This week the ACLU decided to stick their oar in regarding the vexed question of whether Larry Craig should have been prosecuted for soliciting gay sex in a restroom stall in Minneapolis Airport. Their logic was interesting. There is apparently case law in Minnesota to say that one has an expectation of privacy when in a bathroom stall, even if the stall is in a public place.
Therefore, the ACLU argue, it is entirely legal to have gay sex in the stall of a public toilet in Minnesota, since you’re doing it in private. Therefore, they conclude, the police had no reason to charge Larry Craig with lewd conduct; he was merely expressing an interest in pursuing perfectly legal private toilet sex in a public restroom–or to use what I gather is the technical term preferred by enthusiasts, ‘cottaging’.
Now, I don’t know whether it will stand up in court (ho ho), but it seems to me that the expectation of privacy pretty much ends once you stick your hand under the partition and wave at the guy in the next stall. Larry Craig wasn’t being spied on; he drew attention to himself. The ACLU’s decision to support Craig seems strange; I can only assume that they are trying to be fairer than fair.
What I find more bizarre, though, is the claim from many right-wingers that liberals would all have been defending Larry Craig if he was a Democrat. Maybe I’m out of touch. Perhaps they’re right, and the ACLU are merely speaking for all liberals in defending the right to cottage.
Well, I’m going to leap out of the toilet stall here and now, and declare that as a liberal, I am not in favor of cottaging.
See, when I go to the bathroom, I have only one kind of job in mind. I just want to find a clean toilet, perform whatever regrettable business is required, wash my hands, and be out of there. I do not want to be solicited for sex by a politician, not even if it’s Barack Obama. In fact, if Dennis Kucinich’s wife snuck into the men’s room, I still wouldn’t be interested. When I’m looking out for Number One, or Number Two for that matter, I don’t want a conversation. I don’t to make eye contact, let alone any other kind of contact. In short, I do not want to know that the rest of humanity exists. I just want a quiet, private moment to myself.
And that’s under the best of circumstances; because if it’s an airport restroom, I’m not going to be feeling at my best. I am not going to be feeling sexy. Although I may be about to take a ride on a jumbo, I’m not going to be interested in yours. While I’m always excited to get a glimpse into a cockpit… You get the idea. In the airport, you can pretty much guarantee I’ll be tense, tired and irritable. Sex of any kind will be the last thing on my mind.
OK, so you’re a Republican and you want to pick up guys for anonymous sex? Go to a gay bar. If the lavatory stall thing is such big turn on, I’ve got a radical idea: hang around a lavatory stall at a gay bar. You’ll be far less likely to bother someone who doesn’t want to be bothered.
In fact, if there’s enough pent-up demand, someone will probably start an exclusive vacation resort that offers toilet stall bridal suites, perhaps with nice padded seats and a ventilation system that can dispense a range of exciting fragrances. But in the mean time, your local gay bar will have to do. Life is harsh.
See, it’s all about context. Things which are perhaps appropriate in one context, may not be appropriate in a different context. Just because it’s appropriate to lie naked in a harness and get fisted at a private S&M club, that doesn’t mean we have to consider it appropriate in other similarly exclusive venues, such as the NorthWest Airlines executive lounge in Lindbergh Terminal.