The president is correct: the Cambridge police did act stupidly

I am about to shock M* regulars by writing something I have not written in a long time:  President Obama was correct about something.  The Cambridge police did act stupidly in arresting Harvard Prof. Henry Louis Gates.  You want proof:  read the police report here.

Here are the quick details:  Prof. Gates and his driver (both of them black) are trying to get into Prof. Gates’ house, but the door is stuck.  A neighbor calls the cops because she sees two black guys apparently trying to force a door.  One policeman, Sgt. James Crowley, arrives at the scene and asks Prof. Gates for ID.  He gets incensed and is rude and disorderly.  But he clearly is the owner of the house.  This would have been the time for Sgt. Crowley to say, “sorry about this — have a nice day.”  But instead he arrested Prof. Gates for being disorderly.

Look, there is no doubt that Prof. Gates had a chip on his shoulder.  There is no doubt that he acted rudely and was insulting of a police officer.   It sounds to me like Prof. Gates is a complete jerk with a persecution complex.  But the police are there to deal with threats to the public safety.  Prof. Gates was not a threat to anybody.  Time for the police to leave and go find some real criminals.

I have a friend, the most soft-spoken guy you have ever met in your life.  He was in a bar with a loud, brash woman who was drunk.  The woman got a bit out of control.  The police were called, and they were about to arrest the woman.  My friend, who is a lawyer, very calmly asked the police why they were arresting the woman, what the charge was.  He was slammed to the ground, knee in the back, handcuffs slapped on.  The police pulled his shoulder muscles and he was hurting for weeks.  He was shoved into a police car and charged with disorderly conduct.  My friend happens to be white.

The lesson for me is:  if the police ask you to do something, you do it.  Leave the police alone.

Prof. Gates went way, way, way out of his way to provoke the police into doing something stupid. But the point is that they took the bait.  If they had simply left him alone, the story would have ended there.  Now we have an ongoing racial drama for the next several months that is completely unnecessary.  Not too smart on the part of the Cambridge police.

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About Geoff B.

Geoff B has had three main careers. Some of them have overlapped. After attending Stanford University (class of 1985), he worked in journalism for several years until about 1992, when he took up his second career in telecommunications sales. In 1995, he took up his favorite and third career as father. Soon thereafter, Heavenly Father hit him over the head with a two-by-four (wielded by the Holy Ghost) and he woke up from a long sleep. Since then, he's been learning a lot about the Gospel. He still has a lot to learn. Geoff's held several Church callings: young men's president, high priest group leader, member of the bishopric, stake director of public affairs, media specialist for church public affairs, high councilman. He tries his best in his callings but usually falls short. Geoff has five children and lives in Colorado.

61 thoughts on “The president is correct: the Cambridge police did act stupidly

  1. In truth, they both look bad. Professor Gates for race baiting and the officer for being dumb enough to take the bait!

    I was in a confrontation with a man that was quickly escalating to the point where he almost got a face full of pepper spray. Thankfully, six burly officers showed-up 30 seconds after my call for assistance and I was able to walk away from the situation and calm down. I learned a valuable lesson about maintaining control and doing everything possible to avoid escalating a negative encounter. True, the guy was an absolute jerk and disobeyed a lawful command, but I let him get to me.

  2. Sometimes I think it is the police who have a persecution complex in America…I don’t think it was particularly wise for President Obama to get into the middle of this though.

  3. Gates is actually a very nice and mello guy, he is not known for acting agressively. I think that the heat of the moment got to him, but he was justified. He was being scrutinized for being in his own home. So I think your chip on his shoulder sentence is a bit out of line. Just saying.

    Geoff, I am glad that we can agree on so many things.

  4. Mark, it’s tough to know the right response — Obama was asked about it, and he saw it as an opportunity for a learning experience. I have no problem with him commenting on it.

    Brian D, I would like your input because of your experience in law enforcement, but I really have to say that I have some big problems with the ‘tude of many police officers I have dealt with over the years. Now keep in mind that until recently they were police officers in Miami, which is a big city with big city problems and lots of people trying to test them. But the reality is that I have probably dealt with 20 or so police officers over the years from Miami, and all of them have been jerks. Completely rude, over the top aggressive, daring you to cross them so they can give you a lecture. I just get the feeling they are completely full of themselves and their power. I would love to remind them that I pay their salaries, but such a comment in Miami is likely to get you thrown in jail. Not worth it.

  5. BTW, Gates did a PBS series of Black family histories. It is really well done and would be of interest to anyone who does, or is interested in, family history.

  6. I don’t think you’re right, Geoff.

    I’m not a lawyer, but I think this sentence may just be the stupidest I’ve ever read from you.”But he clearly is the owner of the house.”

