enters the stall, placing his bag against the door. Cop writes, "My experience has shown that individuals engaging in lewd conduct use their bags to block the view from the front of their stall." My experience has shown that there aren't too many choices about where to place one's bags in a cramped restroom stall.

12:16 PM - Cop notices that Craig taps his right foot. "I recognized this as a signal used by persons wishing to engage in lewd conduct." I recognize this as a signal that a person is fidgety, anxious, musical, trying to keep their foot from falling asleep, or Fred Astaire.

Cop moves his "foot up and down slowly." He doesn't say whether he does this because he is signaling his interest in gay sex, but by including it in the report, he implies something of the sort, in which case: entrapment, anyone?

Eventually, Craig moves his right foot far enough to touch the cop's left foot. According to the cop's report, he doesn't move his foot out of the way, which I would do reflexively if someone encroached in my area of the stall. So why didn't the cop move his foot?

12:17 PM - Craig somehow contorts his body so that he swipes his left hand along the right side of his stall, slightly under the divider, palm up, fingertips showing on the cop's side of the wall. Cop doesn't mention whether this is some sort of signal, based on his vast experience of lewd behavior.

12:19 PM - Cop goes in for the kill by flashing his badge under the stall with his right hand, and pointing with his left hand towards the door. More contortions, apparently. Craig, speaking for the first time, says, "No!" but the cop is insistent, and Craig leaves the stall "without flushing the toilet." How suspicious, apparently, that after four minutes of fidgety behavior, Craig has not yet relieved himself, or not enough to warrant flushing the toilet, or just left in a hurry because a cop ordered him to.

The cop again notices that not all the stalls are occupied, proof that Craig had singled him out for lewd behavior. The cop then informs Craig that he is under arrest. The charges? "Interference with Privacy" (for peeking through the crack between the door and the stall from three feet away) and "Disorderly Conduct" (hard to see how the statute applies in this situation).

The report doesn't say that Craig ever uttered a word before being shown the badge, and doesn't say that Craig engaged in any lewd behavior. Craig's mistake was in pleading guilty in hopes of making the situation go away. He may have been guilty, and may have intended lewd conduct, but from the police report, I'd say that it would have been pretty easy to get the charges thrown out.

Paul Hipp does an excellent audio noir recreation of the police report here.

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