Liberty and Lippiness

Criticizing the police shouldn't be a crime.

A few minutes into the police encounter that ended with his arrest for disorderly conduct, Henry Louis Gates Jr. reportedly exclaimed, "This is what happens to black men in America!" It would be more accurate to say this is what can happen to anyone who makes the mistake of annoying a cop.

Whether or not race played a role in the incident, Cambridge police Sgt. James Crowley clearly abused his authority, retaliating against the Harvard professor for his disrespect by hauling him away in handcuffs. The highly publicized arrest illustrates the threat posed by vague laws that give too much discretion to police officers who conflate their own personal dignity with public safety.

Crowley, responding to a report of a possible burglary in progress from a woman who saw Gates forcing open a jammed door to his house, quickly realized he was not dealing with a break-in. Gates explained that he lived in the house, which he leases from Harvard, and supplied a university ID confirming that he was a member of the faculty. Gates says he became angry because Crowley nevertheless continued to question him.

Even if we accept Crowley's version of events, the arrest was not justified (a conclusion reinforced by the city's decision to drop the charge). Let's say Gates did initially refuse to show his ID—an understandable response from an innocent man confronted by police in his own home. Let's say he immediately accused Crowley of racism and behaved in a "loud and tumultuous" fashion. So what? By Crowley's own account, he arrested Gates for dissing him. That's not a crime, or at least it shouldn't be.

In Massachusetts, as in many states, the definition of disorderly conduct is drawn from the American Law Institute's Model Penal Code. A person is considered disorderly if he "engages in fighting or threatening, violent or tumultuous behavior...with purpose to cause public inconvenience, annoyance or alarm" or "recklessly creates a risk thereof."

Crowley claims Gates recklessly created public alarm by haranguing him from the porch of his house, attracting a small crowd that included "at least seven unidentified passers-by" as well as several police officers. Yet it was Crowley who suggested that Gates follow him outside, thereby setting him up for the disorderly conduct charge.

It's hard to escape the conclusion that Crowley was angered and embarrassed by Gates' "outburst" and therefore sought to create a pretext for arresting him. "When he has the uniform on," a friend later told The New York Times, "Jim has an expectation of deference."

As the Massachusetts Appeals Court has noted, "the theory behind criminalizing disorderly conduct rests on the tendency of the actor's conduct to provoke violence in others." Yet police officers often seem to think the purpose of such laws is to punish people for talking back to cops.

"You don't get paid to be publicly abused," Michael J. Palladino, president of New York City's Detectives Endowment Association, told the Times last week. "There are laws that protect against that." A Brooklyn police officer agreed, saying, "I wouldn't back down if there's a crowd gathering. If there's a group and they're throwing out slurs and stuff, you have to handle it."

In this context, the relevance of the gathering crowd is not the potential for a riot but the potential for losing face. A policy of zero tolerance for public slights may be appropriate for a gangster, but it's not appropriate for a peace officer charged with enforcing the law.

Among other things, the law guarantees the right of citizens to criticize public officials. Sometimes the criticism is justified. In fact, the more outrageous police conduct is, the more likely it is to provoke an angry response that can be cited as the basis for a disorderly conduct arrest.

When a police officer faces unfair criticism, the best response may be to walk away. Sometimes swallowing your pride takes more courage than standing your ground.

Jacob Sullum is a senior editor at Reason and a nationally syndicated columnist.

© Copyright 2009 by Creators Syndicate Inc.

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  • ||

    But you were not there!
    Look at all the support he is getting from cops of all stripes!

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Even if we accept Crowley's version of events, the arrest was not justified (a conclusion reinforced by the city's decision to drop the charge).

    While I wholeheartedly agree that the arrest was bee ess, I disagree that fact had anything to do with the speedy dismissal. Gates knew the Governor and the President and had access to a phone.

  • ||

    A few minutes into the police encounter that ended with his arrest for disorderly conduct, Henry Louis Gates Jr. reportedly exclaimed, "This is what happens to black men in America!" It would be more accurate to say this is what can happen to anyone who makes the mistake of annoying a cop.

    But black men in America are more likely to find themselves in a situation where a cop might be annoyed by their behavior. From an ACLU study: Initial reports state that in 2006, the Department completed stop-and-frisk forms on 508,540 individuals. Of that number, only 50,436 were arrested or received summonses, leaving 458,104 people, or 90 percent of all people stopped, found to have engaged in no unlawful activity. According to the Department, 85.7 percent of all persons stopped were black or Hispanic.

  • Dead Horse||

    Beat me! Beat me!

  • KingShamus||

    Yes, but...Henry Louis Gates is a dick.

  • ||

    Equine feces!

    Gates insulted the cop's mother. Gave the cop a "Yo mamma joke". He is lucky the cop didn't beat his head in with his night stick.

    Look, what would the response have been if the cop had made a derogatory comment about Gates's mother? Both are citizens, with equal rights. If you defend Gates's freedom to make cracks about the cop's mom, you'd have to defend the cop in the reverse situation, right?

  • ||

    What ever happened to common decency and respect?

    All signs point to the professor having an attitude from the beginning. It's easy to criticize the cop, but why so little mention from the Reason bloggers about how Gates is deny 60 years of racial progress preferring to thrust race to forefront of what should have been a simple investigation.

    Crowley may have overstepped his authority in the arrest, but it is reasonable to think that he never would have been arrested if he had presented his DL to prove residence and thanked the officer for checking on his home.

    This is not a matter of a white cop pulling over a black man for no reason, nor stopping a black man walking down the street. There was call to 9-1-1 and Crowley had to verify that there was no criminal activity. Gates chose the low road.

  • ||

    Let's say Gates did initially refuse to show his ID-an understandable response from an innocent man confronted by police in his own home. "

    I disagree. I want my neighbors to call the cops if they think my house is being burgled. I would hope the cops would actually show up. When they do, it is no unreasonable of me to show my ID and clear the whole thing up. I don't want the cop to just take my word for it that I live there because I wouldn't want him to take a burglars word for it. It is entirely reasonable for me to show him that I live there and my neighbors were mistaken.

    The cop has to do his job. If he leaves and I am there to rob the place, he is in trouble. If he takes my word for it and I am there violating a restraining order waiting to beat the shit out of my wife when she comes home, she is in trouble. It is not a reasonable response for me to tell the cop to fuck off in that situation.

    It is not the case that some cop just randomly came up and started harassing Gates. He was responding to a call. It is just not reasonable to tell the cop to fuck off and refuse to show your ID and establish you really live there. If Gates refused to give any proof of residence, he was being unreasonable.

    Suppose for a moment that Gates really did only produce a Harvard ID and didn't show any proof he lived there. What is the cop supposed to do? You can say he should just leave, but then you better be willing to live with the consequences of him doing that every time and a odd burglar or angry ex-husband being allowed to rob the house or do whatever. That may be a good idea. But, that is not reality. The fact is that the cop would get hung out to dry for the odd case. When Gates refused to provide ID, the cop either had to stand his ground or leave and hope for the best. I don't think "leave and hope for the best" is very good policy.

