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President Obama's Gnosticism

When not accusing physicians of performing unnecessary tonsillectomies for financial gain though offering no evidence to back up this claim, our President is accusing a Cambridge, Massachusetts police officer of acting "stupidly" while admitting he does not have access to, and thus has not fully apprised himself of, all the facts in the case. While opining on what "victory" would mean in Afghanistan, the President reached into his reservoir of historical acumen and offered this analysis: “I'm always worried about using the word ‘victory,’ because, you know, it invokes this notion of Emperor Hirohito coming down and signing a surrender to MacArthur.” However, in the real world, it was Mamoru Shigemitsu (Japan's foreign affairs minister) who signed the surrender, and he did it before General Richard Sutherland, not General MacArthur.

The President, apparently, has immediate awareness of an ideal realm of "events" that we mere mortals cannot appropriate by our cognitive powers that seem forever bound by what our pedestrian minds think is "reality."

(Originally posted on First Thoughts)

Comments (60)

Sorry, but this whole Gates thing is driving me crazy. We all know Gates' and now Obama's take on the arrest (despite, or perhaps in spite of, not having all the facts). For all this administration's tech savvy, I'm surprised they were unable to find the other side of this story, i.e. the police report, before Obama decided to speak on it:
http://www.thesmokinggun.com/archive/years/2009/0723092gates1.html

Dr. Beckwith, you called Obama the "world's most powerful graduate student in social work" what may be worse is that he's also the world's most powerful doctor of laws and his Gnosticism transcends history and policy and permeates his legal reasoning as well. It's alarming that this Harvard educated, Notre Dame honored Juris Doctorate thinks that proof of a person being in their home is some sort of bar to arrest for public disorderly conduct that took place outside of the home.

Thanks RyGuy. I actually did not mean to publish the "world's most powerful graduate student in social work" line. So, I just deleted it. I know too many smart social workers, and didn't want them to think I was insulting them.

haha no problem, I meant no insult to social workers or lawyers either. As a Tier-III state school educated Juris Doctorate, I AM insulted by our President's legal reasoning, not only in the Gates incident but other instances as well...

Yeah. Obama's legal reasoning skills are so bad that they appointed him to the top professorship rank at the third best law school in the country. Beckwith and RyGuy's legal reasoning skills are so good that their conclusions are posted on internet blogs.

Ahh, the old 'argument from authority'...

Right. Authority has no bearing when examining legal claims.

Like they say - those who can't do, teach.

"Obama's legal reasoning skills are so bad that they appointed him to the top professorship rank at the third best law school in the country. Beckwith and RyGuy's legal reasoning skills are so good that their conclusions are posted on internet blogs."

I didn't address Obama's legal reasoning skills. I suspect that they're pretty good. Nevertheless, my comments above didn't address a "skill." It dealt with questions of content.

But setting that aside, you are treading on very thin ice. First, Obama never held a professorship. He was a lecturer. ("Lecturer" is an unranked college or university teacher who is either working full or part time. Typically lecturers are not eligible for tenure or promotion in rank, as are assistant, associate, and full professors). There is, of course, nothing wrong with that, for he had no permanent aspirations for scholarship or a career in teaching. He was, however, president of the Harvard Law Review and did apparently good work as a practicing attorney, even if in some cases I did not agree with the causes he took up. No one doubts that the man has a wonderful skill set and did more than competent work as a lawyer.

Second, although I have never claimed to be a "legal scholar," I have published a good number of law review articles. Of course, law reviews--with few exceptions--are not peer-reviewed. If I am not mistaken, other than a small note in law school, I do not believe that President Obama has ever published a law review article, even when he was on the faculty of the University of Chicago's outstanding law school. Again, there's nothing wrong with that, his aspirations were not academic. But if you are going to bring these things up, I think you should at least realize that I've published more than what appears on this blog. If you want a sampling, you can go here: http://web.me.com/francis.beckwith/FrancisBeckwith.com/Articles.html Here's my CV: http://web.me.com/francis.beckwith/FrancisBeckwith.com/Curriculum_Vitae.html

Vielleicht wird 'Ironisch Gemeint' nun seinen Spitzname ändern. Ich schlage 'Voreilig Gesprochen' vor.

"("Lecturer" is an unranked college or university teacher who is either working full or part time. Typically lecturers are not eligible for tenure or promotion in rank, as are assistant, associate, and full professors)."

That statement doesn't accurately depict Obama's rank.

Here is the University of Chicago's statement on Obama's position:

"The Law School has received many media requests about Barack Obama, especially about his status as "Senior Lecturer." From 1992 until his election to the U.S. Senate in 2004, Barack Obama served as a professor in the Law School. He was a Lecturer from 1992 to 1996. He was a Senior Lecturer from 1996 to 2004, during which time he taught three courses per year. Senior Lecturers are considered to be members of the Law School faculty and are regarded as professors, although not full-time or tenure-track. The title of Senior Lecturer is distinct from the title of Lecturer, which signifies adjunct status. Like Obama, each of the Law School's Senior Lecturers have high-demand careers in politics or public service, which prevent full-time teaching. Several times during his 12 years as a professor in the Law School, Obama was invited to join the faculty in a full-time tenure-track position, but he declined."
http://www.factcheck.org/askfactcheck/was_barack_obama_really_a_constitutional_law.html

You might recognize the current Senior lecturers at Chicago Law: Kenneth W. Dam, Frank H. Easterbrook

When Obama was a Senior Lecturer at Chicago, who was the other one?
Richard A. Posner.

While all that is genuinely interesting (that's not sarcasm), it doesn't change the fact that our president opined that the police acted stupidly before he had apparently read the police report.

It's strange: the first thing I thought when I heard the clip was, "Yeah, I would have been pissed. Good call, Mr. President." My second thought was something like "Whaaa--cough-choke-cough." We don't know what they did but we know they acted stupidly? Someone should have struck that one from the teleprompter.

There certainly is a pattern here of Obama's saying that he hasn't really looked into something and then making proclamations about it nonetheless. (Am I mistaken or did he admit to not having read the very health care plan he is insisting be passed before the August recess? Or else we're all doomed, supposedly.) The much more classy thing to do, which the President of the United States should know to do, would have been to disclaim expertise and any intention to become involved in a pure matter of local law enforcement, period. That would have meant recognizing the inappropriateness of the Chief Executive of the entire country shooting off his mouth and throwing around his significant bully pulpit weight regarding local matters. All the more so without, apparently, reading or caring about the police report. But, as I believe Rush Limbaugh has said, the "community organizer" can't bring himself to restrain himself. Like any old blogger--me, for example--Obama has an opinion about everything and has to tell you what it is. But he's President and should have certain...professional inhibitions. Noblesse oblige, and all that. Unfortunately, the power seems to have the opposite effect on him.

