Tuesday, July 21, 2009

When I was talking about how people of all races should have the right to be dicks to the police

The Henry Louis Gates incident is what I was talking about.

As I wrote about here my redneck kid brother is a total ass to the police every time they meet and that rudeness has translated into tickets and never into arrests. (Or asskickings, for that matter)

Am I assuming that Henry Louis Gates was, to some degree or another, an ass to the police?

I am, if only because most people would be in that situation. I will admit that some things Gates is alleged to have said (e.g. "Is this what it means to be a black man in America?") are a lot more believable than other things he is alleged to have said (e.g. I just don't see a Harvard professor going on about somebody's Momma.)

Again, I think in an ideal world, no one should be a dick to the police and the police should be reasonable in return. However, if there are going to be arrests and asskickings over rude behavior, white punks should get them too.

CC

Ps. Oh and in the rare category of "racism stories with happy endings," remember that summer camp of primarily African-American kids who were turned away from the pool they had contracted to use? Tyler Perry is sending them all to Disney World.

PPs. My husband and his buddies from Charlotte, North Carolina always refer to the "crimes" that get African Americans pulled over for no reason as "driving while black." Boing boing is calling Gates' offense "Entering own home while black."

76 comments:

Bill Baar said...

I thought it was interesting his neigbors made the call to the police. I'm guessing they didn't recognize him?

I don't know much about Cambridge but my daughter lived in a rougher part of Chicago and I told her to make friends with her neigbors. In Chicago people make a point of knowing who belongs in the neigborhood and who doesn't.

I'm stopped by cops. Asked what I'm doing. A white male driving around some neigborhoods in Chicago is going to match a profile of a guy making a drug buy and cops will stop you and check you out. I make a point of leaving my hands on the steering wheel and letting them know I'm reaching for my wallet... no suddent moves.. this is true city, suburbs, out in the country.

Rev Pfleger was on WVON radio last night talking about on the ongoing slaughter in Chicago (two kids shot in front of his Church last Friday night), and Pfleger said the only way to stop the slaughter is for everyone in the community to call the police, because the shooters aren't strangers. They're members of the community and it's the community's job to let shooters know they can no longer expect cover.

So, admittedly without knowing the details, I'd suggest Gates best get to know his neigbors and understand people in America these days could well be following Plfeger's advice.

Bill Baar said...

PS As a footnote, even if the cops establish who you are, I think they still have an obligation to check out the house to make sure there aren't two males (the number called in) inside holding your partner hostage while you give cover against your will. Who knows how this really played out, and given some of the problems in Chicago it could just as easily be cops robbing your house, but I would hold the indigation if it was cops basically doing their job and checking things out completely.

my take...

PG said...

The call wasn't made by a neighbor; it was made by someone passing on the street who saw two black men trying to get a door open. The someone was Lucia Whalen, who works as a fundraiser for Harvard. Where Gates is one of the most famous professors currently teaching, and from which he rents the house that Whalen thought he was breaking into. He was coming back from China, where he was filming his umpteenth documentary, and his cab driver was helping him get his door unstuck (it had gotten messed up in an actual prior break-in attempt). This was in broadest daylight, just before 1pm, with a cab parked in front. Gates is almost 59 and walks with a cane. He had luggage from the trip. (I personally always bring plenty of Samsonite for a B&E.)

Even if I granted that the police were reasonable in their behavior toward Gates while they were investigating whether any crime had occurred with regard to the house, there's still the question of why the Cambridge police believe that the First Amendment allows them to arrest a man solely for complaining -- even loudly and rudely -- about how he has been treated by the government when he is standing outside his own house, not obstructing traffic. I suspect that they don't feel to be on very sound footing for this, which is why they are recommending that charges against Gates be dropped.

Bill Baar said...

Where was the other guy?

As a fellow who has spent some time in jail for disorderly years ago, I've learned it best not to mouth off to cops.

Chalicechick said...

Right, but mouthing off to the cops should not be an arrestable offense if that's all you do.

CC

Robin Edgar said...

White, or black, or any color in between, if you get uppity with the police they will often find an excuse to ticket you or arrest you just to teach you the "lesson" not to get uppity with the police. I usually do not get uppity with the police unless they get uppity with me first, as sometimes happens. . .

:Gates is alleged to have said (e.g. "Is this what it means to be a black man in America?")

I heard that Gates is alleged to have loudly SHOUTED -

THIS IS WHAT IT MEANS TO BE A BLACK MAN IN AMERICA!

Whether he actually did or not is open to question but that allegation puts a somewhat different spin on the incident just as Rev. Diane Rollert's false and AFA*I*AC perjurious allegation that I "screamed" at her in my encounter with her described here paints me as being "out of control" and/or mentally unbalanced and thus someone who she has "reasonable grounds" to be afraid of.

:a lot more believable than other things he is alleged to have said (e.g. I just don't see a Harvard professor going on about somebody's Momma.)

If an angry Harvard educated U*U minister can publicly air a "sodomy fantasy" involving a U.S. senator anally impaled on the Statue of Liberty's torch, "namecall" that senator a "crazy asshat", and engage in all kinds of other insulting and defamatory language on a quite regular basis, I can quite readily see an angry Harvard professor going on about somebody's Momma or saying other rude and offensive things to the police or anyone else.

It seems that there should be at least one or two neutral witnesses to what actually occurred such as the taxi driver who is alleged to have been at the scene when the police arrived in response to the 911 call.

kim said...

How do I answer your comment about chatty dental hygienists if I don't do twitter?

Bill Baar said...

A good friend of mine appeared before a Judge in Cook County and was asked if he was an "I-Bond" case (a guy asking for personal recognizance bond - Imagine court at 4am with a long line of guys and Judging asking I-Bond? and then slapping the gavel as each responds Yes.), and my wise-ass friend said, no sir, James Bond.

That got him 30 days in Cook County Jail for disorderly. The cop no showed at the trial on the intial charge so it was dismissed but mouthing off to a Judge got him 30 days anyways.

Mouthing off is just a real unwise thing to do.

Chalicechick said...

I agree, PG, complaining, even loudly and rudely, is not grounds for arrest and the fact that Gates had luggage on him should have given him pause.

My impression is that the area around Harvard is in no way analogous to a "rough part of Chicago."

And yes, mouthing off to a judge while you're in court is just plain stupid, especially a judge who is working at four in the morning with a full docket. Judges really, really, hate people who disrupt the proceedings, especially proceedings that sound like they were pretty efficient before your wiseass friend's interruption.

I see a big difference between mouthing off to cops who are doing something racist and unreasonable (which is protected by the first amendment as it is political speech,) and just being annoying and disruptive like your friend was (which is not protected by the first amendment since contempt of court is a longstanding exception.)

CC

Chalicechick said...

Oh, and Kim, if you don't have twitter you can't respond within twitter. I guess you can mention them here.

Bill Baar said...

My impression is that the area around Harvard is in no way analogous to a "rough part of Chicago."

I sort of wondered if that isn't the issue.

If you live in neighborhood where break-ins are normal part-of-the-day, and daytime a favorite time because people at work, then you're sort-of-grateful when a cop stops you and checks things out when someone spots two guys jimmying your door... even it its you.

You live in Cambridge where protection less an issue, and deference to Professorship counts, then maybe you get indignant.