    I don't think it is much of an infringement on my freedom to say that when the cops show up at my house mistakenly thinking that I broke into it that I politely show them that I live there. If I refuse, then I really don't blame the cop for not leaving until I do.


    This case is indicative of nothing other than the fact that Gates is a complete asshole and the cop apparently didn't have the patience of Job. I really don't understand why Reason is so obsessed with it. There are like 100 more worthy events of police stupidity and brutality than this one. I am shocked and appalled by things like the deaf kid in Alabama getting tazered. I am not shocked at all that Gates was such a dick he finally pissed off a cop enough to bend the law of disorderly conduct. It is not like Gates was polite and the cop just went berserk. Yeah, it probably was a mistake to arrest Gates. But, I have a hard time having any sympathy for Gates. All he had to do was politely show them proof that he lived there and ask them to leave.

  • Art-P.O.G.||

    I thought for a second there that the title was "...on Talking Black to Cops".

  • ||

    Yes. It is your right to be rude to a cop and a crime for him to arrest you for it. It is also your right to be rude to anyone and a crime for them to kick the shit out of you for it. But, if you walked around acting Gates did in this situation, I won't have a lot of sympathy for you when someone kicks the shit out of you.

  • Art-P.O.G.||

    Like, Ebonics and stuff.

  • Daniel||

    "I really don't understand why Reason is so obsessed with it. There are like 100 more worthy events of police stupidity and brutality than this one. I am shocked and appalled by things like the deaf kid in Alabama getting tazered. I am not shocked at all that Gates was such a dick he finally pissed off a cop enough to bend the law of disorderly conduct."

    Werd.

    Exactly. As much as Reason bloggers obsess over this, it seems to weaken this sites perception of being 'Reason'able.

  • Dead Horse||

    That's a nice novella you've written, John. It looks familiar, though...
    Now where have I seen it...

  • Fluffy||

    New at Reason: Jacob Sullum Trolling For Hits

    I have expended more energy debating this subject than anyone, and even I am a little bit sick of it.

    Wouldn't it be a better idea now that we've sucked all the life out of the Gates incident to go into Radley's files, pick the 5 most obscene cases, and blanket every site and media outlet still covering this Gates story with "What does the Gates case tell us about these other cases?" type stories?

  • Art-P.O.G.||

    Or: The Dangers of Beating a Dead Horse in front of an Equestrian Cop.

  • ||

    If Gates would have shown respect for the policeman, this incident would not have happened. It's just that simple. Do not resist, it is a policeman's job to take control of a situation. If a person acts like an "asshole" then he must be treated like an "asshole".

  • robc||

    If you defend Gates's freedom to make cracks about the cop's mom, you'd have to defend the cop in the reverse situation, right?

    Yes. And, as a public employee on the job at the time, I would also support his being fired for the comment.

    Part of his job is to ignore cracks about his mom.

  • robc||

    If a person acts like an "asshole" then he must be treated like an "asshole".

    Asshole isnt an arrestable offense. Assholes should get ignored by cops.

  • hmm||

    If Gates would have shown respect for the policeman, this incident would not have happened. It's just that simple. Do not resist, it is a policeman's job to take control of a situation. If a person acts like an "asshole" then he must be treated like an "asshole".

    If the officer had done his job and only his job this incident would not have happened.

    See how that works? Can you point me to the part of the penal code in any state that makes being an asshole illegal or punishable or even a cause for detention? (I'd prefer the actual text and reference)

  • hmm||

    *I should state being an asshole toward a cop on your own property.

  • ||

    You're not gonna look in the trunk are you, officer?

  • Art-P.O.G.||

    Assholes should get ignored by cops.

    Unless visible to the public. Indecent exposure.

  • Daniel||

    Perhaps Reason is just turning into any other news/media outlet...Hawking on subjects repeatedly that are polarizing and get the Discussion traffic.

  • Ben Kenobi||

    Much as I hate to defend the police, I agree with John in this situation. Gates was clearly looking to make an issue of this.

  • hmm||

    I've worked as a civil servant. I didn't have the authority to arrest outright(I could call the police for anyone interfering with my "official duties"), but I can tell you I have been cussed at, spit at, called a racist, threatened, had things thrown at me, and was actually once physically attacked by a crazy ass housewife. It happens, people get angry, get emotional, say stupid shit, and usually regret it shortly after. Most of the time I had to deal with people I had little problem in getting to a point where everyone was at least civil. Rarely did any of the incidents go beyond the person and myself.

    An interesting note to this is the municipality I worked for was distinct in that one portion was low income ghetto crack houses and all with the southern portion having mansions as much as $10m. The people that would carry on the most and be absolutely irrational were the higher income people. The housewife that jumped me was actually living on one of the 5 most expensive streets in the city. The lower income portion of town usually consisted of the person being angry, but angry about a lot of things the city was doing and I just served as the one city official that would listen. After a discussion it was either resolved or more often than not the conclusion that we are all fucked was reached.

    Biggest asshole I ever dealt with was an attorney for the largest firm here. He actually got himself arrested in another confrontation with a city employee.

  • ||

    The real story is not the minor scuffel between a police officer & a citizen, it is the curtain opening showing the President's true character, or lack of:

    -----------------------------
    prej·u·dice (prj-ds)
    n.
    1.
    a. An adverse judgment or opinion formed beforehand or without knowledge or examination of the facts.
    b. A preconceived preference or idea.
    2. The act or state of holding unreasonable preconceived judgments or convictions. See Synonyms at predilection.
    3. Irrational suspicion or hatred of a particular group, race, or religion.
    4. Detriment or injury caused to a person by the preconceived, unfavorable conviction of another or others.
    ------------------------------
    need I say more?

  • ||

    Stupid arrogant cops, they think they are above all. What a joke!

    RT
    www.anon-web-tools.tk

  • E. H. Munro||

    While I wholeheartedly agree that the arrest was bee ess, I disagree that fact had anything to do with the speedy dismissal. Gates knew the Governor and the President and had access to a phone.



    Who Gates was was irrelevant. The Massachusetts SJC has been pretty clear that one can not be guilty of "disorderly conduct" except in places that the public has access to. Places which do not include Gates' foyer.

    There was no chance that the charges would ever stick, even if we granted that the officer's account of the events was true (and let's face it, his account is untrammeled malarky). Even if we're discussing a nobody, bringing prosecution would have made a wrongful arrest suit a certainty. Ultimately, even if they'd arrested you in similar circumstances the charges would have been dropped the minute you agreed not to sue.

  • PantsFan||

    can anonominity bot win the thread? because he just did.

  • Art-P.O.G.||

    Gates was clearly looking to make an issue of this.

    I think Reason's trying to make an issue out of it too, if you know what I'm saying.

    If you get what I'm talkin 'bout...