Have any of Obama's former U of Chicago students spoken about his abilities?

One former student I met, a sharp fellow, was unimpressed and dropped his class after the first session or two.

Ironisch:
"Obama's legal reasoning skills are so bad that they appointed him to the top professorship rank at the third best law school in the country. "
Is that where the Gnosticism was fostered?

"Authority has no bearing when examining legal claims."

What kind of authority are we talking about? Legal authority has nothing to do with which law school a person lectured at. In speaking in the terms of legal authority, I must humbly inform you that as legal scholars the President and I share the same level of authority. This is secondary, or persuasive, authority. It's not binding and Obama's prestigious alma mater, honorary degree and lectureship make it no more authoritative than my own lowly education, scholarship and practice.

Your sarcasm is on point: authority does have bearing in analyzing legal claims, but let's not confuse the who and the where with the what

As President, the bills he signs into law and his executive orders will have primary (binding) authority. And yes, Lydia, the president has admitted that he isn't familiar with some of the particular provisions of these primary legal authorities.

RyGuy,

The president has admitted to what he's been forced to admit to and no more. That evidence, and additional evidence still, suggests he's unfamiliar with a great deal of the bill in question, which is what, well over a thousand pages in length?

As to what he purports to be "familiar" with, he's described it in terms that are arguably, at turns, uncomprehending and mendacious.

He's also sufficiently "familiar" with the planet's climate that he's willing to forward policies that will cost and direct trillions of dollars.

I. G., nothing you said is inconsistent with my remarks about the nature of lectureships. I held one for 7 years at UNLV. I was full-time, and published a lot. But I did not have to publish in order to retain the position. But thank you for publishing the clarifying remarks. Every school does it differently. At UNLV we had no "Senior Lecturers." The part-timers were just called "Adjunct instructors."

"Fact Check" is wrong. Obama was never a "professor." Although most people apply the title to anyone who teaches at a university, it only applies to certain members of the academic community.

Having said that, why the obsession over Obama's academic appointment? I never mentioned it, and frankly I don't care. He seems to have done is job well. I applaud him for teaching while in government service. If I had thought otherwise, I would be acting "stupidly," to coin a phrase. :-)

Perhaps one doesn't need to know all the facts. Arresting a person for disorderly conduct in his own house is prima facie stupid.

He "in his own house" is a tad confusing as applied to "on his own porch." If it is now legal to scream insults out of doors in one's neighborhood at police from one's porch, this is news to me.

News or not, you can. "Screaming" is, of course, in the ear of the hearer and is irrelevant as it is still speech and unless the jurisdiction has noise ordinances which usually have time of day, duration, and decibel levels described and in which case a violation of that ordinance would be indicated, not a DC.

The policeman invited him outside which is a rather transparent attempt to insert the necessary public element. Besides my porch is still my house and hardly a "private way" and mere speech (even loud speech).

Here is the Cambridge DO ordinance,

"9.08.010 Disorderly conduct--Profanity and insulting language.
No person shall behave himself in a rude or disorderly manner, or use any indecent, profane or insulting language in any street or public place. No person shall make or cause to be made, any unnecessary noise or noises in any public street, private way or park, so as to cause any inconvenience or discomfort for the inhabitants of the City."

Courts have interpreted these laws with a strong bias iowards our First Amendment rights.

The noise ordinance is here:

http://www.municode.com/Resources/gateway.asp?pid=16889&sid=21

The police report states that it was indeed attracting the attention of and disturbing the surrounding people in the neighborhood. Everywhere that I have ever lived, super-loud _music_ even, played _within_ one's own house, or a loud party within one's house late at night that was keeping the neighborhood awake could certainly be reported legitimately to the police, who would request the person to take the noise level down. Yelling insulting language persistently from one's porch at someone off the porch and refusing to stop after being warned that one was engaging in disorderly conduct would definitely seem to fall into a similar category.

Ok, let us accept for the sake of argument that things went down as you describe. You now need to explain,

1. how the police officer was justified in asking Mr Gates to step out on the porch, Gates had established his right to be where he was while both he and the officer were inside.

and

2, how charging Gates with a DC when you are describing a violation of another ordinance isn't stupid.

BTW, I just heard Obama's "fact" statement and it makes perfect sense when taken in context. Those who are taking exception either didn't listen to the statement or are engaging in distortion. The meaning is that clear.


Gates showed his own deep seated insecurity when he abused Crowley's mother. This was doubtless from the standard repetoire of the gansta rappers, made more melliflous by his Peking throat. He further compounded it by following Crowley out of the house bawling like a fishwife. By social standing Gates outranks Crowley a few rungs, yet this distinguished person could not take the usual high road of admonishing Crowley through his superiors thereby reestablishing his lordly self. Even gangsters like the Corleones and the Korshaks would have done so. In behaving like a street urchin Gates showed his chip-burdened shoulders for all the world to see. So that if anyone were to come across mien Herr Doctor WEB duBois Proffesor Gates' books now, they would have to supress a couple of sniggers.

Obama, as a radical Leftist, is not an "agnostic". He is an Absolutist. He absolutely believes that the White West is evil, and that the Brown Counter-Civilization is Good.

Get your categories straight.

Aren't you all missing the elephant in the room? Obama weighed in on this foolish professor's prima donna attitude, simply because both ARE BLACK.

It's a clear case of reverse racism, applied to the white cop.

And we're all discussing the Obamanation's intellectual prowess.... please.
He's a front man, nothing more.

Frank,

The Politico article you link to suggests that Obama concession was that he didn't have the facts that would warrant the assertion that race played a significant factor, which is quite different from saying that he didn't have the facts to back the assertion that the arresting officer had acted stupidly. Seems like an important difference. I read the police report linked above and it seems that Eric Posner is right that the arresting officer was mistaken in arresting Gates for disorderly conduct and should have known that he was mistaken in arresting Gates for shouting at him. What's the difference between an officer acting stupidly and an officer arresting someone when they should have known that they shouldn't make the arrest?

At any rate, do you care to weigh in on this and say whether you thought that the arresting officer was right to arrest Gates for disorderly conduct? My guess is that you know full well that he wasn't and that you'd rather not come out and say it.

As for the gnosticism charge, Lydia's comment above seems like a fine example of legal gnosticism for reasons detailed here.

