Saturday, September 8, 2007


I confess that I have never seen the TV program To Catch a Predator, but I have seen the
promotions for it. I cannot understand why anyone would want to see these pathetic people humiliated and embarrassed week after week. I suppose the show can be justified on the basis that it provides a warning and serves some deterrent purpose, but it is just as likely to make the predators more cautious, assuming any of them actually watch the program. Finding them and arresting them serves the public good, but televising the moment mystifies me. Joy in the humiliation of others seems like a fairly lame format to justify a TV show (although I suppose American Idol does it for a while).

Which brings me to the case of Senator Larry Craig. First let me concede the irrefutable: yes, he pleaded guilty to a crime, albeit disorderly conduct. Yes, he is a hypocrite, as are all of his friends and colleagues who failed to come to his aid. It is quite ironic that it may be his repressive, anti-gay policies and those of his colleagues which may have created the need to seek gay sex in public bathrooms rather than out in the open. Yes, the police officer was doing his job, and it was not entrapment. Yes, prominent persons should not receive preferential treatment. But, should tapping one's foot and waving one's hand in an effort to solicit consenting sex warrant the death penalty?

There is very little about the Senator's voting record with which I agree. His hypocrisy offends me much more than his conduct. But I am certain that elected officials have been caught for other disorderly conduct offenses and sent home with a warning by the police officer. The solicitation of sex with a prostitute does not seem to bring ethics charges or demands for resignation from public office. His conduct certainly had nothing to do with the performance of his official duties. Let's face it: it's the "gay thing".

Would not a stern warning have sufficed rather than the destruction of an entire lifetime of public service, humiliation for him and his family and his inevitable resignation? Yes, the Senator was stupid and he brought this upon himself, but should we not have some sympathy and compassion for a person in such a high position who feels compelled to seek sex in an airport's men's room? Does the punishment fit the crime; or is this just another TV show celebrating humiliation. Gotcha!


Anonymous said...


Sadly, public humiliation as a form of punishment traces its roots back to the middle ages and beyond. Television has simply given it a wider audience. I am not convinced that this really translates in the case of Senator Craig. It is not so much television and the nation's appetite for humiliation that led to Craig's ouster. Moreover it is Senator Craig's hypocrisy that is responsible for the "death penalty" effect of his actions. Had Senator Craig been a gay rights supporter in a liberal minded state he may have survived. But to mount the bully pulpit decrying homosexuality only to be found embracing it in your private life, that is a recipe for disaster. It is always said to see a public figure disgraced. While we could debate the "gay thing" until the cows come home, ultimately the fault lies with the senator. My mother loved to say "to thine on self be true." I'm sure Shakespeare would agree.

H. Lee Sarokin said...

I totally agree, but I doubt that the Republicans would have been so anxious to see him go if he had been involved with a woman rather than a man. Hypocrisy lives in both the accused and the accusers.