    Fuck you for not laughing.

  • Fluffy||

    The people that would carry on the most and be absolutely irrational were the higher income people. The housewife that jumped me was actually living on one of the 5 most expensive streets in the city. The lower income portion of town usually consisted of the person being angry, but angry about a lot of things the city was doing and I just served as the one city official that would listen. After a discussion it was either resolved or more often than not the conclusion that we are all fucked was reached.

    I see statements like this all the time, and I often want to commiserate and say, "Yeah, those rich people are assholes."

    But looking at your whole story, it may also be that rich people are just less inclined to buckle under and say, "Yeah, we're all fucked, so I guess I'll just give in and not expect my problem to get fixed."

    I would guess that the biggest assholes you will have to deal with would combine "Expects to be able to get a situation fixed properly" with "Doesn't understand that there's nothing you can personally do about it".

    It's easier to be docile when you're powerless. I personally have no problem accomodating myself to authority IRL, because I know what fights I can't win. But if I thought I could win more fights, I would probably be a huge dick. If I thought I could win lots and lots of fights, I would probably be Public Enemy Number One.

  • Art-P.O.G.||

    I think anonymity bot is a glibertarian.

  • The Angry Optimist||

    Fluffy, in case you didn't know, we're on Round 2 with Patterico, if you're so inclined.

    Oh, that's for the rest of you, too:

    To Arms.

    The basic update is that Patterico's admitted that the arrest was wrong and that Gates' wasn't breaking the law. However, Jack Dunphy's "analogy" and his choice to juxtapose it with this case is AAAAALLLL a coincidence - no reason to read into or anything!

  • ||

    "Whether or not race played a role in the arrest of Henry Louis Gates for disorderly conduct, says Senior Editor Jacob Sullum, Cambridge police Sgt. James Crowley clearly abused his authority, retaliating against the Harvard professor for his disrespect by hauling him away in handcuffs."

    I don't understand how so many people can be so confident of this.

    During his radio interview, the officer gave what seemed to be a plausible reason for asking Gates to go outside, and that is that he didn't know if anyone else was in the house; all he got was a call that someone was breaking into the house. Gates' decision to ask him to go outside with him either was or was not appropriate. Gates stated reasoning for it seems plausible.

    Also, people keep saying that Gates was in his own home (though I know this isn't in the quoted text above). But from the way the story is relayed, apparently Gates did not originally go outside with Crowley when the request was made, but later when, according the Crowley, Gates was shouting at him.

    You cannot act however you want, even on your own property. No one has disputed that the shouting was taking place outdoors. If that is the case, and Gates was shouting aggressively at Crowley, then Gates' behavior was entering the public space, regardless of whether he was technically on his own property. If I throw a party and stand on my lawn and holler loudly, I can, in theory, get arrested, and this doesn't seem unreasonable (depending on the volume of the hollering).

    Now, in order to know whether Gates' behavior out in the yard rose to the level of disorderly conduct, I would have had to have been present, which I wasn't.

    Anyone? Who was there? Anyone?

  • Art-P.O.G.||

    I would probably be Public Enemy Number One.

    Fluffy: The Shame of A Nation

  • The Angry Optimist||

    Now, in order to know whether Gates' behavior out in the yard rose to the level of disorderly conduct, I would have had to have been present, which I wasn't.



    Wrong - short of causing a riot, Massachusetts law makes it clear that just about anything you could plausibly attribute to Gates' behavior is NOT disorderly conduct. I know you're practically begging for there to be a way that Daddy Cop and State were right, because it's part of your faith, but you're just wrong on the law.

  • ||

    Angry Optimist,

    STFU, you have no idea what my view is of "Daddy Cop" and the "State."

    I had no idea you were such an expert of Massachusetts law. Do you imagine that all the folks asserting that Crowley was wrong are equally expert?

    And you'll have to forgive me, but going on your hasty appraisal of my motives, I'm going to remain suspicious of your claim that people in scenarios like this one, in Massachusetts, can behave however they want in terms of conduct "short of causing a riot."

    But I'm open to sources...

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Jay J, how dare you bring shades of gray into our black and white situation. Not dyn-o-mite, dude. Not dyn-o-mite at all.

  • Tom||

    Whether or not race played a role in the arrest of Henry Louis Gates for disorderly conduct, says Senior Editor Jacob Sullum, Cambridge police Sgt. James Crowley clearly abused his authority, retaliating against the Harvard professor for his disrespect by hauling him away in handcuffs.

    That is a crime, it is called contempt of cop.

  • Fluffy||

    Now, in order to know whether Gates' behavior out in the yard rose to the level of disorderly conduct, I would have had to have been present, which I wasn't.

    No, you wouldn't.

    The Massachusetts courts have specifically ruled that shouted abuse at police officers is protected political speech and can't get you arrested for disorderly conduct.

    http://www.volokh.com/posts/1248465451.shtml

    Defendant who did not physically resist his arrest arising out of a domestic violence incident could not be convicted of disorderly conduct based solely on his loud and angry tirade, which included profanities, directed at police officers as he was being escorted to police cruiser, even if spectators gathered to watch defendant; defendant did not make any threats or engage in violence, and his speech did not constitute fighting words. Com. v. Mallahan (2008) 72 Mass.App.Ct. 1103, 889 N.E.2d 77, 2008 WL 2404550.

    And -

    Defendant's conduct, namely, flailing his arms and shouting at police, victim of recent assault, or both, after being told to leave area by police, did not amount to "violent or tumultuous behavior" within scope of disorderly conduct statute, absent any claim that defendant's protestations constituted threat of violence, or any evidence that defendant's flailing arms were anything but physical manifestation of his agitation or that noise and commotion caused by defendant's behavior was extreme. Com. v. Lopiano (2004) 805 N.E.2d 522, 60 Mass.App.Ct. 723.



    A US federal appeals court has issued a similar ruling:

    http://andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com/the_daily_dish/2009/07/quote-for-the-day-ii-3.html

    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. > 17 > 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,



    This is why many of us have had so little patience for defenses of Crowley's actions. They're based on a popular intuition - that it's disorderly conduct to yell at police in public in Massachusetts - that has no basis in law.

    It's also why the whole "None of us were there," line of argument is invalid. We don't have to have been there. Crowley lists the charge he was arresting Gates for on the police report and makes no claim in that report that Gates did anything that would support the charge. We don't have to hear tapes of Gates, or know how loud he was, or know where he was standing, or how long he yelled for, or any of the things people keep claiming we "need" to know before making a judgment, because all of that is irrelevant.


  • ||

    Fluffy, I was always fairly confident growing up in this country that unless I intentionally violated a law, I would be safe from prosecution because reasonable people would be able to come to some sort of positive resolution in any situation and be done to move on with their lives. Then I started reading Reason and discovered everyone can be fucked over at some point. There are many people in public service with the power to fuck you over who are not reasonable people.

