Bob Herbert on Gates-Gate, as some wags have labeled the incident:
No more than five or six minutes elapsed from the time the police were alerted to the possibility of a break-in at a home in a quiet residential neighborhood and the awful clamping of handcuffs on the wrists of the distinguished Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr.
If Professor Gates ranted and raved at the cop who entered his home uninvited with a badge, a gun and an attitude, he didn’t rant and rave for long. The 911 call came in at about 12:45 on the afternoon of July 16 and, as The Times has reported, Mr. Gates was arrested, cuffed and about to be led off to jail by 12:51.
The charge: angry while black.
The president of the United States has suggested that we use this flare-up as a “teachable moment,” but so far exactly the wrong lessons are being drawn from it — especially for black people. The message that has gone out to the public is that powerful African-American leaders like Mr. Gates and President Obama will be very publicly slapped down for speaking up and speaking out about police misbehavior, and that the proper response if you think you are being unfairly targeted by the police because of your race is to chill.
[Click to continue reading Bob Herbert – Anger Has Its Place – NYTimes.com]
After all that has been said and written about the incident, the bottom line is that Professor Gates did nothing wrong, and Officer Crowley did. Yelling at an officer in one’s own house is not an arrestable offense1, no matter how many police apologists claim it is. The whole line of argument that police state enthusiasts continually restate – citizens must respect the authority of the badge – irks me. Police officers, more than nearly anyone else, must follow the letter of the law, and the right to free speech should be sacrosanct.Footnotes: