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Just for the record... - John [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
John

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Just for the record... [Jul. 23rd, 2009|09:30 am]
John
...I'd like to say that, if you arrest a famous professor, when it is clear that he was not a danger to himself or others, even if he was being an ass (which I don't consider proven, merely alleged), causing a nationwide bit of chatter about possible racism and abuse of police power, you have, indeed, acted "stupidly".

Even if your actions were lawful and justifiable, there was no compelling need to perform the arrest, and it caused problems that could have been avoided by other, more sensible, actions, like having one of the other officers on the scene deal with the troublesome resident while you de-stress.

To dispense with some of the complaints I've seen:

The issue is not whether or not the police should have responded to the reported break-in. The issue was whether or not the police should have arrested a man who wasn't harming anyone, and whose only crime *might* be yelling while in a stressful situation.

Yes, you should be friendly and cooperative with police, but even if you're not, they are still not supposed to arrest you unless and until you are doing more than being upset.

And maybe Gates was "lucky" that he only spent a few hours in jail for the behavior that is alleged by the police. Yes, there are criminals with badges who would have caused him actual physical harm if he was "mouthing off" to them. But if it took significant amounts of luck for him not to be beaten by police, then it's not Gates' alleged mouthing off that was the problem, it's the composition of the police.
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: jhetley
2009-07-23 04:49 pm (UTC)
I've been wondering why that incident wasn't getting more play in the realms of Blogistan I read . . .
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[User Picture]From: erin_c_1978
2009-07-23 04:59 pm (UTC)
Damn straight. I find it incredibly disturbing when the generally good advice of "be polite to the police" turns into "if you're not polite to the police, it's morally permissible for them to beat or arrest you even if you've committed no crime."
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[User Picture]From: susandennis
2009-07-23 07:12 pm (UTC)
Very well put.
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[User Picture]From: phoenixpdx
2009-07-23 07:15 pm (UTC)
In fact, it's entirely irrelevant whether he was a Harvard professor or not. He was in his own house, doing no harm to anyone. As soon as that was obvious (by the ID), the police should have excused themselves and left immediately. Period.

IMHO, of course. Though I confess it's not really very humble.
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[User Picture]From: nsingman
2009-07-24 03:29 pm (UTC)
I'll respectfully disagree, John. "Stupidly" is not the appropriate word here. "Arrogantly" is. The police, who demonstrate their arrogance every time they make an arrest for a nonsense charge like "disturbing the peace" or "disorderly conduct," don't care about the nationwide chatter they might induce. Why? Because they don't have to. Most citizens think the police are there to protect them, rather than being there to enforce a host of laws to control them or drain them financially. In short, they buy into that "thin blue line" nonsense.
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