    I think the less educated just don't know their rights as well as those higher income people, or they don't know what money can get you enough to bother.

    And rich people are assholes.

  • Fluffy||

    I think this thread is a good example of why this horse won't die.

    It goes like this:

    1. Reason contributing editor starts redundant thread.

    2. Everyone groans.

    3. People post that this is beating a dead horse.

    4. Others agree that they are sick of the topic.

    5. General agreement is voiced that Crowley was legally wrong, but Gates was a dick.

    6. Thread is on life support about to die.

    7. Someone shows up and posts, "This was a totally legitimate arrest, you guys are nuts". Commenter then shouts, "Clear!" and electroshocks thread's chest.

    8. Thread rises up to live again.

    9. ROARRRRRRR! [Thread roars.]

    10. Profit!

  • Dead Horse Beat Much?||

    Gawd, man, give it a rest.

  • The Angry Optimist||

    Jay J - I figured that Fluffy would be along shortly to straighten you out. Now, run along to school; hopefully Daddy State packed you a lunch.

  • Dead Horse Beat Much? ||

    Oooops! Dead Horse beat me to it...

  • ||

    Fluffy,

    Thank you for the references. I'm surprised that free speech extends so far as to protect that kind of behavior. I suppose intuitively, I have a wider understanding of what constitute fighting words, but I understand that that is a matter for the courts in Mass.

    So I throw myself at the mercy of this court...

    One small clarification- my intuition was never that it was illegal to yell at police officers. I actually find it a bit irrelevant whether or not an officer in the target of the abusive or loud language.

    I know if I stood in my yard and yelled, "Smurf it" loudly enough for long enough, it seems plausible that I could get arrested, as I have neighbors very close. Through on top of all this that the language was hostile, and that people were gathering to watch, I am genuinely surprised that there is total freedom to scream insulting and loud things in a residential area, even in Mass...

  • ||

    Angry Optimist,

    Shut the Fuck Up. You have no idea what my views are. You're a hasty little prick.

  • The Angry Optimist||

    Oh, I have a pretty good idea what your views are.

  • ||

    "Exactly. As much as Reason bloggers obsess over this, it seems to weaken this sites perception of being 'Reason'able."

    Hey, it's either this or that little leftist dweeb Suderman's Palin posts.

    Now it's off to the vomitorium.

  • ||

    Angry Optimist,

    I know you feel that way, that's why you're obviously a hasty prick.

  • Hank||

    "Asshole isnt an arrestable offense."

    It should be.

  • Fluffy||

    Jay,

    I don't think you're being unreasonable.

    On the contrary, I think the police have worked very hard to try to create an environment where the public believes that it's illegal to shout at them. [Not as a conspiracy, just as a natural occupational imperative.] So it's not surprising that many people actually think that. So many cops have gotten away with so many bad arrests that the public now thinks that they're good arrests.

    Taser stories are like this, too. So many cops have used the taser as a bullwhip to drive their slaves to the fields that the public now thinks that's what a taser is FOR.

  • ||

    Did I really read someone saying "You can't act however you want, even on your own property." Did I really read that? The fact is, not showing deference or respect to the police or anyone else is not and should not be a crime. The police are supposed to be paid professionals. They are supposed to act professionally, which means not using any personal affront as an excuse to arrest somebody. It amazing me the people in hear defending the idea that being disrespectful and merely uncooperative with the police should be a crime.

  • Seward||

    John,

    I want my neighbors to call the cops if they think my house is being burgled. I would hope the cops would actually show up.

    Wouldn't that depend on the neighbor? Doesn't that also mean that you are at the mercy of what your neighbor does? Furthermore, what if you have just recently moved in and have no immediate evidence that you actually live there? Or what if you are staying over?

    I really have no desire for my neighbors to be the judges of what is happening in my home.

  • ||

    Great article. I don't see how someone can create a public nuisance with actions confined to inside their own home. Yes, playing a stereo too loud can be a public nuisance, but it's because the soundwaves leave the house into public space.

    Gates was arrested for misdemeanor harm to police officer's ego - nothing more. As Obama said, STUPID.

    But in America we LOVE police officers. They're always the hard-working good guys. So even though Obama was absolutely correct in saying the officer's actions were stupid, how long until Obama caves in and apologizes to the police? All the police unions and lobbyists (police should not be allowed to have lobbyists as it's against public policy) are demanding he apologize, and like usual, I think he'll cave in any day now. It's why Obama is such a weak president - always caves in, always settles, always looks for the middle ground, can't make any substantive decisions. As bad as he was, at least Bush really was a "decider" (no matter who was pulling his strings).

  • Art-P.O.G.||

    Jay J, how dare you bring shades of gray into our black and white situation.

    You give Jay, and yourself, too much credit Fist of Etiquette.

  • ||

    DWCarkuff,

    I wrote that. Are you asserting that it's wrong? You know what it would take in order for it to be wrong don't you? There would be no limits on your behavior at all, so long as you were standing on your own proerty.

  • hmm||

    Fluffy | July 29, 2009, 9:01am | #



    It isn't about what can and can't be done. The people that I noticed getting the most done were the lower income people who had neither the time or the money to actual fight or push city hall to do something. The more affluent tended to think that they could call and just demand something, while often the less affluent would call and ask or inquiry about getting something done.

    My point was more to a personal nature. The lower income, often black, people would often be outraged (rightfully so in some cases) and use me as the punching bag (due to my job I was pretty visible and often face to face on the property owners turf). Often the resolution reached with the less affluent was I will do what I can, here's your alderman's name and number, here's the number to the person you need to contact at city hall. Call often, be polite, but make sure to be the pain in the ass. The squeaky wheel gets the oil in cities.

    With the more affluent people I would get a lot more instances of demands. I'd hear "you need to..." and "I pay your salary..." more often from them. Oddly most didn't shop or pay sales tax in the city since the nicer stores were just over the city limit line and most of our sales tax came from in the lower income area and business district. The attitude of a lot of the people in the more expensive areas was arrogant and demeaning. The typical I'm important and you're just some retarded civil servant (the latter is true in a lot of cases, but assuming this from the get go is a mistake) was the norm as soon as they heard something they didn't like. I also heard how I was going to be fired in the more affluent area.

    The point is it wasn't all about capitulation to authority. It was more about how each group approached a confrontation or issue from the start or as soon as the outcome was not to their liking. I was usually fucked no matter what I did and someone was going to complain or be unhappy. I just had an easier time reaching an agreement and actually changing some ordinance and procedures dealing with those that were less economically well off. Those who were better off often just wanted to bitch, moan, threaten and get their way.

  • ||

    Fluffy,

    Thanks for the explanation. And I suppose there is a distinction between disorderly conduct and disturbing the peace.

    In my own experience, being on your own property does not protect you from speaking at any volume you chose. And I surprised that it protects any level of hostility so long as there is no specific threat of violence (and once again, thanks for the explanation, but again I never thought it had anything to do with yelling *at* a police officer. Rather it was the volume and content of what he said, regardless of the target of the words, but I see that the law doesn't line up with my intuition).