Clayton:

Here's the entire text of the president's answer:

Well, I should say at the outset that Skip Gates is a friend, so I may be a little biased here. I don't know all the facts. What's been reported, though, is that the guy forgot his keys. He jimmied his way to get into the house. There was a report called into the police station that there might be a burglary taking place. so far so good. Right? I mean, if I was trying to jigger in -- well, I guess this is my house now so it probably wouldn't happen. Let's say my old house in Chicago. here I'd get shot. But so far so good. They're reporting, the police are doing what they should. There's a call. They go investigate what happens. My understanding is at that point Professor Gates is already in his house. The police officer comes in. I'm sure there's some exchange of words but my understanding is that Professor Gates then shows his I.D. to show that this is his house. And at that point he gets arrested for disorderly conduct, charges which are later dropped. Now, I don't know, not having been there and not seeing all the facts what role race played in that, but I think it's fair to say, number one, any of us would be pretty angry. Number two, that the Cambridge police acted stupidly in arresting somebody when there was already proof that they were in their own home and, number three, what I think we know separate and apart from this incident is that there is a long history in this country of African-Americans and Latinos being stopped by law enforcement disproportionately. And that's just a fact.

As you know, Lynn, when I was in the state legislature in Illinois we worked on a racial profiling bill because there was indisputable evidence that blacks and hispanics were being stopped disproportionately. And that is a sign, an example of how, you know, race remains a factor in this society. That doesn't lessen the incredible progress that has been made. I am standing here as testimony to the progress that's been made. And yet, the fact of the matter is that, you know, this still haunts us. And even when there are honest misunderstandings, the fact that blacks and hispanics are picked up more frequently and often time for no cause cast suspicion even when there is good cause, and that's why I think the more that we're working with local law enforcement to improve policing techniques so that we're eliminating potential bias, the safer everybody's going to be.

The president begins in the first sentence with the confession, "I don't know all the facts." He does not admit to ignorance concerning the question of racism until the latter part of his answer.

It is certainly possible that the officer acted "stupidly," but it seems to me that until an investigation is conducted to determine it, the chief executive of the United States should not be passing judgments on police officers concerning a local matter. My gripe is not with the truth or falsehood of what the president said about this case. Rather, my concern is whether he was warranted to issue the judgment he did. He may, of course, turn out to be right. But being right is not the same as being justified in believing you are right.

Remember, all the officers on the scene--including two minority officers--have vouched for Officer Crowley, who, apparently has an impeccable record. Of course, the president still could turn out to be right. But it seems he has quite a burden to overcome.

I've not read Eric Posner's analysis. But I think he may have ignored another option. (If he did bring this up, I take it back). Here it is: It is also possible that the officer made a bad judgment that in retrospect should have not been made but at the time seemed reasonable to all the officers present. Unfortunately, life is not a novel or a police report. It's what really happens.

Here's the link to the President's entire answer: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/07/22/obama-on-skip-gates-arres_n_243250.html

It was Gates who acted stupidly, then the president dove into it with equal stupidity and ignorance, with his own "stupidly" accusation. He could have simply begged off responding, given the fact he didn't know the facts.

And, Clayton, what difference does it make how the Politico piece is suggestive of Obama's ignorance applied to the racist charge rather than the "stupidity" charge? What is germane, what is relevant is whether or not Obama is knowledgeable of police procedure in such a situation, together with all the relevant facts. He wasn't.

(You're wrong, regardless, Clayton, there were two points where Obama stated he didn't know the facts, only one of them was directed at the "racist" motif.)

Two links, with audio and video interviews and with other supportive info, here and here.

Frank,

The piece that _you_ linked to discussed a concession that had nothing to do with the warrant Obama had for his assertion that the cops acted stupidly. You say, "Rather, my concern is whether he was warranted to issue the judgment he did. He may, of course, turn out to be right. But being right is not the same as being justified in believing you are right." But that's just it. Based on facts that were available and were either available to Obama or people he could trust to offer testimonial justification he could reasonably judge that the arresting officer acted stupidly.

"Remember, all the officers on the scene--including two minority officers--have vouched for Officer Crowley, who, apparently has an impeccable record. Of course, the president still could turn out to be right. But it seems he has quite a burden to overcome."

Link? Vouched for what? Two questions. (Q1) Would it have been appropriate for the arresting officer to arrest if the facts had been as the officer said they were in his report? (Q2) Did Obama have reasonable grounds for believing that the answer to (Q1) is 'No'?

The evidence strongly suggests that the answer to (Q1) is 'No'. The evidence that you've offered isn't evidence that the answer to (Q2) is 'No'.

Here's the relevant stuff from the Posner post. The info here seems like the sort of info that cops should know before arresting people for disorderly conduct:

Begin Posner
__

Here is the Massachusetts statute under which Gates was arrested, Mass. G. L. ch. 272, s. 53:

Common night walkers, common street walkers, both male and female, common railers and brawlers, persons who with offensive and disorderly acts or language accost or annoy persons of the opposite sex, lewd, wanton and lascivious persons in speech or behavior, idle and disorderly persons, disturbers of the peace, keepers of noisy and disorderly houses, and persons guilty of indecent exposure may be punished by imprisonment in a jail or house of correction for not more than six months, or by a fine of not more than two hundred dollars, or by both such fine and imprisonment.

Here is a recent gloss by a Massachusetts court (adopting Model Penal Code s. 250.2(a)):

A person is guilty of disorderly conduct if, with purpose to cause public inconvenience, annoyance or alarm, or recklessly creating a risk thereof, he: (a) engages in fighting or threatening, or in violent or tumultuous behavior.... ‘Public’ means affecting or likely to affect persons in a place to which the public or a substantial group has access; among the places included are highways, transport facilities, schools, prisons, apartment houses, places of business or amusement, or any neighborhood.

Massachusetts courts have rejected MPC s. 250.2(b) as a violation of free speech rights. So this provision is not part of Massachusetts law:

(b) makes unreasonable noise or offensively coarse utterance, gesture or display, or addresses abusive language to any person present.

And here are some squibs:

Arrest under Massachusetts “idle and disorderly person” statute was unlawful under Massachusetts law, where defendant was arrested for yelling, screaming, swearing and generally causing a disturbance but, though the yelling was undoubtedly loud enough to attract the attention of other guests in hotel, it did not rise to level of “riotous commotion” or “public nuisance.” U.S. v. Pasqualino, D.Mass.1991, 768 F.Supp. 13.

And –

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.

Here is more from that case:

[Officer] Garrett asked the defendant to exit the vehicle. As the defendant was getting out of the car, he “kept saying no problem here, no problem here, everything is all set, no problem.” The police advised the defendant that he would be summonsed to court for assault and battery, that he was not to be arrested at Carins's [the alleged victim] request, and that he had to leave the motel parking lot. He began to walk away. [Officer] O’Connor testified: “He took a few steps from me, ten steps, turned around, began flailing his arms, yelling that I was violating his civil rights.” He was advised a second time to leave, and the defendant was “yelling at me, you're violating my civil rights, then he began yelling at Ms. Carins, why are you doing this to me, you'll never go through with this.” At that time, he was placed under arrest. It is not disputed that only the defendant's conduct after he left the car forms the basis of the disorderly conduct charge.

