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The Gates Incident, the 911 tapes, and a certain cast of mind

As Andrew Cline, editorial page editor of the New Hampshire Union Leader , points out, the release of the 911 tapes of the Gates incident reveals the cast of mind that is produced by an academic culture that dehumanizes the individual in the name of advancing what are the apparent interests of one's class, race, or gender. Readers of WWWtW have seen this to a lesser extent when some of us have faced a level of sophomoric reasoning bordering on philosophical malpractice that is in such perverse disproportion to what is appropriate to such disagreements that in prior ages it would have been considered potential Monty Python material.

At some point, all of us--conservatives and liberals alike--have to begin to value the truth for its own sake. I am, of course, under no illusion that even if we all embraced this noble principle, deep disagreements would continue, and that each of us would sometimes think our adversaries are not being entirely candid about their viewpoints and their plausibility. Trust me, I know how difficult it is to exercise virtue under the weight of adversity. But we still have to realize that not every incident of personal or political conflict should be seen as an opportunity to score cultural points when the scoring of those points requires one to dehumanize another under some academic abstraction or "internalized narrative."

Here are some excerpts from Mr. Cline's essay:

Monday, the City of Cambridge released the 911 and arrest tapes from the incident in which Gates was arrested by white police officer James Crowley. It is no wonder that Gates has begun to back down from his allegations of racism. The tapes show no such motivation, and they confirm that Gates was being disorderly, which he had denied.

The tapes reveal a couple of crucial points. 1) the woman who reported the possible break-in at Gates' home never mentioned black males at all. 2) Gates was in fact shouting, despite his claim that this was impossible.

Gates' allegations of being racially profiled by a lying, racist officer collapse upon the tapes' revelations. Officer Crowley was not looking for black men. He had no idea what race the suspects were. And Gates was indeed being disorderly....

Gates began peddling that theory immediately -- literally. He shouted to the bystanders who had gathered before his house upon hearing the commotion, "This is what happens to black men in America!" He threatened a lawsuit and he told anyone who would listen that he was arrested for being black.

Like Woody Allen seeing anti-Semitism everywhere in Annie Hall, Gates projected his own prejudice onto Sgt. Crowley. The moment Sgt. Crowley appeared in his sight, Gates "knew" why: racism.

Thankfully, there were witnesses. Two other police officers who were there -- one Hispanic, one black -- confirmed Crowley's account and defended the arrest. The Gates neighbor who snapped the now famous photo of the professor on his porch in handcuffs said, "I know he (Gates) was tired and upset, but someone of his stature and education should be a little more understanding."

The recordings support the accounts provided by the officers and witnesses. The tapes answer the two most important questions. No, no one reported a break-in by black men, and yes, Gates did shout at Crowley.

The evidence against Gates' story is so compelling that on Monday the black mayor of Cambridge, Denise Simmons, said upon the release of the tapes, "I strongly support our commissioner Bob Haas." That would be Police Commissioner Robert Haas, who fully backs Crowley. Haas said yesterday, "the tapes speak for themselves." ...

This episode was indeed a teaching moment, but the lesson is not what Gates envisioned. It is the lesson taught in David Mamet's Oleana and Philip Roth's The Human Stain. People conditioned to see others not as individuals but as representatives of a whole race or class will do exactly that. In the process, individuality is erased. There are no human-to-human encounters, but only larger clashes between races or classes. Every interaction between people of different races, even the most mundane or innocent, has a larger political meaning. All actions are seen through distorting lenses until the individuals involved disappear entirely and all that is left are blurred hues of dark and light.

That is the world Henry Louis Gates Jr. seems to have created for himself. In that world, Officer James Crowley doesn't exist. The real James Crowley was hand-picked by a black police commissioner to teach new recruits how not to racially profile, tried to save the life of a black Boston Celtics star, and has the unqualified backing of the black officers who know and serve with him. The instant he was perceived through the eyes of Henry Louis Gates Jr., however, Officer James Crowley ceased to exist. In his place was White Officer Questioning An Innocent Black Man.

The lesson America ought to learn from this incident is that Gates' image of the world as a place in which individuals are little more than pawns in the greater historical conflict between the races is fatally misconceived. It is a projection of a hopelessly erroneous political theory that, from time to time, reality disproves in a grand way.

Comments (40)

Dr. Beckwith:

First off, let me say I’m familiar with your background and I purchased and read your book, Defending Life: A Moral and Legal Case Against Abortion Choice. That said, I don’t see where you are coming from on this. Who was wrong in this case - Gates, Crowley, both or neither?

In my mind, the answer is both. Gates was wrong for giving the officer a hard time. But Crowley was wrong for arresting him. After being provoked by Gates, Crowley threatened him with the handcuffs first, taking them out and waving them at Gates. This obviously only provoked Gates and he further behaved irresponsibly. But Crowley could have just walked away. The matter was settled. Crowley by then knew there was no danger about a break-in, which is why he went there in the first place.