  • hmm||

    I should say that there were some very affluent people who spent enormous amounts of time and energy in areas that directly related to my responsibilities. The volunteers and participants came from all areas of the city, but they were organized and funded (both out of pocket and fund raisers/donations) by a group of people that were better off than most. That group is, and has been, used as a template for several other cities both in this state and others. Not all the better off people were assholes, my statements are a generalization of many encounters and there are always exceptions. Like the drunk crack head who tried to kung fu me. Oh the good old days.

  • ||

    Can someone enlighten me on what these "fighting words" might be?

    Which of these would be "fighting words"?

    "Fuck you you honky muthafucka"
    "Stupid nigger"
    "I'll talk to yo mama outside"
    "let's fight"
    "I'll fuck you up"
    "yo Casper"
    "I could kick your ass"
    "For a magazine called Reason..."

  • ||

    hmm,

    My general experience is that poor black people are just nicer people in general than rich white people. If my car broke down and I needed help, I am more likely to get it in a black neighborhood. In a white neighborhood they will at best drive by and ignore me and at worst call the cops on me.

  • ||

    @ Nick

    "I think the less educated just don't know their rights as well as those higher income people"

    People in general don't know their rights.

    Take some time to watch the tv show Cops. It's quite revealing of both how police officers view rights (in particular the 4th amendment), and how well citizens know theirs. It's scary.

  • ||

    I read through the Mass Criminal Law Statute and the you could make a case that Gates was quilty of obstructing justice as he was interfering with the police investigating a potential crime. It is a little weak, but does seem to be reasonable.

  • hmm||

    The only rights I really dealt with were property rights. Easements and responsibilities or hazards to others property. The responsibilities/easement issues fell into city maintenance of street easement and the occasional odd ball chunk of land. It was solely maintenance and not the use or taking of easement. So the rights issues were fairly limited for me. Like I said, being a visible representative on citizens turf means I heard it all all the time.

  • ||

    Rick B,

    Why don't you go suck on the govmt' teet and worship cops like I know you want to!!!! State boy!

    Sarcasm intended.... (apparently this topic is difficult to discuss for some).

  • ||

    Pretend for a moment that this incident occurred with an average Joe in Des Moines, Iowa. At some point a cop has a right to expect a person to control himself. The cop made the arrest only after Gates emerged from the front door of the house and continued to rant and rave in front of an assemblying crowd. He was arrested for "disorderly conduct". That's precisely what Gates was engaging in. I suspect the Jacob Sullum would be the type to cheer-on cops as they physically haul off to jail peaceful abortion protestors doing sit-in's in front of abortion clinics.

  • ||

    "Cambridge police Sgt. James Crowley clearly abused his authority"

    did you even read the police report?
    It wasn't someone mouthing off and getting arrested for it.
    It was a guy standing outside screaming constantly, drawing the attention of a half dozen bystanders and several other police wondering what is wrong.
    THAT is a textbook example of disturbing the peace.
    The fact the charges were dropped does NOT prove they were unfounded, since it could easily be because he was "connected".

    I was inclined to agree with your opinion until I read the report, and sadly your opinion is entirely unfounded.

    Certainly police do arrest people for simply talking back to them, but this time was not a case of it.

    We have people in my city (Chicago) who stand outside screaming, I wish there was a way to make THEM go away too.

  • ||

    "When he has the uniform on," Crowley's wife later told The New York Times, "Jim has an expectation of deference."



    Guess what cops? You are no better than, the burger flipper or Joe Shit the ragman. Get of your high horses and start treating citizens as equals and a whole lot of this stuff will just go away. Continue to act like prima donnas and expect more people to tell you to "Kiss my royal American ass".

    Since LEOs tend to surround themselves with other LEOs and cop bootlickers they are lilely unaware of the sea change that is occurring in societal attitudes towards what used to be considered a noble profession.

  • ||

    I can't type worth a damn.

  • hmm||

    It was a guy standing outside after complying with the officers request to step outside screaming constantly, drawing the attention of a half dozen

    The facts. They are important.

  • ||

    No doubt, the decision to drop the charges will be seen as an admission that the police were wrong. And that is why prosecutors resist reviewing old cases with DNA evidence and police get promoted for raids that go wrong. Maintaining the guilt of the suspect is how the criminal justice system legitimizes its actions. Saving face is what it's all about, not justice.

  • E. H. Munro||

    I read through the Mass Criminal Law Statute and the you could make a case that Gates was quilty of obstructing justice as he was interfering with the police investigating a potential crime. It is a little weak, but does seem to be reasonable.



    It's not reasonable at all. Even the officer, in the middle of lying up a blue streak, admits that Gates showed him multiple forms of ID. There is no way to stretch the obstruction statutes to include "disrespecting a police officer", since Gates satisfied any reasonable request for proof of residence.. And, again, we're using strictly the police report, which is full of shit.

  • ||

    Jacob's piece, unlike the thread editorial, didn't actually decry vagueness of law. That's good. Specificity is a bad thing. It leads to an overabundance of legalease and an expectation that every possible permutation can be accounted for. It cannot. Actors of the state have broad discretion because there are too many permutations in life. The checks and balances in the system (in this case, the DAs office and the courts) are there to restrain that discretion by filtering it though multiple eyeballs.

  • ho hum||

    Think of all the paid television spots, a possible book deal, all the paid lectures...

    This is a potential gold mine.

    I think Gates wanted to get arrested.

  • ||

    nevermind, thanks Fluffy

    interesting,
    I guess there's nothing I can do about the street preachers screaming on my corner,

    Though would there not be an exception for the dead of night? Or that is a noise ordinance violation, not a "disturbing the peace" or "disorderly conduct" i guess I am unfamiliar with the difference between those 2

    I get a lot of screaming at night in my neighborhood. ANd it's not poor, just several bars (and Cubs fans) nearby. Damn Cubs fans.

  • ||

    Fluffy said:

    On the contrary, I think the police have worked very hard to try to create an environment where the public believes that it's illegal to shout at them.



    Although you and others have found the relevant caselaw that creates a higher standard for DC, it's important to remember that this is primarily Mass. caselaw. I'm sure that in many (most?) other states DC arrests based on causing a public scene and attracting unwarranted attention would've held up. Thus, that public belief is typically legitimate.

  • ||

    Assholes should get ignored by cops.

    Unless visible to the public. Indecent exposure.



    Unless it is Kiera Knightly. If she happens to be running around naked: 1) Call me 2) bring camera, 3) (and this is the important one) DON'T call the cops.

  • E.H. Munro||

    interesting,
    I guess there's nothing I can do about the street preachers screaming on my corner,

    Though would there not be an exception for the dead of night? Or that is a noise ordinance violation, not a "disturbing the peace" or "disorderly conduct" i guess I am unfamiliar with the difference between those 2

    I get a lot of screaming at night in my neighborhood. ANd it's not poor, just several bars (and Cubs fans) nearby. Damn Cubs fans.