__

End Posner.

Michael B,

"And, Clayton, what difference does it make how the Politico piece is suggestive of Obama's ignorance applied to the racist charge rather than the "stupidity" charge? What is germane, what is relevant is whether or not Obama is knowledgeable of police procedure in such a situation, together with all the relevant facts. He wasn't."

The answer to the first question is obvious. Frank linked to that article suggesting that it offered evidence that supported his position. It didn't.

"It was Gates who acted stupidly"

Perfectly consistent with the further point, which is that the arresting officer acted stupidly.

"Based on facts that were available and were either available to Obama or people he could trust to offer testimonial justification he could reasonably judge that the arresting officer acted stupidly."

Remember, President Obama is the President of the United States. He is not supposed to be opining at a national news conference as if he were in a 2 am bull session with fellow grad students discussing a matter over which speculation is appropriate and interesting.

The police officer is not a public figure. He is an ordinary person with an ordinary job. People of great power and influence like the President should exercise caution and humility when it comes to matters over which they have limited knowledge and about which their opinion may sway public opinion in a fashion that is ultimately damaging to the cause of justice.

As for the story to which I originally linked, I did so hastily. Because I had heard the press conference, I thought that the story had contained the President's first confession of global ignorance on the matter of Professor Gates' arrest. The second link, which is in the combox above, contains the quote I had in mind.

Frank,

In your latest response, you said:
"Remember, President Obama is the President of the United States. He is not supposed to be opining at a national news conference as if he were in a 2 am bull session with fellow grad students discussing a matter over which speculation is appropriate and interesting.

The police officer is not a public figure. He is an ordinary person with an ordinary job. People of great power and influence like the President should exercise caution and humility when it comes to matters over which they have limited knowledge and about which their opinion may sway public opinion in a fashion that is ultimately damaging to the cause of justice."

Much of this may well be true. But, I was taking you at your word when you said this:

"Rather, my concern is whether he was warranted to issue the judgment he did. He may, of course, turn out to be right. But being right is not the same as being justified in believing you are right."

As I know you know, you can have sufficient _epistemic_ warrant to assert something when you shouldn't assert it for non-epistemic reasons. I think Obama shouldn't have said what he did for non-epistemic reasons. Among those reasons: right wing types will harp on about this when there are more important things to talk about. I was challenging your epistemic grounds and the accuracy of your epistemic assessment of Obama's assertions. You were defending your epistemic assessment until you thought it was wise to try to change the issue and focus on matters non-epistemic.

At this point, I think the thing for you to say is that there's nothing left of the original point that you can continue to defend. That seems like something you should say before you start trying to change the subject.

Clayton,

I wouldn't bother excepting your response directed to "yours truly" reflects your attitude and focus in general. When stating "[w]hat is germane, what is relevant is whether or not Obama is knowledgeable of police procedure in such a situation, together with all the relevant facts" I'm obviously directing the focus away from secondary issues and onto what is primary: the event itself and Obama's admitted lack of knowledge thereof, together with his arrogated judgement nonetheless. In a word, since you like to throw it around presumptively and in the manner of poking with a sharp stick: Obama's own willful, rather than innate, stupidity.

You can poke and arrogate and declaim with a triumphalist air all you care, Clayton, but that's precisely what you're doing. You also failed to acknowledge there were two points where Obama admitted to a lack of factual grounding, only one of them applying directly to race.

But in a more probative manner still, I'll bow to the One Cosmos link, previously provided. In general terms, the devolved form of doubt for its own sake is relevant as something of a substrate and, in one specific vein, the irony around the Reggie Lewis subject illuminates a great deal as well.

A lawyer or just someone familiar with charges like obstruction and disorderly conduct immediately understood what was going on here and why the arrest was stupid (or bogus or wrong or moronic or something similiar). Hopefully those who didn't have learned something.

Perhaps there is a larger issue here. In a post above Maximos commented on the birther nonsense. While I would disagree on some points - things like this are rarely symmetrical and in this place and at this time, there simply isn't this level of insanity on the left.

When those at the top of the conservative intellectual food chain feel free to make spurious points in the hope of political gain, the whole chain of political discourse is degraded and we wind up with insanity at the bottom.

Michael B,

Take a deep breath.

Full factual omniscience is not required for knowing that someone acted stupidly. Suppose a cop arrests someone under these conditions: even if the cop's beliefs are correct, the suspect had not broken a law. That's a stupid thing for the cop to do. Suppose that the cop did it because someone was yelling at them. That's part of what explains why the cop did something stupid. Suppose these sorts of facts are facts that Obama could have believed were facts when he said what he said. Then it doesn't seem that Obama's assertion was mistaken or without warrant. If someone can show that these facts weren't available to Obama or available to someone whose testimony Obama could justifiably accept, then they can say that Frank's original charge was apt. Until then, it seems that we have some reason to think that Frank's original charge was mistaken and that he wasn't justified in making it. For evidence that even Frank has appreciated this point, note how he's changed the subject by shifting from the charge that Obama's remarks weren't epistemically proper to the new charge that his remarks were non-epistemically improper.

And, ditto to everything that Al says.

Clayton,

Take your own advice before you offer it to others. Take a deep breath yourself. No one so much as alluded to any "omniscience." The very fact you're having to exaggerate, deploying such hyperbole, is itself telling. I can understand and be receptive to various and more tentative pov, but you're unhinged and full-bore, which is precisely why I respond inkind. Still, for the remainder, I'll let others deal with your certitudes.

Elsewise, Heather Mac Donald commenting on the subject, Promoting Racial Paranoia: In his comments Wednesday, Obama recycled long-discredited anti-cop fictions.

But hey, why let such facts get in the way of pontifical pronouncements from the regnant Narcissist and Presumptive in Chief ...

According to Ms Mac Donald, "Gates seems not to understand that he was arrested for disorderly conduct, not for burglary. He was not “the first black man that [the officers] saw” committing what they viewed as disorderly conduct; he was the only man they saw committing disorderly conduct. If arresting a man for an offense committed in the officer’s presence constitutes “racial profiling,” then the most legally unimpeachable aspect of police work has been discredited."

And around we go again, Michael, you clearly don't get this. One is not likely to commit this offense in ones own home as it requires conduct in a public space that must pass a very high First Amendment bar - read the comments above. That is why the officer encouraged Gates to step onto his porch so as to create a semblance of a public space. Referring us to another person who is also ignorant of the law doesn't advance your case. That the officer thought he could pull this off with someone of Gate's status is simply stupid.