Police misconduct a huge issue in Chicago and we've had plenty of profiling cases, but the ongoing profound social ill in Chicago is the ongoing slaughter of African American males. Those murders (almost daily) outweigh anyone else's obstacles and discrimination.

I lived on the edge of one of the most violent parts of the city (Austin) and watched my neighbor's son turn from boy to man and experienced his parent's fears of gang recruitment, and nervous cops. Profiling is real but it's subset of the far larger problem of urban violence. Solve that, and profiling goes away as issue.

That was almost twenty years ago but the city's only gotten worse... I don't know the full story with Gates and maybe there were totally racist cops but somehow or another I have a feeling Gates over reacted to a situation.

LinguistFriend said...

Actually, my earliest (I was about 9 years old) memory of a Cambridge policeman involves the policeman's unilateral, unprovoked (and wisely unanswered) expression of class hatred towards adult Harvard-type people. It is at least plausible that much of what happened in this case is not very different. Some things don't change.

hafidha sofia said...

Maybe I mentioned this here before, but this reminds me of something. About a year ago, my dad called to see if I was home so he could drop something off for me. I told him I was about to run out, but he could put the thing on the front porch. He said, "I don't know about that, I don't want someone to take it." I suggested he enter the yard and leave it by the back slider. At this, he laughed. "Noooo, I don't THINK so."

I asked him why, and he reminded me that he was a black man, and if he was observed going into a backyard in my neighborhood, someone would call the cops on him. I was a little dubious. He reminded me that when he used to work for a well-known cable company as an installer, he would arrive in a truck with the company name printed on the sides and back in big red letters, wearing the bright orange vest, a hard hat, and ID badge, and once in a while the person who had ORDERED the cable service wouldn't let him into their house, or would make him wait while they called cable company to verify that he was, in fact, the cable guy.

Also, once, he was in someone's back yard trying to check something out, and he turned to return to his truck and found a policeman's gun in his face. He was like, "Whoa." The cop said, "Who are you? What are you doing back here?" He said, "Repairing someone's cable ..." and gestured to his badge, hat, vest, ladder, equipment in hand, etc. The cop put the gun back in his holster and said, "Oh, sorry. We got a call that there was a black man in this yard." At least the cop was honest.

So this is nothing new, and all it teaches us (or reminds us) is that your status doesn't protect you.

hafidha sofia said...

Correction - he said "I'm here to repair the cable."

Chalicechick said...

I don't doubt any of that, Hafidha.

Personally, I think it's really, really weird that someone would feel the need to call and check that he was the actual cable guy when they had ordered the service. But again, I don't doubt any of that.

And, LF, if this was the cops just looking for an excuse to mess with a professor-type, I would say they picked the wrong professor-type. Frankly, I don't see how race couldn't have been the most significant factor, though I wouldn't be surprised if there weren't class issues, too, of course.

CC

Bill Baar said...

The cable guy raped and murdered two women in Chicago.

Maybe the world is very different for the rest of you, but greater Chicago area is tough and you build it into your calculations.

You leave a box... you poke around a house...you're a stranger and might look out of place... you assume others are going to be suspicious about you and they have a right to feel that way.

My daughter came home late last night and wondered about a car parked where it shouldn't have been. I said next time honk the horn real loud before you park and get out and come into the house...run into the house really, or drive away and call us on the cell first.

One of these days I'm going to do a post on elderly UU's I met when doing a pledge drive and we decided to visit some of these folks and I visited an elderly women virtually held hostage in her home alone with all of this electronic security. Liberalism goes out the window when you're living in fear like that and your 80 and alone... and stuck in a house you can't sell.

AA's have an extra layer of racist perceptions to deal with, but my experience is my AA neigbors just as cautious and suspicous as anyone in the neigborhood....maybe more so.

Defuse this violence in our cities and the reduction in fear will improve relations all over.

Conservatives fear getting tagged racists so no longer talk law-and-order, but it's really the greatest social ill. Get rid of the justifiable fear of violence and there will be a dramatic improvement in all sorts of social ills.

The violence is really the greatest Social Injustice but you'll hear very few Social Justice committees talking about it....

Robin Edgar said...

CC said - I agree, PG, complaining, even loudly and rudely, is not grounds for arrest and the fact that Gates had luggage on him should have given him pause.

Tell that to Montreal Unitarians CC. . . The fact that I had picket signs on me and was outside the Unitarian Church of Montreal conducting a peaceful public protest that is mostly silent should have given Montreal police pause before arresting me for the crime of disrupting a religious service. Likewise, these facts should have given the Crown Prosecutor pause before foolishly proceeding to try to prosecute a case that he was unable to prove a single one of the four or five points of law that he had to prove beyond any reasonable doubt in order to obtain a conviction. . . For the record the Montreal police officers who have actually arrested me on several occasions now have always been polite and professional and I have always cooperated with them. The same cannot be said about some of the Montreal police officers who have ticketed me for highly questionable municipal bylaw violations.

As far as mouthing off to a judge goes I would say that the most successful way of doing so and getting away with it is to sarcastically agree with something the judge has said that does not reflect well on them. . . Needless to say I have been there and done that. That being said, the judge who presided over my aforementioned criminal trial did a very good job and never gave me any reason to mouth off to him. Au contraire I apologized to him for how my representing myself might have been somewhat annoying to him at times but he brushed off the apology telling me that I was actually doing quite a good job of it on the whole. As I was quite evidently was. . .

PG said...

Robin,

Canada doesn't have a First Amendment and is far more restrictive of speech, particularly that which appears to be harassing on racial or religious grounds.

hafidha sofia said...

*sigh* for some reason, my comments keep getting lost here; I'll try again.

Bill - We live and work in the portland, oregon area suburbs, where - to my knowledge - there haven't been any cases of cable men raping and killing women while on the job. And, my dad was unable to find a white male co-worker who experienced double-checking of his credentials or police officers approaching them with weapons raised.

I do agree that fear is a big factor; and fear is not always in line with reality.

Also, out here at least, the conservative politicians have by no means given up on "law and order," but continue to preach on it with results. In the last Oregon election, measure 57 was passed, which will lengthen sentences for property crimes. Kevin Mannix continues to hold a lot of influence out here.

Diggitt said...

On the Jack & Jill blog, it was alleged that the cop asked Gates several times to leave his house and come outside. Gates had already shown him his ID, which showed that he was the resident and that he was a Harvard prof.

The impression of the AA bloggers on J&J is that by getting Gates out of his house, the cop was able to arrest him, which he could not have done had Gates stayed inside. Nobody writing here has mentioned that allegation but if it's true, it's serious and significant and makes the cop look very bad.

I realize that Harvard people are celebrated for their indifference, but if you lived in Gates' neighborhood, wouldn't you know he was your neighbor? He is one of the more celebrated people on a campus with many celebrated profs. How many gray-headed AA men walking with a cane are there in Cambridge, anyway?

I came away from reading the J&J blog thinking yet again how awful it must be to live with the level of fear and dread that AA men do in this country. And the mothers of their sons? To say goodbye to your boys every morning and know that they are at the mercy of some redneck cop. White people just can't guess what that's like.

Bill Baar said...

@hafidha sofia

White, Black or whatever, I'd be real leery of letting a person into the house if alone. Not so much for me but my wife and daughter...

