Professor Skip Gates' arrest in Boston, the "clink heard round the world," has had the curious effect of causing other police to step up and act like even bigger jerks than the cop in the original incident.
While the details of the Gates case are still not clear - we don't know exactly what transpired between the two men - what is clear is that police arrested someone who was trying to get into his own house. He may have acted like a pompous jerk when confronted by the Boston cop, but at the end of the day, the constitution generally permits us to act like pompous jerks.
Additionally, Gates was arrested while trying to get into his own house after returning from a trip. To China. He's probably been sandwiched between two fat smelly people for the last 16 hours. Most likely with a screaming baby two rows behind him. I would probably be pretty irritated already. Then he found he'd locked himself out of his house. If it was me, actually, I'd probably have started crying at that point, or running up and down the street gibbering incoherently.
So I'm sure the last thing I'd want is to have a cop approach me with the assumption that I was a burglar, despite obvious signs to the contrary. Namely, his baggage from his trip. Oh yeah, and his driver's licence with his home address on it. So no matter how much of a race-card-pulling, holier-than thou, smug, pretentious jackass Gates may have acted like during the course of this incident, it is very hard to imagine a set of circumstances that would be reasonable grounds for arrest.
Quite simply, he pissed off a cop. While anyone who doesn't want to spend half a day at the police station knows that you should avoid pissing off cops whenever possible, it's not against the law, and he should not have been arrested.
So, in the wake this incident which is certainly nothing less than supremely embarrasing for the Boston police department -- I mean really, they got bitch slapped by the President -- other policemen have decided to show their solidarity for the rights of policemen to use their power to arrest anyone who pisses them off.
First, another Boston Cop decided to speak out with apparently a letter to the editor of the Boston Globe defending the original, highly controversial, racially-charged incident by referring to Gates as a banana-eating jungle monkey. Wow. That's a brilliant move. Right when most of the free world thinks that the Boston police department is a bunch of racist assholes, you go and... er... confirm that. You, sir, are not afraid to proudly represent the lowest common denominator.
The best part? He used the classic "some of my best friends are [insert race or culture that you've offended]" defense when called out on his obvious bigotry. I am not joking. From CNN:
I regret that I used such words,” Barrett told CNN affiliate WCVB. "I have so many friends of every type of culture and race you can name. I am not a racist."
So moving on to this weekend, now here in DC. A gay man is on U Street with a couple friends, actually talking about the Gates incident. In the course of his conversation, he says "I hate the police." It was late. He was probably loud. Based on some of the comments I read about this story, he is probably an obnoxious jerk.
But all he did was say "I hate the police." A cop overheard him from across the street and ran over and started hassling him because of his statement. Which I am pretty sure everyone would agree is not only constitutionally protected, but something the vast majority of us have said at some point. If not weekly.
Yo. Cops. Why do you think people hate you? Because you act like the goddamn lunch-money stealing bully in fifth grade! If you don't want to be despised then start acting like a professional and stop acting like a testosterone-soaked power-tripping asshole. Maybe people wouldn't say crap like that if you didn't give us so many reasons to do so.
So anyway, to make a long story short, the cop calls him a faggot, roughs him up and finally arrests him on "disorderly conduct" charges. Which is basically the "one size fits all" charge for the cops to use anytime they get pissed off at someone, and feel like throwing their weight around.
Congratulations, DC police. In the most supremely ironic display of jackassery yet, you actually arrested someone on the same charge as Gates, for expressing their distaste of the police over their handling of the Gates incident.
Wow. Just. Wow. Way to one up the Boston cops, who pretty much had locked the prize for village idiot down. But not content to just be bad at being police in general, you had to sweep in and manage to make DC cops look even worse than those fools in Boston.
Nice going. Well, I guess "policing" fits nicely next to "baseball" and "schools" in the list of things that we do worse than everyone else.