"For evidence that even Frank has appreciated this point, note how he's changed the subject by shifting from the charge that Obama's remarks weren't epistemically proper to the new charge that his remarks were non-epistemically improper."

I do appreciate your point, Clayton. But I made another point about the dispute, not inconsistent with what I had written earlier. If I offer you additional opinion about this matter it does not mean I am trying change the subject. It means that I am sharing with you further thoughts that I did not put in my original post or subsequent comments.

I still think Obama was clearly not justified in asserting that the Police Officer had acted stupidly. Now, again, that's different from the question of whether in fact the officer did act stupidly. At the time Obama made his comments, none of us, including the President, had the whole story. He seems to have relied exclusively on the media accounts, which is usually a bad idea, just ask the Duke Lacrosse Team, a victim of academics leaning too much on abstractions than the not yet ascertained facts. This is why it was wrong for Obama to bring to bear on his judgment the generalizations of the past on this specific case. Ironically, by doing this, he was engaging in profiling the police officer. But not based on statistical evidence concerning white police officers in Cambridge, Massachusetts over the past 10 to 15 years, which would be the appropriate group and time from which to garner such statistics, but white officers everywhere over the past 100 years.

I confess that I basically do not trust cops. When growing up in Vegas I was pulled over several times for less than legitimate reasons . And I have no doubt that it was because I am Hispanic in appearance and that the officers thought that I did not belong in my "neighborhood." But that was Vegas in the 1970s and early 1980s, not Cambridge in 2009.

"I still think Obama was clearly not justified in asserting that the Police Officer had acted stupidly. Now, again, that's different from the question of whether in fact the officer did act stupidly. At the time Obama made his comments, none of us, including the President, had the whole story. He seems to have relied exclusively on the media accounts, which is usually a bad idea, just ask the Duke Lacrosse Team, a victim of academics leaning too much on abstractions than the not yet ascertained facts. This is why it was wrong for Obama to bring to bear on his judgment the generalizations of the past on this specific case."

It's true that he didn't have the whole story, but the reason that this point doesn't seem to cut any ice is that we know that there are some judgments that you can know to be true without having the whole story. For example, suppose someone knew the kind of stuff that Posner knew when he wrote his post. What additional facts would Obama need to know that the arresting officer acted stupidly? What reason do you have to think that he wouldn't have those facts? You assert that Obama relied exclusively on media accounts, and while I don't know what your grounds for that assertion are, I also don't know that those accounts were free of the kind of information that would allow someone to say knowingly that the arresting officer acted stupidly. I haven't done a careful study of what Obama's evidence was or what was contained in the media accounts you claim constituted the entire basis of his judgment, but my guess is that you haven't either. So far, then, it seems that you're passing of speculation for something more when you reassert that Obama wasn't justified in his original assertion.

"You assert that Obama relied exclusively on media accounts."

I said "he seems to have relied on media accounts." Here's why: The President never refers to the police report or any other evidence. Here's what he says, " I don't know all the facts. What's been reported, though, is that the guy forgot his keys...." I assume he means "reported in the press," since it would have been far more authoritative for him to refer to the police report itself, for it would mean that the officer himself provides evidence for his own stupidity.

There is no analogy to the Duke rape case. There might be one had Gates been arrested for assaulting the officer as the situation would then be, had an assault happened or not and such matters usually cannot be determined outside of a court of law and certainly not in the media. Obama (and the rest of us) would then know that an arrest on that charge had occurred but not much more and the remark would be unjustified.

However the real case is different. There was sufficient information to allow anyone to ascertain that an arrest had occurred in the professor's home and that DC was the charge. That is enough for a knowledgeable person to know the arrest was bogus. The White House has a staff and Gates is a personal friend so it seems reasonable to assume that the bare facts were easy to verify.

AI,

No. You don't get it. I do get it, I specifically stated I'm receptive to various other - and more tentatively conceived - pov. As to legal, lawyerly and other, more abstracted pov (i.e. disengaged from the heat of the moment, e.g., from Gates' deployment of the sgt's mother as a confrontational sneer; from the arrogation that the sgt was racially motivated; from the fact that, as noted in still other audio, video and links in general I've provided, that an officer on the scene has a variety of immediate and pressing concerns on his mind), those likewise are worth consideration as well - after the fact and from that more abstracted pov. But they are far from the end of the story, far indeed from the declaration of finality you're assigning to them.

(Ergo, AI, and all too clearly now, your own stupidity is on display. You point me to other commentary in this thread - and I've read and considered it all, organically and as a whole - but you don't apparently appreciate the other links I and others have provided. I mean, if even in a better considered and typically more thoughtful forum such as WWWtW, you can't get beyond the "stupid" motif given the commentary in all the other links provided, fine. It applies to yourself, big time. I especially enjoyed your unintentionally humorous and equally stupid, in fact vapid indulgence, indicating "... there simply isn't this level of insanity on the left." Heaven only knows how that aside could be treated on a multitude of blog threads. Iow, if you wish to bring out the guns and the attendant sniping, I can deploy that tactic as well, excepting unlike yourself I'm not firing blanks and am not indulging supercilious forms of tendentious pseudo-reasoning.)

To employ a music analogy that seeks to encompass more depth and a far better range of epistimic comprehensions, it's as if I've requested to listen to Sumi Jo sing Caccini's Ave Maria and, in response, you've put a scratchy DVD of Michael Jackson on instead, announcing your decision with finality.

As previously noted, others here will indulge your and Clayton's incomprehensions and your manifest incurious qualities, a genteel indulgence you're in need of, to indulge some understatement.

PS - rather than the Duke "rape" case and slander/libel, the current case involving Frank Lombard, Director of Duke's Center for Health Policy and a prof at the university might be more applicable given how far under the radar that latter case has gone and in stark contrast to the purported "rape" case of a few years ago.

But I'd venture a guess that you and Clayton are equally uncomprehending and incurious as applied to the Duke/Frank Lombard case as well, AI.

I don't mind conceding that Gates was making flatly stupid remarks to the cop, the cop should have intelligently walked away after finding out there was no crime in progress, and Obama correctly characterized the cop's decision to make a bogus arrest but he framed it in such a way that placed all the blame on one side.

On a lighter note, the new definition of disorderly conduct: "Hey you cops! Get off my lawn!"

Al, I referred to the Duke case because of the immediate reaction on the part of the press and most of the Duke faculty on letting their generalizations about "how white frat boys and athletes really are" overwhelm their responsibility as professionals to withhold judgment in the specific case in question. After all, the futures of young men hung in the balance. I would rather to be a victim of a crime than to be falsely accused of one.

