Monday, July 27, 2009


I think Andrew Sullivan gets this spot on:

And Obama is right that cops like Crowley are good men in general (although I can't pass a judgment on someone I don't know). I also believe in being respectful and polite to policemen as a rule, and do not recall any moment in my life when I haven't been. But I do think it's necessary to remember that policemen are our servants, not our masters. We pay their salary - and they'd better treat us right. And I find the many comments that we should always show deference to the man with the gun and the badge and never publicly criticize cops to be alarmingly authoritarian in its implications.

If a cop gives you trouble in your own home after it is perfectly clear that no crime has taken place, you have every right to tell him to get the hell out of your house; and he has no right to hang around. You also have every right to give him your opinion of his police work or his haircut if you so wish.

It seems to me undeniable that Henry Louis Gates Jr. behaved badly and was very quick to imagine that he was being picked on because of his race, but behaving badly in your own home is not, in itself, a crime.

And this notion that people need to respect the badge of a police officer is simply a nonsense.

Crowley was there to ascertain whether or not a crime was taking place. Once he had been shown proof that Gates was not a burglar and that this was actually his own home, Crowley should have left the premises, especially as Gates was claiming that he was only there because of his race.

If police can start arresting us because they don't like our tone then we really are walking towards a police state.

And Andrew's strongest point is that we employ them. And we employ them to get bad guys, not to arrest us if they don't like our attitude.

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