Media Glorifies, Personifies Stupidity in Gates Arrest

By Yul

Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. and police sergeant James Crowley have gotten their free White House tour and a beer with President Obama and VP Biden — thanks to the media making them big celebrities because Obama stated off the cuff in front of reporters that the police “acted stupidly” in arresting Gates without cause.

As someone who’s been profiled all my life (“Oooh, stay away from that black cat. He’s bad luck!”), I agree with Obama. But contrary to what the media wants us to believe, color has nothing to do with this.

Gates came home from a trip and found his front door swollen and jammed shut, so he got another guy to help him unstick it. The neighborhood had had some burglaries, so someone who didn’t know Gates saw apparent burglaring and called police.

Police quickly responded. It doesn’t matter how Gates greeted them. As soon as officer Crowley realized the “burglar” owned the house, he should have backed down the steps saying, “Just doing my job. Glad your home is safe. Have a nice day,” and gone off in search of a real criminal.

Instead, Crowley went all macho-cop, handcuffed Gates, and took him in. Crowley has not apologized for his outrageous behavior. I guess Crowley forgets that Gates’ taxes pay Crowley’s salary, and that police are supposed to be public servants, not public bullies, to law-abiding citizens.

If Obama hadn’t said anything, this story would have blown over in a day or so, but the man’s entitled to his opinions and learns every day the hard way that the press can’t be trusted with them.

There’s plenty of stupid to go around here, but it’s epitomized by morons like Glenn Beck, calling Obama a racist.

Like Michael Jackson’s death last month, the media pounces on whatever it takes to divert public attention from matters requiring real thought, like war, the economy, and healthcare.

No, let’s keep ‘em all fixated on skin color — or, in Jackson’s case, lack of it — instead. It’s easier. No messy facts to juggle.

And the public takes the bait every time. How stupid can humans get?

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11 Responses to Media Glorifies, Personifies Stupidity in Gates Arrest

  1. Adele says:

    Yul, in this issue and many others, I’m ashamed of my race — and by that, I mean the human race. I’m appalled by what passes as news in this country and frightened by people like Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh. After a decade or so when race or national origin just wasn’t mentioned, they’ve developed a wide audience by being scared white men. And then there’s the whole birther movement. Something like 42% or Republicans polled believe that Obama is not a citizen. Talk about enough stupid to go around. Too bad they can’t come up with an anti-stupid vaccine.

  2. petunia says:

    I agree with you for the most part, except that I think race did play a part in this. Crowley wrote in his police report that he was told that “two black males with backpacks” were seen entering the house–this is purely his own invention–he wasn’t told that by the dispatcher or the 911 caller. Of course,now the matter is being dropped by the PD–no investigation, since that would show what a bone-headed, wrong move the arrest was. Crowley may not be personally a “racist” but his actions show that he operates under racist notions. Another cop from the Boston area sent an email to the Boston Globe calling Gates a ‘banana eating jungle monkey’–this after two years of “racial sensitivity’ training! And the cop still denies he meant the comment in a racist way!
    And I am tired of hearing about the cops risking their lives every day–so do black people when confronted by a cop!
    In NYC, there were cops making phony videos to justify their arrests of protestors during the Republican convention in 2004–these police have never even been disciplined by the Mayor or anyone else. Police are out of control and I for one am glad that Obama originally answered from what was undoubtedly his own personal knowledge of the way blacks are routinely treated in this country by police officers–I’m just sorry he then felt the need to soft pedal the issue.

  3. catsworking says:

    Petunia, I totally see your point. You make an excellent argument for the race angle, and thanks for adding those additional facts. I hadn’t read about the fake police report. Priceless.

    I read in researching this that Gates sent flowers to the lady who made the 911 call. She’d been taking heat for panicking over a couple of black guys breaking into a house until the 911 tape revealed she never said anything about color until she was asked.

    I was thinking about Karen and her speeding ticket last year — middle aged, nicely dressed white woman with a white male passenger, written up by white policeman for “speeding” 41 mph on a clear, 2-lane stretch of road. A speed trap set up to ambush drivers on a technicality, even though their driving was moderate and posed no threat to anybody.

    I agree with that OpEd from the Washington Post. Yeah, maybe to cover his tracks, Crowley threw in that stuff about black perps to make the situation seem threatening (even in Boston, people aren’t color-blind). But I think what made him snap wasn’t Gates’ color, but the fact that he dared talk back to a cop. It didn’t matter what Gates said.

