I love a man in a uniform

There’s some interesting but not very surprising commentary on Sarah Palin from some Republican legislators:

“The only thing she seemed interested in at that point was talking about she was dealt with unfairly in the press,” Gara said.

State Rep. Jay Ramras, a Republican and chairman of the state House Judiciary Committee, put it simply: “Governing is hard.”

He said it was actually a misnomer that Palin had returned from her stint on the GOP ticket last fall as a changed person.

“She didn’t like the job when she had it here. She didn’t enjoy governing. She just enjoyed the ceremonial aspects of job.”

This is eerily Bush-like. Everyone remembers “it’s hard being president” as well his Dubya’s love of playing dress-up.

The national media’s fascination with the White House experience (typified by Brian Williams’ breathless “To be in the hallway when the president walks by with a handful of M&Ms, popping them in his mouth as he goes to visit his chief of staff — it was unbelievable”) falls in the same general category. I’ve always thought that if Palin were just a touch less ignorant and frightening, the national media might have loved her.

It’s easy to focus on the narcissism of symbol-and-ceremony and the tendency it has to elevate stupid, lazy political leaders. But a fixation with flags, flag-pins, badges, and uniforms is also a hallmark of creeping authoritarianism. For eight years, the United States was ruled by a president who defined himself by his flight suits, belt buckles and old enemies’ guns. And now we’re a country where a uniform and a badge entitles you to arrest people for speaking loudly on their porches. These two facts are not unrelated.






201 replies
  1. 1
    Bill H says:

    Many years ago, still during the cold war years, I was talking with a guy who had grown up in Soviet-dominated Poland. He was in the US on some sort of university exchange. I asked him what most impressed him about America.
    I will never forget his response:

    “You don’t have to be afraid of your police.”

  2. 2

    Is it me, or does everyone who really knows Palin think she’s slightly less obnoxious than a dose of the clap?

    And now we’re a country where a uniform and a badge entitles you to arrest people for speaking loudly on their porches.

    You speak as though this is a new thing, white man.

  3. 3
    Short Bus Bully says:

    “But a fixation with flags, flag-pins, badges, and uniforms is also a hallmark of creeping authoritarianism. For eight years, the United States was ruled by a president who defined himself by his flight suits, belt buckles and old enemies’ guns. And now we’re a country where a uniform and a badge entitles you to arrest people for speaking loudly on their porches. These two facts are not unrelated.”

    This nails it.

  4. 4
    DougJ says:

    You speak as though this is a new thing, white man.

    I didn’t mean to convey that.

  5. 5
    Malron says:

    But a fixation with flags, flag-pins, badges, and uniforms is also a hallmark of creeping authoritarianism. For eight years, the United States was ruled by a president who defined himself by his flight suits, belt buckles and old enemies’ guns. And now we’re a country where a uniform and a badge entitles you to arrest people for speaking loudly on their porches. These two facts are not unrelated.

    Say it 1,000 times, or until a Cambridge policeman shows up to arrest you for disorderly conduct.

    Its pretty telling that wing nuts are freaking out about Obama taking away all their rights while they’re defending a white police man arresting a black professor who was exercising his right to free speech on his own porch.

  6. 6
    Zifnab25 says:

    So can we get some kind of “Master of Cerimonies” position that the Palins and Bushes can run for, and leave the actual governing to the Clintons and Obamas? Is that what would make everyone happy?

  7. 7
    GregB says:

    Sarah Palin would have been the perfect person to have done the lip-sinking( I meant synching-fap, fap,fap) for the Chinese Olympics opening cermony.

    -G

  8. 8
    slippytoad says:

    Its pretty telling that wing nuts are freaking out about Obama taking away all their rights while they’re defending a white police man arresting a black professor who was exercising his right to free speech on his own porch.

    I’m always amazed at the number of people, even liberals, who will jerk their knees and stand up for the right of authoritarian thugs to be thugs. Of course, maybe we’re just wired that way

  9. 9
    PurpleGirl says:

    Zifnab25 — Do you mean something along the lines of the division of jobs that the United Kingdom has, among other examples? The Prime Minister of Parliament holds the executive governing power as head of government and the monarchy (currently Queen Elizabeth) is the show post of leader of country. I’m not sure how to move to that with our current branch system, but it is something that political scientists have talked about for years. (Unfortunately I don’t have any of my old college textbooks or notes at home right now, they’re all in storage.)

  10. 10
    stinkwrinkle says:

    @Zifnab25: I have thought that a professional ceremonial smirking idiot monkey class would be a good thing for this country. Give them ranked titles so they can battle each other for status. Keep them out of important political positions. I believe the British have a system like this.

    (PurpleGirl beat me to it! I am slow and old.)

  11. 11

    @Zifnab25: Bush was a cheerleader and Palin a beauty queen so it only seems fitting we allow Republican to ride in the front seat as long as they don’t touch the controls. I kind of like this idea. Then when they say something silly it can be pointed out that they don’t have any real authority but look darn good in really cool outfits.

  12. 12
    jenniebee says:

    @Zifnab25:

    So can we get some kind of “Master of Cerimonies” position that the Palins and Bushes can run for, and leave the actual governing to [puppet masters]

    That’s been the Republican strategy for some time now, or haven’t you noticed?

  13. 13
    Crashman06 says:

    @Short Bus Bully: Wasn’t it Sinclair Lewis who said fascism would come to the US wrapped in the flag and carrying the cross?

  14. 14
    amk says:

    Paging BoB. That’s a repub talking about your beloved sarah.

    Like a typical little fascist she is, she wore teh patriotism on her b**bs today to raise a tingle along bob’s thigh.

  15. 15
    Meg says:

    I knew there would be a Palin post today. Excited I get to use this: Sarah Palin kills liberty from a plane

  16. 16
    Fulcanelli says:

    Sarah Palin’s Tweets and comments about how once she resigns as Governor she won’t have to be so “P.C.”, presumably to warn us that pretty soon we’ll be hearing how she really thinks, is a double edged sword she’ll impale her self on… But her personality disordered thinking disables her from realizing this. Clearly this is good for the Republican chances in 2012. Heh.

    The comments DougJ quoted above are perfect examples. Hard to believe perhaps, but I think a good many politicians, pundits and media bobble heads can still maintain a little respect for a sitting state Governor and may have been holding back with their criticism of her various gaffes and all-around political ineptitude.

    She’s not the only one who won’t have to be concerned with political correctness once she leaves office and she’s going to get her ass handed to her in a hurry by the blogs and the media if she starts shooting off her mouth worse than she already has, which is inevitable. And I can’t wait.

    Popcorn futures are looking good, I hear.

  17. 17
    JimPortlandOR says:

    Recall that there was some major controversy when G. Washington became the first President. Should be ‘his honor”, “his majesty”, “the right honorable”, etc.

    Washington settled the issue by saying that “Mister President” was the correct form of address.

    The escalation in reverence and submission to the prez seems to have all occured after the founding fathers were all gone, starting perhaps with Lincoln, but reached its apex with Reagan and again with GW Bush.

    It seems like their is something archetypal (Jung!) about preference for and submission to national/tribal leaders – perhaps not quite in the genes, but at least very close.

    We forget that they sit on the toilet just like us, and probably their breath stinks more than just after getting out of bed.

    Just why should the national press corps stand up when the President enters the room? (or often, just a company CEO).

    Having a head of state separate from head of government wouldn’t likely reduce the subservience but instead create two authority figures (Medvedev and Putin?).

    I have no clue how to reverse the slide toward Caesar-like idolizing of leaders. Maybe Jefferson was more right than we thought, and we should schedule revolutions every two generations or so.

  18. 18
    Brick Oven Bill says:

    This federal power grab is of far greater significance than some whiney hack Harvard grievance professor telling off a cop about his moma on the porch who nonetheless pulled off a brilliant, and likely pre-meditated, career move. Hello speaking fees. Hello Oprah book club.

    Trouble is brewing in Tennessee and Montana, as initiated by the Obama Administration. This gets no attention though. Sarah gets the attention.

    Me thinks some people are scared of Sarah Palin. This is why she gets so much attention. There is no need to be scared of Sarah, simply calm down and enjoy her striking good looks and always interesting communications.

  19. 19
    Fulcanelli says:

    @amk: You said “Candyman” three times. Oh noes…

  20. 20
    amk says:

    @Fulcanelli:

    boob..bob…. same thing. No difference.

  21. 21
    Fulcanelli says:

    BOB, did this well documented Bush Administration Federal Power grab get your bowels in an uproar at the time like Obama’s supposed violations do? Inquiring minds need to know.

  22. 22
    smiley says:

    And now we’re a country where a uniform and a badge entitles you to arrest people for speaking loudly on their porches. These two facts are not unrelated.

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/32.....ork_times/

  23. 23
    ironranger says:

    @Meg:
    Wow, that’s brutal.

    I haven’t heard a thing about flag pins in a very long time. Have the R’s completely given that one up? Do they even wear them anymore? When they were beating that drum, I was pretty amused to watch some them ranting about Dems not wearing the flag pin while the flag pin was noticeably missing from their own lapels.

  24. 24
    SpotWeld says:

    Does anyone else get the feeling that Palin basically said to her state “Okay, the gig was good, but now I can be just as famous and popular without all this messy political work. Bye”

    I just can’t comprehend why she couldn’t just finish out her term… if only to trade political juice for book deals or whatever.

    Also., B.O.B. Shut up.

    That is all

  25. 25
    Brick Oven Bill says:

    I think I’ve been pretty consistent Fucanelli. This was Bush’s biggest power grab, as far as I can tell, re-posted: National Continuity Coordinator. Click the links for the actual verbage.

    To which the best web-site ever made the comment:

    “Interesting times we live in. It appears that the grown-ups recognize that there are problems. The stories we will have to tell. Remember your oaths, my brothers in uniform. The Constitution was written by James Madison, not George Bush.”

    President Obama has the power to cancel NSPD-51, but he won’t.

  26. 26
    YellowJournalism says:

    @amk: I saw a clip of that appearance today. The sweatshirt was appropriate for the event, but it still seemed an odd choice seeing as it was really more for the message rather than the team it was endorsing. From conservatives4palin (not blocked because the buttons aren’t showing up):

    “Palin, who is resigning and leaves office on Sunday, used the occasion Friday to sign autographs and hand out hot dogs. The governor – dressed casually in blue jeans and a sweat shirt – was mobbed by well-wishers who offered up babies, books, calendars, skateboards and even their hands for autographs.”

    I wonder how you get Sharpie off a baby’s forehead.

  27. 27
    r€nato says:

    Its pretty telling that wing nuts are freaking out about Obama taking away all their rights while they’re defending a white police man arresting a black professor who was exercising his right to free speech on his own porch.

    Too bad Gates wasn’t a gun-toting member of the NRA; woulda been fun watching wingnut heads explode while they tried to suss out which side they should take on that one.

  28. 28
    r€nato says:

    Palin: proof that beauty queens are not suited to jobs that require something more demanding than looking pretty and winking into the camera.

    Hell, beauty queen Carrie Prejean found the job of being a beauty queen too demanding…

  29. 29
    inkadu says:

    While we’re talking of fascists & fashion, George W. Bush was starting to militarize his civilian outfits — adding epaulets, embroidered “George Bush, Commander in Chief…” That sort of thing. Bush wanted to be in uniform more than he wanted to be in a suit. Unfortunately for him, the Commander in Chief doesn’t get a uniform.

    Didn’t stop the bastard from trying.

    @smiley: Actually, the headline is wrong. Cops DO get paid to be publicly abused.