If the matter were not racial for Crowley, and I suspect in part it was, despite his protestations otherwise, including his previous life-saving and training efforts, then certainly it was prompted by something else. Perhaps being shown disrespect by this “academic” in front of bystanders, I don’t know. But the arrest was unnecessary, and the decision of the D.A.’s office to not pursue the matter confirms this.

Police chiefs and others may take sides to “defend their turf" on this, but bottom line, this is how I see the matter. Ultimately, the arrest was unnecessary and wrong. I don’t often agree with Obama, but his initial “off the cuff” assessment in the press conference was just about right. However, Obama shouldn't have commented on the matter at all.

Respectfully,
Robert S.

Since now seems to be the time float theories about motivation...

My take has always been that Crowley probably got exasperated at the crazy old man. I imagine the 'debriefing' at the station went something like, "Yeah, you had to make a judgment call and it wasn't totally unreasonable...he was unruly, there was a crowd...but you probably should have just walked away and let the man be angry at you. We deal with this crap all the time. You've been around long enough to know them's the breaks." I don't know that I'd characterize that as acting stupidly...as someone who gets feedback all the time on professional interactions with others, some of whom can be belligerent, it sounds more like "par for the course should have just walked away."

The idea that Gates had a drink on the flight, and was a cranky traveler (idea courtesy of some commentator or another), is of course just speculation...but it's pretty reasonable, and takes us out of the realm of "racist Harvard lunatic driving an agenda." One of the quotes attributed to Gates ran something to the effect of how scared/startled/surprised he was that these cops just showed up on his doorstep. I find that very hard to believe--if I spent 5 or 10 angry minutes trying to break into my house and the police showed up, it would take me all of 2 seconds to get it and be embarrassed that someone called the cops on me. He might be disingenuous but he might also just have been impaired.

It's just too easy to find alternative explanations for all that happened to pass it off in any of the ideological caricatures that find happy homes in the MSM or on the interwebs. Or on teleprompters.

The officer was not wrong to arrest. Any challenge to police authority must be dealt with and an officer should have no compunctions about proper use of authority. Otherwise, our society breaks down.

This wasn't two people having a disagreement. This was an individual assaulting a police officer in a public arena. That cannot be tolerated.

Secondly, I saw Gates give a graduation speech here in Houston. He was highly insulting to Justice Clarence Thomas in his speech and to "American Society" in general. I was not surprised to hear this arrest incident occurred given his demeanor.

Lastly, I believe this incident will do more good than harm for race relations. It will help break down "modern" stereotypes of policemen and allow them to just do their job.

I am not certain how the basic position that the racial component of this incident was interjected entirely by Gates is arguable. The call to 911 was not racially motivated, the 911 operator certainly did not mention race, and the arresting officer is not accused of making any racial comments or slurs. Gates is the only person that used racially charged invective language.

I think that Christopher Hitchens article on this is also interesting and actually supports Mr. Cline's position. The reasonable crank would be ranting about the First Amendment rights and not racial profiling. At least if Gates were merely arguing that he has a right to be as rude as he wants to a police officer in his own home after he has verified his identity he would have many people agreeing with him who currently do not. But his inability to see anything other than a broader racial context for everything is exactly the point of the post.

For a more rational POV, one might want to turn to this Forbes piece, http://www.forbes.com/2009/07/28/gates-crowley-arrest-first-amendment-free-speech-harvard-opinions-contributors-harvey-a-silverglate.html

"The Cambridge Police Department and the District Attorney of Middlesex County wisely agreed with Gates and his lawyers to dismiss the charge of "disorderly conduct." Perhaps the dismissal was occasioned by the discomfort prosecutors--and perhaps both sides--were feeling about proceeding to a criminal trial where both Gates' and Crowley's words would be on public display. But the D.A. had another reason for dismissing the charge: Had Professor Gates and his lawyers raised a First Amendment defense, the defendant almost certainly would have prevailed--if not at the trial court level, then in the appellate courts--and the scope of the "disorderly persons" statute would have been severely limited in all future citizen-police confrontations. The future use of handcuffs to penalize a citizen mouthing-off against official authority would have been, at long last, curtailed. Perhaps the common good would have been better served had the case proceeded to trial after all."

As several of us indicated in your last post on this topic, race is likely peripheral here (see Atwater v. LagoVista) as this is a clear First Amendment case.

I realize you love partisan rough and tumble Dr. Beckwith but I hope you take fh's comment to heart, when you fling the red meat. I'm reminded of the line from Caberet after the "Tomorrow Belongs to Me" beer garden scene, "still think you can control them."