If you live in the City it's a huge issue especially for the elderly who are routinely taken advantage and worse by people posing.

You want to let someone know your going to have someone in the house...

Desmond Ravenstone said...

First, some background...

I've been a left-of-center activist since high school, which meant having contact with police and security professionals.

Being involved with the BDSM community, we occasionally have run-ins with the police. Just google "Paddleboro" and you'll know what I mean.

Now add to that actually having cops as friends, who share their perspective of having to do their job.

Yes, people of color and other folks have reason to feel that they are being targeted by the police, and will react negatively to being stopped, questioned, asked to show ID and so forth.

The other side of that coin is that being a law enforcement or security professional is to put your life on the line -- and none of them can afford to forget it. That alone is a high-stress job, compounded by the fact that so many people either take what they do for granted or view them negatively. This is not to say that there are no bad cops out there, but that cops do not deserve to be stereotyped any more than people of color or sexual minorities or radical lefties.

As one police pal told me: "There are three things cops hate -- lying, disrespect, and paperwork." Arresting someone means paperwork. That's why so many cops, when responding to many complaints, often prefer to let people off with a warning than drag them to jail. If you lie to a cop, or act disrespectful, they are more likely to arrest you. Might not seem fair, but given that they are already hypervigilant, it should not be a surprise.

This is not to dismiss the element of race and racism in how many police behave, nor does it excuse any officer's unprofessional conduct. But to chalk up this incident solely to the issue of race is to forget how the reality of being a cop enters into that equation.

Robin Edgar said...

PG said... Robin, Canada doesn't have a First Amendment and is far more restrictive of speech, particularly that which appears to be harassing on racial or religious grounds.

PG Canada has the Canadian Charter Of Rights and Freedoms which expressly guarantees the following fundamental freedoms. No Amendment required. . .

Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms:

(a) freedom of conscience and religion;

(b) freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication;

(c) freedom of peaceful assembly;

and

(d) freedom of association.

My peaceful public protest in front of the Unitarian Church of Montreal is a peaceful assembly of one in which I exercise my freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression in protest against U*U attacks on my freedom of conscience and religion, and other Charter guaranteed rights and freedoms. I exercise my freedom of the press and other media of communication on my U*U themed blogs, other blogs, and U*UTube aka YouTube. . .

So I really don't know where you get the idea that Canada is far more restrictive of speech, particularly that which appears to be harassing on racial or religious grounds, than the U.S.A. unless of course it stems from stereotypical American ignorance about Canada. . . AFA*I*AC I actually have somewhat more freedom of speech in real terms than I might in America.

Also AFA*I*AC the false and malicious labeling of Creation Day as a "cult" by Rev. Ray Drennan, Frank Greene, John Inder, and other intolerant and abusive "fundamentalist atheist" Humanist U*Us constitutes harassing your's truly on religious grounds. What do you suppose my picket sign slogan that says -

CULT IS A FOUR LETTER WORD

is all about?

There were absolutely no "reasonable grounds" for my arrest on criminal charges of disrupting a religious service at the Unitarian Church of Montreal and that is precisely why I was eventually acquitted of those charges after having boatloads of fun making outrageously hypocritical Montreal Unitarian U*Us look like complete idiots in court. . . It wasn't all that hard really. Kind of like shooting U*U fish in a barrel. . . Half the time these U*Us looked like complete idiots without me even having to point it out to the judge. . .dec

Robin Edgar said...

No doubt Desmond Ravenstone will be thrilled to know that I agree very much with what he said in his comment here. The cop had no idea who Gates was when he asked him to step out onto the porch. For all the cop knew at that point in time Gates might have been an armed criminal. Asking Gates to step out onto the porch was the no doubt the cop's way of protecting himself by ensuring that Gates was not armed.

Chalicechick said...

I have real trouble believing that the police actually thought this little old guy who walked with a cane was a burglar, especially once they saw his ID showing he was a professor at Harvard.

And I'm sorry, I don't care how much an officer's feelings are hurt by the rude things the man was yelling (if you accept the police's version that he was yelling,) yelling rude things on your own front porch is NOT "loud and tumultuous behavior in a public space" by ANY reasonable definition of the words "public space."

The arrest was bullshit. And bullshit arrests of famous people make the jobs of police officers MUCH harder by giving the public the impression that the police are just out to mess with innocent people.

Also, people in EVERY job hate disrespect. But nobody thinks it's understandable for the fast food worker who is treated rudely to spit in the food. If a client is rude to me, I don't get to screw up his case on purpose just because I don't like disrespect. If you're rude to your florist, she doesn't send you dead flowers. Math teachers don't teach problem students incorrect multiplication tables.

The solution to not liking disrespect, if one's job in any way involves dealing with the public, customers, or clients, is to get over it because disrespect is going to happen.

Particularly if you mess with a Harvard professor who just got off a 19-or-so-hour plane ride and you don't immediately start apologizing when you see his ID and know you're dealing with an innocent person in his own house.

CC

hafidha sofia said...

Also, people in EVERY job hate disrespect. But nobody thinks it's understandable for the fast food worker who is treated rudely to spit in the food. If a client is rude to me, I don't get to screw up his case on purpose just because I don't like disrespect. If you're rude to your florist, she doesn't send you dead flowers. Math teachers don't teach problem students incorrect multiplication tables.

The solution to not liking disrespect, if one's job in any way involves dealing with the public, customers, or clients, is to get over it because disrespect is going to happen.


Thank you!

Desmond Ravenstone said...

CC et al:

If you go back to my comment, I was not in any way excusing misconduct. What I was trying to do was remind people of the mindset that every police officer faces on the job.

When an officer hears a call of a possible breaking and entering, they have to think: "There could be armed suspects." How many florists, math teachers and fast food workers have to think about that every moment of their work day? Police have seen all kinds of people, including children, produce weapons in an escalating conflict and fire on them or on civilians.

I'm saying simply that these facts need to be taken into consideration in any matter of police conduct. Police are not just reacting to rude behavior; they are responding to life and death situations as part of their job. And if they respond badly -- as with this case -- then we need to demand better police training of how to handle and de-escalate situations, not simply chalk the entire incident to racism.

Chalicechick said...

(((What I was trying to do was remind people of the mindset that every police officer faces on the job.)))

The mindset is exactly the problem.

Police work is more dangerous than the average job, but not SO MUCH more dangerous that it deserves the "us-against-the-public, the-public-against-us" mindset that police officers often have. (And that leads to crap like this Gates incident where a cop assumed Gates is "a bad guy" and is determined to prove himself right.)

First of all, police officers are more likely to die in traffic accidents than in shootouts.

Secondly, EVEN WITH the traffic accident numbers still counted,
Garbagemen are still FAR more likely to die on the job.

And looking at homicides alone, the same article I linked to above cited the Bureau of Labor Statistics saying that cab drivers are far more likely to be murdered than cops are. Four times more likely.

Yet even if garbagemen and cab drivers are thinking about dying on the job "every moment of their working day," which would be more rational than a police officer doing it given the statistics, we don't give them extra leeway to treat people badly because of the dangerousness of their jobs.

I have very little sympathy for the "police work is so dangerous that it is us vs. them" attitude. I think it gets officers and innocent people killed and leads to tremendous wastes of taxpayer money.