  30. 30
    Brachiator says:

    And now we’re a country where a uniform and a badge entitles you to arrest people for speaking loudly on their porches. These two facts are not unrelated.

    Well said.

    The mantra of some conservatives used to be “If you have nothing to hide, then you have nothing to fear” to rationalize violations of privacy.

    But with the Gates case it was interesting to see so many people invoke a new truism that we should all automatically and meekly submit to police authority:

    You have nothing to fear if you do what you’re told.

  31. 31
    xyzzy says:

    For eight years, the United States was ruled by a president who defined himself by his flight suits, belt buckles and old enemies’ guns. And now we’re a country where a uniform and a badge entitles you to arrest people for speaking loudly on their porches.

    These two may not be unrelated, DougJ, but cops have been arresting people for speaking out of line since day one, all the way back through history to the first caveman cop. Why is this a surprise to anyone?

  32. 32
    inkadu says:

    You know… I’m having a slight change of heart about police officers and public abuse… I mean, for all the power police officers have, they have very “legitimate” means to counter people calling them every nasty name in the book.

    Imagine if you went to your DMV and started cussing out the person behind the counter while they were processing your registration or something. They would be well within their rights to say, “I can not process this until you restrain your language… and if you do not, I will call security to have you ejected from the building.”

    Now imagine if you’re the cop GIVING the ticket? You’re only valid response, really, is to walk away. And that’s exactly what the cops should do. But I don’t like the idea that anyone should be treated with such little respect, as a class, but there really is no legitimate way to counter it. And with the normal antagonism against police officers in their daily lives, if they didn’t extralegally enforce a certain amount of respect, they might contribute to an environment where they are in danger.

    Can someone explain to me how this situation can really be addressed in black-and-white legal terms?

    I think the informal solution has been to have two-tiers of response; depending on the class of the person. Low class people have to give deference to police officers or their heads get banged into the police car; higher class people have more leeway.

    The implicit outrage about Gates is NOT about universal civil rights. It is about CLASS rights. Black people are (rightly) offended that no amount of money or accomplishment moves them out of the “show respect, boy” category; and white people are concerned that this flap means cops can’t continue to be social enforcers against lower classes (especially minorities).

    Also, complex.

  33. 33
    Michael says:

    Boise cops like to threaten sodomy and genital torture with their tasers.

    http://www.dailykos.com/story/.....ital-Taser

  34. 34
    Et Tu Brutus? says:

    Total Crap- I’m 50, and for at least the last 36 years, depending on your station in society, you have had to fear the police; moreover, a careful reading of American history will reveal this situation to have existed throughout the 1800’s and early 1900’s as well. Ethnicity plays some part, but socio-economic status is a more salient indicator of your potential interactions with the police ( Gates maybe prominent, but not particularly wealthy). The abuse of police power falls under the category of common aspects of human nature ( see the Zimbardo study, which although dealing with imprisonment, speaks volumes about the human tendency to abuse positions of authority), just as does fatigue and frustration often leading to inadvisable temper tantrums ( your willingness to accord police officers that which they most crave, respect for their authority, should show inverse corelation with your ability to immediately summon high priced attorneys acting on your behalf).

  35. 35

    “Okay, the gig was good, but now I can be just as famous and popular without all this messy political work^ing. Also. Bye. ”

    Fxd.

  36. 36
    freelancer says:

    Palin’s most recent tweet:

    Great 3rd(& final) Governor’s Picnic in hometown tonite;loved the focus: honoring military&Blue Star families;no politickin’ just patriotism

    Politickin’ ‘s not tha life fer me…I reckon I’m gon’ write me a book about Merka, you betcha.

    Fucking vapid hick.

  37. 37
    Skepticat says:

    “But a fixation with flags, flag-pins, badges, and uniforms is also a hallmark of” utter, complete shallowness and childishness.

    (I miss the formatting-for-dummies.)

  38. 38
    Brachiator says:

    @Et Tu Brutus?:

    speaks volumes about the human tendency to abuse positions of authority.

    It’s not just about the abuse of power. It’s about the insistence that to be a real American, to be a good citizen, to demonstrate the proper degree of patriotism and love for country, we must willingly submit to police authority.

    It is doubly, trebly, ironic that wingnuts with a deep fetish for liberty, a hard-on for guns, and an insane suspicion that Obama is going to put them all in New Gitmo paradoxically are among those who most vehemently insist that Gate’s arrest was appropriate.

    It is disheartening to see so many presumably non-wingnuts jump through all kinds of psychological hoops to rationalize some kind of primitive need to submit to authority.

    And it’ not simply a matter of whether this is new. It goes against everything that this country supposedly represents and its founding principles. You could even say that the founders and many who have come afterwards have fought against instinct and against the tendency to quietly put up with abuses of authority.

  39. 39
    inkadu says:

    @freelancer: I remember walking outside of a Memorial Day Parade with a Ned Lamont sign. Joe Lieberman was there, walking with a Republican, and a bunch of folks with “Support the Troops” etc. But as soon as one of the official parade barkers got a look at my sign, he started yelling over his bullhorn, “Hey! No politics at the parade! Get out of here!”

    I guess he and I had a different idea on the meaning of “liberty” as well as “politics.”

    Down in the lizard brain of chauvinists is the idea that pro-military sentiment is devoid of politics.

  40. 40
    John Cole says:

    All I know is I have to spend the next forty years listening to middle-aged white men whinge about the unfair treatment they are receiving at the hands of their dark masters, like I have in the past couple of weeks with Ricci and Crowley, I’m just going to swallow a gun right now.

    No matter what Gates said or did, and I will allow that he was a total arrogant, cocky asshole, because he kind of just strikes me that way, the charges were dropped immediately, which should tell you what kind of police work led to the arrest.

  41. 41
    DougJ says:

    No matter what Gates said or did, and I will allow that he was a total arrogant, cocky asshole, because he kind of just strikes me that way, the charges were dropped immediately, which should tell you what kind of police work led to the arrest.

    I don’t think that’s necessarily a fair assessment of Gates.

  42. 42
    Ailuridae says:

    @inkadu: There is something very much in the public response to this that is avoiding class in the discussion. I think if a similar event happened in the UK where the desire to discuss class and avoid race is discussions is the mirror opposite of American discussion of such issues the subsequent discussion would be different.

  43. 43
    WingNutz says:

    @Fulcanelli: OT, But are double edged swords always negative? I mean, sometimes you have to nail the guy sneaking up behind you on the backswing…

  44. 44
    Brachiator says:

    @John Cole:

    No matter what Gates said or did, and I will allow that he was a total arrogant, cocky asshole, because he kind of just strikes me that way, the charges were dropped immediately, which should tell you what kind of police work led to the arrest.

    The blogger digby has an interesting post on the Gates affair in which she quotes a police officer who chillingly attempts to justify a requirement that the public should always meekly submit to police authority: it’s for our own good!

    It cannot become commonplace for people to be allowed to scream at the police in public, threatening them with political phone calls, deriding their abilities, etc. Routine acts like rendering aid to lost children, taking accident reports and issuing traffic violations could be derailed at any time by any person who has a perceived grievance with the police.

    So it’s not that the police work for us and are granted authority to investigate crime and make arrests by the will of the people. It’s that cops are special beings who can withdraw their assistance if we ever cross them.

    The digby link here:

    http://digbysblog.blogspot.com.....-been.html

  45. 45
    ploeg says:

    @Zifnab25:

    I nominate Zaphod Beeblebrox. (That Douglas Adams chap is looking more and more like Nostradamus all the time.)

  46. 46
    gnomedad says:

    Strikes me that a Palin Tweetstream is just begging for a web app that grabs them and does something amusing.

  47. 47
    AhabTRuler says:

    if they didn’t extralegally enforce a certain amount of respect, they might contribute to an environment where they are in danger.

    And as soon as the environment becomes threatening to the public order, there is a justification for police action. The problem is that there is no indication that there was any threat to the police officer. FFS, they still have guns, and Tasers, and asps, &c.; the idea that we are to become a lawless nation because we don’t address the police with the proper terms of respect and etiquette is moronic. And, extralegal is illegal, therefore both a crime and a violation of a LEO’s duty.

  48. 48
    Ailuridae says:

    @John Cole:

    Arguing that the charges were incorrect or the police work was shoddy merely because the charges were dropped ignores the fact that the powerful and well-connected have legitimate charges against them dropped all the time precisely because they are powerful and well-connected.

    Gates had already set into motion this process when he was on the phone (presumably with someone from Harvard) demanding that they get the Mayor of Cambridge involved. So he may or may not be guilty of what Crowley arrested him for; arguing that he can’t be guilty ignores a basic reality of the powerful and their relationship with Law Enforcement (and how different that is that the vast majority of people who are relatively powerless in their dealings with police.)

  49. 49
    JK says:

    I was very disheartened to hear and see so many knee jerk responses supporting Crowley’s actions to arrest Gates.

    Screw the beer at the White House idea of Obama. He needs to take Gates and Crowley to a Red Sox game at Fenway Park. The Red Sox need a presidential photo op to turn their season around.

    I hope Sarah Palin puts her new found free time to good use. First, she can see a surgeon to remove her head from her rear-end. Second, she can learn to speak a second language – English.

  50. 50
    gnomedad says:

    If there is so much competition for jobs (i.e., those contentious exams), why shouldn’t we make willingness to accept high professional standards the hiring criterion? It’s not as if we’re drafting people to be cops.

  51. 51

    It cannot become commonplace for people to be allowed to scream at the police in public, threatening them with political phone calls, deriding their abilities, etc.

    Oh noes, not teh threatening political phone calls and derision of abilities! The only thing worse than that is the … COMFY CHAIR!

    Jesus Christ, any cops who are that damn delicate need to take up jobs where they’re less likely to have their sensibilities offended. Like fainting couch tester.

  52. 52
    gnomedad says:

    @Zifnab25:
    Cool, Palin can run for queen. It worked for Naboo.

  53. 53
    Bruuuuce says:

    “Governing is hard.”

    Thank you, 1994 Barbie.

  54. 54
    JK says:

    I’m troubled by some accounts of Gates allegedly saying something to the effect “Do you know who I am”? If Crowley’s actions were over the line, it doesn’t matter whether Gates was a distinguished college professor or an unemployed person living on food stamps.

    Gates has supposedly said his experience makes him want to make a documentary about racial profiling. WTF Gates? Believe it or not, racial profiling was a real issue before you were arrested. This strikes me as incredibly pompous and egotistical. I think John has a good point in describing Gates as a cocky asshole. Only a cocky asshole would say “Eureka, I have to make a film about racial profiling, because I just experienced it firsthand”.

    It would have been refreshing to see Crowley get a suspension but the system apparently doesn’t work.

  55. 55
    Redshift says:

    @Zifnab25:
    Yeah, I remember way back in the Reagan administration I said Reagan would make a perfectly good king (in the constitutional-monarchy model.) It would make good use of his qualities that were widely admired (telegenic, good communicator, etc.) while leaving running the government to the people who were actually competent at it instead of his ideologues and corrupt cronies.

  56. 56
    Sputnik_Sweetheart says:

    I live in a neighboring town of Cambridge, and I am incredibly disturbed by the attitude by many people that I know that Prof. Gates somehow deserved to be arrested because he didn’t do what the cop asked fast enough, yelled at the cop, and initially refused to step outside. They also refuse to even consider there may be a racial aspect to the incident and think that Gates is making a big deal to help his career. Also, they feel safer knowing that someone called the cops on Gates and the cops “investigated” the incident (i.e. the cops are doing their job and the neighbors are looking out for one another). I personally would rather not someone assume that a man is breaking into house when he had a key, unlocked the door, and was pushing on it to get it open (it had jammed) with (I have to assume considering he just came back from a trip and his taxi driver helped him get the door open) a taxi cab out front and luggage on the porch in the middle of the day. I would also rather not have the police come and abuse their power by arresting a man who had done nothing illegal in his own house. It does not make me feel safe at all. On the contrary, I am terrified.