AI,

That would be "peripheral," as in non-existent, excepting within Gates' mind and projections. And there's nothing "irrational" about FB's post, it doesn't address the first amendment aspect whatsoever, it addresses other issues. Then, of course, it's not irrational in the least to introduce a Nazi motif, via the Cabaret scene in question.

The first amendment aspect is a viable aspect, but it's not the lone aspect worthy of discussion, not remotely so. After all, the more renown Duke case (not Frank Lombard's case, but the phony case that made all the news) was itself an example of grievance mongering and libel/slander with a racial cast.

Gates should have spent the night in jail. There is no First Amendment issue here. His diatribe certainly made the officer's job more difficult and could have started a wider confrontation. There is no First Amendment right to shout "fire" in a theater. There is no First Amendment right to turn a routine police operation into some kind broader confrontation involving bystanders. Gates's behavior was intolerable and Crowley was right not to tolerate it. For that matter there is no First Amendment right to disrespect Crowley's mother.

Auster has had some excellent coverage on this entire incident, including commentary relayed both from policemen and from one reader who has been arrested on disorderly conduct charges. The reader, fairly cynically, says that _most_ DC charges are not prosecuted and that a DC charge is a way of, as it were, putting the offender in a "time-out" for flipping out. Cynical though this is, it does cast doubt on the whole idea that if the charge was not prosecuted this means it was some sort of false arrest. By no means. Plenty of arrests do not lead to prosecution. There are matters of prosecutorial discretion and decisions about the use of public money. Further, a number of policemen on a board stated both a) that they are taught that they have to put up with almost any verbal abuse directed merely at themselves but b) that if the public is disturbed, there is a plausible case for a DC charge. Hence, one policeman said it is sometimes recommended that you ask some little old blue-haired lady in the crowd if the person's outburst is bothering her. :-)

All of this goes to explain both that Crowley was not acting impulsively or without thought (because he states that the public were disturbed in his police report) but rather knew the law and also why his fellow officers and his superiors back him up in the arrest.

"_most_ DC charges are not prosecuted and that a DC charge is a way of, as it were, putting the offender in a "time-out" for flipping out. Cynical though this is, it does cast doubt on the whole idea that if the charge was not prosecuted this means it was some sort of false arrest."

While I'm very wary of legal action that makes "the process" itself the punishment, a few hours in jail are punishment enough. DC arrests seem quite necessary to police and public safety.

Surely even in a moderately racist society it would be easy for most people to avoid a DC arrest. It's a pity that Gates' crummy day has become a national incident endangering several careers.

I agree with Robert. Gates was wrong for rather obvious reasons, but the officer was rather obviously looking for a reason to arrest him after being shouted at (which, as I understand it, is not in itself illegal).

The issue that the officer was on the scene to resolve, viz. whether someone was breaking into Gates's home, was resolved while Gates, Crowley and another officer were in the house. Gates began demanding the officer's name and badge number, and the officer -- *after the issue concerning the break in had been resolved* -- asked Gates to step outside to continue the conversation (his excuse being that the 'acoustics' of the house were making it difficult for him to communicate with other units). However, once Gates stepped outside and continued his questioning of Crowley, he was warned that he was in danger of being arrested for disorderly conduct *because neighbors and others were watching all this unfold*. In other words -- according to the police report -- Gates's actions were 'disorderly,' and he was warned about this, *only after he stepped outside -- which he did at the officer's request on the grounds of some BS 'acoustics' problem*! (Incidentally, it seems odd that an 'uncooperative' Gates was so readily willing to cooperate and step outside with the officer.)

As I see it -- for what it's worth -- Crowley asked an obviously upset Gates outside, where he knew his behavior would continue in the presence of others, so he could charge him with disorderly conduct, not to continue the conversation or some such nonsense.

If Gates was so stupid as to not know the difference between berating a policeman in his own house, and doing it in public, he deserves to be taken down a notch. Crowley should be applauded for helping us all see the kind of jerks policeman have to put up with. I sure have never acted that way to a cop on duty. Maybe Crowley should have walked away, I don't know. But he shouldn't have had to put up with that kind of nonsense to begin with. Gates could have prevented the whole problem by acting like a human being instead of like a racist.