The President permitted his generalization about "that's how cops act" to overwhelm his responsibility as the nation's chief executive--the person with the greatest police powers in this nation--to withhold judgment in this specific case. That's where the comparison is located.

BTW, to refer to the Duke case as the Duke "rape" case is about as accurate as referring to the Roswell crash as a UFO landing. There was no rape, just as there were no alien corpses in New Mexico.

"The President permitted his generalization about "that's how cops act" to overwhelm his responsibility as the nation's chief executive--the person with the greatest police powers in this nation--to withhold judgment in this specific case. "

Speaking of making claims which one is not entitled to due to lack of evidence, how do you know that Obama's comments were motivated by a "generalization about 'that's how cops act'"? Did you have access to the Obama MRI report before you made claims about the contents of his mind?

Gates' stupidity was unrestrained, to be kind, and Obama conspicuously failed to characterize Gates' stupidity for what it was, both initially and during his non-apology, though he did use kinder and gentler terms applied to Gates during the non-apology. The deeper and telling irony, as can now be seen, assuming one cares to view it for what it was and is, is that while the sgt. was not profiling in a racial sense and in fact has a poignant history that further supports the evidence in that vein, it was Henry Gates who was profiling the sgt. in a racialist cast, and therein targeting the sgt., along with his mother ...

But that is something we're not suppose to notice or pay much heed.

And, on a lighter note, one that actually is fitting, a youTube of Peter Sellers imitating Barack Obama handling local police matters he's too ignorant of to form a better opinion upon, but not hesitant to pontificate upon. Fitting indeed, the egoism, the pretense, the acting out; though Sellers was aware he was playing the toad, while Obama has the press to reassure him it simply cannot be true, he has his narcissism as well, both of which factors allow his and Gates' stupidity to very largely be uncommented upon, if it's allowed to be noticed at all - as with Obama's inability to throw a baseball across the plate.

A study in contrasts, and an additional fact we're not suppose to notice, or heed. In Pavlovian style we're being informed we have much to learn in how we treat and approach the T/ROTUS, the Teleprompter/Rhetorician of the U.S.

That's proving a lesson many are willing to heed.

"BTW, to refer to the Duke case as the Duke "rape" case is about as accurate as referring to the Roswell crash as a UFO landing."

Of course, point taken, my bad.

"generalizations about "how white frat boys and athletes really are" overwhelm their responsibility as professionals to withhold judgment..."

Dr. Beckwith, thus is off point as the president (and all the reports that I saw) made no judgments as to race or anything else beyond the mere facts of the arrest and the charge. I don't understand the resistance to what is obvious here once one understands the charge and the place in which it occured. Breech of the peace laws have to have a public component and, in this country, are constrained in their use by the First Amendment and numerous court decisions.

In the Duke case the mere facts of the arrest and charges said nothing as to the defendents innocence or guilt; the incompetence and mendacity of the authorities; and the mental health of the "victim".. In the matter re: Gates all we needed to know was the facts of the arrest in order to make certain judgments and not others. Because due process requires that these facts be public. they are easily determined and the media usually gets them right.

One parallel with the Duke case that does fly is that of the status of those charged. Had the defendants in the Duke matter been poor (or even middle class) they would likely be serving time. In both cases the arrested had the knowledge and means to defeat police misconduct in one case and prosecutorial misconduct in the other. The consequences in these cases were, of course, totally dissimilar.

BTW, we might take a moment to reflect on our incarceration policies which are a national disgrace.

In point of fact, Gates charged the sgt. with racism, several times throughout the exchange, in addition to the "your mother" insults and provocations, in addition to a failure to cooperate at points during the exchange.

As to the setting, all this took place in a town, Cambridge, that has a black mayor; in a state, Massachusetts, that has a black governor; in a country, the US, that has a black president, whom Gates has a close personal relationship with.

In closing, reflecting upon still other aspects of Obama's and Gates' stupidity and presumption, some "teachable moments" from Lawrence Auster via an exchange with a black reader, excerpt:

Black reader: "It is quite painful the way that black people are targeted by police in this county."

LA replies: "The reason blacks are arrested far more often than people belonging to other groups is that blacks commit various serious crimes at rates about ten times that of other groups. Thus the reality is that blacks commit far more crime, which you translate into "police are targeting blacks." You have flipped reality on its head, turning good into bad and bad into good. Meaning that you have turned good (police apprehending criminals) into bad (racist police "targeting" blacks), and bad (criminal black behavior) into good (innocent black victimhood)."

A teachable moment, indeed.

Well according to Wikipedia:

Gnosticism (Greek: γνῶσις gnōsis, knowledge) refers to diverse, syncretistic religious movements in antiquity consisting of various belief systems generally united in the teaching that humans are divine souls trapped in a material world created by an imperfect god, the demiurge; this being is frequently identified with the Abrahamic god, and is contrasted with a superior entity, referred to by several terms including Pleroma and Godhead[1].

I'm unsure how the following Obama positions that the post is talking about would fit gnosticism:

1. The economic theory that basing reimbursement on procedures rather than results will motivate physicians to lean more heavily on procedures.

2. The idea that arresting a middle aged man who is rude and cranky but has committed not a single crime is 'stupid'.

3. That a victory in Afghanistan will not look like a crisp, unequivocal event like Japan's WWII surrender but instead will be much more vague and open to doubt and disagreement.

To most sane people these all look like pretty true statements that are neither very gnostic or solipistic. What they have in common is that they can be rewritten by the right in such a way as to score a cheap talking point without even addressing their underlying truth. Hence they become:

1. Obama is accusing docs of doing unnecessary tonsillectomies for financial gain!!!!!! How mean of him to attack my son the doctor who spent so many hours in med. school studying!!!!

2. Obama is calling cops stupid! Doesn't he know they are protecting all of us!

3. Obama got a trivial historical fact wrong that has no impact on the analogy he was using! HAHAHAHA I know more...esp. since I can double check all this stuff on Google and Wikipedia from my basement blog command center! Now where did mom put the Star War's toys!


Lydia
The police report states that it was indeed attracting the attention of and disturbing the surrounding people in the neighborhood.

Please, please please. Have you ever had the police come to your house for a medical emergancy? They pull up in multiple cars with lights flashing. It's a big show for all your neighbors.

Yelling insulting language persistently from one's porch at someone off the porch and refusing to stop after being warned that one was engaging in disorderly conduct would definitely seem to fall into a similar category.

Which is why the charges were dropped almost as quickly as it hit the media. What ever happened to the Clinton era right wing? Remember that group who could get upset at the police for storming Ruby Ridge and Waco? Seems to have been replaced by the 'Condo Association Right' that will cheer the cop billy clubbing people who put one too many lawn gnomes out.