  57. 57
    Brachiator says:

    @Ailuridae:

    So he may or may not be guilty of what Crowley arrested him for; arguing that he can’t be guilty ignores a basic reality of the powerful and their relationship with Law Enforcement…

    You’re implying that if the cop arrested Gates, then he must have done something wrong. An arrest by itself doesn’t establish guilt of anything, whether or not the person arrested calls the mayor or an attorney.

    And in Gates’ situation it’s pretty simple: No charge, no trial, no conviction, no guilt. Of anything. Period.

    (and how different that is that the vast majority of people who are relatively powerless in their dealings with police.)

    You’re trying to have it both ways, suggesting that Gates might be guilty of something while simultaneously arguing that his status allowed him to quickly get relief from a false arrest.

    In a similar situation a powerless person might have been arrested on an obviously bogus charge and still be sitting in jail. And no one would know about it or blog about it.

  58. 58
    AhabTRuler says:

    I’m troubled by some accounts of Gates allegedly saying something to the effect “Do you know who I am”?

    Yeah so am I, however, perspective tells me that on one hand we have a professor acting in a presumptive or arrogant manner, and on the other, we have a police officer arresting someone for being a jerk.
    What’s the difference you ask? (hint)

  59. 59
    JK says:

    Last night, CNN interviewed an African American woman who works for the Cambridge police department. She said she had voted for Obama, but that his comments led her to decide not to vote for him again.

  60. 60
    Et Tu Brutus? says:

    “It is disheartening to see so many presumably non-wingnuts jump through all kinds of psychological hoops to rationalize some kind of primitive need to submit to authority.”

    I mentioned nothing about any need to submit, rather a tendency for those in position of authority to abuse said position, a tendency we all share, which is only thwarted by a high degree of self-awareness. It is generally contraindicated to get in the face of someone who not only needs respect, but has the means to enforce compliance to that need, unless your power trumps theirs. This is purely a matter of survival, which you may feel free to put to the test yourself at anytime, via interaction with a cop, county clerk, supervisor, etc. Let me be clear that IMO, Gates, Crowley, and even Obama all share blame for blowing this crap up: Gates and Obama for showing that human tendency to let fatigue and frustration lead to intemperate speech/behavior , Crowley for abusing his position of authority.

  61. 61
    Redshift says:

    @JK:

    Gates has supposedly said his experience makes him want to make a documentary about racial profiling. WTF Gates? Believe it or not, racial profiling was a real issue before you were arrested. This strikes me as incredibly pompous and egotistical. I think John has a good point in describing Gates as a cocky asshole. Only a cocky asshole would say “Eureka, I have to make a film about racial profiling, because I just experienced it firsthand”.

    Oh, bullshit. He’s made a few documentary films before, and believe it or not, there are a lot of “real issues” that he hasn’t made films about. Personal experience often inspires someone to focus on an issue in their work; it doesn’t mean he didn’t believe it was a real issue before. It just wasn’t his area; he’s primarily a literary critic and literary historian.

  62. 62
    KG says:

    @17: actually, Washington preferred the title “Your Excellency”. It was Ben Franklin, if I recall correctly, that came up with the title Mr. President

  63. 63
    Redshift says:

    @JK:
    Heh. Take “African American” out of that sentence and ask yourself if such a person would have been put on TV.

    “I voted for the president but he said something that I didn’t like about the place I work and about people I know personally, so I wouldn’t vote for him now.”

    A dog-bites-man story if I’ve ever heard one.

    Atrios’ maxim strikes again.

  64. 64

    @JK: Journalism at its finest. Maybe CNN can find an African-American who works for CPD* and won’t vote for Obama because he won’t release the vault copy of his COLB.

    *Please say the woman they interviewed is a cop.

  65. 65
    slag says:

    One of the other elements of this Gates thing was reading how the President apparently “lowered himself” by discussing such an issue in the first place. Apparently, it was supposedly beneath the “Office” for the President to engage on this level. I never ceased to be amazed when people unhesitatingly, unashamedly bend their knees toward persons of a certain status. All I could think when I read those obsequious ramblings was, “Hey-I pay that dude’s check! Nothing that impacts me is beneath the President.”

    I want no more kings.

  66. 66
    KG says:

    As for the division of head of government/head of state – we could do something similar to what the French do, where the president is both while his party controls parliment, and the PM is head of government when the government is divided. I don’t know if this is the way it still works, but that’s what I remember from my Euro governmentt class in college. I’d suggest the Speaker of the House get that role, or the President Pro Tem of the Senate become the de facto majority leader and get the job. Of course, then we would run into the problem of what happens when the Congress is split

  67. 67
    JK says:

    @Redshift:

    No, it’s not bullshit.
    Gates’ comments that his arrest makes him consider making a film on racial profiling come across as egocentric and self serving. If an issue is important enough to invest time and money, it shouldn’t make any goddamn difference whether or not you have had 1st hand experience with racial profiling.

  68. 68
    geg6 says:

    OT because this entire Gates/Crowley business is too stupid for words and people are arguing way too much on the basis of legal definitions of which they are ignorant, let’s talk about me. How bad a weekend is geg6 having? Glad you asked. Got cash from the ATM the other day when I was in a hurry and distracted. I didn’t need my debit card until today to get gas as I am almost empty. No debit card. I am positive I left it in the machine. Wouldn’t the bank contact me in that case, though? It was my bank whose machine I used. No weird activity in my account. And the bank is, of course, closed for the weekend. I have $5, no gas, no cigarettes, and no $ to do my laundry in the apartment laundry room. My man is out of town, so I can’t borrowq from him. And no one picks up at the 800 number. How frustrating is it to have money and no way to access it?

  69. 69
    freelancer says:

    @Cole:

    All I know is I have to spend the next forty years listening to middle-aged white men whinge about the unfair treatment they are receiving at the hands of their dark masters, like I have in the past couple of weeks with Ricci and Crowley, I’m just going to swallow a gun right now.

    Boo-yah.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TG4f9zR5yzY

    @WingNutz:

    I mean, sometimes you have to nail the guy sneaking up behind you on the backswing…

    Wow. Form a gayer sentence. I dare you.

  70. 70
    AhabTRuler says:

    @geg6: Almost as bad as having access to one’s bank account, but no money to access!

    SRSLY, do you have a check and a friend who could cash it for you? (I mean, really, who has checks anymore?)

  71. 71
    JK says:

    I used to think the title of biggest asshole on cable news was shared by Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity, and Bill O’Reilly. Now I have to add Lou Dobbs to that list. To hear this sanctimonious asshole get on Obama’s case for his comments about Gates’ arrest after giving a platform to the birthers, made me want to reach thru the TV and mess his hair up.

  72. 72
    geg6 says:

    AhabTRuler, not that I seem to be able to reach on a Saturday afternoon. I am extremely frustrated. Think I’ll go yell at a cop and maybe feel better. ;-)

  73. 73
    Ailuridae says:

    @JK:

    For the record, by any definition, there is no evidence here of racial profiling. An eyewitness at the scene told Crowley she had just seen two African-American men force their way into the house. Here eyes didn’t deceive her – that is what happened. More importantly, Gates clearly knew he had just shouldered his way into the home and that Crowley’s investigation wasn’t just legitimate it should have been welcomed.

  74. 74
    JK says:

    The Next Line of Attack Against Gates –

    A Gatesgate At Henry Gates’ “Bogus” Charity?
    http://www.riehlworldview.com/.....arity.html

    I expect dingbat Mika Brezinski, the dummies at Fox and Friends, Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity, Bill O’Reilly, Rush Limbaugh and every other right wing radio nutjob to be all over this story by Monday.

  75. 75
    Emma Anne says:

    @kommrade reproductive vigor:

    It isn’t that police abuse their power, especially with minorities, that surprises me. That has always been true, and I’ve known about since I had my first black friend to explain things to me.

    It’s the attitude of the American public about it that surprises and worries me. The submissiveness, the kissing the whip. It is like torture – yeah, it happened before Bush, but at least it was supposed to be an aberration. We were supposed to shut it down when it was made public, and make changes to keep it from happening again. Now, there is a big chunk of America that seems to like the fact that we torture people and that the police routinely taser people for sassing them. When did we become such a nation of obedience and authority worship? Yuck.

  76. 76
    Brachiator says:

    @JK:

    Only a cocky asshole would say “Eureka, I have to make a film about racial profiling, because I just experienced it firsthand”.

    How do you know that he just experienced it firsthand?

    This is just as presumptuous as John Cole’s presumption that Gates is a cocky asshole.

    Part of what happened would make a good farce had it not become so politicized. Gates comes back from a long trip to China and finds that he can’t easily get through his front door. Then, he no sooner gets into his house than a cop shows up to investigate a call of a break-in.

    I have to wonder how many people would have been tired, exasperated and just outright annoyed that they couldn’t just go and take a goddamn nap when they got home after a long trip, but instead had to prove that they weren’t a burglar after having to break into their own house.

    And what if he were? You say, “If Crowley’s actions were over the line, it doesn’t matter whether Gates was a distinguished college professor or an unemployed person living on food stamps.”

    Equally, if Crowley’s actions were over the line, it doesn’t matter whether Gates was a pompous egotistical jerk or a meek, retiring lamb.

    By the way, what’s so odd about Gates wanting to make a film about his experience? He came back from China after having made a documentary film about the cellist Yo Yo Ma. Making films is what he does.

  77. 77
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    There was never any reason to blow up the racial component of this thing. There is no evidence racism was a factor in any way, other than the babblings of the execrable Gates. So instead of starting a national conversation about what is acceptable police behavior in regards to maintaining a position of authority over the populace, including the all too frequent taser torture of otherwise defenseless citizens and the less frequent -but still regular group beatings administered by both white and black cops, we get a stupid diversion featuring the forces of good trying to fit the square peg of police overstep and typical power abuse into the clean round hole of racial bias.

    So we coulda had an interesting conversation that went something like this: a prominent Harvard professor, old and requiring a cane to walk, was arrested and spent four hours in jail for what exactly? and if this can happen to a member of the overclass, what rights do the rest of us really have at the hands of the state?

    Of course, that debate would likely be smothered in the crib by some bulletproof asshat claiming that it’s you, Joe Citizen, that allows a police state to exist by refusing to allow yourself to be beaten, tasered, arrested and jailed as evidenced by the wanking of some here.

  78. 78
    Zifnab says:

    Hehe. I’m glad so many people liked the idea. Maybe it’s something to campaign on.

    Zifnab for President, 2020!

    Abortions for some, ego-inflating ceremonial positions for others!

  79. 79
    JK says:

    @Ailuridae:

    I’m not labeling the Gates arrest as racial profiling, I think abuse of authority by police is more appropriate. My point was that I was disappointed by Gates statement about wanting to make a film on racial profiling following the incident. I don’t like the attitude he’s expressing that a film on racial profiling is now validated simply because he just had a run-in with the police.

  80. 80
    Ailuridae says:

    @Brachiator:

    I may believe that Gates is guilty of disorderly conduct but thats not the point I made. Anyone who presumes that an influential, well-connected person who has charges dropped after the initial arrest can’t be guilty of the crime they were initially charged with is making incredibly specious claims. Gates might or might not be guilty but asserting that because Gates’ charges were dropped he could not have been guilt ignores the very real political reality of the powerful being dealt with by a different standard than the vast majority of society.

