Shostack + Friends Blog Archive


Senator Craig and the Behavior Detection Officers

…airport police Sgt. Dave Karsnia, who was investigating allegations of sexual conduct in airport restrooms, went into a stall shortly after noon on June 11 and closed the door.

Minutes later, the officer said he saw Craig gazing into his stall through the crack between the door and the frame.

After a man in the adjacent stall left, Craig entered it and put his roller bag against the front of the stall door, ”which Sgt. Karsnia’s experience has indicated is used to attempt to conceal sexual conduct by blocking the view from the front of the stall,” said the complaint, which was dated June 25.

Idaho Senator Says He Did No Wrong.”

My first thought on hearing this was that Sgt. Karsina clearly flies less than I do, because there’s no other place to put your bag other than against the stall door, and important TSA security advisories tell you not to leave your luggage unattended.

Now, I don’t know about you, but I’m worried about the police in our airports. They just might not have enough to do. Odds are good that Karsina was deployed to the airport to watch for terrorists, and other serious threats. That there were no visible terrorist threats makes it easy to re-deploy him to things that people might be complaining about, like perverts in the bathrooms.

When we add additional “behavior detection officers” (“that’s right, your honor, he was behaving”), what’s going to happen? They’re going to detect freaks and hippies and peace protesters.

A major problem with secret rules is that they tend to come to reflect prejudices of the day, like gays. A problem with very low frequency problems is that it’s hard to stay focused on them, rather than the pervs in the bathroom.

It seems odd to me that people have sex in airport bathrooms. You have to go through security to get there, other people will be walking in. But if there are complains of people having sex in the bathroom, the right solution would be to have a bathroom attendant, not a cop. (As Kip Esquire points out.)

[Updated: struck the word “self” before “important TSA security advisories” and corrected “Senators” to “perverts.” Emergent Chaos apologizes for the chaos.]

10 comments on "Senator Craig and the Behavior Detection Officers"

  • Dan Weber says:

    But if there are complains of people having sex in the bathroom, the right solution would be to have a bathroom attendant, not a cop.

    Can an attendant make an arrest, or otherwise restrain the people from leaving? If not, then an attendant would stop the problem for today and in one bathroom, but he wouldn’t stop the problem when the attendant moves onto another bathroom.
    On the other hand, arresting a few of the people doing the undesirable behavior would probably make the place less palatable for an extended time, even if you only get them on petty charges like “lewd behaviour.”
    When something is happening that you want to stop, putting in punishments for people we catch doing that behaviour is a fairly common and straightforward way to achieve that goal. It’s surely not the only method, but there’s nothing crazy about it.
    If you will excuse the car analogy, we don’t stop drunk drivers by checking everyone for sobriety before they start their car — we punish those we catch doing it. (Although some methods of catching them are less tasteful, like road blocks.)

  • Justin Alcorn says:

    Roadblocks definitely blow your analogy away. And I got a ticket for not wearing my seatbelt because of one. But drunk driving kills thousands every year. Anonymous fellatio doesn’t.
    Bathroom attendants DO work. Men having sex in bathrooms is an odd ‘perversion’, but they’re not going to do it when people are around. We’re not talking about predation here – we’re talking about an odd, undesirable, but essentially consenting adult behavior. Are we really so interested in arresting gay men looking for anonymous sex, or are we more interested in simply making the bathrooms somewhere where a guy can walk into a bathroom without having to witness it?
    Just put up a sign that says ‘Mensroom attendants are on duty’, have someone check each bathroom every few minutes, and they’ll find somewhere else for their anonymous sex. And when you DO find them, you don’t have to arrest them – you just have to interrupt them and tell them you are calling security. When I was a teenager working in movie theatres, that’s what we did when we found people in ‘compromising positions’ in the bathrooms – and in the theaters. We never felt the need to have a cop perform an undercover sting operation.

  • nick says:

    They could go back to those coin-operated stall doors. Maybe they could have a special room, perhaps off the smoking room. It would be kind of the opposite of the ‘family’ restroom that have the diaper changing stations. Of course, that brings up a whole different set of Senators…

  • beri says:

    Finally, a new use for those spy cameras.
    And cheaper than an attendant. And works nights and weekends

  • Dan Weber says:

    But drunk driving kills thousands every year. Anonymous fellatio doesn’t.

    If you want to debate whether or not anonymous bathroom sex is a serious crime or not, that would be a very interesting discussion. However, that’s an entirely different discussion than I was having.
    God knows that the Senator Craig story brings up all sorts of issues about power and shame and secrets and hypocrisy and homosexuality and puritan attitudes and all that. It makes it very easy for anyone to throw the conversation off the rails by switching to one of those hot-button issues. (If this happens regularly here, please let me know; I may have gotten the wrong impression.)
    So I’ll summarize my point with appropriate bold-face:
    If you take it as a given that you want to stop people from having sex in the bathroom, then setting up punishments for people who violate those rules is an entirely appropriate way to discourage the given action. It’s not the only way, of course.

  • yoshi says:

    My advice to you is to read the police report which is available online on the smoking gun because you are making a lot of invalid assumptions.
    Btw – the Mpls-StP airport is a large space with large number of restrooms not some restaurant – you cannot place attendants in all of them. Btw – looking for anonymous sex isn’t the issue. Its -having- anonymous sex in a public place that is the issue.
    And if you ever flown internationally (i honestly don’t know where you are from) – you would run in behavior “detectors” in most airports (at least in europe and the middle east). The fact is that they work and are a hell of lot more reliable than doing random searches on old people and middle easterners.
    (I am amused that the cop in question was recently involved with busting a bicycle rider at the airport and being sued. perhaps this was his punishment?)

  • Tamzen says:

    Apparently there was an ongoing sting operation with at least 40 previous arrests for lewd behaviour in the restrooms in that airport.
    Bu I do agree with Adam. Where else are you going to put your carryon? Hell in most older airport stalls you and your luggage can’t even fit in without serious contortions. Wow. What if those struggles were interpreted as an invitation for sex?

  • Ginger says:

    Like it or not anonymous sex does kill. It is more often than not unprotected sex and risks HIV-AIDS. And lest you think the only victims are the participants, think again. There can be an unsuspecting wife or other sex partner at home.
    But the real issue is THIS IS A PUBLIC PLACE. How do you suggest mothers send in their sons who are too old to go with Mom into the women’s bathroom? There are many people using bathrooms in airports. The men engaging in this activity have no right to take over the airport bathrooms for their nymphomaniac behavior.
    The police are not out there looking for this crime. They are there because other people have been disgusted and have called someone to complain.

  • Chris says:

    A man cannot be a nymphomaniac, Ginger.

  • Adam says:

    There’s a difference between anonymous and unprotected. I think you mean to say that unprotected sex often leads to the transmission of deadly diseases. While names are powerful, they can’t ward off AIDS.

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