Francis
I still think Obama was clearly not justified in asserting that the Police Officer had acted stupidly. Now, again, that's different from the question of whether in fact the officer did act stupidly. At the time Obama made his comments, none of us, including the President, had the whole story. He seems to have relied exclusively on the media accounts, which is usually a bad idea,

Two points:

1. In his statement, Obama opened by making it clear he was relying on limited information and his opinion was subject to revision. While additional facts have come out, nothing has been revealed that makes his statement false IMO. The cop did overreact and arrested Gates when he was guilty of no crime other than speaking his mind. Gates may have been a rude, arrogant old SOB but this is America and you have a right to be that, esp. in your own house. If not let me know and I'll happily have my father-in-law lead away in cuffs as soon as I get off work.

2. We will never have 'all the facts' and likewise as we get more of the facts they almost all come through the media. In fact, Obama has a slight edge in that he personally knows Gates so he has an ability to make judgements based on that plus the media facts. Granted Obama recognizes that is a source of potential bias on his part but the fact is personal knowledge of someone is information nonetheless. We all know people and have a good, not perfect, but good ability to say some things are in or out of character for them.

Al
There is no analogy to the Duke rape case. There might be one had Gates been arrested for assaulting the officer as the situation would then be, had an assault happened or not and such matters usually cannot be determined outside of a court of law...

The Duke rape case was clearly a million times worse but your missing the similiarity. In the Duke case a prosecutor used his job to ruin the lives of innocent people. OK they were eventually vindicated and maybe have enough public sympathy today that they will suffer no life long damage...maybe they will even make out in the end with book or movie deals. But at the time they were subjected to the threat of conviction, the pressure to 'take a deal', the public humiliation and hatred.

Here you have a local cop making an unjustified arrest. That's a big deal if you're arrested. Heck, even a traffic stop that results in nothing other than a warning is a big deal. Ultimately it is about the gov't taking away your freedom. We all know that sometimes this is necessary and in the big scheme of things a traffic stop or even a brief arrest is hardly the worst injustice that happens in the world but it is still pretty big on the individual level. It's interesting how conservatives who carp about freedom often are blind to this. Let the min. wage go up a quarter and the Ayn Rand books come flying out but get arrested in your own home (or get pulled over 1/10th of the time when you're driving around not doing anything) and the answer is 'shut up and take it'


Three fellow Cambridge police officers, two of them black, one a black woman, interviewed by John McWhorter in a brief video.

And no one told anyone to "shut up." It was the president who initiated the "stupidity" charge, which has much the same effect and which is another reason, beyond not knowing the facts, he should have held off opining upon a local matter.

As far as Duke is concerned, the Frank Lombard case is instructive as well. Neither Obama nor anyone else has been eager to step forth and pontificate on the more general applicability of Lombard's case and being reticent to step forth and pontificate would have been welcome as applied to the Cambridge police matter as well.

Re: Stupidity

No one here has yet explained why it is not stupid for a cop to arrest a person who has not committed any crime.

Neither Obama nor anyone else has been eager to step forth and pontificate on the more general applicability of Lombard's...

I'm sorry, I don't really see the applicablility of the Lombard case and the Duke case to this. Lombard, correct me if I'm wrong, is accused of molesting his adopted 5 yr old. The Duke Rape case was about an abuse of police/prosecutorial power so it has some relationship to the Gates case although its scale is clearly much larger.

The Gates case, IMO, is more about what Obama said it was about, police stupidity. The police abused their power in order to punish someone for being to 'uppity'. That doesn't make Gates a nice guy. He probably was a real jerk that night too eager to jump to conclusions. This sort of thing happens all the time. Piss a cop off and you can end up with some minor ticket, minor arrest, or worse. The abuse of power is not easily proveable and often not worth fighting but it is real nonetheless.

Yes, you've made your view clear. Repeating it - with continued emphasis upon terms such as "stupidity" - doesn't make it any more clear, it more simply underscores your myopia and your question begging and circular reasoning in general. When you merely pass over all contrary and contesting information, such as is presented in this thread and elsewhere, and go on to repeat what you've already said, it adds, quite literally, nothing of substance to the discussion.

Then again, that's precisely one of the reasons why Obama should have recused himself from commenting on this local situation, especially so with the "stupidity" charge, it encourages this type of myopia, this type of truncated and devolved forms of discussion, rather than more truly elevating the discussion and better illuminating it.

But let me guess, you have more to say, because, after all, it was "stupid"? In fact, it's known as "contempt of cop" and it's a factor that does at times play into mistakes made by cops on the scene, dealing with situation in their immediacy. It's not a "stupid" mistake, in fact it's often one that understandable given the exigencies of the moment.

As to the Frank Lombard/Duke case, I forwarded that in large part for rhetorical effect, but I also explicitly indicated why one aspect of that situation can be illuminating as well. Don't talk presumptively about local matters, especially so when you don't know the relevant facts and have not taken the time to consider the still wider set of circumstances you're already prone to pontificate upon.

Boonton, excellent posts with one minor quibble; I pointed out the abuse of power similarities in a follow-up post.

At this point, I guess it should be clear that partisan politics and an emotional attachment of some sort to the roles of authority figures on the part of most conservatives is trumping what should be a rather simple analysis - no crime should result in no arrest.

Golly, you mean sometimes the police make bogus arrests and lie on their reports while some prosecutors are more interested in running up their conviction scores and protecting their egos than seeing justice done. Oh noes! That can't be true.

There is no "emotional attachment" to "authortiy figures." The fact you're having to presume and insinuate this "knowledge" of yours, applied to motives rather than the facts and general set of circumstances, further reflects upon a certain myopia. As to "partisan politics," those have been evidenct, but they're also secondary, and they apply to yourself as well. Golly, gosh, ya think?!?

As to the police "lieing," substantiate the charge. Or, admit it's but another attempt to insinuate knowledge of motive when in fact you have no such knowledge. An honest mistake, one that is in fact understandable from a reasonably conceived pov, is not a "lie."

Two stories:

I graduate school (it was January, I think), I was running home from the computer lab at about 9:00 pm because it was cold outside. Suddenly, four police cars surrounded me and an officer got out asking me what I had in my briefcase. I had no idea why they were asking such a thing. I showed him my printouts. He said that some student guards had seen someone climbing out of a window and running from the engineering building (where the computer lab was) and afterwards, they had seen me running. I showed them the orintouts and showed them that they were time-stamped, so it was possible to prove where I was and who I was and that I was not that other person. They said that I was probably the victim of a big mistake. I got somewhat angry that the student guards hadn't bothere to get their facts straight before pointing out an innocent man. It took a while for the shock and adrenaline to get out of my system after I was let go.