CC

PG said...

Robin, I am not going by stereotypes regarding Canada, I am going by having actually studied differences between the U.S. and other English common-law jurisdictions (and actually if you're in Quebec you're even farther outside that tradition). For a layman's primer on these differences, try reading this.

Not to be rude, but if you believe you have greater freedom of speech under Canadian law than under American law, you don't know what you're talking about.

Chalicechick said...

Thanks, PG. I had not realized the differences were so huge until I started having this conversation with Robin.

CC
who probably needs an international law class, she will admit.

Scott said...

OK, I've got an inherent bias here because I'm the son of a policeman, but since when do we "have the right to be dicks to the police?"

Don't the Principles & Purposes say - in #1, no less - that everyone has inherent worth and dignity? UUs ought to darn well be practicing what is preached, particularly in respect to our dealings with the people who have the responsibility to keep us safe.

Maybe it's just me, but right now, I've got zero sympathy for Mr. Gates. If he immediately copped an attitude with the police - and I hope you'll forgive the unintentional pun - I don't care if you're white, black, red, yellow, gray, or purple with green polka dots; I don't care if you come from the highest-class aristocracy or the bluest of blue-collar families - you deserve the treatment you get from the police if you act like "a dick," no matter what you look like or where you come from.

Chalicechick said...

1. The Seven Principles are not a creed. Even if they were, they would not apply to non-Unitarians like Gates.

2. We get our right to be rude to the police from the same place we get out right to be rude to fast food workers, random people on the street or anyone else. From our constitutional right to free speech.

3. Actually, no, the police are not allowed to arrest you for unconstitutional reasons just because you've been rude to them. And being verbally rude to them for two minutes wouldn't mean that you "deserved" being locked up for the rest of the day even if the police were allowed.

CC

PG said...

Scott's attitude is exactly what has worried me the most about people's reactions to the Gates arrest. There are a disturbing number of Americans who seem to believe that they do not have the right to complain about how they are treated by a government agent -- yes, even complain in a rude, dickish way -- without getting arrested for it.

If Gates was being rude to the cop, hey, the cop could be rude right back. That puts both of them on a level playing field as American citizens who have freedom of speech. When the cop abuses the power granted to him by the government, on behalf of the citizenry and to be used for the citizenry's protection, in order to vindicate the cop's hurt feelings, the cop is in the wrong.

The number of people who believe the cop is in the right is very scary.

Chalicechick said...

Word.

CC

Desmond Ravenstone said...

OK, one more time...

I am not saying that the police sergeant in this case was right, or that Gates was to blame for the sergeant's behavior.

I'm trying to point out that there is a difference between saying "This cop should have been better trained to handle such situations" versus "This cop was a racist jerk."

And I'm hearin way too much of the latter, and little if any of the former. The latter is just pure reaction; the former tries to look at the various factors behind it as a step towards a solution.

As for your statistics, they ignore the very real distinction that we expect police officers to put their lives at risk. Not only do they routinely face dangerous individuals, but they are expected to protect the rest of us from them even if it means using force against them. So while it would be reasonable to compare police to firefighters and the military, I wouldn't make such a comparison with taxi drivers or trash collectors.

Lastly, while we may have a political right to free speech, we also have a moral responsibility to use that speech responsibly -- and to accept that there will be consequences when you don't.

This evening, the sergeant who arrested Gates has issued a terse statement that he refuses to apologize for his conduct. I think he needs to; more important, I believe his department needs to. Even if Gates was rude, the sergeant should have had the presence of mind to speak and carry himself in a way which de-escalated the situation. And while I can understand any police officer perceiving a threat to himself and those around him, all the more reason for police departments to train their personnel in how to evaluate and handle those situations better.

And all the more reason for us to take all the facts into account, and propose a constructive alternative, rather than blame only the cop for being a jerk.

PG said...

Desmond, what exactly do you think was the threat that the officer was perceiving to himself or to those around him at the point that he arrested Gates?

Lastly, while we may have a political right to free speech, we also have a moral responsibility to use that speech responsibly -- and to accept that there will be consequences when you don't.

Except those consequences aren't supposed to involve criminal charges. If you can be criminally charged for something, you don't have a right to it. I think it's morally irresponsible to burn flags as a form of political expression, because it denigrates something that is a very serious symbol to people who have fought and died for America. But I don't think a cop whose grandpa died in Korea should be able to arrest someone for flag-burning. I don't think that should be a consequence of exercising the freedom of speech. Losing dates, losing friends, even losing private-sector jobs or housing? Sure. Losing your liberty and going into a jail cell? No. Not ever.

The remedy for speech you find displeasing is more speech. Someone's yelling that you're a racist? Yell back that you're not and that he's a paranoid old negro playing the race card. That's not very professional for a cop to do, but it's not an abuse of power. Arresting someone to shut him up because you consider his exercise of free speech to be "morally irresponsible" is a massive abuse of the power we citizens have turned over to police officers.

I can understand why people from other countries don't find it problematic for a cop to arrest someone for saying something "morally irresponsible." That's what laws prohibiting Holocaust denial, hate speech, "group libel" and so on are supposed to do.

It genuinely blows my mind that Americans are so cavalier in giving up their -- or rather, black man Henry Louis Gates's -- right to speak without having government power used against them to silence their speech.

Desmond Ravenstone said...

"Desmond, what exactly do you think was the threat that the officer was perceiving to himself or to those around him at the point that he arrested Gates?"

Interestingly, I received an email from one of my police buddies, who had also read Gates' version of events. Let me excerpt his relevant comments:

Our first tasks on the scene are to make sure it's safe and to ascertain the facts of the situation. With a possible B&E, safety often comes first. When interviewing someone on the scene, it's been our experience that evading questions often means the interviewee has something to hide. It's only recently that community policing training has made many POs aware that such evasion could be for other reasons. [emphasis mine]

If I had been the first PO on the scene, I would have identified Mr Gates, explained we had report of a possible B&E, and would he please step outside to answer a few questions. If he refused to step outside, I would explain that this was to establish safety.

Older POs often don't understand that they have to explain procedure to civilians. That's why it's become a big element in community policing training.

There's alot in this account that bugs me. Why was the officer in question approaching the scene alone without backup? That's lousy procedure, he should have known better, even old school.

Here's the part which would address your question:

Lots of cops act on instinct, because many of the situations we go into require split-second decisions. That's why good training is vital.
[emphasis mine]

I don't know how the Cambridge PD is structured, whether they have a community policing board, but I would hope that they investigate this thoroughly. Either the officer in question did not follow procedure (my view he didn't, just based on not having backup) or their procedures and training need an overhaul.


So here you have a police officer who is looking at both sides, and offering constructive criticism. Contrast that to the rhetoric which some people have been throwing about here, with no solutions being offered.

PG said...

Desmond, that didn't answer my question about what threat was posed by Gates at the point of his arrest. Not at the point his driver shoved the front door open; not at the point he refused to step outside to speak with the officer; not at the point where he allegedly initially refused to show ID. At the point of the arrest, when the officer admits in his report that he had established Gates was the home-owner, and the officer was leaving the scene, what threat did Gates pose?

Bill Baar said...

