Comments: Fighting Or Flighting

Gates denies shouting:
The police report says I was engaged in loud and tumultuous behavior. That’s a joke. Because I have a severe bronchial infection which I contracted in China and for which I was treated and have a doctor’s report from the Peninsula hotel in Beijing. So I couldn’t have yelled. I can’t yell even today, I’m not fully cured.

http://www.theroot.com/views/skip-gates-speaks?page=0,1

Posted by DavidByron at July 25, 2009 11:45 PM

Here:

http://southofheaven.typepad.com/south_of_heaven/2009/07/habitating-while-black.html

is my analysis of Crowley's police report. Long short: Crowley set up Gates. See how many illogical things Crowley suggests happens. Some more tomorrow.

Posted by Bob In Pacifica at July 26, 2009 12:00 AM

I think it's a trap discussion anyway, a man should be able to yell in his own home at another adult. It might be rude, but not worth getting cuffed.

But no one would care if he weren't a Harvard Professor. There is a good chance the cop is a racist, but we are only talking about this because Gates is a Harvard Professor.

Posted by Marcus at July 26, 2009 02:34 AM

your boy probably didn't have a gun, but it's still a good thing you walked away, because otherwise, you probably would not have been able to walk away.

Posted by Peter Smith at July 26, 2009 04:14 AM

What I want to know is, how can you be "disorderly" in your own home?

Should I be more careful? I do spend a lot of time in my home. I'm worried that I don't know the rules.

Posted by Baldie McEagle at July 26, 2009 07:15 AM

What if this happened to a Harvard Professor:

"Idaho man sodomized by police Taser plans to sue"

"A Boise, Idaho, police officer who pushed a Taser inside a man’s buttocks and threatened to “Taser his balls” violated use-of-force policy, but didn’t break the law, an ombudsman has found."

I don't know the color of the victim. I think anal-tasering transcends race. But I guess he won't get to have a beer with the O-bomb.


Posted by Marcus at July 26, 2009 07:44 AM

I commented on Bernard's post but you make a separate point: what was Gates to do? First, he was lawfully in his home and once asked to leave, the officer was unlawfully present. There was no odor of marijuana that years of training etc., there was no sign of a struggle, there was no refusal to produce ID or any of the standard ways around a policeman's illegal entry. Further, Gates was a Harvard profesor instead of some cowed youngster with a record. He speaks english better than the sergeant and would undoubtedly show up in court with an actual lawyer instead of some overworked PD from the Mass Defenders. Gates also had the courage to act like a citizen in the face of the state.

The situation you describe gives you some insight into Gate's response, but Gates was unlikely to be shot; you may well have been and over a cheap laugh at your expense instead of treatment by the state as less than a full citizen. You surely did the right thing. But so did Gates and now we'll have a teachable moment. The lesson appears to be that an illegal arrest is just a misunderstanding among friends rather than its fine to exercise your human rights in America, but that is the price you pay when the President wants his health care plan passed.

Posted by drip at July 26, 2009 07:48 AM

I don't understand what four hundred years of history have to do with this.

So, 50 years ago down South the blacks were not allowed to eat in the white-only restaurants. So, if Gates goes to a restaurant and suddenly begins loudly insulting a white waiter - does he have a good excuse?

Nah, I don't understand this post. Who threw a grape here? Who showed a gun? In fact, in this story, I believe "you don't know who you're messing with" is an equivalent of showing a gun.

Posted by abb1 at July 26, 2009 08:50 AM

I don't think there's any real question that Crowley was in the wrong here, but the real question is whether or not it was actually racist. As many people have pointed out, in the modern police state this is how cops treat everybody, just think of the Democratic fundraiser in San Diego for example. Since Crowley appears to be the guy who does the local sensitivity training, it may mean that he actually goes scrupulously out of his way to be just as big an asshole to white people as to blacks.