    There is no more validity in suggested the charges must be false because they were dropped after the initial arrest than if someone were to claim that the charges must be true because the Cambridge Police officers are now strongly pushing for the charges to be reinstated.

  81. 81
    AhabTRuler says:

    @Just Some Fuckhead:

    There was never any reason to blow up the racial component of this thing.

    You may be entirely correct, but Gates’ could only view his experience through the lens of being a black man in America. Now it can be argued that given his particular field of study, he should have been more aware of such particulars, but as has been stated before, there was only one person involved in that situation who was expected to act professionally, and it wasn’t the homeowner.

  82. 82
    Zifnab says:

    @Just Some Fuckhead:

    There was never any reason to blow up the racial component of this thing. There is no evidence racism was a factor in any way, other than the babblings of the execrable Gates.

    Yeah, sorry. I disagree.

    The fact that this was a blue-collar cop arresting an Ivory Tower black guy for the unconscionable crime of talking back to the fuzz lends a deeply racial component.

    Not necessarily because the event itself was the product of racism, but because it conjures up all the other times when a dark skinned person was busted for Driving While Black or picked up for loitering near the White Folks Only side of town or otherwise harassed or punished more harshly based on skin tone than a white neighbor.

    When you see a black cultural icon treated unfairly by the police – even if a white cultural icon would have been treated just as unfairly – it dredges up all the muck in the pond that has been floating just beneath the surface… again.

    Until we curb our enthusiasm for race-based policing practices, every perceived racial slight will ignite the kindling stacked high by hundreds of actual racial slights committed across the country that aren’t brought into the national spotlight.

  83. 83
    DougJ says:

    a prominent Harvard professor, old and requiring a cane to walk, was arrested and spent four hours in jail for what exactly?

    Yeah, I agree.

    As I see it there are two possible things that the Gates arrest could mean:

    1) Black people can be arrested for sassing a cop in their own home.

    2) Anyone can be arrested for sassing a cop in their own home.

    I don’t like either possibility. And, unlike Ailuridae, I find the idea that this happens all the time, that the statutes are written exactly to allow this sort of thing, and so on, completely terrifying. The more he argues that, the more scared I become.

  84. 84
    geg6 says:

    My last dip of the toe into this…I agree with Fuckhead that this whole thing has become TEH STOOPID and what could have been a good conversation about the limits of police authority in these troubling times has degenerated into the usual pissing match of racial grievance (on all sides, to be fair) and authoritarian posturing. Especially when the law here is quite clear in MA and is the MAIN reason these charges got dropped with 99% surety. I’ll reference it one last time as it is the legal standard and also references numerous cases as precedent and legal backup. Please look up the Mallahan case (I’d link but can’t from the CrackBerry). End of story.

  85. 85
    jenniebee says:

    Screw the beer at the White House idea of Obama. He needs to take Gates and Crowley to a Red Sox game at Fenway Park.

    I know he’s president, but it really is just impossible to get tickets for Sox home games anymore…

  86. 86
    JK says:

    @Brachiator:

    I don’t support the decision by Crowley to arrest Gates. I thought Gates statement about wanting to make a film on racial profiling as a result of this incident simply reflected a degree of pomposity on his part. All I’m saying is that it shouldn’t have taken this incident for Gates to decide that bingo racial profiling is a very big problem and I need to make a film about it. Given the fact that Gates is a distinguished and accomplished scholar, I would have hoped that racial profiling had been on his radar screen prior to his arrest.

  87. 87
    Ceri B. says:

    JK, you may not know this about Gates:

    In 1964, when Henry Louis Gates, Jr. was fourteen years old, he suffered a hairline fracture of the ball-and-socket joint of the hip while playing touch football in his hometown. He didn’t realize the severity of the injury until a few weeks later when the joint sheared apart while he was walking. The white doctor who examined Gates shortly afterward questioned the boy about his injury as well as his career plans. When the young Gates replied that he wanted to be a doctor and then correctly answered many questions about science, the doctor made his diagnosis. He told Gates to stand and walk, and the young boy fell to the floor in intense pain. The doctor then turned to Gates’s mother and explained that her son’s problem was psychosomatic — a black boy from Appalachia who wanted to be a doctor in the mid-1960s was an overachiever. Years later Gates wrote in an article for The New York Times that “‘overachiever’ designated a sort of pathology: the overstraining of your natural capacity.” As a result of the misdiagnosis, Gates’s right leg is more than two inches shorter than his left. As a result of that injury, Gates walks with the aid of a cane.

    (As written up here.)

  88. 88
    AhabTRuler says:

    @geg6: The conversation was fucked from the start, and has been for decades. You can’t talk about police abuse of power without mentioning the issue of race.

  89. 89
    Davis X. Machina says:

    Gates and Obama for showing that human tendency to let fatigue and frustration lead to intemperate speech/behavior , Crowley for abusing his position of authority.

    Apples and oranges.. A casual acceptance, leading eventually to an abundance of the first leads to a pissy society, albeit a free, pissy, society. A casual acceptance, leading eventually to an abundance of the latter, I’m not so sure…

  90. 90
    Ailuridae says:

    @AhabTRuler:

    You may be entirely correct, but Gates’ could only view his experience through the lens of being a black man in America

    I think Gates certainly could have looked at it through the lens of being a black man in America who just broke into his own home because that’s the reality of the situation. There is a weird tendency in people discussing Gates’ initial behavior to not just equivocate his very clear overreaction to the situation but to presume that there was no other way he could possibly behave.

  91. 91
    JK says:

    @DougJ:

    Anyone can be arrested for sassing a cop in their own home.

    The arrest of Gates has me feeling exasperated. Congress needs to spell out the ground rules. How many times can I say “fuck you” or “go to hell” to a police officer before getting arrested?

  92. 92
    AhabTRuler says:

    Has he really never dealt with the subject at all? I have no idea, as I am not familiar with his work (although I had read about the DNA tests at the time).

  93. 93
    kay says:

    @Ailuridae:

    But you’ve found evidence of class bias. Gates was on the phone to Harvard Real Estate Services. A rental property group. Harvard owns the home, and he needed someone to come out and fix his door.
    You’ve somehow surmised that he was “on the phone with someone from Harvard” trying to get to the Mayor.
    Harvard Real Estate Services sounds like a ridiculously roundabout way of reaching the Mayor.

  94. 94
    Ailuridae says:

    @DougJ:

    And, unlike Ailuridae, I find the idea that this happens all the time, that the statutes are written exactly to allow this sort of thing, and so on, completely terrifying. The more he argues that, the more scared I become.

    Is it the privilege of front pagers here to build completely inaccurate strawmen of someone’s position to malign them? I’ve been pretty open that I think both disturbing the peace and disorderly conduct are overly broad in every state in America so I am not arguing that at all.

  95. 95
    Comrade Mary says:

    He didn’t break into his own home: he opened the back door with his key and then tried to help the driver move the stuck front door.

    Rinse. Repeat.

  96. 96
    Davis X. Machina says:

    How many times can I say “fuck you” or “go to hell” to a police officer before getting arrested?

    As often as you want, without being arrested, at least just for saying it, at least in the 9th Circuit.

    904 F.2d 1372, Duran v. Douglas City, 1990, Justice Kosinzki for the majority:

    “[T]he First Amendment protects a significant amount of verbal criticism and challenge directed at police officers.” Hill, 482 U.S. at 461, 107 S.Ct. at 2509. The freedom of individuals to oppose or challenge police action verbally without thereby risking arrest is one important characteristic by which we distinguish ourselves from a police state. Id. at 462-63, 107 S.Ct. at 2510. Thus, while police, no less than anyone else, may resent having obscene words and gestures directed at them, they may not exercise the awesome power at their disposal to punish individuals for conduct that is not merely lawful, but protected by the First Amendment.

    Inarticulate and crude as Duran’s conduct may have been*, it represented an expression of disapproval toward a police officer with whom he had just had a run-in. As such, it fell squarely within the protective umbrella of the First Amendment and any action to punish or deter such speech–such as stopping or hassling the speaker–is categorically prohibited by the Constitution.

    ….

    No less well established is the principle that government officials in general, and police officers in particular, may not exercise their authority for personal motives, particularly in response to real or perceived slights to their dignity. Surely anyone who takes an oath of office knows–or should know–that much.

    *Swearing – in two languages — giving the officer the finger, etc….

  97. 97
    kay says:

    @Comrade Mary:

    He was on the phone with the rental management people. I have an idea. They have the Harvard ID with his name. Ask the property manager if he lives there. This can be accomplished from the porch.
    Gone in ten minutes. Done. Or is that too easy, without enough ego and racial, class, and social science angst?

  98. 98
    DougJ says:

    I’ve been pretty open that I think both disturbing the peace and disorderly conduct are overly broad in every state in America so I am not arguing that at all.

    So I shouldn’t have said “unlike”? You seem to be saying that (1) the law is fucked but (2) it is still fair and good that Gates was arrested. I don’t see how those can both be true. So if I’m not accurately representing your opinion, then it’s because your opinion is internally inconsistent.

    I hate to say this, but this is typical winger stuff. You hate Obama and Gates so much that you have to be on the opposite side even though other things you say indicate that you think the arrest was bullshit.

  99. 99
    geg6 says:

    Comrade Mary: Just one of the many reasons discussion of this has fallen off the rails. Too many people can’t get even the simplest facts correct, not to mention complete willful ignorance of the actual law in question.

  100. 100
    Ailuridae says:

    @kay:

    Quoting from the police report:

    I then overheard Gates asking the person on the other end of his telephone call to “get the chief”and “what’s the chief’s name?” Gates was telling the person on the other end of the phone that he was dealing with a racist police officer in his home. Gates then turned to me and told me that I had no idea who I was “messing” with and that I had not heard the last of it.

    I have no idea how you know that Gates was on the phone with Harvard Real Estate Services (that doesn’t sound like a call I would have ever made to a landlord even when U of C was my landlord) but assuming the above is accurate its a precise example of how the well-connected interact with law enforcement differently. Which was, after all my point.

  101. 101
    zoe kentucky says:

    Take what you know about the Gates arrest story and replace Gates with, say, Pat Buchanan.

    You can’t tell me that Buchanan wouldn’t have pitched a fit if a cop had treated him that way– not to mention that conservatives would have gone collectively apeshit about the Big Bad Government Thugs stomping all over Pat’s rights. Instead, because Gates is a liberal, black professor from Hahvahd, they’re more than happy to insist that cops can arrest you for sassing them in your home. Situational ethics much? These are the same people who complain about moral relativism, right?

  102. 102
    DougJ says:

    You can’t tell me that Buchanan wouldn’t have pitched a fit if a cop had treated him that way—not to mention that conservatives would have gone collectively apeshit about the Big Bad Government Thugs stomping all over Pat’s rights. Instead, because Gates is a liberal, black professor from Hahvahd, they’re more than happy to insist that cops can arrest you for sassing them in your home.

    That’s exactly my take on the winger reaction to this.

  103. 103
    geg6 says:

    Davis X Machina: I’ll just sit and wait while Ailuridae comes along and tells you that case is completely irrelevant like he did last night when I referenced the Malhallan case even though he has no legal background whatsoever.

  104. 104
    kay says:

    @Ailuridae:

    I know it because the Harvard Crimson reported it straight on the 20th, before this turned into a political rally.

    He was on the phone with property management when he encountered the officer on his porch. He didn’t make the call as a result of the encounter.