    People standing on street corners are in public venues, so there would be a different standard for them. They would likely be guilty of disturbing the peace were they loud enough. But your remark about Cubs fans is illustrative of why it's not more widely enforced. It's tough to arrest everyone following a baseball game.

    In any even, disturbing the peace and disorderly conduct are separate matters, and it's tough to charge someone with disturbing the peace for getting angry with you when they're on their own property and you're behaving like an inflamed asshole. So given the time of day and location disturbing the peace was obviously out of question. The officer likely invited Gates to step out onto the front porch so that he could claim that Gates' front porch constituted a public venue and that he could make a disorderly conduct arrest. But he was still 100% wrong, even by his own account.

  • ||

    Can someone enlighten me on what these "fighting words" might be?

    Which of these would be "fighting words"?


    All American beer sucks. Corona in particular, and Mexican beer in general, is the best beer in the world.

  • Dead Horse||

    More interesting to me is the pathology at work here, to wit: Same story gets posted and reposted, each time with only a slightly different angle, and then the same commenters who have already spewed thousands of words on the subject spew a thousand more. And they say the same thing they've already said! And nobody is convinced. Nobody is ever convinced! Does it stop the serial commenters? No. Hell no! They keep going like it's the first time they've mentioned it! So, is it a pathology, a neurosis (narcissism, for example), sheer boredom with life, or something else that forces anonymous people to argue with each other? Is there a psychologist in the house?

  • ||

    Can someone enlighten me on what these "fighting words" might be?

    Which of these would be "fighting words"?


    "Your momma has a tight asshole."
    "SugarFree is not funny."
    "Nick's Jacket really isn't all that cool."
    "Epi is a cop lover."
    "Tony Stewart sucks and can't drive worth a shit."
    "The Three Stooges are not talented."

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    You give Jay, and yourself, too much credit Fist of Etiquette.

    Ha! I don't know what this means, but I like it.

  • ||

    It's not reasonable at all. Even the officer, in the middle of lying up a blue streak, admits that Gates showed him multiple forms of ID. There is no way to stretch the obstruction statutes to include "disrespecting a police officer", since Gates satisfied any reasonable request for proof of residence.

    Yes he did, and that has next to nothing to do with anything. He wasn't arrested because he acted like a dickhole when the officer asked for ID. He wasn't even arrested for continuing his dickholeness when the office correctly asked if there was anyone else in the house.

    and it's tough to charge someone with disturbing the peace for getting angry with you when they're on their own property and you're behaving like an inflamed asshole

    Gates was the inflamed asshole that day. If you know who I am you will not dare to disagree with me on that. I have connections and I'll get you fired. In fact, Casper, I'm calling your boss right now.

  • ||

    Disclaimer: My comments above do not represent an endorsement of a disorderly conduct conviction based on what we know of what happened. Arrest might be justifiable even if after a review it was decided the prof's actions did not rise to a criminal defense, particularly for a friend of the POTUS.

  • E. H. Munro||

    Yes he did, and that has next to nothing to do with anything. He wasn't arrested because he acted like a dickhole when the officer asked for ID. He wasn't even arrested for continuing his dickholeness when the office correctly asked if there was anyone else in the house.

    I'm not certain what any of this has to do with Rick's claim that an arrest for obstruction of justice would have been justified. My response was completely correct, there was zero justification for obstruction as the homeowner properly identified himself. Once Gates had identified himself the officer's work was done, any person with an IQ in the high double digits would have been able to put 2 and 2 together and understood that someone in Cambridge saw a black man at the front door and panicked.

    Gates was the inflamed asshole that day. If you know who I am you will not dare to disagree with me on that. I have connections and I'll get you fired. In fact, Casper, I'm calling your boss right now.

    The problem with the officer's account is that his account involves Henry Gates not acting a whole lot like Henry Gates and a police officer acting nothing at all like a police officer, while the victim's account involves an old man just returned from a long trip acting cranky and a police officer acting exactly like a police officer. So of the two accounts, Gates' is about a million percent more credible.

  • roystgnr||

    Oh, has the officer switched to a new "plausible" reason for asking Gates to
    come outside now? "I'm not sure there's nobody else in your home, even though you've already proven to me that you live here and already told me that you're the one who 'broke in'"? Super! The "plausible" reason in the police report was "I was just about to leave, but it's hard to talk on the radio near these bad foyer acoustics, so I'll just ask that screaming man to come closer to me to make it easier."

    That's so plausible I can't believe it! It's just too bad that, by some wacky coincidence, once the screaming man stepped outside his front door the officer seemed to have an excuse (nay, a responsibility!) to arrest him.

  • E. H. Munro||

    For the record, Gates didn't break in (though the officer has done his level headed best to make sure that that's the public perception). When he and the driver couldn't get the front door open, he enterted the house through the back, and then went back to work on the jammed front door.

  • hmm||

  • The Angry Optimist||

    Does the President know that he's inviting two hotheaded Irishmen over for booze? They're going to burn down the White House, sing a drinking song and then talk Notre Dame football.

  • ||

    E.H. Munro said:

    So of the two accounts, Gates' is about a million percent more credible.


    Yup, no one else heard Gates screaming "Racist!" and calling out "Yo mama!" prior to the arrest. Yup, no one at all.

  • ||

    If you defend Gates's freedom to make cracks about the cop's mom, you'd have to defend the cop in the reverse situation, right?



    Right, just as soon as the cop is out of uniform, not carrying his gun and lacks his "get out of jail" card with his fellow officers. Until the cop is on equal footing with Mr. Citizen, I expect him to be like Cesar's wife -not only virtuous, but also appearing to be virtuous.

  • ||

    I should probably add that it seems from the news accounts that Gates is one grade A, privilaged asshole. But, being a grade A, privilaged asshole is not illegal.

  • E. H. Munro||

    I should probably add that it seems from the news accounts that Gates is one grade A, privilaged asshole. But, being a grade A, privilaged asshole is not illegal.



    I wish that it were. That would rid us of Congress, the Courts, the White House and the Cambridge police department. ;-7

  • ||

    E.H. Munro, I'm assuming you have not heard the 911 call. The woman was unsure of the mans race. When probed she said he may have been hispanic.


    I would be uncomfortable guessing this man is black

  • E. H. Munro||

    E.H. Munro, I'm assuming you have not heard the 911 call. The woman was unsure of the mans race. When probed she said he may have been hispanic.



    The woman that made the 911 call and the woman that panicked weren't the same person. If you listen to the 911 call the caller admits that she was stopped by another woman and asked to make the call, she only saw events from a distance and couldn't tell what was going on from her vantage point.

    Beyond this, to the typical Cambridge resident in that part of town, they don't care whether someone's black or hispanic, anyone darker than Ted Kennedy is a nigger to them.