It's actually Gates who is the one dealing with 400 years of history (and if you think this ended in the 50's you're insane, think about the Philly swimming pool case). He called the cop a racist and accused him of profiling because that's what he's used to dealing with. If it actually wasn't true in this case, that's probably what set Crowley off.

Posted by john at July 26, 2009 09:48 AM

The question is not whether Gates was racist. The question is why did Crowley arrest Gates? If racial sensitivity training in Cambridge is even close to what it is in most places, it consists of teaching officers (or staff or bosses) this is what to do so we don't get sued and lose money. His role as a trainer in such matters is of little import except to the very lucky lawyer who gets to cross examine him in the event of a trial. So why did he arrest Gates? Ego. Gates asked him to leave his house. That's the moment when Crowley had to decide fight or flight. At that point he could arrest him or leave the house. Unlike Jon, he chose fight. Now Gates has a choice: Gates can sue for false arrest, or have a beer with the president. If he can negotiate a plug for single-payer out of Crowley, everyone will come out a winner.

Posted by drip at July 26, 2009 10:38 AM

Crowley arrested Gates because Gates followed him outside the house and went berserk on the street.

Posted by abb1 at July 26, 2009 10:45 AM

Except that according to Crowley's report, widely available on the web, he had to "climb the stairs onto the porch to place handcuffs on Gates." No probable cause, just another asshole calling a cop some names from his porch. That is a perfectly legal activity. Not my idea of a good way to spend time, but like, commenting on blogs, still perfectly legal.

Posted by drip at July 26, 2009 11:30 AM

Crowley's ego was bruised, so he, an armed cop, set up a trap to arrest Gates on his own property.

Impressed yet? Polls show that 80% of Americans are cool with that. Happy living in the police state.

A friend comes to your house. You get into a dispute. You lose your temper and shout obscenities at him. Does this give your friend the right to have you arrested? No. It gives him the right to think you're a jerk.

Ah, but if now your friend turns out to be an armed cop, then it's perfectly fine to have you handcuffed in your front yard. Yes, I know it's legal. But 80% of Americans think it's also fine.

The fragile egos of cops.

Thank God they can soothe their egos by harassing the coloreds. Man, it's something driving on Route 1, seeing all the cars pulled over to the side, every single one of them with a black or hispanic guy at the wheel. You know, it's like one of those rare thermodynamical events where all the black particles end up in one corner of the box in some brownian motion gone awry.

Land of the free, home of the brave.


Posted by Bernard Chazelle at July 26, 2009 12:01 PM

Yes, I know it's legal. But 80% of Americans think it's also fine.

Why do you think its legal for a cop to falsely arrest someone? If he's not acting according to law then he's committing the same crime anyone would be if they violently threatened you, cuffed you, stuffed you in their car and drove off with you and held you for hours of humiliation.

I don't understand why so many even who think this was wrong shrug and say its within the officer's "discretion" to willfully violently assault a citizen and kidnap him.

if all you mean by "legal" is "the corrupt justice system will let him get away with it" I agree but that's completely different from saying "legal". Are police above the law? In practise yes maybe, by the law, no.

Posted by DavidByron at July 26, 2009 12:40 PM

Well guys, if anyone of you lives in a city, why wouldn't you go out to the porch right now and start yelling obscenities at the passers-by. When the cops arrive - just keep yelling.

Later, when they let you out of the holding cell, ask your neighbors what they think about this story. Report here.

Posted by abb1 at July 26, 2009 12:40 PM

Is abb1 the local troll?
Should I just ignore her/him/it ?

Posted by DavidByron at July 26, 2009 01:01 PM

Actually, I'm more of a global troll.

Posted by abb1 at July 26, 2009 01:04 PM

It's not widely commented on but Gates was just getting out of a cab returning from China.
I don't know how many of you, or Americans in general, have spent 24+ consecutive hours traveling, most of it in an aluminum tube traveling 500+ MPH. When you get home you have 2 choices - get into your own bed and sleep or cry. I think Gates held together pretty well and is a very strong man!