  105. 105
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    @Zifnab: When we jump to false conclusions based on the way we believe the world to be rather than carefully and judiciously examining the situation before us, we wind up where we are now.

    See also: Brawley, Tawana.

  106. 106
    JK says:

    @Ceri B.: Thanks for this information. It provides some useful perspective. I’ll give Gates more slack for his film project comments.

    @Davis X. Machina: Sorry, but I don’t feel comforted. If a police officer takes a disliking to you for some reason, he/she will arrest you regardless of what the law says. When you have a badge and a gun, you get to create your own law.

  107. 107
    AhabTRuler says:

    @Ailuridae: Thank you for finally responding to me, but as I said several time in the previous thread: it doesn’t matter</strong. As soon as Crowley had identification in hand that strongly suggested the man in front of him is the homeowner, his entire manner should have become more deferential, regardless of whether Gates was being an ass or not. It is not illegal to enter your own home by any means that you wish, including breaking the door open.

    Crowley acknowledged that he suspected that Gates was who he says he was, but that he was worried that there had been two individuals reported, and that there might be a suspect still around. If this is really the case, he should have been acting in a more tactical manner, and if not, he should have been more placatory in dealing with Professor Gates (again, regardless of Gates behavior, as long as it was non-threatening) and discovering the story.

    The burden of professionalism was and is on the police officer, and I and several other people have identified other instances, derived solely from Crowley’s official police report, where he acted in a questionable and possibly unprofessional manner. Whether Gates overreacted is not, and has never been an important factor in this discussion, regardless of what others have said. As long as Crowley had the suspicion (again by his own admission) that no crime had been committed, he should have been governed by an entirely different set of priorities and reactions, primarily that of confirming the information and exiting the situation as quickly as possible.

    Finally, the crowd of officers and citizens outside the home, the one that generated the “public good” which was being threatened (unless one believes that race riots break out every time a black man yells at the cops), was created entirely by the police, not Gates. While Crowley was justified and obligated to investigate the report, aside from Gates attitude, Crowley described the environment and encounter as otherwise low-key. Did that really require what Crowley described as several officers (with attendant squad cars, possibly with lights a’flashing), which guaranteed attracting a crowd? I would argue that this was a broader overreaction on someone’s part (possibly societies), and I say this after having spent a great deal of time watching the Metropolitan Police Department of Washington, DC operate in a far more dangerous (and fraught with racial tension) environment.

  108. 108
    Ailuridae says:

    @DougJ:

    My opinion isn’t internally inconsistent. I think the nuisance laws are overly broad. By way of analogy I think drug laws, especially drug possession laws are unjust. But as long as they are laws I want them enforced. Furthering the analogy I am pretty upset when a influential, well-connected person I know or know of doesn’t get arrested when caught in possession of cocaine precisely because of their influence. And yes that happens all the time. And, yes, many times after being initially charged the charges are dropped. If poor people are going to get arrested for possession of crack cocaine rich people should get arrested for possession of powdered cocaine. If poor people who shout at police officers for ten minutes at the top of their lungs unabated are going to be arrested for disorderly conduct or disturbing the peace rich people who behave in the exact same manner ought to be arrested as well. Those last two sentences are very clear and are also not inconsistent with me thinking the laws themselves are particularly justified.

    I don’t hate Obama in any way. Nor is there any evidence in anything I posted that I do. You’re deliberately constructing arguments I am not, nor haven’t made. Its openly disingenuous. It seems that conversations here about police overstepping their bounds with citizens revolve around a pivot/median that is roughly similar to Radley Balko’s with equal variation in either direction. Anything outside of that and there seems to be a collective desire to childishly call people names despite the fact that they are clearly stating their case and their view is likely more in line with the populace as a whole.

  109. 109
    Maude says:

    @geg6:
    Can you go to the grocery store, buy a few things and get ten or twenty over the amount?
    This sounds like something I’d do when thinking about other things.

  110. 110
    Ailuridae says:

    @geg6:

    Have you ever thought that the reason you are without cash for two days when any normal person can call about a dozen people to float them some money until Monday is because you are exceptionally obnoxious and your signal to noise ratio sucks? If not, maybe you should. I don’t believe in karma but its amusing that you have no way out of a really pedestrian bind and have to hold a pity party for yourself in the comments to a blog.

  111. 111
    Brick Oven Bill says:

    Ten bucks says Pat Buchanan is smart enough to have never locked himself out of his house. If Pat had locked himself out of his house, he would have been smart enough to shimmy his way in through the back door, as to avoid a suspicious-looking situation.

    Me, I am probably dumber than Pat, so I keep a key outside my house in a secure, undisclosed location. Then there is our Prominent Scholar.

  112. 112
    AhabTRuler says:

    By way of analogy I think drug laws, especially drug possession laws are unjust. But as long as they are laws I want them enforced.

    But you then take an entirely too credulous view of authority and police statements, one that borders on naivety. You have, from the beginning, assumed that Crowley’s account is entirely accurate and that Gates actions were unquestionably dangerous, inflammatory, and deserving of arrest. And this despite a long and well documented history where this is not the case.

    In the future when I see such comments I will take great care to resist name calling while demonstrating how misinformed they are.

    U R DOIN’ IT RONG, but I am surprised to hear that you are such a strong proponent of pie. Please, tell me more.

  113. 113
    DougJ says:

    I think the nuisance laws are overly broad. By way of analogy I think drug laws, especially drug possession laws are unjust. But as long as they are laws I want them enforced.

    I think there are some things about the law that you do not understand. There are many, many laws on the books that are never enforced. There are others that are enforced sporadically. One could argue that these laws should be taken off the books. I don’t disagree with that.

    But discretion is nine-tenths of the law. Saying that there’s a statute you don’t agree with and that the officer had no choice but to enforce it here is just nonsense.

    The last time I moved, a friend of mine who’s a retired NY cop came to the party. He said “I haven’t been to party like this in years but not much has changed except one thing: how come no one is smoking marijuana?” Yes, as a cop he went to parties where friends smoked dope. Do you think he was under some obligation to arrest them?

    Perhaps I was wrong to say you hated Obama, but clearly, you know nothing about how law enforcement generally works.

    EDIT: I know the actual expression is “possession is nine-tenths of the law” but discretion is extremely important in law enforcement.

  114. 114
    kay says:

    @Ailuridae:

    (that doesn’t sound like a call I would have ever made to a landlord even when U of C was my landlord) but assuming the above is accurate its a precise example of how the well-connected interact with law enforcement differently. Which was, after all my point.

    Ailuridae, he was calling the landlord (well, sort of, probably a contract maintenance outfit) because he lives in a rental property. Now that I’ve made it middle class, can you get past the “Harvard”?
    Why wouldn’t you call your landlord if you could not shut your front door?
    Ranting to the landlord about the policeman you just spotted on your front porch is optional, but surely you’d call the landlord?

  115. 115
    geg6 says:

    JK: In addition to the story about how Gates got his limp, I would point out that I believe the part of Appalachia that Gates is from would be the same place as our host here at BJ, West Virginia. And having grown up and lived my entire life within a stone’s throw of the lovely home of the Mountaineers, I can guarantee you that Gates knows all about racial profiling. Hell, my own little corner of Western PA is about as racially tolerant as any white cracker-run town you’ll find in Georgia or Mississippi. Though while canvassing for Obama last fall, I got many fine citizens to tell me they were voting for the n****r. So I guess we’ve evolved just a little bit.

  116. 116
    Ailuridae says:

    @kay:

    I don’t often take to knowing things from them being reported in campus newspapers in the summer. Regardless, I don’t have a particular reason to disbelieve the police report but I’ve been pretty clear that the conclusions I am making are only true if the police report is accurate.

  117. 117
    AhabTRuler says:

    Yes, as a cop he went to parties where friends smoked dope. Do you think he was under some obligation to arrest them?

    Unfortunately, DougJ, yes he is, even more so today than before.

  118. 118
    Ailuridae says:

    @kay:

    Ailuridae, he was calling the landlord (well, sort of, probably a contract maintenance outfit) because he lives in a rental property. Now that I’ve made it middle class, can you get past the “Harvard”?
    Why wouldn’t you call your landlord if you could not shut your front door?
    Ranting to the landlord about the policeman you just spotted on your front porch is optional, but surely you’d call the landlord?

    Wait, he was calling the landlord and asking for the Chief of Police? Really?

    My initial comment about class was directed at the poster who made the very good observation that much of the outrage at Gates’ arrest seemed to stem that he wasn’t provided the privilege his class should provide for him when dealing with law enforcement. Evidence that he expecting to have that privilege or right was his immediate phone call asking to speak with the Cambridge Chief of Police.

  119. 119
    kay says:

    @Ailuridae:

    That’s the thing. Both could be accurate. The police officer only heard one side of a conversation, and he entered that conversation while the phone call was in progress. He came in in the middle, heard one side, and that’s what you’re basing your whole “Gates got off because he’s well-connected” thing on.
    One more thing. Disorderly in that state is punishable with a 150 dollar fine. It’s a glorified parking ticket. Does this officer’s actions make any SENSE?
    How much is this little ego adventure going to cost the city? This is a public servant? No thanks. I don’t think I can afford him.

  120. 120
    Brachiator says:

    @Ailuridae:

    I may believe that Gates is guilty of disorderly conduct but thats not the point I made.

    Oh, I don’t know. A tired, exasperated man who has had to break into his own house and rails at a cop. Not disorderly conduct. A man who is invited to step outside to the porch of his own house, as opposed to chasing after the cop. Not disorderly conduct. Factually speaking, just using common sense.

    Anyone who presumes that an influential, well-connected person who has charges dropped after the initial arrest can’t be guilty of the crime they were initially charged with is making incredibly specious claims.

    The presumption is all on your part in making a specious claim about class. You want to believe that Gates used his influence to have the charges dropped. But while he may have enough pull to bring the matter to somebody’s attention, it does not follow that he has enough pull to get a prosecutor to drop the case.

    But more than this, I don’t think that this situation should merit any charges against any person in a similar circumstance, whether influential or a lowly nobody.

    Gates might or might not be guilty but asserting that because Gates’ charges were dropped he could not have been guilt ignores the very real political reality of the powerful being dealt with by a different standard than the vast majority of society.

    You keep misunderstanding the significance of your own post. At worst, the vast majority of people in our society may not be able to get relief from malicious, capricious and arbitrary police conduct.

    And you keep evading the question of whether the charges were reasonable in the first place. The cop uses “proper” procedure to hang a disorderly conduct charge on Gates because he wants to shut down a guy who was sassing him. The cop is using power that the ordinary guy doesn’t have, and a power that the connected don’t generally have in the same way.

    Later, a prosecutor decides the charges are without merit, or frivolous or are otherwise inappropriate. No possibility of guilt. By definition.

    Again, mere arrest does not establish guilt. But dropping the charges by definition means that a person is not legally guilty of anything, if you want to get picky.

    And no matter how you slice it, there is not much of a crime here.

    There is no more validity in suggested the charges must be false because they were dropped after the initial arrest than if someone were to claim that the charges must be true because the Cambridge Police officers are now strongly pushing for the charges to be reinstated.

    The police department wants to be vindicated. Big deal. They want to defend their brother officer and police procedure. Yeah, I get that.

    But I would feel better if they also spend some time on teaching their cops how to better defuse situations which do not require them to arrest or even detain anyone, certainly not someone in their own home who has not committed any crime.