I just happened to have just finished reading a book which was written by Rev.Earle Carter in 1997 the book No apology necessary.Although it would take someone with bible knowledge to fully understand the concept of what he was trying to say :
In this book he is explainig something that for me explains all the animosity that still prevails in the United States.Although slavery has not been in existance in four hundred plus years America is still suffering from it's effect on black Americans as well as white Americans and the sooner we stop hiding this demon under the house we will succeed in self distruction.
Yes racial profiling still exist in all areas. We have made advances but it is not enough .My fellow Americans this demon under the house has risen it's head in 2008.A sleeping giant if you may .I see the media fanning this offense I pray God have mercy on the responsible parties whoever they are.Listen to what I am saying this hatred which was lying dormant has reared its ugly head ,it is so bad that if we do not address this issue I vouchsafe to say the mentality today is lets start an uprising .Listen the other countries are watching us self distruct.
The problem in America with the white man and black man is that they do not trust each other. We fear each other like the rev. said in his book .The black man is afraid of the police and the police are afraid of the black man because it is precieved that all black man live a precarious lifestyle.The black man is afraid of the white man because of the authority he holds over him and also believe he is evil.
We must find a way to heal those wounds that was held together with a bandaid. We need to start today .That incident with those two men Mr Gates and Mr Crowley was to raise awareness about a situation that has not been dealt with .We call ourselves a christian nation we need to start healing ourselves before we can heal others ,before we can accuse others of abuse we need to see about the seeping wounds that has not been healed here in America before judgement falls upon us.God bless America

I would venture to say that a screaming, hysterical and insulting black man ought to be treated the same way as a screaming, hysterical and insulting white man.
This to me represents in essence an example and guide for tolerance, equality, and even handed fairness. You could say it comes under color blind disorderly conduct management.

Wading thru some of the above has been less unpleasant than a trip to the dentist's, but not by much. 1st Amendment rights? Implied entrapment by Crowley? No case & charges dropped? Pass the Tums.

Unmentioned in all the verbiage is our president and his ignominious role. It just may have been that kind of thing, if not at that level, which caused the police to drop charges against the race hustler Gates.

If any good came of this it was that it provided many with another chance to inveigh against the wickedness & racism of their fellow citizens. Something just a little less important than breathing.

Robert S. wrote:

"After being provoked by Gates, Crowley threatened him with the handcuffs first, taking them out and waving them at Gates. "

First of all, Robert S. is just making things up out of thin air when he says that Crowley was "waving the handcuffs at Gates". There is nothing in the police report nor in any source to substantiate that colorful bit of imaginative fantasy.

Secondly, the phrase "after being provoked by Gates, Crowley..." seriously conflates a much longer period of time during which Gates incessantly provoked Crowley.

It began in the doorway when Crowley first encountered Gates. It went on and on and on inside the foyer, where Gates was yelling so loudly in accusations of racism that Crowley was unable even to hear dispatches by which he was maintaining communication with "ECC or other responding units". Crowley also had to tell Gates his name three different times as Gates demanded it of him three different times (perhaps out of a frothing paroxysm of hate-filled dementia, who knows). Finally, Crowley tried to leave and said he was going, but Gates continued to yell at Crowley. Crowley again tried to tell Gates that he was leaving. Gates continued yelling at him (including at this point a slur against Crowley's mother -- "ya, I'll speak with your mama outside"). By this time, Crowley had edged out of the foyer and out to the porch. The yelling continued as Gates followed him out to the porch. Crowley was already off the porch and leaving by the walkway as Gates still continued yelling at him. Crowley had already noticed even before this point that the people gathering in front of the house had by then numbered 7. By now, he noticed the crowd appeared "surprised and alarmed" by the situation, which he described as "his [Gates's] continued tumultuous behavior outside the residence, in view of the public". It was at that point that Crowley saw that this was a disorderly conduct in public charge.

From here, I will simply quote the rest of the relevant police report:

"I warned Gates that he was becoming disorderly. Gates ignored my warning and continued to yell, which drew the attention of both the police officers and citizens, who appeared surprised and alarmed by Gates's outburst. For a second time I warned Gates to calm down while I withdrew my department issued handcuffs from their carrying case. [Note: no "waving" here.] Gates again ignored my warning and continued to yell at me. It was at this time that I informed Gates that he was under arrest. I then stepped up the stairs, onto the porch and attempted to place handcuffs on Gates. Gates initially resisted my attempt to handcuff him, yelling that he was "disabled" and would fall without his cane. After the handcuffs were property applied, Gates complained that they were too tight. I ordered Off. Ivey, who was among the responding officers, to handcuff Gates with his arms in front of him for his comfort while I secured a cane for Gates from within the residence. I then asked Gates if he would like an officer to take possession of his house key and secure his front door, which he left wide open. Gates told me that the door was un securable due to a previous break attempt at the residence. Shortly thereafter, a Harvard University maintenance person arrived on scene and appeared familiar with Gates. I asked Gates if he was comfortable with this Harvard University maintenance person securing his residence. He told me that he was."

I suggest Robert S. actually familiarize himself with the actual facts before adopting a position. Failing to do so is the textbook definition of pre-judice. There is only one right person and one wrong person in this event. Not every event has two sides. Gates acted outrageously like a bawling little child on a playground having an insane fit. He should have apologized to Crowley, to Crowley's mother, and to the Cambridge Police Dept. He's the one who should have his career ruined, rather than Richard Kramer of Seinfeld or Don Imus, who made only apparently racist remarks and had their careers ruined for life -- while Gates made actual racist statements at the top of his lungs over and over and over again, against Crowley for being a white policeman and by extension against all white policemen.