PG,
An agitated person can pose a threat to themselves. You never know what a guy's on, or what their condition is, especially if they start acting out. Cops had an obligation to make sure the house clear and you have someone, even the owner, getting involved and then escalating the encounter, well, you get arrested. In hindsight everything is easy, but try walking into a situation like this cold, and not knowing who the heck Prof Gates is, and try to sort it out... tough job for a cop.

Robin Edgar said...

PG said: It genuinely blows my mind that Americans are so cavalier in giving up their -- or rather, black man Henry Louis Gates's -- right to speak without having government power used against them to silence their speech.

ROTFLMU*UO! What the fuck do you think Montreal Unitarian U*Us were doing when they had me falsely arrested on trumped up charges of "disrupting a religious service" or, much more recently, obtained a restraining order against me on the basis of perjurious bullshit about having "reasonable grounds to fear" that I would commit a "serious personal injury offense" against them. Oh for the broken U*U record. . . The person most responsible for that most recent perversion of justice that misuses and abuses state criminal law to censor and suppress my constitutionally guaranteed right to engage in peaceful public protest is a Harvard educated American by the name of Rev. Diane Rollert.

And do you *really* believe that Sgt. Crowley could have been rude and offensive in response to Gates race baiting without facing consequences when Gates filed the inevitable complaint against him?

hafidha sofia said...

The fact that so many people still blame Gates for his arrest is disappointing and yet, so old. The gap in understanding between people of different experiences remains, though I do think it's narrowing. The discussion isn't quite so depressing as it would have been 10 years ago.

Robin Edgar said...

Unjust arrest or not, if Gates had acted in a manner that was reasonably civil and respectful and cooperative towards the police he almost certainly would not have been arrested. The fact that he behaved like an arrogant self-important jerk, and appears not to have changed his tune much, does nothing to generate sympathy for him. If Gates *had* been reasonably civil and respectful and cooperative towards the police and was none-the-less completely unjustifiably arrested then I doubt many people would think that he brought it on himself. Gates has sown a whole lot of race-baiting wind that began before he was arrested, and he just might end up reaping a whirlwind.

Robin Edgar said...

In fact he *is* reaping a whirlwind in some parts of cyberspace.

PG said...

Bill,

"An agitated person can pose a threat to themselves."

Except there's no suggestion in the police report that the arrest was done for Gates's own safety because he was, what, flailing around and foaming at the mouth? Dude's standing on his own damn porch!

"And do you *really* believe that Sgt. Crowley could have been rude and offensive in response to Gates race baiting without facing consequences when Gates filed the inevitable complaint against him?"

Yes, actually. That would be a situation where it would be a complete he said-he said situation. (Kind of compounded, in a hearsay sorta way.) By the police officer's own report, taken as wholly true, he made an arrest based on Gates's expression. That violates the First Amendment.

In contrast, had the officer investigated the alleged B&E, found that there was no truth to it, exchanged some gibes with Gates, and walked out, there would be no complaint about false arrest, civil rights violations or anything else Gates may choose to bring now. There would just be Gates claiming, without witnesses or evidence, that cop was rude to him -- at a time when the cop was ensuring that Gates's own home hadn't been subject to a B&E. The sympathy for Gates in that situation would be minimal and the Cambridge municipal leaders (mayor, PD, et al) would have ignored it.

Robin, given that you're not an American and you appear to endorse Canada's restrictions on the content of speech, I am unsurprised that you are cool with the idea that someone's speech "brought upon himself" an arrest, i.e. a violation of his liberty. But that doesn't fit with the U.S. Constitution, and that's why I keep saying it surprises that any *Americans* feel that way. Thankfully, the folks who think someone's right to liberty should depend on how "sympathetic" he makes himself are not the majority in America yet.

Bill Baar said...

PG, A major reason people are put in restraints is for there own safety. At home, in Jail, where ever... you lose control of your emotions and all kinds of stuff happens.

It looks like Sgt Crowly taught the classes on racial profiling. He seems pretty competent from what I can tell. He doesn't seem stupid.

Not sure the same can be said for Gates here.

I hope this goes to civil trial.

PG said...

Bill,

And yet, this "pretty competent" cop who wrote out a police report where he carefully specified that Gates was "tumultuous" and "disorderly" in order to try to fit him under an actual crime... didn't mention in that report that he was cuffing Gates for his own safety.

In the absence of my committing a crime, if I choose to be "upset," as expressed by my standing on my own porch yelling at a government agent, you're telling me it's legal for cop to cuff me "for my own good"?

Disorderly conduct arrests have nothing to do with the arrestee's "own good." They are part of a prohibition on disturbing the public, i.e. the good of Other People.

Desmond Ravenstone said...

I'm reading a majority of folks here seemingly placing all blame on the cop, even justifying Gates' behavior. I'm reading a couple of people trying to justify the cop's actions, ignoring that it does not fit with the best community policing standards.

IMHO nobody is totally right or wrong here.

If you know that some cops are quick to arrest people for yelling at them and refusing to cooperate, why do it?

If you are law enforcement officer trained in how to defuse volatile situations, why ignore that training and make things worse?

And -- here's something no one seems to have discussed here -- we have Gates' version of events, we have the police version of events, but no independent corroboration of either from any disinterested third party.

Now, PG ... you keep asking what Gates did or said to make him a threat. Again, we have no third party corroboration, but all of my police pals can tell you that there are individuals who are not able to control their anger. They start with yelling and accusations, then escalate into outright threats and physically lashing out. That is why the best community policing procedures train officers in how to defuse and de-escalate an angry situation. My friends have all gone through such training and utilized it -- and yet they will still encounter people who do not respond to such de-escalation methods. And when that occurs, that's when they have to decide whether such a person is so volatile that it is safer to restrain them than let them go on. As peace officers, they do not have the option which we civilians have of walking away. Their duty requires that they respond, and that they put public safety first.

I've gotten emails from my police pals, who have also talked to their colleagues -- white, black and Latino. While they are cautious about making a hard and fast judgement, their consensus is that there are clear signs that Crowley and othr Cambridge PD officers were not adequately trained, as they were. They are not impressed with what they've read of Gates' behavior, but they are even more ashamed of how their brother officer reacted.

And, reading their emails, I find their measured tone and care with the facts quite refreshing indeed.

Bill Baar said...

A comment from O-Fish-L,

BREAKING:

Michele McPhee on 96.9 WTKK is reporting that the ceremonial Mayor of Cambridge is fighting hard to prevent the release of the police radio tapes containing Prof. Gates "sounding like a maniac" (so much for the bronchial infection) at the scene while Sgt. Crowley is completely calm.

Cue up Johnny Most: "It's all over! It's all over!"

DEVELOPING:::

Chalicechick said...

Unless those tapes have Gates physically threatening the officer, they change nothing and the arrest was still illegal.

CC

Bill Baar said...

I doubt it CC. You've clearly never been "out of it" with cops around.

If Gates outing-out like a maniac, well, he's gonna get restraints slapped on him and hauled in.

Call a suspicious-person-around-your-house into the cops, greet them at the door with your ID, and then act belligerent and maniac like...

...see if that doesn't get you somewhere without internet access.

Robin Edgar said...

:Robin, given that you're not an American and you appear to endorse Canada's restrictions on the content of speech,

I agree that actual "hate speech" should be restricted.

:I am unsurprised that you are cool with the idea that someone's speech "brought upon himself" an arrest, i.e. a violation of his liberty.