  121. 121
    geg6 says:

    Ailuridae: Well, to be honest, fuck you. I really wasn’t trying to make the thread a pity party for me, just trying to add some levity to a thread full of stupid. Mainly due to you and your insistence that your ignorance somehow trumps actual law, case law, and common sense and logic. To address your concerns for my welfare, I have finally gotten in touch with my sister and wiil have plenty of cash tomorrow morning and another friend dropped by after hearing my message on her cell phone. She just left her place of business (a local bar/restaurant) and brought me a pack of cigarettes, a couple bottles of wine, and some veal piccata which we will eat while watching some flicks together this evening. I’ll drink a toast to you.

  122. 122
    AhabTRuler says:

    It appears that the situation is at least sparking some positive questions.

  123. 123
    RedKitten says:

    Have you ever thought that the reason you are without cash for two days when any normal person can call about a dozen people to float them some money until Monday is because you are exceptionally obnoxious and your signal to noise ratio sucks? If not, maybe you should. I don’t believe in karma but its amusing that you have no way out of a really pedestrian bind and have to hold a pity party for yourself in the comments to a blog.

    Wow — aren’t we the gratuitously nasty one today? I’ve actually seen many people in geg’s situation, due to our society being so dependent on plastic.

    After Hurricane Juan hit here, and there was no power for weeks, a lot of people were really freaking out because they just didn’t have any cash on them beforehand, and couldn’t go get any.

    Getting oneself into a “pedestrian bind” is something that could happen to any one of us, so your oh-so-wiser-than-thou comments serve no purpose other than to make you look like an utter jerk.

  124. 124
    Ailuridae says:

    @DougJ:

    Your claim about selective application of the law would be far more apt if you addressed the laws in question and how they are enforced. Police officers arrest people behaving like Gates did all of the time for disturbing the peace and disorderly conduct. Do you disagree with that assertion particularly when we are talking about the broad class of Americans who can’t demand to get the relevant Police Chief on the phone? I know this to be the case because I see people in Chicago getting brought in all the time for basically being poor, loud and drunk.

    If the default treatment for someone else behaving in the same manner as Gates without his influence is to arrest (him/her) for disorderly conduct then the default treatment should be to arrest Gates too. I have no doubt that most people behaving as Gates did are making a trip to the station … I think its clearly appropriate that Gates did too.

  125. 125
    RedKitten says:

    I know this to be the case because I see people in Chicago getting brought in all the time for basically being poor, loud and drunk.

    …in their own homes, though?

  126. 126
    Davis X. Machina says:

    When you have a badge and a gun, you get to create your own law.

    That’s not ‘law’, as understood in any reasonable society. That’s force majeure, the rule of the stronger, and it’s the-opposite-of-law. Eliminating it is the whole point of having law.

    Why are so many people in this thread jonesing for the 14th century?

  127. 127
    AhabTRuler says:

    @geg6: Glad to hear that things worked out; live well tonight!

  128. 128
    Brick Oven Bill says:

    Gates was arrested on July 16th. Average Boston humidity, July 16th: 68%.

    He had been to China, let us assume for two weeks:

    Average Boston humidity, July 2nd: 97%.

    Perhaps three week performing scholarship in China:

    Average Boston humidity, June 25th: 87%

    Data from Weatherunderground.

    Doors do not jam when the air gets dryer. The tolerances increase and doors get looser. This I know despite the fact that I did not go to Cambridge, Yale, Harvard, and Duke like the Prominent Scholar.

    Updated odds of pre-meditation: 77%. “Hi Oprah, how’s it been since the last time we talked?”

  129. 129
    geg6 says:

    Davis X. Machina: Be fair. It’s not really “so many people,” is it?

  130. 130
    eric says:

    The thing that is most intriguing about the Gates incident is the myriad of bi-poles creating potential conflicts and tension. It reminds me of Antigone and the numerous sorts of conflicts that make the drama so intelectually sustainable over the centuries and so practically intractable.

    Here, there is black-white; white collar – blue collar; liberal profession – (arguably) conservative profession; towny – non-towny; possibly ass – possibly ass. There is no way to control for any of those variables to isolate which one was most operative at a given moment in the incident. Thus, we read into the text of the incident how we fall on those various bipoles.

    So that, as in the man-woman, citizen-king, country-family bipoles in Antigone, the “truth” is a complex matrix that is ever shifting in our perceptions.

    eric

  131. 131
    Ailuridae says:

    @RedKitten:

    How exactly would the aftermath of a hurricane qualify as a pedestrian bind?

    As for my comments re: geg6 she has spent the better part of the last 24 hours berating and ridiculing me while presumably in her cups all while I behaved very civilly towards her and other posters. You may or may not derive some joy from dealing with clearly abusive behavior from a stranger on the internet; I don’t. The fact that she had to whine to people she has minimal interaction with in real life about a situation people who have basic social skills think nothing of is pretty rich.

  132. 132
    geg6 says:

    Ailuridae: Cheers!

  133. 133
    Ailuridae says:

    @RedKitten:

    Yep. I have a vets/seniors disability center (its a mid-rise) behind my condo a little NW of downtown. You can start drinking at 7AM 6 days a week in Chicago, many of them do and I would guess someone gets brought in off that property three times a week.

    There is also the pretext that “arguing loudly in a language besides English” is grounds for disorderly conduct/disturbing the peace.

  134. 134
    Ailuridae says:

    @geg6:

    I hope your sister plans on coming back later in the evening. Something tells me it might be a more than two bottle of wine night.

  135. 135
    Ailuridae says:

    @Brick Oven Bill:

    Pretty sure the door wasn’t jammed from the humidity but from a break-in attempt while he was away. Premeditation is awfully specious.

  136. 136
    Joe Lisboa says:

    Sorry John, but this place went down the shitter once Ailuridae showed up. I’m taking a break from the stupid. Because it burns.

  137. 137
    Brachiator says:

    @JK:

    I thought Gates statement about wanting to make a film on racial profiling as a result of this incident simply reflected a degree of pomposity on his part.

    Gates is, among other things a documentary filmmaker. His wanting to make a film is no more pompous than a songwriter wanting to write a song about something experienced or observed.

    All I’m saying is that it shouldn’t have taken this incident for Gates to decide that bingo racial profiling is a very big problem and I need to make a film about it.

    Sigh. You don’t know much about Gates or his past work.

  138. 138
    geg6 says:

    Ailuridae: Perhaps you’ve been drinking? My sister hasn’t been here yet. My friend Karen is here and we have decided to play a drinking game with this thread. I hate to gulp such lovely pinot noir, but it does make the time go by pleasantly and with maximum hilarity. Bet you can’t guess what triggers a gulp!

  139. 139
    Brick Oven Bill says:

    That would be a new one to me Ailuridae. Nevertheless, if your front door is jammed for whatever reason, a rational person opens the back door. He does not shimmy the front door with a friend. A rational person walks around back and opens the door.

    They will grow to like you Ailurdae, just call them creative defamitory names.

  140. 140
    Ailuridae says:

    @Brachiator:

    The presumption is all on your part in making a specious claim about class. You want to believe that Gates used his influence to have the charges dropped. But while he may have enough pull to bring the matter to somebody’s attention, it does not follow that he has enough pull to get a prosecutor to drop the case.
    But more than this, I don’t think that this situation should merit any charges against any person in a similar circumstance, whether influential or a lowly nobody.

    No and no. The claim I am making is very simple. Cole suggested that the police deciding to drop the charges had to mean the charges are without merit. That’s not true, from a simple logical framework, if there is any other possible explanation for why charges were dropped. There is, its a very common one and I don’t think a whole lot of people here or elsewhere deny its existence. I have never made the claim that Gates charges had to have merit; Cole did make the claim that they couldn’t have merit based on the fact they were dropped. So long as there is another explanation for why the charges were dropped, and there clearly is, Cole’s statement isn’t true. Nothing less, nothing more.

    Later, a prosecutor decides the charges are without merit, or frivolous or are otherwise inappropriate. No possibility of guilt. By definition.

    Are you now arguing that prosecutors only drop charges for good reason? Do you know any rich people? Prosecutors make decisions not to prosecute for all sorts of reasons including:

    1. their boss, an elected official, tells them not to
    2. they can only lose by winning

  141. 141
    geg6 says:

    BOB: Darlin’, walking around the back and coming in the back door is exactly what Gates did after he and the driver couldn’t get the front open. And then he and the driver tried to unjamb the front door, with Gates inside and the driver outside. Gates was inside the whole time until the actual arrest.

  142. 142
    JK says:

    @eric: Nice list you’ve complied. How long before this incident gets made into a movie?

    @Davis X. Machina:

    I’m not jonesing for the 14th century. We’re totally screwed as a country. The MSM has become an obscenity and abomination. Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity, Bill O’Reilly, Lou Dobbs, and Rush Limbaugh are regarded as serious political commentators by the lackeys within the Washington press corps. Liz Cheney and Megan McCain are the latest darlings of the MSM. Sarah “the Moose hunting queen of Wasilla” Palin will be followed around by journalist lapdogs drooling over all her tweets and winks. Barack Obama’s popularity is being measured and reported on every fucking nanosecond. The MSM won’t let Michael Jackson’s body decompose in peace. The NY Yankees are going to buy another goddamn World Series title while the NY Mutts remain the worst major league baseball team money can buy. Neither The Shield nor Rescue Me received emmy nominations for best tv drama series. I can’t find a job and will commit suicide.

  143. 143
    Ailuridae says:

    @geg6:

    Bet you can’t guess what triggers a gulp!

    For you liver’s sake I hope its not anything to do with honest self-reflection.

    At least you can pick a decent wine.

  144. 144
    Ailuridae says:

    @geg6:

    For what its worth, that doesn’t jibe with the reporting in the Harvard Crimson kay referenced where Gates was outside the home when Crowley arrived.

  145. 145
    AhabTRuler says:

    Somewhat, appropriate music for the thread.

    Amusing that “the basis is racist” is essentially interchangeable with “the bassist is racist,” which makes me feel bad for the bassist.

  146. 146
    RedKitten says:

    How exactly would the aftermath of a hurricane qualify as a pedestrian bind?

    The circumstances were different, but in both cases you have people who did not have cash on them and were relying solely on their credit and/or ATM cards, only to find themselves screwed when the cards proved to be unavailable/unusable. And it IS something that could happen to any one of us.

    You may or may not derive some joy from dealing with clearly abusive behavior from a stranger on the internet; I don’t.

    What on earth are you doing on blogs, then? Dealing with abusive behaviour from total strangers is a feature, not a bug. You should have seen this place back in 2005 or so.

    The fact that she had to whine to people she has minimal interaction with in real life about a situation people who have basic social skills think nothing of is pretty rich.

    Many of us who have been here for a long time view these people as friends, regardless of whether or not we’ve ever laid eyes on them in real life. Sometimes we disclose the mundane details or petty annoyances of our lives, in an effort to either vent, entertain, or just because we feel like chit-chatting. John has posted many a thread about the minor gripes of his existence, and most of us feel equally free to say whatever is on our minds, no matter how inconsequential. I saw geg’s comment not so much as whining, but as a self-deprecating “hey guys, get a load out of the ridiculous thing I’m dealing with” bit of conversation.

  147. 147
    kay says:

    @Ailuridae:

    That isn’t what I said. Gates was inside on the phone with the landlord, 2nd police officer on the porch.
    I’m pretty sure you’re really drunk :)

  148. 148
    geg6 says:

    Then how was he inside the house when the cops got there? Regardless, I don’t care. The whole discussion has become too stupid for me and I really don’t want to blow through this excellent wine so quickly by drinking every time something stupid is said. I only drink one or two times in a week, so I don’t want to waste this week’s drinking evening on the stupid. So I hope you can now rest easy over my impending liver disease.

