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Making Our Restrooms Safe for Democracy

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Message Paul Rogat Loeb
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It isn't often that a Senator changes how I see the physical world, but Larry Craig did. Connecting through the Minneapolis airport for the first time since his arrest, I had to use the facilities, and wondered, "Is this the one?" They should put up a plaque. Or name it the Larry Craig Memorial Men's Room. After sitting down, I became hyper-aware of my surroundings, now that I knew the secret foot-tapping codes. Not wanting to inadvertently create an incident, I kept looking at the sides of the stalls and worrying that if I sat slightly too widely, the vice cops would come charging in.

Then I realized that I'd have to sit painfully widely to reach someone else's stall. And without gorilla arms, it would take a contortionist to reach beneath the divider accidentally. With my newfound awareness I've noticed the same in other restrooms as well. In fact, in three decades of flying and using airport men's rooms, no one has ever reached under my stall. Reassured, I'm now able to do my business as usual and head off for my flights.

I do want the problem to be solved, however, since our restrooms need to be made safe for democracy. I hear the Minneapolis airport is now stepping up to the task by overhauling the suspect men's room stalls, spending $25,000 to install extended metal dividers that will shave nine inches off the current foot-high gap. But I have a cheaper solution: Why not just place some stickers saying "No Republican Senators?" That would solve the problem.


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Paul Rogat Loeb is the author of Soul of a Citizen: Living with Conviction in a Cynical Time, and The Impossible Will Take a Little While: A Citizen's Guide to Hope in a Time of Fear,winner of the 2005 Nautilus Award for the best book on social change. See (more...)
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