THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 530, August 2, 2009
"They don't read it,
they can't vote on it."
Attribute to The Libertarian Enterprise
After weeks of listening, seeing, and reading about the Gates-Crowley flap I have observed some important things. Many were just things I already knew, some have been lessons to me, others have shown that Americans still have some major lessons to learn.
A. Cops can be jerks. The necessity of exerting their authority, either because of department policy, the need to keep up "street cred" or, most dangerously, to boost inadequate egos often corners officers into using force under circumstances where sensible men (or women) would just walk away. This does not excuse police from acting like jerks, instead it requires them to get problems straightened out before force is necessary, to learn not how to paint themselves into corners.
B. People dealing with cops can be jerks. Not every less than 100% amicable interaction with the police needs to be dealt with like the first battle of the next revolution. That doesn't mean don't stand up for your rights. It just means being asked for your ID is not cause to start a John Wesley Hardin reenactment. (Not just yet anyhow.) Neither does the fact that he is a jerk mean you keep deliberately trying to provoke a cop, and yes there is a difference between defending your rights and picking a fight.
C. Apparently people feel that race, gender, and other issues excuse exacerbating simple traffic stops and other minor confrontations into a major riot. Civilians and cops both do this.
D. The media loves fanning the flames. I'm still waiting for the media as a whole to come out and admit that both Officer Crowley and Professor Gates are self important jerks who should best be dealt with by being forgotten.
E. Americans still have a long way to go in straightening out race relations. Using words to express instead of stifle intelligent thought and discourse would be a good place to start.
F. We are getting our news from media commentators who are capable of making comments about "three men sharing a beer" while their camera guys are broadcasting video of Professor Gates, Officer Crowley, President Obama, and Vice President Biden sitting at the table talking and sipping beer. Somehow this lessens my trust (which OK, was nonexistent anyhow) in newscasters ability to live up to their self appointed status as the saviors of civilization.