"relevant police report"

and who prepared the report?

Al,

You either base your position on the belief that Crowley lied in his report, or you don't. You can't have it both ways in some kind of limbo between the two, while still drawing sustenance from the suspicion. At least you can't from both a rational and legal standpoint -- nor should that limbo be elevated into an off-the-cuff condemnation of white policemen throughout the USA, as implied by Obama's reaction to the incident. And, needless to say, there is zero evidence that he lied. Now the released 911 report corroborates certain details of his report -- and shows that Gates was, in fact, lying in his post-incident spin, when he claimed he was not yelling and was unable to yell due to a bronchial problem.

I would venture to say that a screaming, hysterical and insulting black man ought to be treated the same way as a screaming, hysterical and insulting white man.

Agreed. A screaming, hysterical and insulting white man should not have been arrested either. I assumed that is why Clayton provided the relevant law and court cases in the previous thread, to demonstrate the scope of the law and how cases more egregious than this one have been ruled unlawful arrests. The post and some of the comments suggest that liberals have bought in to the racial narrative Gates believes. That is not the argument I've seen on liberal blogs, which is based on whether the law was misused by the police officers. As much as some would like it to be true, being disrespectful to police officers is not a crime. Do I suspect Crowley and the other officers were highly annoyed by Gates' behavior? Of course. That still doesn't allow them to trump up a charge of DC. The "surprised and alarmed" neighbors couldn't have anything to do with six or seven police officers and their vehicles all around the property, but some old guy yelling on his own porch really startled them. Sure, whatever.

Of course he lied. A simple review of relevant Mass. case law clearly shows that Gates' conduct failed to come close to meeting the criteria for a DC arrest to stick. If you haven't resd the case law you shouldn't be commenting because you don't understand the law. For example, here is one witness, "I know he (Gates) was tired and upset, but someone of his stature and education should be a little more understanding." This does not sound like someone who was being incited to violence - a necessary element of the crime of disorderly conduct (not mere yelling or insulting the officer which is protected speech).

Crowley carefully worded his report in order to avoid formal falification and the risks that would entail for him. If you want to compromise on something like "using weaselly language in order to justify an otherwise baseless arrest" I'll go for that. Otherwise using language that in its legal meaning denotes the presence of a violence element when no such element was there is lying.

Hesperado:

First, Google "Sgt. Crowley waving handcuffs at Gates", and see what you get. Not that everything out on the internet is factual, but... that leads me to....

Second, you quote the police report, and add your own aside - "For a second time I warned Gates to calm down while I withdrew my department issued handcuffs from their carrying case. [Note: no "waving" here.]"

To which, I respond, "You're kidding, right?"

If you're not, I have to ask the obvious question, "If Sgt. Crowley had waved the handcuffs at Gates, would he have admitted as much in the police report?"

Sheesh.

Robert S.


Robert S.,

Oh please. Exactly how did he wave the cuffs and what was his intent in doing so? Was it nothing more than a simple demonstration, a relatively mild means of communicating the fact of the matter? Or, was it done threateningly and with anger and vindictively? Precisely how did he do it, and with what precise motive and intent? Appropriating this purported knowledge of yours, Robert, is similar to AI appropriating his interpretation and certitudes and forwarding them as fact.

The most basic set of issues here involves admitting what we positively do know, vs. that which is merely being hypothesized and presumed.

Another example. Why, Robert, do you "suspect" Crowley's motives were racial? Or, to the extent you allow they may not have been racial, at least in part, how is it you are "certain" it was "something else" - and can you give us an example of what that "something else" (not racial, but equally bad?) would be, given your certainty in that vein? Give us some insight into your certainty in this area, as well as some insight into your suspicion that he was racially motivated. (Also, do you acknowledge Gates' racial motivations?)

A primary art and perhaps the most basic art of the lawyerly casuist and presumptive involves a sleight of hand manipulation of syntax and semantics - of symbol and meaning - wherein an honest and rigorous assessment of probative depth (that which more truly can be determined together with transparent acknowledgements of that which cannot be determined) is supplanted with another, agenda-driven meaning, the meaning an actor desires to effect by virtue of less rigorous standards and designs. (For this and other reasons, the "justice system" is better appreciated, more simply, as the legal system.)

Ultimately, b.s., no matter how artfully crafted, no matter the intricacies and elaborate quality of the design, no matter the righteousness and certitudes and protestations used on its behalf, is still b.s. Whether consciously plied or otherwise, it makes no difference in terms of more probative, rigorous and transparent analyses and acknowledgements.

(And that doesn't begin to get into still other aspects of the broader analysis, such as the exigencies and immediacies an on-the-scene police officer is tasked with vs. the abstracted remove any after-the-fact analyst will be afforded.)