  149. 149
    Ailuridae says:

    @RedKitten:
    You described my behavior towards geg as gratuitous. I think its was the only appropriate recourse given her behavior. The more interesting question is given her behavior why did you feel my entirely appropriate and likely highly accurate jab was gratuitous?

  150. 150
    Brick Oven Bill says:

    Uh oh, geg6, Darlin’.

    Harvard Crimson:

    Gates, who was returning to Cambridge on Thursday after a trip to China, reportedly had difficulty opening his jammed front door and forced his way into his home with the help of his car driver. A woman reportedly saw the professor and alerted police to a possible break-in attempt.

  151. 151
    DougJ says:

    I have no doubt that most people behaving as Gates did are making a trip to the station

    That’s where we disagree. I think — and I don’t mean this as a value judgement — that you and I have very different views of how police officers behave in general.

    If you really think people are usually arrested for acting as Gates did, then our conceptions of the world are so different that there is no point in discussing this further.

  152. 152

    @Emma Anne: People have always been fine with (and even enjoyed) the things you describe, provided the people on the receiving end are different enough from the people cheering for more torture/arrests/assaults. That way the ‘audience’ can convince themselves it will never happen to them. It’s all the joys of bullying and even sadism with a touch of self-righteousness but without the fear of getting one’s hands dirty (see for example public executions). Who knows if we’ll ever evolve out that little kink out of our DNA.

  153. 153
    Ailuridae says:

    @kay:

    Not drunk just an honest misreading.

  154. 154
    Mike G says:

    Average Boston humidity, July 2nd: 97%.

    Average B.O.B. stupidity, Jan 1 – Dec 31: 97%

  155. 155
    Xenos says:

    @geg6: It has become so widely practiced, and so generally accepted, for right-wing partisans to misstate basic, independantly verifiable facts in order to win arguments that large numbers of people are incapable of having a discussion grounded in objective reality.

    One side of the debate intends to win arguments via propaganda. You can correct the birthers and the anti-Gatesians all day long, and they will just make conclusory arguments until their favorite facts become the commonly accepted narrative.

    First they outsourced propaganda to the media, then the blogs took it up propagandizing as a rhetorical exercise and now the righties at large recite falsehoods as a part of a larger cultural project that must give them some sort of jollies. Nothing to do for it but to tell them to all go get screwed.

  156. 156
    kay says:

    @Ailuridae:

    It was a joke. See, I think you’re making assumptions about geg.
    I know you’re not drunk.

  157. 157
    bob h says:

    Les Gara (my neighbor’s brother) is actually a Democrat. He won the case against Exxon for the Exxon Valdez spill. He could have a future in DC as he is most impressive.

  158. 158
    RedKitten says:

    You described my behavior towards geg as gratuitous. I think its was the only appropriate recourse given her behavior. The more interesting question is given her behavior why did you feel my entirely appropriate and likely highly accurate jab was gratuitous?

    I believe I have already explained that to you sufficiently, but I’ll re-state it. You acted as though geg’s rather unfortunate and inconvenient situation was due solely to the negative personality traits which you have ascribed to her, and appeared to take great delight not just in gloating over the situation, but in mocking her for having the temerity to share her dilemma with others.

    If you feel that it was appropriate and accurate, that is your prerogative. However, it does not change the fact that you made yourself look like a mean-spirited jerk.

  159. 159
    Brick Oven Bill says:

    May the reproductive juices of Helen Thomas rain down upon your cheeks, creating stains, Mike G.

  160. 160
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    @Xenos:

    anti-Gatesians

    lolwut?

  161. 161
    Mike in NC says:

    How many times can I say “fuck you” or “go to hell” to a police officer before getting arrested?

    Um, once?

  162. 162
    Ailuridae says:

    @Just Some Fuckhead:

    Sadly, its not just the right that paints dissenters with inappropriatly broad strokes.

  163. 163
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    If you feel that it was appropriate and accurate, that is your prerogative. However, it does not change the fact that you made yourself look like a mean-spirited jerk.

    .. as evidenced by the fact I howled when I read it.

  164. 164
    slippytoad says:

    By the way, what’s so odd about Gates wanting to make a film about his experience?

    Because, in Rush Limbaugh’s world, speaking up for yourself is somehow slimy and disgusting.

  165. 165
    Fulcanelli says:

    @Brick Oven Bill:

    Gates, who was returning to Cambridge on Thursday after a trip to China, reportedly had difficulty opening his jammed front door and forced his way into his home with the help of his car driver. A woman reportedly saw the professor and alerted police to a possible break-in attempt.

    I’d like to know who the woman was that called in the first place. A neighbor who might have recognized Gates or just a passerby who thought they were doing a good deed?

    IMO if it was a neighbor, who presumably might recognize Gates, is there some kind of grudge lurking somewhere or something worse? I know it’s Cambridge, but calling the cops on an elderly man with a cane trying to enter the FRONT door? What the fuckitty fuck is up with that? That stinks to high heaven as much as what happened afterwards.

    If it was a neighbor with an attitude being malicious, I hope they’ve enjoyed wasting their 15 minutes of fame by stirring up more racially divisive bullshit in this increasingly sorry-ass country.

    This whole incident is just fap-pingly stupid, is a total waste of time and energy and if you guys don’t stop talking about it I’m sending you all to bed with no supper, no booze and no TV. You too BOB, especially you! FTW.

  166. 166
    AhabTRuler says:

    @Fulcanelli: Eh, there’s no there there. From what I understand, Gates has no beef with the lady for calling the police in the first place.

  167. 167
    mai naem says:

    He did go to the back after being unable to open the front door
    http://www.thecrimson.com/article.aspx?ref=528584#

    I am assuming he couldn’t open it from the inside and went outside with the cab driver. Personally I think the woman who reported the break in was racial profiling and initially the cop was racial profiling . I also think Gates had come back from a long plane flight, was ill and probably cranky. With the medical issues with his leg/hip I am sure travelling is not easy for this man and my guess is that the flight from China was probably over 12 hrs. On top of that they said he was also ill(viral/upper respiratory or something similar?.) Add to all that he gets home and he can’t get in. I would be pretty pissed off if a cop showed up after all that and insisted I show him I.D. and BTW not just one I.D. but 2 I.D’s. He comes across as a pompous kind of guy with a bit of a chip on his shoulder and then the class thing kicked in with the cop who had no idea who this well known Harvard professor was and the professor lives in an exclusive Cambridge zip code. At the end of the day though, the cop should have been the professional. I have a real problem with the cop who apparently has worked the area for several years not knowing Gates. I have never been to Cambridge but I am willing to bet that zip code doesn’t have a whole lot of blacks living there and not in that particular area and furthermore, the cop has been teaching how not to racial profile for several years???

  168. 168
    Brick Oven Bill says:

    Re: “Gates has no beef with the lady for calling the police in the first place.”

    The odds are 43% that the woman was a Gates’ plant Fucanelli. I had expected him to lead with the book and speaking tour, not the movie. Shows you what I know.

  169. 169
    Midnight Marauder says:

    @Ailuridae:

    No and no. The claim I am making is very simple. Cole suggested that the police deciding to drop the charges had to mean the charges are without merit. That’s not true, from a simple logical framework, if there is any other possible explanation for why charges were dropped

    Is there another possible explanation? Have you provided one yet? Or is all you’ve done just spit bullshit conjecture that Gates was pulling the strings of his friends in high places. By the police department’s own words, they’ve acknowledged that the arrest was lacking merit.

    Your point…let it go.

    I have never made the claim that Gates charges had to have merit;

    So why do you keep saying that the arrest was justified? I think that’s a main reason so many people continue to call you out for your repeated nonsensical “arguments.” If something is lacking merit, by definition, it’s usually hard to advocate on its behalf.

    No, not just on the fact that they were dropped. But rather, the circumstances surrounding why they were dropped and dropped so quickly. You’re fond of using the word “specious.” If you truly understand what it means, I think you can agree that it’s an accurate descriptor for why the charges were dropped with the swiftness.

    So long as there is another explanation for why the charges were dropped, and there clearly is, Cole’s statement isn’t true. Nothing less, nothing more.

    You’ve presented the explanation you favored, while failing to present any evidence or contentions supporting the triumphant validity of said explanation. John’s explanation has, in fact, been supported by the explicit, unambiguous statements of the parties involved. Nothing less, Nothing more.

    Are you now arguing that prosecutors only drop charges for good reason?

    No. He’s not. He’s clearly laying out for way events unfolded in this particular situation. Everything else you wrote after that is irrelevant posturing.

  170. 170
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    Blockquote fail.

  171. 171
    Midnight Marauder says:

    Cole did make the claim that they couldn’t have merit based on the fact they were dropped.

    No, not just on the fact that they were dropped. But rather, the circumstances surrounding why they were dropped and dropped so quickly. You’re fond of using the word “specious.” If you truly understand what it means, I think you can agree that it’s an accurate descriptor for why the charges were dropped with the swiftness.

    FYWP.

  172. 172
    Midnight Marauder says:

    @Just Some Fuckhead:

    I’m guessing that’s towards me. More like epic fail.

  173. 173
    Brachiator says:

    @Ailuridae:

    I have never made the claim that Gates charges had to have merit…

    Then we are left with the possibility that you resent that Gates may have used the leverage of his status to expedite a resolution of his case.

    Cole did make the claim that they couldn’t have merit based on the fact they were dropped. So long as there is another explanation for why the charges were dropped, and there clearly is, Cole’s statement isn’t true. Nothing less, nothing more.

    Sorry. Parsing the meanings of Cole’s statements is solely between the two of you.

    Are you now arguing that prosecutors only drop charges for good reason?

    I am stating that this prosecutor dropped these charges against Gates for a good reason.

    I am stating that this cop, having determined that Gates was not a burglar, had a duty to defuse the situation. He’s the professional. Letting the situation deteriorate into something that ended up with Gates’ arrest was poor police work.

    Maneuvering Gates into a situation in which he could hang a disorderly conduct charge onto him was an example of the cop abusing his authority.

    Had Gates been poor or helpless, the cop might have got away with it.

    Now, one question might be, had a poor, helpless person complained about his treatment, and had you found out about it, would you still be doing rhetorical curlicues about that person’s possible guilt?

  174. 174
    ominira says:

    @Ailuridae: Dude. Chill. Not necessary.

  175. 175
    Kyle says:

    Hey B.O.B., how do you know Gates is even American and in the country legally?
    When are you going to demand to see his birth certificate?

  176. 176
    ominira says:

    @Brick Oven Bill:

    Professor Gates attempted to enter his front door, but the door was damaged. Professor Gates then entered his rear door with his key, turned off his alarm, and again attempted to open the front door. With the help of his driver they were able to force the front door open, and then the driver carried Professor Gates’s luggage into his home.

  177. 177
    Brick Oven Bill says:

    You don’t need My Precious to teach at Harvard Kyle.

  178. 178
    Ailuridae says:

    @Midnight Marauder:

    How quickly is quickly? Gates stated he was incarcerated for four hours.

    I get a kick out of this style of argumentation so tell me where we disconnect.

    Influential and important people are let off from crimes, especially non-violent misdemeanors regularly because of their clout.

    Prof. Gates certainly has that clout Cambridge MA where he is one of the most important employees of th city’s biggest private landowner and employer.

    The police report has Gates, before he is arrested, attempting to involve the Cambridge mayor while presumably talking with someone from the city’s most influential employer.

    Gates is arrested and charges are dropped after four hours. The Cambridge police release a boilerplate apology and Sgt, Crowley isn’t disciplined.