  • The Angry Optimist||

    so, bigbigslacker, given that fact, what warranted the police report stating that the 911 call said the entrants were black?

  • ||

    First, there is nothing wrong with charging someone with a misdemeanor for showing repeated disrespect to a policeman. A policeman, like a judge, represents the law and therefore deserves a certain level of respect. If we allow repeated disrespect (not just one disrespectful word, but many and repeated disrespectful words), it encourages disrespect for the law generally. (This is also why we need to hold the police to a high standard of behavior as well.)

    More generally, the police do not have too much discretion - they have too LITTLE discretion! Crime is punished - and prevented - mainly through police investigation. But the police have been unreasonably stripped of their traditional powers of investigation because libertarians and others can never bring themselves for a moment to believe that the average policeman operates in good faith to protect the public.

  • Dee||

    "Whether or not race played a role in the incident..."

    WTF?

    You were not there. You don't know what happened. The dismissal of charges is more indicative of the elite and well-connected being untouchable than the charges being unwarranted.

    Come on...I expect better from Reason.

  • alan||

    Have you read the report that Crowley and Gates share the same Irish lineage? Now, if we had known this from the start who the Hell would have been willing to get involved in some inter-Gaelic squabble? And Obama invites them over for beer? Sorry, Barack but you are on your own here. Just be sure to have some frozen peas in the refrigerator to treat the inevitable black eye.

  • Paul||

    NPR is still doing it's open-ended series on race in America, and as of this morning was still analyzing this as a racial profiling incident. I'm still amazed at how few news outlets have looked at the freedom/liberty angle.

  • ||

    I've got no sympathy for Gates at all, and tons for Crowley. Crowley was responding to what might have been a criminal incident, and criminals sometimes attack or kill cops. His behavior may not have been ideal cop behavior, but it was certainly human. If Gates had responded to the events in a civil manner, the whole affair would have ended in a few minutes.

    As long as cops are people, I'm going to do my best to treat them in a civilized manner. They're willing to put their lives on the line for me, and it's not going to hurt me to show them some politeness and respect.

  • alan||

    Another story for your edification to illustrate my ethnically insensitive point.

    I was fresh out of high school and I was dating a pretty Irish-Catholic thing that Summer. If you are picturing red hair, freckles, green eyes and big boobs, you got it.

    She had two brothers and both were annoying assholes, constantly at each others last nerve (and that of every one else). They get into a fight one day, and I did the reasonable thing and I stand at the corner and watch to make sure no one came along that would get the two in trouble.

    However, their sister strolled by from the other side and immediately yelled at the two and got between them. Once that was settled, she yelled at me for not doing the same.

    I told her she had to be kidding. If I got between the two they would have taken it out on me instead of each other. The eldest brother agreed, 'yeah, that is exactly what we would have done, perfect excuse to kick his ass.'

    That one didn't last very long.

  • mr simple||

    Finally, an article on Reason on this topic. I thought they were just going to ignore it.



    No, wait I get it. This is all some social psychology experiment to see just how many articles they can post on this topic and still get huge responses. Touche, Reason, touche.

  • alan||

    Oh, by the way, the best part. Can you guess what profession the eldest brother has been in for the past two decades? Shouldn't be difficult!

    Also, the kid who shot me in the ass with either a .22 or a pellet gun in eighth grade (what ever it was it hurt like hell in spite of going through leather and denim), can you guess what he grew up to be?

  • ||

    Off thread...but the gal who blogged about the Virginia cops in JADE at the blog http://iheartejade.blogspot.com/
    has been arrested for...blogging about cops.

    I sh*t you not.

  • yffulf||

    This was a totally legitimate arrest, you guys are nuts!

  • cool guy||

    police is a pretty cool guy. eh keeps us safe and doesnt afraid of anything

  • ||

    Jay, if you are on your own property and you are not harming anyone else, then yes, you should be able to do and say and act however the hell you want to. It seems to me there are a fair number of people in here who believe that a person has a legal responsibility to treat the police with a particular amount of personal deference beyond what they are required to show anyone else.

    The guy yelled at the cop and insulted him - justifiably or not. Is that really grounds for arrest? If he threatened him, maybe, but apparently he didn't. If was on Gates porch, on his property and Gates wanted me to leave and yelled at me and insulted me, would that be grounds for arrest? Not hardly.

    This whole idea that it is a criminal act to act insufficiently deferential to the police is pretty frightening and the idea that you are required to do what the police say so simply because they are the police and because they say so is also frightening. And this crap I hear about "America's heroes" risking their lives on a daily basis to "protect us" - it really strains credulity.

    Cops do die and are harmed in the line of duty, but their main interest and first responsibility - and this is formally so - is to protect themselves and they have no legal responsibility to protect any of us. We have been fed this bullcrap about the "thin blue line" standing between us and chaos and it just aint so. It's a self serving myth.

    Incidentally, just try giving a cop the finger and see what happens. Sure, it's ungentlemanly and uncool, but should it really be grounds for being chased and arrested by the police - and they'll find some legal sounding justification for arresting you.

  • ||

    Professor Gates provided a Havard University ID. Why not a driver's license? Mr. Sullum did you verify that the university issued identification provided proof of residence at the university owned property. Instead Mr. Sullum could this Professor Gates seeking a "pretext" for a lawsuit.

  • ||

    Authority issues anyone?!? Grow up. Crowely did his job and allowed Gates to rant for a long time. It wasn't until Gate's ranting on the porch started to interfere with the rest of the investigation (still had to talk to the witness and follow up with other officers) that he was arrested. Gates, if he felt he was wronged, should have taken this up later with a judge. Is it ever the right thing to do, to argue with a guy with a gun? Gates is an idiot as well as a racist.

  • ||

    "Is it ever the right thing to do, to argue with a guy with a gun?"

    Of course it is sometimes the right thing to do to argue with a guy with a gun? Was it the right thing to do in this case? No. Gates was being a jackass. But guess what, just because it wasn't the right thing to do doesn't make it illegal. Massachusetts case law CLEARLY states that berating an officer is NOT grounds for a disorderly conduct arrest.

  • Rob||

    In the old movies the cop would say, "You're going downtown where we can sort this out". Gates brought this on himself by being an A.H. Common sense or civic duty says you have to cooperate with the police, just a little bit. So the ranting racist nut job had to go for a ride. And they sorted it out downtown, and on TV, and the WWW, and the White House, and ....

  • Edwin||

    that's wonderful that you can insult a cop and be loud while being arrested, however - this doesn't mean you can do that INSTEAD OF PROMPTLY SHOWING ID AND ANSWERING AN OFFICER'S QUESTIONS. Gates was screaming so much that he WASN'T producing ID and answering questions. All he managed to do was produce was his Harvard ID, which only connects his name with his face - it says nothing about proof that that was his house, unless it had his address on it, which I doubt. And even then, I wouldn't want cops to be investigating POSSIBLE BURGLARIES and then taking just a student ID as sufficient. How about a deed? How about a student ID AND a driver's license? that would be more like it.

