Monday, July 27, 2009

The Deportment Police

The people I know who have known Skip Gates allege that he can be a bit of an asshole. But, of whom can we not say this? Moreover, of which Harvard professor can we not say this? But finally, I always thought one gets to be a bit of an asshole in his own home without fear that the Manners Police will arrest you for poor deportment. Apparently Professor Gates thought so too.

Now, along with Mark Kleiman, I suspect that Sgt. Crowley has lied in his report. It seems pretty clear that he decided to arrest Gates for being inusfficiently subordinate to his authority, for "contempt of cop," essentially, and then he suckered him into coming outside where he could manufacture a charge. This is the oldest trick in the book -- more ususally it takes the form of, "If everbody leaves the party now we won't arrest you for the noise." Then they arrest the departing guests for being drunk in public. But maybe I'm just extrapolating from my own misspent youth.

Could Gates have avoided arrest? Almost certainly. Should he have been allowed to rant at the cops with impunity? Only in an ideal case. But if you're in your own home, in a town where you have some prominence, where you are are well known, aren't you as close to the ideal case as it gets?

Of course the Police Staters don't get it. Government is always bad, except when it's armed apparently.

Postscript: Of course my storymind suggests a scenario: maybe Professor Gates has ruffled some feathers around the neighborhood; then one day someone sees him breaking into his own house. She reaches for the phone thinking, 'Yell at my kids, willya? Well, see how you like this....'


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