Friday, August 07, 2009

Boston Cop Who Called Prof Gates "Jungle Monkey" Says He Is The "Victim".

This is extraordinary. Justin Barrett is now claiming that he is the victim of the piece.

He has filed a case against the Boston Police Department and wants everyone to know the damage he has suffered:

The 18-page lawsuit accuses the three parties of “conspiring to intentionally inflict emotional distress and conspiring to intentionally interfere with the property rights, due process rights, and civil rights of the plaintiff.’’

According to the lawsuit, the mayor and commissioner’s actions caused Barrett pain and suffering, mental anguish, emotional distress, post traumatic stress, sleeplessness, indignities and embarrassment, degradation, injury to reputation, and restrictions on personal freedom.
His lawyer here appears to be arguing that under the First Amendment he is entitled to free speech. No-one is saying that he is not. But people are also allowed to find what he says offensive and racist. And they are allowed to say so:

The First Amendment is actually not that complicated. It can be read from start to finish in about 10 seconds. It bars the Government from abridging free speech rights. It doesn't have anything to do with whether you're free to say things without being criticized, or whether you can comment on blogs without being edited, or whether people can bar you from their private planes because they don't like what you've said.

If anything, Palin has this exactly backwards, since one thing that the First Amendment does actually guarantee is a free press. Thus, when the press criticizes a political candidate and a Governor such as Palin, that is a classic example of First Amendment rights being exercised, not abridged.

Barrett has the right to have his case heard, but it's a case that he will lose.

Hat tip to Crooks and Liars.


Steel Phoenix said...

Obviously the criticism towards him is the same as the criticism he offered, so he gets no sympathy there. At issue is whether he can be (or has been) fired from a government job after speaking his mind.

To my knowledge he shouldn't be fired outright, nor should the mayor have said what he did. The officer should be suspended pending investigation, and then fired for the very same reason Sotomayor should never have been confirmed: because the appearance of ratial impartiality is part of his job description.

Kel said...

As you know SP, I disagree with the reading you and others take of what Sotomayor said. The point she was making was much more nuanced - when one read the entire speech - than the one line which the Republicans constantly quoted.

But, I don't think the same is true of Barrett's "Jungle Monkey" quotation. No matter what he now claims, that remark was clearly racist.