"Crowley carefully worded his report in order to avoid formal falification and the risks that would entail for him."

And, of course, if Crowley had confessed to the opposite, that would be definitive proof as well.

Ahhh, the spherical beauty of circular reasoning is sometimes too powerful to resist.

Step2 wrote:

"The "surprised and alarmed" neighbors couldn't have anything to do with six or seven police officers and their vehicles all around the property, but some old guy yelling on his own porch really startled them. Sure, whatever."

The six or seven police officers were there because of Gates, and only Gates. He caused the whole thing. It's his fault.

Whether Crowley's arrest was not in the strictest sense supportable is beside the point -- the point that the arrest became a sociopolitical event used by Gates and the President of the USA smearing all white police officers with a vague and unsubstiantiated insinuation of racist conduct which then legitimizes black suspicion of them and thus contributes to a perpetuation of a "cycle" of racism in America that lends an unwarranted degree of exculpation to blacks for the amount of crime they commit and their stubborn continuation of paranoia about whites which facilitates massive policy and cultural intimidation of whites based on the disease of political correctness (with, of course, the cooperation of whites suffering from the same disease). I don't doubt that police countless of times proceed with an arrest that later is found to be unsupportable by other members of the chain of law enforcement (lawyers, judges, juries). That doesn't make those police officers who made the arrested wrong in any sense except a technicality which is not a moral wrong but a technical mistake, like accidentally tripping and knocking something over.

The fault of Gates here is moral, both in terms of what he was doing at the time, and what he did after the fact with his public statements and his social pull with an equally racist President.

Step2 wrote:

"The "surprised and alarmed" neighbors couldn't have anything to do with six or seven police officers and their vehicles all around the property, but some old guy yelling on his own porch really startled them. Sure, whatever."

The six or seven police officers were there because of Gates, and only Gates. He caused the whole thing. It's his fault.

Whether Crowley's arrest was not in the strictest sense supportable is beside the point -- the point that the arrest became a sociopolitical event used by Gates and the President of the USA smearing all white police officers with a vague and unsubstiantiated insinuation of racist conduct which then legitimizes black suspicion of them and thus contributes to a perpetuation of a "cycle" of racism in America that lends an unwarranted degree of exculpation to blacks for the amount of crime they commit and their stubborn continuation of paranoia about whites which facilitates massive policy and cultural intimidation of whites based on the disease of political correctness (with, of course, the cooperation of whites suffering from the same disease). I don't doubt that police countless of times proceed with an arrest that later is found to be unsupportable by other members of the chain of law enforcement (lawyers, judges, juries). That doesn't make those police officers who made the arrested wrong in any sense except a technicality which is not a moral wrong but a technical mistake, like accidentally tripping and knocking something over.

The fault of Gates here is moral, both in terms of what he was doing at the time, and what he did after the fact with his public statements and his social pull with an equally racist President.

Al wrote:

"Of course he [Crowley] lied. A simple review of relevant Mass. case law clearly shows that Gates' conduct failed to come close to meeting the criteria for a DC arrest to stick."

That's not proof that he lied. At best, it might be proof that he made a mistake in assessing the situation.

"If you haven't resd the case law you shouldn't be commenting because you don't understand the law. For example, here is one witness, "I know he (Gates) was tired and upset, but someone of his stature and education should be a little more understanding." This does not sound like someone who was being incited to violence - a necessary element of the crime of disorderly conduct (not mere yelling or insulting the officer which is protected speech)."

This is irrelevant to whether Crowley sincerely thought the situation passed muster.

Secondly, I'd have to see proof that the public being incited to violence is a "necessary element" of the crime of disorderly conduct. Even if you can adduce the proof, that still doesn't make Crowley a liar. One can't know what's in the mind of the public. If a man is yelling to a crowd that police abuse is happening, and the crowd looks disturbed, something could happen. Were I to indulge in speculating freely here as Al and Robert have done, I could speculate that perhaps the crowd gathering outside of Gates's house was mostly black, though Crowley understandably wouldn't want to note that in his report: if so, this would make his concern about possible incitement that much more rational.

Step2, read your response, glad I don't live in your neighborhood.
As DC laws are still on the books, apparently to the consternation of some, including those blessedly deaf, I presume there are grounds for their enforcement.
Although a painful process I forced myself to do a quick review of the morass that one might expect in Mass. law, which probably varies in areas where Massachusetts judges live.
It is my tenuous conclusion that the "tumultuous behavior" clause provides adequate cover for the actions of Crowley.

You realize of course that the cultural and political issues that surfaced loom larger than the convolutions of the law, which I suspect were sufficient obstacles to both Gates and the police.

And then there's our president.

