Monday, July 27, 2009

What Ed Said

The whole kerfuffle over the arrest of Harvard prof (and West Virginia native) Henry Louis Gates flamed up while I was away, with even the President weighing in calling the arrest "stupid." After reading a bit about it, I think I agree precisely with Ed's sentiments over at Dispatches from the Culture Wars:

I don't care if Gates called the guy a cocksucker, called his mother a whore or berated him as a racist from the moment he arrived until the moment he left, none of that is criminal. It would be perfectly legal to say to anyone else and it is perfectly legal to say to a police officer. And the police know it, that's why the charges were dropped within a few hours.

This was a classic case of a power-hungry cop taking the 'you can't talk to me like that' attitude and flexing their authority where it doesn't belong. Well police, it's time to grow up and stop playing pretend. No one else has the right not to be offended or insulted and neither do you. The fact that you have a gun and a badge does not mean that your hurt feelings are more important than anyone else's.
There are too many cops who think "my way or the highway" is part of the Constitution, to whom every encounter is a power struggle they are determined to win. I don't know if that's down to training, to the mentality of people who tend to become cops, or the failure of the justice system (criminal, civil, or otherwise) to reign them in.

That being the case, there's only one sure way to avoid making a bad interaction with a cop even worse:

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