    Again, if your loud and obnoxious behavior prevents you from cooperating with police and showing ID and telling a cogent story and showing officers things and people so they can sort out what's been going on, then you are NOT protected under Massachusette's rulings.

    And frankly, they ruled WRONG. Read the damned statute. It does say "tumultuous" behavior that "draws public attention" or causes a disturbance.

    And use your REASON. Suspects should NOT be allowed to be as LOUD as they want. If you talk loud enough and verbose enough, you can seriously prevent an officer to do his job. If a cop is investigating something, and all somebody does is scream nonstop, even when he's interviewing other people, then that IS preventing him from doing his job. At some point you do have to STFU. Is it really that hard to imagine loudmouths making an investigation impossible?

    In the world a lot of you posters paint, burglars could be caught near red-handed, and all they'd have to do is constantly scream "Flibiddity-flobbity-floop!" But, noooo, you can't arrest them, they haven't done anything explicitly illegal. Even if they're getting into a car and leaving, hey all that you've assesed is that the alarm in the building is going off, the front door is broken, and they were carrying sacks of something. You tried to ask them what they were doing, but they just kept screaming and yelling all they way to their car. You couldn't arrest them for it or even stop them because it might hurt smart-ass-college-kid's delicate sensibilities.

    If a criminal had his buddy criminal scream and yell enough, they could easily sneak up on a cop and murder him. Who's going to hear footsteps with some a-hole who's hollering like a banshee? Or shotgun getting cocked, or someboduy opening a car door to get a weapon?

    It's not the insults people! It's the nonstop noise and avoiding answering questions. If you talked calmly to an officer and answered all his questions and showed ID but kept ending each sentence with how you shtupped his mother last night or calling him pig - but did it calmly and quietly enough - then fine. But that rarely happens. And that's not what DID happen here.

    Gates only showed his ID after a long time - and only his student ID. He then came outside and kept being loud and obnoxious - what if Crowley was trying to leave but also use his police radio or walkie-talkie? How are you supposed to talk with the station with that loud a-hole screaming?

    But half of you Reason posters still are obsessed with any tiny amount of reasonable power. This is why nobody takes libertarianism seriously. All you have to do is say you'tre a libertarian and the groans start, simply because the logical of us are associated with guys like you all.

  • ||

    As a cop AND a libertarian, I think I might have a different perspective than most to this situation. The fact that Mr. Gates was eventually identified as the homeowner does not end the sgt.'s investigation. Where was the second individual? Could Mr. Gates have been kidnapped and forced into his home? Could a burglar have been inside the home? Is Mr. Gates lawfully on the premises? The police need to verify that. There could have existed a restraining order for domestic violence barring him from that location. If it happened to be a domestic violence situation, was there a victim inside the house?

    Boy, lots of questions that need to be answered through this investigation, huh? Because we all know the cop would have been hung out if Mr. Gates violated a restraining order and entered the house and harmed his wife/girlfriend.

    As far as the disorderly charge goes, case law is on the cop's side. Citizens do have a 1st amendment right and cops do have to have thick skin, but there is a line and where that line is has to be in the cop
    's discretion.

  • Edwin||

    "...The fact that Mr. Gates was eventually identified as the homeowner "

    he wasn't - from all the stuff I've read apparently all he showed was his Harvard ID

  • Edwin||

    and if I can predict how one of the ridicutarians is going to respond to my long post above

    you'll point out that with my burglar example, that there's probable cause to stop them, but with the Gates situation, there wasn't so much

    but then I'll point out that unless the cop knows the homeowner, all he sees is a guy and a house. That's the whole point of "investigating" - if a cop gets a call of a possible burglary, and he goes to the location, and he sees a guy and a house, he has no idea if that's the homeowner or a burglar. He has to ask the guy something. And again, he needs to be able to get some cogent response and some ID/proof of homeownership there.

    But you ridicutarians know that, but you'd still say it (that my example had probable cause and the Gates situation not as much) - because you're all absolutely sure of your dogma, reason and logic be damned. Your policy of anybody can yell whatever they want at the cops for however long would ultimately end in criminals deliberately doing this to get away with crimes, and people starting riots against cops (screaming the race card when being arrested among people of your same race), and just policing being impossible in general - and you all know it. There's no way to deny the logical extension of what you're saying. But you'r RIGHT damnit - and it's about FREEEEDDDOOOMOMM!!1111 OMG NO POLICE STATE!@!#

    Maybe instead of being RIGHT, everybody should try being CORRECT first. You can have no morality or effective government policy without first being realistic about the harsh, uncertain, and and asymettrical-information-having reality of the world.

    You need to look into the bucket of truth - (from the Upright Citizens' Brigade - look it up on youtube)

  • ||

    Kevin Camp, may they put "at least he was right" on your tombstone. (that's not a wish that you have a tombstone soon). Read the report, Gates WAS NOT ARRESTED FOR BEING AN A-HOLE. He was arrested for interferering with the investigation. Even if Gates was wronged. That was not the time and place for what he did. Later with calls to police chief, mayor, media, ect. that is when you rant and rave. For you own sake, don't argue with the cop. Even if he is wrong. You can rectify that later. What if he was a bad cop? That's not fear of the "police state" but just good common sense. The officer has a job to do which often puts him in dangerous and unpredictable situations. He has the same desire to survive as you (well, maybe not you but the majority of us) so creating a more chaotic situation for him is not in your best interest.

  • jeez||

    @John

    Please read the thread where your claims have been discredited before posting bullshit.

  • X||

    Cops are human shit. Only retards respect them.

    Retards and the fucking assholes who (wrongly) call themselves libertarians but support the criminal actions of the state.

  • X||

    wow - the amount of motherfucking bootlickers on this site is sickening.

    libertarians my ass.

  • ||

    Can you be arrested for yelling "I hate the police" on a public street.
    Apparently the police seem to think so
    http://www.examiner.com/x-11968-DC-LGBT-Community-Examiner~y2009m8d3-Lawyer-arrested-called-faggot-by-DC-cop

  • abercrombie milano||

    My only point is that if you take the Bible straight, as I'm sure many of Reasons readers do, you will see a lot of the Old Testament stuff as absolutely insane. Even some cursory knowledge of Hebrew and doing some mathematics and logic will tell you that you really won't get the full deal by just doing regular skill english reading for those books. In other words, there's more to the books of the Bible than most will ever grasp. I'm not concerned that Mr. Crumb will go to hell or anything crazy like that! It's just that he, like many types of religionists, seems to take it literally, take it straight...the Bible's books were not written by straight laced divinity students in 3 piece suits who white wash religious beliefs as if God made them with clothes on...the Bible's books were written by people with very different mindsets...in order to really get the Books of the Bible, you have to cultivate such a mindset, it's literally a labyrinth, that's no joke

  • nike shox||

    is good

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