    When Karen got stopped, she wasn’t allowed to open her mouth. She said the state trooper was very intimidating about that, like, “Don’t say a word or I’ll find something else to nail you on.” She actually THANKED him when he handed her the damn ticket because it was only for speeding! (Not that she was doing anything else wrong or her car hadn’t passed inspection or her paperwork wasn’t perfect. She even had both hands on the wheel.)

    Sure, these guys put their lives on the line every day dealing with scum. But surely they can tell the difference between scum and decent, non-threatening people who really didn’t do anything wrong. Maybe the adrenaline goes to the police’s heads.

    Adele, it is pretty amazing that the Republicans still cling to the idea that Obama isn’t an American. It would be nice if someone could invent a swine flu vaccine that would GIVE it to people and make them as smart as pigs. It would raise the country’s collective IQ by many points.

    It just seems like every time the country calms down about race, like when Obama was inaugurated and everybody was all euphoric, the press HAS to dig up some incident to fan the flames of hate again.

  4. MorganLF says:

    Petunia you nailed it. At first I was manipulated into hating Gates, I read the Police report and was outraged at his arrogance, then the truth set in.

    The report was fiction a CYA (cover your ass) move for sure, written by an over testosteroned paid public servant who overstepped his authority. He plain lied as the 911 tapes and the subsequent story told by the neighbor verifies.

    When the Police denouncements of the President came fast & furious within hours of his fairly innocuous statement, about a friend and associate,I knew the famous “blue wall” was closing. I call it preemptive maneuvering all sneaks do it.

    I know a lot of cops, and for the most part they are not the moral authority, in fact they are system manipulators of the highest order. They abuse power get off on intimidation and are the antithesis of brave. Risk their lives? Wah wah…oh please half the time they are f’ing off the rest of the time they are throwing their weight around. Then they retire early on our dime! How dangerous is it to pull over women driving 40 miles an hour (yes its happened to me at least 5 times)?

    That cop violated the sanctity of a man’s home, he spat on the constitution then demanded an apology!!!

    Here’s an apology Sgt. Crowley, you scumbag, I apologize to the world that you are a racist thug who knowingly broke the law ’cause your precious male cop pride was trod upon.

    If you EVER come in MY HOUSE and try that s**t with me I’ll sue you ass to kingdom come, got that?

  5. MorganLF says:

    Oh for the record, I’m a white, professional woman who drives an expensive car, a favorite target when it comes time to drive up revenue by gratuitous ticketing.

  6. catsworking says:

    Morgan, you’re right on all counts. Gates has been on Martha’s Vineyard, where he gave a little talk about the situation, saying he dreamed he was arrested at the White House. Obviously, the incident left a deep impression on him.

    Policeman seems mum. You would hope he thinks twice before cuffing the next innocent person, but don’t bet on it.

  7. MorganLF says:

    Catsworking,

    As you can infer I feel this issue viscerally. I was totally duped into feeling Gates was as ass who deserved some come comeuppance, but the facts won out.

    Sgt.Crowley like so many other manhood deficient cops really give a bad name to the profession.

    Why do these twerps feel so entitled?

    Thank god I’m not a black man but I can tell you when I was a cute young chick, I was pulled over by a group of drunken cops (in Jersey City) late one night leaving Manhattan looking for sport.

    It was awful, a drunk Irish cop pulled me over his breath reeked, he demanded I leave my car, I refused and a scene ensued, he was eventually physically subdued by his fellow officers, apparently I was just an evenings sport.

    I made written and formal complaints. I had many character witnessness, including the Chief of Police of my home town. This guy, as far as I could determine got his wrists slapped and probably continued a career of harrassing for sport.

    When reduced to tears I advised his fellow officers that I meant to make a complaint, they told me straight up nothing would happen..even though this “officer of the law” ripped oped my car door and demanded me to “parade” in front of him. I was told they would forget the details.

    To this day 27 years later it chills me to the bone.

    Sometimes the appellation pig applies.

  8. catsworking says:

    Oh, my God, Morgan. That’s a terrible story. It’s the kind of stuff you see in movies.

    Reminds me of Karen’s rear-ender a few years ago. Bimbo on a cell phone plowed her SUV into Karen’s Saturn at a stop light. When the cop finally showed up, he didn’t question how long the perp had been driving on a Michigan license and plates, though she was living in VA. Didn’t give her a ticket for anything. Didn’t write a report.

