Robert Knight

As Sen. Larry Craig (R-Idaho) was figuratively dragged out of the restroom and into the spotlight this week, the media have been ignoring another compelling story about sex in public toilets.

Fort Lauderdale’s Democratic mayor, Jim Naugle, has incurred the wrath of homosexual activists for publicly addressing the problem of men having sex in public places. 

It all came to a head, so to speak, in July, when the mayor backed an idea that would frustrate the thrill seekers: switching to automated stalls.  Automated stalls make it difficult for trolling swingers to hook up, and they protect small boys from walking in on lewd behavior. 

The reaction was brutal.  The local South Florida Sun-Sentinel ran a piece effectively accusing Naugle of gay-bashing.  Predictably, the “gay community” came out of the woodwork, attacking the mayor as “homophobic,” “bigoted” and full of “hate.”  Critics said Naugle was undermining Broward County’s carefully cultivated reputation as a “gay-friendly” vacation destination.

Responding to the media-fed flood of criticism, the mayor, like so many pols before him, announced that he would apologize at a press conference on July 24.  The local press gathered, notebooks ready and cameras rolling, to enjoy the latest example of self-immolation on the pyre of political correctness.

Naugle delivered an apology all right, but not the expected groveling before the rainbow flag.  Instead, he apologized to “the children and parents of our community” for not being informed about “how serious the problem was of sexual activity that’s taking place in bathrooms and public parks.” Then he made a shocking assertion: that Broward County leads the nation in new AIDS cases. 

Say what? Did he just do what we think he did? How many Americans do you suppose would have found this interesting: a newsy city’s mayor under siege who, instead of kowtowing, comes out fighting and even raises the stakes? 

National press coverage of the Naugle saga has been skimpy.  CNN finally covered the story on August 6.  In a news segment of 5 minutes, 10 seconds, CNN gave Naugle a total of 35 seconds to speak. Reporter Susan Candiotti noted Naugle’s explosive claim that Broward has “a record increase of new AIDS cases in the county, the highest in the nation,” but she didn’t explore the significance of the statistics.


Robert Knight

Robert Knight is an author, senior fellow for the American Civil Rights Union and a frequent contributor to Townhall.