Posted by Richard S at July 26, 2009 01:12 PM

"Impressed yet? Polls show that 80% of Americans are cool with that. Happy living in the police state."

What's the source for the 80 percent, Bernard?

If true, it's head in the oven time.

By the way, has anyone else noticed the absolute deafening silence from Harvard University (unless I've missed something)?

Posted by catherine at July 26, 2009 01:13 PM

All trolls are local - they live under bridges fer chrisake!

Posted by Richard S at July 26, 2009 01:16 PM

I believe "you don't know who you're messing with" is an equivalent of showing a gun.

abb1, I understand that you feel strongly about this, but it's time to step away from the keyboard, because you've gone completely off the rails.

Posted by SteveB at July 26, 2009 01:37 PM

No I haven't. You all have gone crazy, simultaneously. It's odd, but it's a fact.

Posted by abb1 at July 26, 2009 02:00 PM

there's a weird relationship between the troll arc and the question of armchair testosterone level analysis....

Posted by hapa at July 26, 2009 02:05 PM

MSNBC / actually faust made a statement - diplomatic.

>> if all you mean by "legal" is "the corrupt justice system will let him get away with it" I agree


Yes, that's what I meant. I forgot the scare quotes.


Posted by Bernard Chazelle at July 26, 2009 02:06 PM

Keep it up, abb1; I appreciate your willingness to express an unpopular opinion, and to put up with the abuse that inevitably (but unfortunately) comes along with it.

Posted by John Caruso at July 26, 2009 02:11 PM

Oh, I don't take it personally. Besides, if this is the opinion of 80% of the population, how is it unpopular?

Posted by abb1 at July 26, 2009 02:33 PM

abb1: YOU are right, YOU DO hold the popular opinion. I imagine many of Gate's neighbors were in their yards stareing and either nodding, cheering, or saying nothing.
As Dr. Franklin said "Or we will all hang separately."

Posted by Mike Meyer at July 26, 2009 03:53 PM

Jonathen, you sissy.

Posted by Justin at July 27, 2009 02:55 PM

(true) illustration: i went to a concert once. i hadn't bought a ticket yet (it was a general admission show). there was a scalper out front, who happened to be black (i happen to be white); he tried to sell me a ticket for $30. i politely declined, saying i wanted to check the ticket office first. sure enough, tickets were still on sale, for $20. i got on line to buy one, and immediately the scalper beset me, screaming at me at point blank range to the point where flecks of spittle were hitting my face, "YOU'RE A RACIST, MOTHERF****R! YOU DIDN'T BUY A TICKET FROM ME BECAUSE I'M BLACK!" this was utter nonsense, of course; the reason i didn't buy his ticket was that they were available for less than his price, and because he was a scalper. my point is that not every accusation of racism is founded.

they were both wrong. gates's accusations of racism and crowley's arresting him were both unfounded; this story is just two d*****bags who let testosterone and macho swagger get the better of them (and the same is true of obama and his "behaved stupidly" remark). for both (all three) of them to back down, admit excess, and make up over a beer seems to me the right and reasonable thing to do, and i applaud them for being men enough to eat crow publically. backing down from the brink and allowing cooler heads to prevail is a fine example in today's world.

thanks for reading.

Posted by peter at July 27, 2009 11:19 PM

Peter,

I once had an experience that has little to do with either the Gates thing or Jon's experience too!

Posted by thwap at July 28, 2009 06:19 AM

The cop was stupid, Professor Gates assessed the situation accurately and stood up to unreasonable authoritarianism. The president was honest, forthright and correct in utilising this example to become involved and endeavouring to effect some change in the culture of over-bearing thuggishness and racism which permeates the police mindset in the US.
Actually, I'm more of a global troll...
actually you're a contrarian one-trick ponce with a tenuous understanding of any issue.

