Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Gates Got Suckered

"Cambridge police acted stupidly in arresting somebody when there was already proof that they were in their own home." — The Obama

In fact Obama was charitable calling Sergeant Crowley stupid. Obviously, he was applying Heinlein's Razor: Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity, but don't rule out malice.

But I'm afraid, this time around the latter caution is true and it was malice. Crowley admitted as much in his own police report and hoped to get away with it.

By his own admission, Crowley asked a fuming Henry Louis Gates to talk with him outside. When Gates complied, he arrested him for "disorderly conduct."

If there were any truth to Crowley's flimsy excuse that he had to go outside due to the acoustics of the kitchen and his radio reception, he ought to have warned a Gates not fit for polite society to stay behind, in his house. Under no circumstances should he have asked Gates to follow him, inevitably inviting the scene that ensued outside, and that Crowley then called "disorderly conduct."

This is called entrapment. The police inviting you to break the law is always immoral, but Crowley didn't even do it to wage that foolish government-sponsored war on drugs, but he did it to quench his own personal thirst for vengeance. This is called corruption.

Crowley very obviously decided to retaliate against Gates' unruly threat, "You don't know who you're messing with!" So what is a body cop pig to do to get an excuse to shoot or at least use some sort of physical force against an unruly peon?

Much as Crowley may hate it, it's perfectly legal to shout at a police officer in your own home. (Except in Soviet Russia and Prussia, where contempt of cop was a capital crime.)

Crowley also knew he could never arrest Gates for breaking and entering on his own property without the city losing a million-dollar lawsuit. Leaves that catchall charge, that crooked cop's best friend, "disorderly conduct."

But Crowley knew he could only arrest Gates for some barely credible semblance (see below) of disorderly conduct if Gates was in an at least semi-public place. So, knowing or hoping that Gates would not calm down, Crowley lured him outside — and taught "Leroy Brown" a lesson about messing with the man.

Obama should not apologize to Crowley. He should kick him in the ass, so Crowley learns a lesson about how it feels to get abused by an authority figure.

The stilted language in the Gates police report is intended to mirror the courts' awkward phrasing, but the state could never make the charge stick. The law is aimed not at mere irascibility but rather at unruly behavior likely to set off wider unrest. Accordingly, the behavior must take place in public or on private property where people tend to gather. While the police allege that a crowd had formed outside Gates' property, it is rare to see a disorderly conduct conviction for behavior on the suspect's own front porch. In addition, political speech is excluded from the statute because of the First Amendment. Alleging racial bias, as Gates was doing, and protesting arrest both represent core political speech.

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