Saturday, October 6, 2007

More Bathroom Antics

Andrew Sullivan links to this story about a Republican candidate arrested for public bathroom antics which in turn links to this Times-Picayune article. It seems that Joey DiFatta, a Republican Councilman and (now former) State Senate candidate has twice been detained for bathroom incidents in a mall. It's worth observing that DiFatta was never convicted in connection with either arrest, and that he denies any wrongdoing. So he may well be innocent.

Here's the story:

Kenner police issued a misdemeanor summons to DiFatta in September 1996 in connection with a peeping Tom incident in a men's bathroom at the former Mervyn's department store at The Esplanade mall, according to a Kenner Police Department incident report obtained by The Times-Picayune.

The report states that DiFatta watched a man use the bathroom while peering through a hole in a bathroom stall. The man held DiFatta until police arrived, at which time he was issued the misdemeanor summons and ordered to appear in court.

DiFatta said the man eventually withdrew his complaint, and the case was dismissed. A spokeswoman for the Kenner Police Department said the record was expunged.

Tapping foot in stall

In the second incident, Jefferson Parish deputies working an undercover detail in a men's bathroom at Dillard's at Lakeside Shopping Center in March 2000 stopped DiFatta after he indicated a desire to engage in sex with an undercover deputy in an adjoining bathroom stall, according to an interoffice memorandum written by Sgt. Keith Conley, one of the deputies involved in the investigation.

The report said DiFatta slid his foot into the deputy's stall and tapped the deputy's foot. In the report, Conley noted that such activity is common among men to indicate a willingness to participate in sex.

The deputy inside the stall, Detective Wayne Couvillion, responded by tapping his foot, and DiFatta reached under the partition and began to rub the deputy's leg, the report states.

The detective asked DiFatta, "What do you want?" according to the report, and he replied, "I want to play with you."

DiFatta also used a hand signal to indicate that he wanted to engage in sex and used language that indicated the same, according to the report. Conley, who is now the Kenner city attorney, confirmed the report's authenticity Thursday.

The incident did not culminate in an arrest because the deputy in the bathroom with DiFatta terminated the investigation after several children entered the bathroom, the report states. Conley noted in the report that DiFatta appeared well-versed and comfortable with the routine.

Sully's take:

I should say my sympathy is ultimately with the Republican. I don't think this stuff is a threat to public order or should be subject to police stings. But, sadly, if you are representing a party that believes in the necessity of publicly stigmatizing homosexuals, you're pretty vulnerable to this kind of trauma.

Forget Sully's loaded phrasing and gratuitous swipe at Republicans. What struck me was how casual and accepting he seems to be about this sort of activity in a public restroom. He seems to think it's, well, normal.

It's not the same "threat to public order" as, say, bank robbery, but when I'm using a public restroom, I don't want some other guy peering at me. Now maybe Sullivan doesn't mind if guys check him out as he's peeing. Heck, maybe he likes it. But most guys don't, and yes, it is a "threat to public order," because it's something that can provoke a physical confrontation. Likewise, while I'm a little less directly impacted if two guys are going at it in the stall next to me, I don't think it's something that bathroom-users ought to have to put up with. Perhaps police bathroom stings are going a bit far, but it really is legitimate for the cops to prevent people from having sex in public.

More to the point, Andrew Sullivan has spent a good amount of energy advancing the cause of tolerance for homosexuals -- most particularly arguing for gay marriage. Now, I realize that there is no logical connection between bathroom sex and other gay rights issues, but he might consider at least acknowledging that having sex in a public bathroom is a really gross thing to do. It's gross in the (rare) case when straight people do it, and it's gross when gays do it. But this casual acceptance of public gay sex -- something widespread enough that gay guys have developed an elaborate code -- certainly fuels the argument of guys like Clayton Cramer who notice that certain rather repulsive antics don't get much condemnation from within to the gay community.

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