Posted by waldo at July 28, 2009 07:34 AM

actually you're a contrarian one-trick ponce with a tenuous understanding of any issue

Do I sense over-bearing thuggishness in your mindset speaking?

The president was honest, forthright and correct

Would this be an example of what you call "reasonable authoritarianism"?

Posted by abb1 at July 28, 2009 08:19 AM

Crowley was set up. Who took the picture? How many other police calls do they have pictures of? The person who called the police is from Harvard and there just happens to be someone there taking photos. And it is complete coincidence that Gates is doing a special on profiling. It's not hard to get yourself arrested if you push the cops hard enough.

Every single other police officer there backs Crowley. All of them saw Gates asking for it.

Gates is a professional victim of racism feeding off of the public trough and making a lot of money. To bad the issue is trivialized and real victims will be ignored because the cry of racism just seems petty and contrived.

Posted by Andy Shep at July 28, 2009 01:40 PM

Of what import is this cop's role as a trainer?

Because of a common misconception of what racism is, most white people who aren't into wearing bedsheets have a deep emotional investment in seeing themselves as Not A Racist. So any suggestion that a single instance of their own behavior is in any way shaped or even tinged by racism provokes a response nearly as deep as the cellular one that green-faced Jon experienced: "I. AM. NOT. A. RACIST!"

In the absence of a better understanding of what racism is--and the habit of looking at his actions individually for what he can learn from them and separately from his entire identity--a white guy who trains others probably has an inflated sense of his own virtue as Not A Racist and extra-large walls of defensiveness about it.

The misconception is that racism is personal attitudes and the solution is personal virtue. So long as we keep focusing on those we don't have to see how not being allowed to eat in the restaurants distributed wealth along racial lines. There was money to be made in owning a restaurant where white people ate--where the customers and their forebears had been paid for their labor and could own their houses and land. Taking down the signs didn't even up the chances of getting a job in those restaurants or inheriting the homes and businesses they built.

The culture that enables white people to live with ourselves even when we're not actively working to change the system of racial injustice we live in is a culture of denial. We're in denial that we're on a moving train and that, as the Howard Zinn title says, you can't be neutral when you are.

Focusing on our personal virtue as Not A Racist--and on the foulness of those who Are Racists--diverts us from trying to stop the train. We're not working to close the gaps in arrests, charging, prosecution, and sentencing for the same crimes--we don't even see them. Disparities in life expectancy, in appreciation of houses over a half century that are directly attributable to federal lending policies, in being directed to subprime loans despite eligibility for prime loans? We elected a Black president--can't you just get over your hurt feelings about what you didn't used to be allowed to do?

People caught up in that delusion are busy polishing their own identity of flawless virtue. Usually they have some proof that they are for all time incabable of ever doing a single thing that is less than virtuous. Maybe it's an "I marched with Martin" card or an "I revived a Black sports star" card they pull from their hip pockets.

Somehow they believe that a single good action they once took makes them "proof" against ever participating in the slightest way in anything that resembles racism: because I Am Not A Racist I can't possibly feel differently about arrogant, egotistical behavior from a Black Harvard professor than I do about the same behavior, or worse, from a white one. Remember how I criticized someone for telling a racist joke about President Obama? That proves that there is no way the word "uppity" could possibly have sprung up anywhere in my brain during that interaction in which a professor demanded my name and badge number.

If one action can bestow on you the lifelong status of Not A Racist, to suggest the possibility that one of your actions was not utterly free of the taint of racism is the same as charging that you Are A Racist--that either you skulk around wearing your bedsheets at night or you secretly long to. Since you ARE NOT!!! it simply can't be true that racism played any role in your thinking or actions.

So in addition to the power dynamics between a cop and a noncop and the racial dynamics between cops and a man of color, one more dynamic was involved here. If, as some have said, this cop trains other cops in "sensitivity" or "diversity" or whatever the department does instead of challenging institutionalized white supremacy, he's likely to be deeply invested in being seen as Not A Racist.