When I hear the word "Massachusetts" and "law enforcement," my first thought is of Mary Jo Kopechne, who drowned trying to free herself from the submerged automobile driven by President Obama's most recent recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, Senator Edward Kennedy.

http://article.nationalreview.com/?q=YzMyNTgxMmExNzBiOTMzZWY2YjZmZTQ1MjZkZmQ2MDY=

http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2009/07/31/presidential_medal_of_freedom_for_kennedy/

Kopechne, like Officer Crowley, was not one of the cool kids. And thus, her memory, like her lifeless body, remains conveniently forgotten by those who confuse the brass ring for the golden rule.

Any morality play featuring 3 wrong parties is bound to be a flop. Gates baited a police officer and then in a fit of narcissism and 60's nostalgia, sought media ready martyrdom. Crowley took standard issue Ivy League taunts from within a man's home, let his ego override his common sense and regrettably applied the cuffs. Obama first tried to re-energize his listing base with an appeal to white guilt, and then scrambled to play the Healer of the wound he clumsily poked at.

The skin of black and white performers alike, is too thin to be authentic or compelling. Let the curtain close on this farce.

I honestly only know a bit about the formation of the modern mind, but the tendency to abstraction is something that has intrigued me for a time. Is this a textbook case of too much abstraction in our social structure? The article quoted in Dr. Beckwith's initial post talks about the "internalized narrative" and how that makes one person treat another, but boil this down a bit. We are talking about the inability of either party apparently to treat the other as a neighbor. Neither Dr. Gates nor Sgt. Crowley seems to have much human ground to stand upon for their decision making.

Police are required to act in a certain way- we even call it "proper police procedure." For anyone who has been involved in even a minor traffic stop, you can recognize it. If you watch closely a "good cop" will approach the vehicle in a certain way, have his hand positioned next to his weapon in a certain way, call and remain in contact with the dispatcher in a certain way and at given points in the traffic stop, etc and so on. It is all very abstract and leaves very little room for personal connection. Probably for good reason - lots of cops get killed by not adhering to it. And this is not to say that the officer has to make an arrest or issue a ticket, but it is to say that up to a certain point in the process, the citizen is almost nothing but an input to a preprogrammed alogrithm.

Much has already been said of Dr. Gates' own understanding of his predicament as Sgt. Crowley began to ask him questions. It's pretty clear that he had a chip on his shoulder and it too was preprogrammed. The cops are nothing but the final blunt brutality of the covertly racist society in which we live. It was extreme reductionism on the part of both parties.

And yet, how else does modern man make sense of his world? Few have the time or inclination to be able to make the human connection needed to live in a humane social structure. We simply do not know our neighbors. What if there had been a neighborhood patrolman or what if this was a small town in which most folks knew each other? Could this have happened?

My point is simply that it has become very difficult for people to make these human connections and because of that we escape into abstraction about race or class or what have you. And it's not to say that these generalizations aren't useful, it's just a sad commentary that because Sgt. Crowley and Dr. Gates had never even had an opportunity to meet and perhaps at least have passing familiarity with each other that something like this happened. They had to make due by connection but through police procedure and academicized racial theorizing. Our connective tissue as a society has broken down and it seems to me that the racial issue is simply one of the most glaring problems that we face because of it.

I note with interest that the only folks really interested in playing the race and class cards are those interested in justifying the arrest while those on the other side tend to view this as a simple case of police over-reach. I don't think that anyone denies that Gates was way over the top and out of line in his reaction. Just that being a jerk isn't an arrestable offense.

Circular reasoning? - not at all. Simply plausible deniability in case things went south which is why Gates was drawn outside and the word "tumultuous" was used.

As for the officer making a mistake, I don't think so. Anyone who saw his presser after the beers had to be impressed. This is one very smart person and of a type that usually makes a good officer. He obviously thinks very well on his feet.

"It is my tenuous conclusion that the "tumultuous behavior" clause provides adequate cover for the actions of Crowley."

Not under Mass. law.You might want to dig deeper. Clayton posted this from the Volokh Conspiracy by Eric Posner:

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

Again read the cases.

I quote from Viega v. McGee (1994):

"Moreover, by instructing the jury that "disorderly"
included creating "excessively unreasonable noise late at night in a residential neighborhood so that people in the privacy of their homes are unable to avoid that noise," the court improperly imported into the definition of "disorderly" elements of the offense of disturbing the peace. In criminal law, the crime of disturbing the peace is distinct from that of disorderly conduct.

Mass. Gen. L. ch. 272, 53; Alegata, 353 Mass. at 302, 231
_______

N.E.2d at 210 ("Section 53 explicitly differentiates 'idle and disorderly' from 'disturbers of the peace.'"). Under Massachusetts law, speech alone does not constitute "disorderly" conduct and Chapter 111B does not authorize police to take into protective custody "disturbers of the peace." See supra note 7.
___ _____


Few have the time or inclination to be able to make the human connection needed to live in a humane social structure...They had to make due by connection but through police procedure and academicized racial theorizing. Our connective tissue as a society has broken down...

