Thursday, February 14, 2008

EDITORIAL: Empathizing with Senator Larry Craig

According to the Associated Press, "The Senate Ethics Committee said Wednesday that Sen. Larry Craig, R-Idaho, acted improperly in relation to a sex sting last June. Craig, here on Capitol Hill in September, had sought to withdraw his guilty plea after his arrest for allegedly soliciting sex at a Minneapolis airport.

"In a letter to the Republican senator, the ethics panel said Craig's attempt to withdraw his guilty plea after his arrest at a Minneapolis airport was an effort to evade legal consequences of his own actions."

Like Pennsylvania Senator Arlen Specter, we have serious questions about the validity of the accusations brought against Senator Craig and believe, had he gone to trial, the charges have been tossed out by a court of law. Craig says he initially pled guilty with the hope of avoiding publicity.

We here in Lancaster have seen how two Commissioners agreeing to a minor violation in order to terminate a witch hunt enabled the monopoly newspapers to hound them from office. So many of us empathize with Craig, even though we detest much for which he stands.

What did the Ethics Committee find dishonorable or unethical about Craig pursuing his legal rights to withdraw a guilty plea?

The underlying ethical (opposed to legal) question is: Is consenting gay adults seeking to meet each other in a bathroom different than heterosexuals chatting up a member of the opposite gender in a bar, fitness club or church social?

The fury behind the persecution of Craig isn't that he may be gay (which is no crime), but rather because he is a gay basher and a leading exponent of family values. However, if hypocrisy were grounds for expulsion, the Senate would have difficulty achieving a quorum.

As a former prosecutor and district attorney, Specter recognized the injustice involved and spoke out. (Would that former district attorney and now judge Donald Totaro were more like Specter!) Specter deserves a lot of credit. Other senators should be ashamed of themselves.