7.23.2009

the most infuriating thing about the arrest of Prof. Gates

...has nothing to do with his race.

What's infuriating is that you have to be a famous, tenured professor at Harvard to have "disorderly conduct" charges against you dropped, when the only thing you're guilty of is failing to be sufficiently obsequious to a cop on your own damn property.

2 comments:

Gino said...

stupid is as stupid does.

Dave said...

I totally disagree with the comments that suggest that somehow Prof Gates had some requirement to display respect or cooperation to a police officer, especially *in his own house* ! While I think he weakens his case with his apparently reflexive suggestions of racism, I think he is certainly within his rights to say whatever he wants to in his own house, even if it hampers the police investigation or questions the police officer's motives. Having established that Prof. Gates was the owner of the house, the police officer had no reason to remain; that he did suggests that the police officer felt entitled to exercise his power in whatever context he wanted. Furthermore the police officer used his power of arrest to intimidate Prof. Gates into obeying him even when there was no legal obligation to do so. In other words, the police officer apparently confused the police power of the state with his own desire to exercise personal power over the situation. So while I find Prof Gates' racial justification for the incident generally silly, I think this episode serves to confirm my concern that police officers largely act not out of a ethic of service but out of a desire for personal power where the citizenry they are supposed to protect is actually viewed either as their vassals or their opponents.

Bottom line: I don't trust cops. They do not respect individual civil liberties; at best, they view civil liberties as obstacles to be overcome. At worst, they view the general population as their opponents. Certainly they do not venerate the concept of civil liberties as an important component of the society they are protecting. Either way, the phrase "to serve and protect" written on their cars are empty words.