Gates' overall behavior, which included not only what he said but *how* he said it, led to his arrest whether it was justified or not. Gates repeatedly baited Crowley. His "disorderly conduct" brought on the arrest.

:But that doesn't fit with the U.S. Constitution,

Perhaps not.

:and that's why I keep saying it surprises that any *Americans* feel that way.

And that's why I pointed out that an *American* Unitarian minister not only had me arrested but obtained a year long restraining order, i.e. a violation of my liberty, on the basis of highly misleading and outright false testimony.

:Thankfully, the folks who think someone's right to liberty should depend on how "sympathetic" he makes himself are not the majority in America yet.

Quite right. I believe such people are an all but invisible minority known as *The* Tiny Declining Fringe Religion. . .

PG said...

Bill,

Anything come out of Rezko's trial that damages Obama yet? You know I'm counting on you to keep me updated there.

Desmond,

"As peace officers, they do not have the option which we civilians have of walking away. Their duty requires that they respond, and that they put public safety first."

And the threat to public safety of having a middle aged man yell for a couple minutes while standing on his own porch (which is separated from the public street by several yards of walkway on his own property -- GoogleMap 17 Ware Street and you can see Gates's whole house and how it's set back from the street) is ... what?

I have no defense of Gates's behavior as a matter of wisdom or etiquette. By his own account, he was testy; by the cop's account, he was rude, crude and insulting. But in America, that's not illegal. When someone has "provoked" me, I don't have the option of slapping cuffs on them because of my hurt feelings.

And I am disturbed by how many Americans think the onus is on us to behave nicely to the government so the government won't take our liberty. I don't care if the cop was well or poorly trained; if he defused the situation or was cussing Gates out. It is an abuse of state power to arrest a man for complaining about how he has been treated by the government, ESPECIALLY when you have told the man to come outside with you to get the information he wants and that Mass. law requires you to give him (cop's name and badge number).

Desmond Ravenstone said...

PG:

Your latest statement bothers me. Not only do you seem to be saying that Crowley and the Cambridge PD are 100 percent wrong, but that you would be quick to attack the police and label them thugs no matter what, even before all of the facts are out.

Let me point out what my friends in law enforcement have explained -- and please try to actually read this:

Police frequently run into irate, verbally abusive individuals. The best training shows them how to defuse the situation and help most people regain their composure. But some people do not calm down, and even continue to escalate with little or no provocation. And the collective experience of police is that a high percentage of such individuals don't stop at yelling and insulting, they get physical.

I've done some volunteer outreach on the streets, and I've encountered exactly those kind of individuals. You apologize, try to walk away, and they will follow you and start to threaten you and even begin to throw things at you.

Am I comparing Gates to those individuals? No, I am saying that Crowley wrongly did so. From the accounts I've read and heard, and based on the insights of the police I know, the best we can assume (emphasize assume) is that Crowley reacted to Gates' baiting and decided the only way to end the situation was to slap the cuffs on. And that is a very generous guess indeed.

Here is the difference between my perspective and yours. I am trying to determine what happened, how things went wrong, and how it could be corrected; that includes getting into the mindset of the police officers in question. You are simply bellyaching, lambasting cops as bullies, and offering no solution whatsoever.

When you say that you don't care how police behave or how well they are trained, you are saying that you don't want to be bothered with the facts or with the hard work of finding a solution. Worse, you've distorted my own position to the point of insult -- not only insulting me, but those police who serve us well and deserve better than to be stereotyped as you seem to be doing.

Robin Edgar said...

Desmond,

PG and CC and any number of other U*U bloggers never let the facts get in the way of a good story. . .

:Worse, you've distorted my own position to the point of insult

Happens all the time in the U*U blogosphere, to say nothing of the rest of the blogosphere, to say nothing of the words of U*U ministers and UUA officials. . .

You know what they say Desmond.

If you can't stand the heat get out of the bitchin'.

Chalicechick said...

Desmond,

I think a lot of us are trying to do the same thing.

What I can't get past, and what I think PG can't get past, is that Gates' constitutional rights were violated by the arrest and so many people are saying that Gates essentially deserved it.

As you say, it goes from insults, to threats to physical violence. The minute there was a real threat, the cuffs could have gone on and I would have been in favor of it. Without a threat, it is Gates protesting unfair treatment by the police, which is constitutionally protected free speecch.

As I think my FAQ reflects, I do see fault on both sides, however the ultimate responsibility has to fall on the guy who does law enforcement for a living and he's the one who doesn't even think violating Gates' constitutional rights is worth an apology.

I put this on another blog, but I will put it here:

Imagine Crowley's kid is in one of Gates' classes. One day Crowley's kid mouths off to Gates, Gates insults back, etc, etc, etc. And Gates gives the kid an unjustified "F" in his class.

Now, no matter who said what to whom, the person who has done the most wrong in this toy situation is Gates because he is the one who has misused his professional power.

I see Crowley's illegal arrest of Gates as along the same lines.

Does that make sense?

CC

Desmond Ravenstone said...

CC:

I would tend to lean towards what you are saying, but one thing bothers me.

At no time did I say that Gates "deserved" to be arrested. I simply tried to look at the perspective of the police, in order to understand how and why it happened. And what do I get as a response? Essentially, I'm lumped in with those accused of saying that Gates deserved to be arrested.

A lot of the rhetoric I've been reading on this has been reactive and extreme -- Gates was wronged, the cop was a jerk and/or racist, et cetera. No attempt to answer the question of what really happened as fully as possible before jumping to conclusions, or how to lessen the chance of it happening again.

Even Obama admitted to a poor choice of words in describing his perception of events. According to the news reports I've heard, he's even telephoned both Crowley and Gates, and even invited them to sit with him for a beer.

Maybe then there will be more listening and truth-seeking, and less accusing and attacking and stereotyping.

Chalicechick said...

OK, I don't think you think that and I apologize for lumping you in there. I didn't intend to.

I really am trying to figure out what happened as fully as possible, though I am also trying not to lose sight of the outcome because whatever the public decides about Gates and Crowley, I don't want the constitution to be the ultimate loser.

To me this was a complicated and subtle situation that lead up to a categorically unacceptable ending.

I am working to keep both sides of that equation in mind.

CC

PG said...

Desmond,

I have read every one of your comments in this thread completely and carefully. Did you read ME when I said, "I have no defense of Gates's behavior as a matter of wisdom or etiquette. By his own account, he was testy; by the cop's account, he was rude, crude and insulting."

Why do you take that as I "seem to be saying that Crowley and the Cambridge PD are 100 percent wrong, but that [I] would be quick to attack the police and label them thugs no matter what, even before all of the facts are out"?

1) No, as a matter of etiquette and common sense, Gates was in the wrong. That's why people keep citing Chris Rock's routine about how NOT to get your ass kicked by the police. I am not a black male, but I know better than to back-talk a cop as a *practical* matter, and I certainly wouldn't be rude to a cop who hadn't been rude to me. So if this were solely a question to Miss Manners, Gates would be deemed the wrongdoer. However, an arrest makes a social interaction go beyond Miss Manners's province.

2) Whom did I label a thug? Please quote and cite. The arrest is wrong as a Constitutional matter. People violate the Constitution all the time without being "thugs."

My public high school continued to have organized prayer at football games even after the Supreme Court ruled this to be unconstitutional in 2000. I don't consider those folks to be "thugs"; I think they're either (a) unaware of the law in this respect; (b) think the Court was wrong and are in deliberate civil disobedience; or (c) think they're in some way in compliance (e.g. "but we don't use a loudspeaker!").

There is no indication in the police report that Crowley considered Gates to be a physical threat to Crowley, the public, or Gates himself. Given how carefully that report was written (scrupulously including "tumultuous"), I find it implausible that if Crowley had been deeming Gates a physical danger Crowley arrested Gates for yelling at him in Gates's own home and on Gates's own damn porch. That's as far as Gates followed him: the perhaps five steps out of Gates's house to the edge of his porch before the steps. Crowley also apparently never followed the letter of Mass. law by exhibiting his state-issued police ID upon Gates's lawful request.

Having been trained as a lawyer instead of an etiquette expert or psychologist, what troubles me the most in the incident -- and actually more about the reaction of folks like you than the incident itself -- is that people want to flatten the incident down into "Gates misbehaved and Crowley misbehaved, now let's all try to learn from this and do better in the future."

If you frame this solely as a matter of better police training in that Crowley should have defused the situation, then you successfully erase the fact that Crowley's arrest of Gates was unconstitutional even by the facts presented in the police report. Those are the most police-positive facts we'll get. Let's assume that Gates was belligerant from the get-go, that he "yo mama-ed" Crowley, that he was yelling too loudly for him to hear Crowley's giving his name twice. Let's also assume that Crowley was defusing the situation as much as he could. THE ARREST IS STILL UNCONSTITUTIONAL. If I know that from the most police-positive facts, then how does it change my conclusion to know additional facts? (Other than the possibility you're throwing out there without any basis in the police report: that Crowley perceived Gates to be a physical threat to someone -- which, if it were true, actually would justify the arrest, which I thought was what you claimed not to be trying to do.)

PG said...

"I find it implausible that if Crowley had been deeming Gates a physical danger Crowley arrested Gates for yelling at him in Gates's own home and on Gates's own damn porch."

should be

"I find it implausible that if Crowley had been deeming Gates a physical danger, Crowley would have left that fact out of the police report, considering that the report contains tons of subjective statements about what was going through Crowley's head. Crowley arrested Gates for yelling at him in Gates's own home and on Gates's own damn porch."

Desmond Ravenstone said...

PG:

You keep distorting what I’ve said, dichotomizing the situation two ways:

1) That it is all about Constitutional law, not about anything else
2) Either you are for Gates and against Crowley, or vice versa; no allowance for seeing anything else

I’ve heard nothing from you but oversimplistic black-and-white thinking, and that really eats at me.

Not to mention your denigrating characterization that people “like me” are trying to “flatten the incident down into ‘Gates misbehaved and Crowley misbehaved, now let's all try to learn from this and do better in the future.’”

How about trying to figure out how police can better handle volatile situations so they don’t violate people’s rights? Did it ever occur to you that’s what people “like me” are looking for, at least in part? Or are you too busy thinking like an aggressive defense attorney to step back and look from another perspective?

PG said...

Sigh. Desmond, you seem reasonably intelligent, so if you're still going on about how I have a Manichean view of this incident in which one must either think Gates was 100% right and the cop 100% wrong, or vice versa; and that I think there's no considerations here for anyone except those of Constitutional law; you're evidently not bothering to read my comments (in which I have specified that Gates behaved in an unwise and ill-mannered way, and that as a matter of etiquette he's more in the wrong than Crowley) before you purport to respond to them. So I'm not going to bother addressing any more comments to you.

Robin Edgar said...

PG I think that Desmond Ravenstone's alleged or actual failure to understand your words may be because he is suffering from Ass Burger Syndrome or something. :-)

Chalicechick said...

Making fun of mental illness is not cool. If you want to do it someplace else, that's your business. But please don't do it here or I will start kicking posts where you do it.

Please don't decide to respond to this with "civil disobedience" by insulting the mentally ill repeatedly in this or any other thread.

CC

Robin Edgar said...

Calling CC. . . Calling CC. . .

I am not making fun of mental illness at all. As someone who has been repeatedly "diagnosed" as a "crazy" "psychotic" "nutcase", to say nothing of "psycho" by U*Us I would be an unlikely candidate for doing such a thing. No CC. I am just making fine of one Desmond Ravenstone who chose the duybious fate of "diagnosing" your's truly as someone with Asperger Syndrome aka Asperger's Disorder not so long ago. I was just making a pun aka wordplay that fir nicely with the virtual ass whipping I gave Desmond for being an ass with me. BTW Do you really consider Asperger's Syndrome to be a "mental illness" CC? I understand that Asperger's Syndrome is a form of autism. Is autism actually a "mental illness"? Are you aware that some of those people who actually have Asperger Syndrome do not like it when people characterize it as a "mental illness"?

:Please don't decide to respond to this with "civil disobedience" by insulting the mentally ill repeatedly in this or any other thread.

I did not actually insult the mentally ill, unless Desmond Ravenstone is mentally ill CC which I suppose is a possibility but it is not something that I am aware of at all. I was just making a pun that referenced *his* amateur "diagnosis" of me.

So, to the best of my knowledge, I am neither "making fun of mental illness" nor "insulting the mentally ill" in my comment(s). As someone who has worked in a half-way house for psychiatric patients, some of whom had quite serious mental illnesses, and who personally knows people suffering from various mental illnesses or intellectual challenges I do not go around making fun of them or insulting them. The same cannot be said about a good number of the U*Us I know who have repeatedly insulted me because they ignorantly believe I am mentally ill.

Robin Edgar said...

For example. . .

As you probably already know, Joel Monka snidely insinuated that I am a "psycho" with a classic example of what I call inU*Uendo in this comparatively recent blog post.

Only in that last week or two did I discover that some Anonymous U*U even characterized me as a "dangerously deranged psycho/sociopath" in this libelous comment on Politywonk's blog. It only occurs to me now that the prime suspect for posting that comment based on the evidence of its style and content is a certain U*U minister I have the misfortune to know. I must look into that possibility.

Chalicechick said...

If you're annoyed with Desmond, post to his blog, post to your blog, don't post it here, especially in a thread that has had fairly reasonable and on topic comments so far.

I have no idea who posted the "sociopath" bit. I don't like what Joel said either, Robin, but he didn't say it here. The Chaliceblog is enough trouble, I can't police the entire internet or keep a close enough eye on the entire internet to judge whether your treatment of someone is reasonable in light of their treatment of you. In lieu of that, I suggest that if you have a blog, you have plenty of opportunity to insult anyone you want without trying to turn an on-topic discussion into an insulting match here.

And yeah, making puns on the name of a mental disorder* and jokingly accusing someone of having it is not acceptable here no matter how you justify it.

Instead of fighting me on it, how about saying "Oh, ok. Sorry about that." and writing an on-topic comment?

CC

*Opinions of what to call Asperger syndrome vary WIDELY within the community. That an "illness" is something lots of people get and have and it is an easily understandable, accessible word with minimal bias and thus preferable is one argument that I've heard.

Some prefer "mental disorder" since that's the DSM's preferred terminology, some find that word even more inappropriate as it sounds less human.

A lot of people with Asperger's don't really care.