    The bimbo refused to cooperate, so the insurance companies jerked Karen around because there was no police report. After numerous unreturned calls, Karen finally left the cop a message that she was going over his head and he called back. But he still refused to do the report, even though law dictates one for damage over $2,000, which this was. Purely CYA. He didn’t care what hassle it caused Karen, the innocent victim.

    Unrelatedly, Karen had a gig reviewing essays written by high school seniors, and happened to get one by this cop’s son. No lie. It was all about what a hero his dad was. Karen couldn’t believe her eyes, knowing his dad was a lazy loaf who refused to perform his most basic duties.

    I’m sure there are plenty of good cops, but the stupid, arrogant, lazy ones who play the system make them all look bad and should be drummed out, rather than protected.

  9. Adele says:

    Okay, I’ve been uncharacteristically holding my tongue, because I do think cops have a hard job; they’re not all bad, and I know the dangerous neighborhoods they sometimes work in, because I worked in them too — but without a gun. I must relate just two incidents in my history of police encounters.

    I was visiting a family in a particularly dicey part of Chicago’s west side. Late in the afternoon, I left the apartment, to find a crowd around my car, which had a smashed passenger side window. Someone called the police for me, and when they arrived, the first thing the male cop asked me was what the f#%k I was doing in that neighborhood. I told him I was a social worker, and he said I was one of those people that read too damn many books. He then tried to make me identify one of the kids standing on the corner as the perp (I, of course, had seen nothing), and when I refused, he said he’d arrest ME for non-cooperation. I began writing down his badge number, and the female cop said something to calm him down; she gave me a report, and I went on my way — with the male cop snidely saying, the only reason a white woman would be in that neighborhood was to peddle her ass.

    Then there was the time that I received a report from some visiting nurses that a newborn baby was in a home with a very belligerent father and a drugged-out mother. The father had threatened the nurses; they’d seen him shake the baby (why THEY didn’t call the cops is beyond me), and they’d seen a gun. Off I went, got the mother to open the apartment door, caught a glimpse of the baby, and then the father came, shoved me away and slammed the door. I called the police to help me gain entry. When they arrived, they told me that they couldn’t break down the door unless I’d seen injuries on the baby, but they drew their guns, put me between them and the door and pounded on the door. We never got in, but if there had been gun fire, I was the cops’ human shield. I had a terrible feeling about the case and asked the police to write up a report, but they didn’t bother. The baby was killed over the weekend, and when the police were interviewed by the newspapers (it was a pretty sensational case) they said that it was too bad that Department of Children and Family Services never called them. I’m done spewing now.

    Morgan, your experience was just creepy, and Karen, you came up against lazy inefficiency, but I guess we’re all glad we’re not black men.

  10. catsworking says:

    Adele, those are horrible stories, too.

    What I find so interesting is that you 3 random white women have all had very negative encounters with police — for doing NOTHING WRONG. It really puts the Gates situation in perspective, and I stand by what I said, it doesn’t matter who you are. But race obviously adds another layer of wrongness to these incidents.

  11. MorganLF says:

    Adele,
    Man…what an awful stories, must have freaked you out.

    All I can say is it’s a given they have a rough job but in my experience they are the number one lazy, system manipulators. As civil servants they know how to milk the system with phony injuries to retire early on full pensions that we pay for.

    Think I’m making it up? I used to socialize with a bunch of cops in a downtown precinct in NYC. To a one they all were married had chicks on the side, drank to excess and flashed tin whenever they could to get out of any situation (Believe me there were many). They were fun guys but totally out of hand and they all manifested injuries to get early retirement.

    I currently know of a cop who retired early on $78,000 a year because (are you ready?) some bad man shot at him and missed, the experience so “traumatized” him he had to retire early on nearly full pay. Oh boo f’n hoo!! Wah, someone pointed a gun at me, wah.

    ‘Scuse me ain’t that your job? Now he gets paid for the rest of his life with free benefits for him and his family paid for with my county taxes (he’s under 40)and can work another full time job without forfeiture of any money and benefits!!! The dude was not even scratched!! Meanwhile I’m stuggling to hold on to my job as my company continues to lay off.

    (By the way he and his family are big time right wing-Bush supporting, Obama’s a socialist republicans, funny how they can suspend their beliefs to accept that most democratic of freebie programs, pensions for civil servants).

    When my brother was in the army he was shot at, no one’s paying him for life.

    So much as I try to sympathize, I conclude that no one twisted their arms or forced them to join the force, they know the score and join anyway because for the most part they are just thugs with badges and small pee-pee complexes.

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