Posted by FanOfZirin at July 28, 2009 02:54 PM

"(Bernard Chazelle at July 26, 2009 12:01 PM) A friend comes to your house. You get into a dispute. You lose your temper and shout obscenities at him. Does this give your friend the right to have you arrested? No. It gives him the right to think you're a jerk."

In Colorado, as long as it's not a cop, you're perfectly justified in killing this person (as long as there are no witnesses). We call it the "Make my day" law.

Yes, there are some problems with it. But I wouldn't recommend going to someone's house and being an asshole.

Posted by Derrell Durrett at July 28, 2009 07:11 PM

I live in Brooklyn. If I'm lucky enough for the police, which are never around, to ever show up at my place for any reason, I am sure as hell not ever going to yell at the NYPD over anything, or I would expect that I be arrested. Thats the way things are, and I don't have the will or temperament to change that.

Posted by jameskain at July 28, 2009 07:40 PM

Thats the way things are, and I don't have the will or temperament to change that.

But why should it be changed? Why? Is this such an inalienable human right to you guys - to be able to spew insults with impunity at a poor slob in the police uniform who miraculously shows up to protect your property?

Damn, I just don't see it, no matter how hard I try. As much as it seems unlikely that you all suddenly have gone insane, that seems to be the only explanation.

Yeah, and is it such a terrible tribulation to be arrested and held for a couple of hours? Think of all the new stories to tell in a pub.

Posted by abb1 at July 29, 2009 05:41 AM

I don't know ABB1, why are you so cocksure that cops have na inaliable right to shoot unarmed people in the back.

That is where your mindset leads: People dead. By cops. A kid was just run down by an unmarked cop car where I live, because the cop felt he didn't need to obey traffic laws. What about the guy who got a taser shoved up his ass (sodomizing him) and then go tased. A scumbag like you declared the cop did nothing wrong.

why don't you go eat a bullet and make room for a human being that actually deserves life. You sure as shit don't.

Posted by soullite at July 29, 2009 06:26 AM

Ah. Now, that's what I call good trolling.

Posted by abb1 at July 29, 2009 07:42 AM

It is NOT trolling. Soullite seems quite genuine in their emotional/heated response to your glib remarks. TROLLS are cowards drawn to the anonymity of internet chat rooms to vent their pain-induced contempt for earnestness (specifically) and humanity (in general). Your apparent interest in this subject says that you aren't a troll either, just another blowhard on the internet. If you email me my SS# or order pizzas to my door, then maybe you are a troll. I hate it when somebody calls something innocuous and lame by a unearned sinister name, like message board morons being called trolls, or cheaters at video games being called hackers.

Posted by abb1 is BS at July 30, 2009 02:02 PM

It is NOT trolling. Soullite seems quite genuine in their emotional/heated response to your glib remarks. TROLLS are cowards drawn to the anonymity of internet chat rooms to vent their pain-induced contempt for earnestness (specifically) and humanity (in general). Your apparent interest in this subject says that you aren't a troll either, just another blowhard on the internet. If you email me my SS# or order pizzas to my door, then maybe you are a troll. I hate it when somebody calls something innocuous and lame by a unearned sinister name, like message board morons being called trolls, or cheaters at video games being called hackers.

Posted by abb1isBS at July 30, 2009 02:04 PM

It is NOT trolling. Soullite seems quite genuine in their emotional/heated response to your glib remarks. TROLLS are cowards drawn to the anonymity of internet chat rooms to vent their pain-induced contempt for earnestness (specifically) and humanity (in general). Your apparent interest in this subject says that you aren't a troll either, just another blowhard on the internet. If you email me my SS# or order pizzas to my door, then maybe you are a troll. I hate it when somebody calls something innocuous and lame by a unearned sinister name, like message board morons being called trolls, or cheaters at video games being called hackers.

Posted by abb1isBS at July 30, 2009 02:13 PM