    From this set of facts the only possible explanation is that the case against Gates is wholly without merit? No chance.

    For John’s statement to be true the charges being dropped has to necessitate the charges are without merit. There are multiple explanations of why CPD and the city of Cambridge wouldn’t pursue the case even if they felt the officer was correct in making the arrest.

    Some include:

    Gates is powerful and influential
    Harvard is powerful and influential and Gates works for Harvard.
    The media attention of putting Gates in trial for a nuisance crime would give Cambridge a black eye.
    If any of those factored into the reasoning to drop charges (and I suspect the first two did) there are indeed other explanations for why the charges were dropped after some time greater than four hours.

  179. 179
    ominira says:

    @Fulcanelli: In fairness to the woman who called in the incident, she’s a fundraiser for Harvard Magazine who works in a building near Gates’ home, not a neighbor. I initially thought it odd that she didn’t recognize Gates (since Harvard Magazine has featured him several times), but I don’t know what kind of view of the front porch she had when she made the call.

  180. 180
    Ailuridae says:

    @Brachiator:

    ,Now, one question might be, had a poor, helpless person complained about his treatment, and had you found out about it, would you still be doing rhetorical curlicues about that person’s possible guilt?

    I am pretty sure I would think the law is still overly broad and support the officer’s decision to arrest. I might have more sympathy if the person were incapable of understanding after being warned twice that he was being disorderly that an arrest might follow if he didn’t stop being disorderly.

    Maneuvering Gates into a situation in which he could hang a disorderly conduct charge onto him was an example of the cop abusing his authority.

    I disagree with this wholesale. Crowley had told Gates that he was leaving and if Gates had further questions he could ask them of him outside. Gates followed him outside not with question but with verbal abuse and despite receiving two warnings that his behavior was considered disorderly continued in that vein.

    Crowley told him he was finished. Gates followed him outside. Thats one bad choice for Gates. Gates then berated the cop for being a racist and was warned he was being disorderly. Two bad choices. He persisted in that vein, was warned again he was being disorderly. Three bad choices. He persisted again making his fourth bad choice. I suppose one could argue that Gates was “maneuvered” outside (I think thats nonsense) but was he further maneuvered to for each of his successive, independent three choices.

  181. 181
    SBW says:

    Well I’ll pop in here again to keep the thread(s) going.

    A cop threatening anyone with disorderly conduct, when that conduct is not disorderly according to state law, merely to shut a person up due to personal annoyance, to effectively strip him or her of free speech, is an abuse of authority — and an especially disgusting one at that. That is irregardless of whether it is commonly used on minorities or poor people.

    At least general awareness is now being raised about DC abuses by police on disadvantaged communities.

    Step #1 for change.

  182. 182
    chopper says:

    @Ailuridae:

    Crowley told him he was finished. Gates followed him outside. Thats one bad choice for Gates. Gates then berated the cop for being a racist and was warned he was being disorderly. Two bad choices.

    how so? gates’s rant, either inside his house or on his porch, clearly don’t fall under disorderly conduct according to massachusetts law.

    it isn’t just the mallahan case, which technically isn’t precedent. mallahan cited numerous similar cases in its decision all of which agree – yelling at the cops is not disorderly conduct. it has to rise to ‘fighting words’ or aim to incite violence to be considered disorderly.

    if you think an old black dude on his porch yelling about how he’s being kept down by The Man is ‘inciting violence’ then i think you need to seriously get into some kind of 12-step program for crypto-racism.

  183. 183
    chopper says:

    @SBW:

    indeed. not only is threatening such an abuse of authority, actually going through with it is clearly wrongful arrest.

    these ‘contempt of cop’ ordinances are real double-edged swords. you may arrest a buncha guys with it, but all you need is one dude who knows his rights and is willing to fight it and you’ve got a civil suit on your hands. and the PD looks bad and loses cash, and sometimes gets slapped around by the courts. sometimes the courts will even narrow the law further, which just increases the chance that said cops will fuck it up again in the future.

  184. 184
    chopper says:

    @JK:

    yeah, screw the beer. it’s just going to lead to trouble anyways.

    crowley: who wants a negra modelo?

    gates: THAT’S IT ASSHOLE I’M FUCKING OUT OF HERE!

  185. 185
    les says:

    This Ailuridae person certainly loves pie. Being a dfh who has witnessed police making up law on the fly, his/her earlier specious arguments/pronouncements carried very little weight. But I can only agree with him/her on choice of sweet treats!

  186. 186
    Steeplejack says:

    @JK:

    I thought Gates’s statement about wanting to make a film on racial profiling as a result of this incident simply reflected a degree of pomposity on his part.

    I think you’re overreacting a little on this. Out of all the possible issues/topics that any person could tackle, they are going to go with one that has some personal interest or that strikes a chord. Something that motivates them. Am I likely to suddenly get a burning urge to do a documentary on the status of Serbian women in the aftermath of the breakup of Yugoslavia? Hardly. (But it could happen.) Much more likely that I would get interested in some issue facing middle-aged, rum-drinking white guys. (“Quinine Water: Not Just for Malaria Prevention.”)

    Hard to think of this incident as serendipitous, but I could see it pointing Gates toward a subject of inquiry without requiring him to be pompous.

  187. 187
    Steeplejack says:

    Let me use my thread-killing powers in a healing way to put a coda on this tedious back-and-forth.

    This is what is going to get me tasered one day. Ever since I saw this episode of South Park I have felt a terrifying, gut-level certainty that it will be almost impossible to for me to avoid saying what Randy Marsh says to the officer if I ever get pulled over by a cop again (0:58 in the clip).

  188. 188
    PaulB says:

    From this set of facts the only possible explanation is that the case against Gates is wholly without merit?

    Actually, you don’t need that “set of facts;” you just need the police report and a knowledge of the relevant case law. Given those, it is quite obvious that the case against Gates was wholly without merit.

  189. 189
    PaulB says:

    I am pretty sure I would think the law is still overly broad

    A rather ironic statement, given that you manifestly have no fricking clue about the law or its application.

  190. 190
    PaulB says:

    Crowley told him he was finished. Gates followed him outside. Thats one bad choice for Gates. Gates then berated the cop for being a racist and was warned he was being disorderly. Two bad choices. He persisted in that vein, was warned again he was being disorderly. Three bad choices. He persisted again making his fourth bad choice. I suppose one could argue that Gates was “maneuvered” outside (I think thats nonsense) but was he further maneuvered to for each of his successive, independent three choices.

    You really didn’t read the police report, did you? In any case, even if I accept this rather silly attempt to rewrite the encounter, here’s a free clue for you: not one of those “bad choices” was, in fact, a “bad choice,” or was in any way illegal. Moreover, you are completely ignoring Crowley’s “bad choices” that escalated the situation rather than defusing it. There was only one individual in that confrontation who was acting in his professional capacity, and that was Crowley. What Gates did was well within his rights, which is why the case was so quickly dropped.

  191. 191
    Ailuridae says:

    @PaulB:

    I have read the police report. Multiple times. Now that we are done with accusations of what each of us has and hasn’t done (oh wait I didn’t make such an accusation) maybe we can get somewhere.

  192. 192
    Ailuridae says:

    @PaulB:
    You might only need the police report to determine Crowley was out of line. But I suspect you would have reached the same conclusion lacking the police report, Gates interview with his daughter and any information beyond:

    Henry Louis Gates, Jr was arrested on the front porch of his own home for disorderly conduct.

    That’s pretty accurate.

  193. 193
    AhabTRuler says:

    @Ailuridae:
    That’s total crap. My mother made the best apple pie.

  194. 194
    Texpunk says:

    http://www.infowars.com/texas-.....andmother/

    In Texas, this is how we deal with troublemakers: Black or white!

    Gates wasn’t old enough to get this treatment.

  195. 195
    bago says:

    As far as the notions of pissy go. If I had just flown 16 hours from China and had to deal with a stuck door I would be pissy. It’s entirely within my rights to be pissy within my home. In your home you are not professional. You are having parties and having sex with people, that’s what a home is for. It’s what seperates you from your profession. A man’s home is his castle. Nobody is getting hurt. No reason to get arrested. One would think this is the conservative view.

    Apparently modern conservatism involves words and not blood.

  196. 196
    Allan says:

    @Ailuridae: The University of Chicago called. They would like their degree back.

  197. 197
    bago says:

    If I am reading this correctly, Alinduralwhitey is essentially arguing that people he doesn’t like are all either drunk or Negroes, and should STFU.

  198. 198
    Aspasia says:

    Sigh. You don’t know much about Gates or his past work.

    Wow. Nearly 200 comments about a police arrest.

    The only thing I have to add: if Gates is a cocky asshole (and he can be that) he may be said to have earned it. He came from nothing (including the horror of his childhood injury, detailed above) to become the best-known professor of African-American studies in the US: his bibliography is a foot long, his work is required reading in most US universities, and his name is known all over the world among students of literature. He is no more arrogant than most senior Harvard professors, any of whom would have thrown an equally dramatic hissy fit had their homes been entered by a police officer they did not summon.

    Aspasia

  199. 199
    PaulB says:

    I have read the police report. Multiple times.

    Then why have you been writing versions of events that are not supported by the police report?

    Now that we are done with accusations of what each of us has and hasn’t done (oh wait I didn’t make such an accusation) maybe we can get somewhere.

    No. You’re too disconnected from reality and too interested in your own narrative and agenda. You know nothing about this case, nothing about the law, and nothing about police procedures. You bring nothing to this discussion.

    You might only need the police report to determine Crowley was out of line.

    Because he was, in fact, out of line. I will note two things about your posts:

    1. You have completely ignored Gates’ version of events, forgetting that there are always two sides to the story.

    2. Even if we ignore the above, you are ignoring Crowley’s role in escalating the encounter. For every “bad choice” that Gates made, Crowley made a similar and equally “bad choice.” But only one of those individuals was, in theory, trained in the defusing of events like this, and was acting in his professional capacity at the time, something that you just cannot face or deal with.

    Henry Louis Gates, Jr was arrested on the front porch of his own home for disorderly conduct. That’s pretty accurate.

    ROFLMAO….. Oh, man, you really got nothing, don’t you? Thanks for conceding.

  200. 200
    Ed Drone says:

    Got cash from the ATM the other day when I was in a hurry and distracted. I didn’t need my debit card until today to get gas as I am almost empty. No debit card. I am positive I left it in the machine. Wouldn’t the bank contact me in that case, though?

    Well, it’s possible the next customer got your card, since it’s ejected automatically. If he/she is honest, they’ll have dropped it in the door mailslot of the bank, or otherwise held it till Monday, when they’ll bring it to the bank. If they’re not honest, you may find a few bottles of the best charged on your account by Monday.

    If it’s still in the bank machine, come Monday they will either send it to you (or notify you to come get it), or, likely, destroy it. That’s what happened to me, but in my case it wasn’t my bank (and it wasn’t in my state) , so their policy is to destroy it immediately so that no hint of any wrongdoing on their part is possible. Annoying as a weekend without a means to get cash is, try being out of state and unable to even replace it till you get home. Luckily, my wife had her card (to the same joint account), so we could get by, but that meant I couldn’t do any sneak purchases at flea markets or yard sales, and sneak the new guitar into my collection without her finding out.

    Ed

  201. 201
    ruemara says:

    @Ailuridae:

    In case no one corrected you on this, he did not “force his way into his home”, he opened his back door, walked to his front door and had his driver help him unstick the front door. If you have a key to the back door, you did not force your way into anything. You walked into your rightful space.

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