The second story: I had just moved into a new townhouse and the basement window's latch was brocken so that it wouldn't close. I went outside to try to tape the window shut. A few minutes later, the landlord's son came walking up demanding to know who I was because some other people in the the other townhouses called him, thinking I was a burglar (how they could think this on a bright sunny Sunday morning in broad daylight, I have no idea). I explained to the landlord's son that I had just moved in the night before. He seemed to be of the opinion that the other tenants had done me a favor by reporting "suspicious" behavior. I was angry because no reasonable person would think that a man whom they had seen coming in and out of the townhouse (meaning they had a key) trying to fix a window with duct tape in broad daylight in an exposed area, visible to everyone would somehow be a thief. They simple rashly judged based on no evidence at all except for their own lack of observation, the same as the student guards in my first story.

Was my adrenaline flowing in both cases? Yes. Did I have a right, in a perfect world, to accuse my accusers of not doing due dilgence to actually understandwhat were going on? Yes. Do we live in a scoiety where people have to assume the worst? Maybe, but we certainly live in a more frightened society than fifty years ago. Fifty years ago, my neighbors would have probably walked up to me and asked to help me fix my window.

This whole affair is, in part, a commentary on the state of fear in modern society. We used to leave our cars unlocked. Now, we don't even leave Churches open for people to pray.

I can empathize with Gates's over-reaction and anger at being accosted by the police officer. I've been there. What I can't empathize with is his jumping to the accusation of racism. What I can't empathize with is his rhetoric and threats to sue. He should have simply chaulked it up to business as usual in modern society, prayed for all involved, and moved on. The officer should, realizing his mistake, apologized and moved on.

This whole affair is such a silly waste of time (and I don't mean this in the Obama sense). It isn't just black people who get angry when unjustly detained. Nothing about this affair should have even made it to the evening news, much less the White House. I see way too much prde and hurt feelings on Gates's part to be to sympathetic with his behavior after the fact.

The Chicken

I think it's worth noting, too, that Gates _followed_ the police officer _out_ of his house when the officer was leaving and continued to call after him threats of "not having heard the last" and "not knowing who you're messing with" and the like. It was only after that went on for a bit that he got arrested. Now, that's obviously something you, MC, did not think of doing and wouldn't have thought of doing and something most normal people who don't think of themselves as Somebody with a capital S would also not think of doing. Moreover, you blamed the student guards in the first case, not the cops themselves. Gates thinks of himself as some kind of big-wig who can yell at and abuse cops because of his status. I have not read Heather MacDonald's column recently in which she allegedly (I've seen a brief quote) chides the cop for being "parochial" for not knowing who Gates was, but that has something of the same "big-wig" mentality. There's this notion in America called equality before the law. A person isn't supposed to be able to say, "Do you know who I am?" and _on that basis_ get special treatment or be licensed to be more abusive and outraged than any other average citizen. But Gates obviously didn't get the memo about that.

Iowahawk zeroes in nicely. It's peppered with some apt "turns of phrase" in a few spots, nothing egregious, but if you have a sensitive conscience in that area ...

Golly, you mean sometimes the police make bogus arrests and lie on their reports while some prosecutors are more interested in running up their conviction scores and protecting their egos than seeing justice done. Oh noes! That can't be true.

Al,

Indeed this is the case quite often and in the big scheme of things there is not much that can be done about it. Well there is, it should be called out when found and criticizied.

Masked Chicken,

I think you are correct this isn't really 'about black people'. This sort of thing happens to all types of people. It is, sadly, a probably unavoidable feature of modern life. From the cops perspective I can understand that it is difficult to deal with people who behave like jerks and at the same time worry that the person you're dealing with may be more than just a jerk but a jerk whose about to use violence. Nonetheless, the temptation to 'get even' by messing up a guys evening with a bogus arrest, dubious ticket or whatnot needs to be resisted.

Lydia
There's this notion in America called equality before the law. A person isn't supposed to be able to say, "Do you know who I am?" and _on that basis_ get special treatment or be licensed to be more abusive and outraged than any other average citizen. But Gates obviously didn't get the memo about that.

Actually any citizen (or person for that matter since the First Amendment isn't limited to citizens) has every right to say "Do you know who I am?" and "You haven't heard the last of this". Reading your comment I thought perhaps you have recently arrived here from another dimension where College Professors carry guns, handcuffs and badges where Gates in Lydia's alternative universe arrested the cop and threw him in Big Wig Jail. If this is the case I'm going to have to ask you to return to your own native dimension for the sake not only of physical integrity of our universe but also out of respect for our immigration laws.

Michael B

Yes, you've made your view clear. Repeating it - with continued emphasis upon terms such as "stupidity" - doesn't make it any more clear,

Actually I made several other clear points starting with what is the relationship between the three Obama statements and Gnosticism. If I was totally ignorant of the term and had to rely on the context clues of this original post I'd have to conclude Gnosticism simply means either making a mistake about historical trivia (which Japanese representative signed the articles of surrender in that famous picture) or it means jumping to conclusions.

Aside from quibbling over Gates, no one here has even begun to actually dispute the truth value of the substance of Obama's three claims. Those are, once again, that paying for procedures rather than results encourages doctors to over utilize procedures and a 'victory' in Afghanistan would be less clearcut as victory over Japan was in WWII.

MB, you wrote:

"In fact, it's known as "contempt of cop" and it's a factor that does at times play into mistakes made by cops on the scene, dealing with situation in their immediacy. It's not a "stupid" mistake, in fact it's often one that understandable given the exigencies of the moment."

Then I wrote:

"...you mean sometimes the police make bogus arrests and lie on their reports..."

And you replied:

"As to the police "lieing," (sic) substantiate the charge."

Why? You already admitted that the police sometimes lie in their arrest reports. There is no law, in any jurisdiction in this nation, that makes "contempt of cop" a crime. Now, when an arrest is made there must be a charge, some circumstances that fits some section of the relevent code, and this must all be written down.

Losing ones temper may involve a temporary lapse in judgment, a "mistake" if you will. Arresting someone because he ticked you off, making up a reason, and writing it down isn't a mistake in any meaningful sense, it's a lie.

AI,

I admitted no such thing. You're imputing to me something I did not, and do not, subscribe to. You're reducing what I first hypothesized and then applied a label to ("contempt of cop"), you're reducing that to a formulation that suits your already decided upon result. I.e. a form of circular reasoning and question begging.

Iow, you're either being unconsciously tendentious and formulaic in order to comply with the end result you've already decided upon or, if you're doing so more consciously, you're the one who is lieing.

The idea you're able to divine motive in such a tangled situation is risible.

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