Well said! The more secularized we become, the more willing we are to submerge our personalities into a larger, shallow, depersonalized and heavily politicalized Group Identity. Totalitarian states used to have to impose the process, but now alienated and lonely late moderns do so willingly.

Hmm, interesting. Excepting a few things, AI, some of which have already been covered.

E.g., among "the only folks really interested in playing the race and class cards" includes Gates himself, along with other examples that could be noted, including the initial comment in this thread. Also, the fact the sgt. can handle himself before the press and otherwise has virtually nothing to do with the idea he cannot make the type of mistake he may have indulged. Some mistakes are egregious and blatant, other "mistakes" can be classified therein only on tentative and even tenuous grounds - "mistakes" run the gamut.

The fact the sgt. has convictions, backbone and is also articulate and able to defend himself cannot more properly be used against him. This should be prima facie apparent, unless a "damned if you do, damned if you don't" strategem is attempted against the sgt. Gates evidenced polish himself, given the statement he issued after the beer summit. He additionally acted cordially during and after the beer, choosing to mediate with the sgt. (***) rather than continuing to act presumptively and belligerently. Does that mean he didn't make a mistake originally, in targeting the sgt. on racial grounds and acting in a presumptive and belligerent manner? If it's a strategem that can be advanced against Crowley, it should be able to hold similarly for Gates as well. It works for neither actor.

Al, please feel free to address me by name when responding. No hard feelings, even when you sink into direct insults and calumny. I wouldn't expect anything else from an apostle of tolerance.
It is ironic at least Al that I am charged with playing the "race and class card", [ may I ask at least how so the class card ?] You may note that Gates was the one who first played the race card, as you,sorry, forget you, other people couldn't help but notice. Soon to be be followed up by your hero, please no modesty, Barack Obama, who it seems did nothing more for twenty years than sleep in a back pew while the Rev. Wright whispered sweet nothings of brotherhood to a congregation almost as smart and tolerant as you.

The rancid racism of your two heros, admittedly one of whom was a jerk, I forget which one, would have fouled the nostrils of more sensitive souls, but instead you find it in me, though refraining from from addressing me, an oversight not to be repeated. Right Al.

Surely Al racism, and it's horrific and infamous "cards", playthings of the devil that they are, must be both more apparent and more applicable to one so sensitive and intelligent as your self. Surely you don't execrate it in one and forgive it in the other ?

As this most welcome exchange will continue, and be assured I will pay more attention to you, please pass my thanks on to Clayton. Though given the issues at hand and my earlier posts, as well as the vagaries of case law, interpretation, statutory law, provisions for "tumultuous behavior", why bring the old boy up?

Meanwhile our president continues to extrude his ooze in a White House where better man have walked.


Al, I almost forgot, "see your mama outside".

Step2, read your response, glad I don't live in your neighborhood.

You can't. Bunkers are not allowed in my neighborhood. :p

Al, I almost forgot, "see your mama outside".

Lofty rhetoric is a staple of modern politics.

"Neither Dr. Gates nor Sgt. Crowley seems to have much human ground to stand upon for their decision making."

We have copious evidence of Gates's deficiency of human ground; there is zero evidence for Crowley.

Al,

"I note with interest that the only folks really interested in playing the race and class cards are those interested in justifying the arrest while those on the other side tend to view this as a simple case of police over-reach."

I assume that by "the only folks" you mean the only folks on this particular comments thread. If you mean a wider pool, you are spectacularly inaccurate, seeing as Gates and our President played precisely the race card.

If you mean this comments thread, then if you only believe Crowley is guilty of "police over-reach", I ask you, why did he over-reach?

That is correct and I assume that Gates was something of a jerk (as many a gimpy middle-aged man would be after a very long flight).

A spot-on post-mortem, perhaps the best and most illuminating of the bunch, from Andrew Breitbart, excerpt:

"Last week's lackluster "Beer Summit" featuring Sgt. James Crowley, professor Henry Louis Gates Jr., President Obama and Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. was orchestrated to end a national discussion on race, not begin one. That's why there were no microphones, even though each participant showed himself to be perfectly qualified, astoundingly articulate and camera-ready for an illuminating and much-needed public debate.

"The problem for the White House was the more the esteemed professor talked, the more trouble he created for his friend, the president. The clever photo-op sans audio was crafted to yank the director of the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research off the stage, lest anyone begin to question what is being taught at Harvard these days.

"Conversely, the more Sgt. Crowley weighed in, and his brave black co-workers spoke out, the more obvious it became that a national discussion featuring this cast of characters may not end with the results the professor and the president wanted. The status quo was at risk, and Mr. Obama used his extraordinary powers to protect it."

Bingo. Saving the appearances. Maintaining the status quo - and so much for "change."

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