Robin Edgar said...

Well most of those who commented on my pertinent TEA blog post did care CC. . .

I don't see making puns on the name of a mental disorder to be unacceptable in and of itself CC. I dare say that this falls well within the First Amendment rights. . . Right CC?

:and jokingly accusing someone of having it is not acceptable here no matter how you justify it.

I did not do that CC. I jokingly suggested that Desmond's sorry virtual ass looked like virtual hamburger after my virtual whipping. I mean he *did* suggest that he likes to have his ass whipped until it bleeds didn't he? Keeping on topic here. . . if people of all races should have a right to be dicks to the police why can't I be a dick to erstwhile U*U "dom" (now TEA "sub". . .) Desmond Ravenstone? Can I be a dick to Totalitarian Unitarian "Citizens Police Officer" U*U COP? Why not the mentally ill for that matter CC? Why is it OK to be dicks to the police, but not OK to be dicks to the mentally ill CC? What if one encounters a mentally ill cop? What then CC? Not that I am suggesting that it is OK to be dicks to the police, mentally ill cops or otherwise, that's *your* bad. . . Maybe I should lay off Dr. Henry Louis Gates Jr. though CC, because the more I read about the guy, or *from* the guy, the more I think that he actually might be mentally ill, or at least suffer from some kind of personality disorder or something. I'm surprised the Cambridge police didn't haul him in for a psychiatric assessment. I define sanity as being able to distinguish between fantasy and reality and I am not convinced that Henry Louis Gates can do that these days. Maybe I should cut him some slack, since I do have a personal policy of being extra tolerant of the bad behavior of people who I know are mentally ill or intellectually challenged, but I wouldn't want to unjustly assume that Gates is mentally ill. He might take offense. . . Which raises an on-topic question CC -

Do you believe that the mentally ill have the right to be dicks to anyone they feel like being dicks to, or are quite unwittingly being dicks to, just because they are mentally ill? If not, just how much slack should we provide them with before *realing* them in a bit?

Chalicechick said...

In response to the on-topic portion of your comment:

(((Keeping on topic here. . . if people of all races should have a right to be dicks to the police why can't I be a dick to erstwhile U*U "dom" (now TEA "sub". . .) Desmond Ravenstone?)))

There's a difference between a constitutional restriction imposed on the government and a what someone is allowed to do in an area under their control. I worry about Canadian civics classes that you didn't know that.

Simply put, the First Amendment controls what representatives of the government (such as the police) can do, not what private individuals can do. So, for example, if you want to give a speech at your church that says abortion is murder, the police can't arrest you for it if the church allows it. But if someone wants to give a speech about how abortion is murder at your cocktail party, you can ask them to leave if you choose.

And I have never said that you don't have the right to be a dick to Desmond. (Or to mentally ill people) Indeed, I suggested that you should do it on your own blog. If you feel the need to repeat yourself, do it there.

I asked you not to do it here, which is no more and no less than anything else I ask of anyone else here.

Usually, if I think someone is mistreating someone else in my comments, I ask the mistreater to cut it out unless the person being mistreated is me. If it's me, I don't usually bother.

If you feel you're being mistreated on my blog by a commenter, tell me and I will try to get the person to cut it out. If you feel you've been mistreated someplace else, why settle the score on my blog in the middle of a conversation about something else?

As for your final question:

(((Do you believe that the mentally ill have the right to be dicks to anyone they feel like being dicks to, or are quite unwittingly being dicks to, just because they are mentally ill?))

I believe that dickish behavior can be called out as dickish behavior, and that the mental illness (perceived or otherwise) shouldn't come up as part of the criticism.

But I don't think dickish behavior that didn't take place on my blog needs to be punished here.

CC

PG said...

For some people, being mistreated in a particular way (e.g., by having others dismiss their concerns, that are socio-politically discomforting and don't fit with preconceptions, by calling the person expressing those concerns mentally ill) would cause them to see that that such mistreatment is a bad thing and should not happen to anyone.

Evidently for Robin, being mistreated convinced him that HE shouldn't be treated that way, but that he ought to treat others that way, because it's not the mistreatment that's bad, only that it's happened to him.

Chalicechick said...

You know what would be fun? Staying on topic.

Can we try that?

CC
who doesn't think other people insulting Robin is any more productive than Robin insulting other people.

Bill Baar said...

PG @Bill, Bill, Anything come out of Rezko's trial that damages Obama yet? You know I'm counting on you to keep me updated there.

Blagojevich's trial starts next June... in 2010. A Judge is deciding now if the 400 hours of tape recordings of calls can be made public before the trail.

What came out of Rezko's trial was Obama was a frequent visitor to Blagojevich's campaign office.

I think Blagojevich's trial will be devastating for the Administration. Especially if we continue with double digit unemployment into next year. People will be ticked and listen to audio of key administration players talking like Chicago Ward Heelers..(which they are).

Rod Blagojevich is hosting a talk radio show now and causing havac among Democrats. Don't expect him to go down alone.

PG said...

Bill,

We didn't know before Rezko's trial that the junior Democratic senator from Illinois would have visited the Democratic governor of Illinois's campaign office? Or we just didn't know how many visits it was? (How many visits did the Rezko trial indicate it was?)

BTW, I listened to the part of the Gates police tape that Cambridge PD has released to the media... you can't actually make out anything Gates is saying; Crowley at no point claims that Gates is posing any kind of threat, only that he is "uncooperative"; and the ease with which one can hear what Crowley is saying while he's standing in the house makes me skeptical of his claim that Gates's yelling combined with the acoustics of the kitchen necessitated Crowley's going outside the house in order to report information over the radio.

Did you find anything in the tape that was worse for Gates than for Crowley?

Bill Baar said...

@PG,

Rahm said Blagojevich, Obama, and himself met weekly.

Robin Edgar said...

"I have no idea who posted the "sociopath" bit."

I do CC. Go back and read it and compare the style and content to other U*U bloggers and I think that you will come up with a prime suspect if you put your investigative reporter hat on. BTW I find it most ironic that you seem to think that someone labeling me as a -

"Dangerously Deranged Psycho/Sociopath"

is only "unfair" in light of how you reacted to my comparatively harmless humorous pun on Asperger Syndrome. It's not like I was actually suggesting that Desmond suffered from Asperger's Syndrome or anything. Meanwhile someone who I have very reasonable grounds to believe is a certain unmentionable U*U minister can publicly slander me as a "Dangerously Deranged Psycho/Sociopath" and that is only "unfair". . . Yes, I guess according to the First Amendment U*U clerics have a right to be dicks to The Emerson Avenger but is it advisable CC? I think I just might have to take them to task for their disorderly conduct aka disturbing the peace. . .

Robin Edgar said...

And of course it's perfectly OK for you to go around labeling people as nutjobs and morons eh CC? I seem to recall that moron, idiot, and imbecile were official medical classifications of mentally retarded people not so long ago CC or is it verbotten to say mentally retarded here too?

Chalicechick said...

""If you feel you've been mistreated someplace else, why settle the score on my blog in the middle of a conversation about something else?""


""I believe that dickish behavior can be called out as dickish behavior, and that the mental illness (perceived or otherwise) shouldn't come up as part of the criticism.

But I don't think dickish behavior that didn't take place on my blog needs to be punished here.""