    In suspected break-ins, traffic stops, loitering, and everything it is standard operating procedure to ask for ID. This false concept “You should just trust someone if they tell you it’s your house. Obviously he was upset, it MUST have been his house.” That’s just stupid. How easy would it be to steal if criminals always just acted “like it was their car”, “Um, I forgot my keys, so I had to break into the Mercedes.”

    Here’s the thing, turn the situation around. Let’s say two white people are breaking into a house. They get on the phone, and “pretend to be on the line with the apartment maintenance.” When the police arrive to investigate they get incensed that they would ask for ID, “This is my home, how dare you.” And the police leave without asking for ID. The robbers clean out the house, and it finds out they hadn’t asked for ID, because they acted like it was their house. Now does it matter one way or another, if the professor was Black or White? Now, the police should do their job, and I’m sure that if Gates had just shown his ID, the policemen WOULD have apologized, wished him a good-day and left. This is a double standard.

    Obama was stupid for saying anything. He wasn’t an unbiased observer, he was the man’s friend, as such, as a powerful policymaker and politician, he was completely out of line in opening his mouth. It is completely out line for the president to pass his judgment on something that he admits he knows next to nothing about. Further, when describing the scenario, he described it incorrectly. He lied. He withheld information. The police asked for ID, he refused, the police were investigating, the man impeded the investigation. Did Obama admit these facts last night. No. Why, because it wasn’t part of his dishonest spin. When he became belligerent, and yelled at the police he was arrested for bad behavior, not trespassing. I would have been much happier if Obama had something a bit more diplomatic, “I do not know enough to pass judgment about this case, and in the future we will learn more. If, after we learn more facts, we find that this was purely racially motivated I would hope there’s an apology, but citizens should also help the police do their job instead of becoming childish and belligerent. However I would say that it is part of my administration goals to reduce racial profiling.” This is just more evidence that America chose a very inexperienced politician for president.

  7. Madchemist, I would urge you to read this take, which is by a conservative who basically agrees with me:

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970203517304574306162620043236.html

    Bottom line: the policeman was out of line, but Gates DOES have a chip on his shoulder.

    Madchemist, your point about the police trying to find out if Gates was a home invader is OK to a point. But in fact after yelling and screaming and carrying on Gates DID show his ID. My point is that was the moment when the policeman should have said, “OK, sir, please get that door worked on, sorry for the inconvenience, have a nice day,” and left. There were several other policemen and a crowd outside. He could have left the house and simply waited with the other cops. After a time, it would have been obvious that the guy was not robbing the house. One other point: don’t you think the cop could have asked the limo driver for ID also and questioned him? Don’t you think it would have become obvious he was not robbing the house but in fact going home from the airport? Even better: ask Gates to see a picture of himself in the house — like most people I’m sure he had some lying around. There were 100 solutions other than arresting the guy.

    Btw, Madchemist, you need to read me more often. I have written stuff stupider than that in the last week.

  8. I’ve read quite a bit of your stuff Geoff, I’ve just never felt the need to say anything. Do you think seeing the limo driver’s ID would have proved they were in the correct house? I agree that the moment the man showed his ID, with his address on it, it should have been over. And as I understand it, the policemen did finally get tired of being yelled at by this Race-baiter, who was trying to start a fight.
    But the moment the man stepped outside of his house and kept yelling at the policemen, he began to be disorderly. Therefore the arrest was warranted. Quite frankly, I trust that policemen infinitely more than that Harvard professor, and I would wish that the policemen around me would have half as much diligence. Unfortuneately, I live in Illinois, the most corrupt state in the union.

  9. Guys, I had to delete your ad hominems. This site is different than others — insults will be deleted. Keep it nice. Thanks.

  10. Sorry Geoff. I was having too much fun. Back to being good…

    So, looks like race and racial tension are not behind us after all…on all sides. These things are complicated. I am worried though, there are lots of old professors in the town I live in. Apparently, they are quite the trouble makers. I am going to keep a closer I on the older historians in my department (glad I went in to political science).

  11. Geoff, I’ve read the article.

    First: Policemen don’t have a duty to keep their pride out of the way, they have a duty to enforce the law. They should keep their pride out of the way, but that’s not their job.

    Second: I disagree with the author’s point that Gates did nothing wrong or worthy of arrest. From the report, it is clearly evident that Gates was uncooperative with a police officer conducting an investigation. He refused to give his ID or name, something unlawful in mosts, including AZ, I haven’t found for certain for MA.

    Third: The police officer warned Gates, after he had answered Gates with his own name and left the house, that his continued yelling was becoming disorderly. Gates continues yelling. The officer warns him again. Gates continues yelling. The officer arrests him. There’s nothing wrong with that. He didn’t slam him to the ground, the officer didn’t escalate this, Gates single-handedly acted like a child, began acting disorderly and was arrested. I know liberals like Chris don’t like laws to be enforced but even in MA the citizens have passed laws like anti-disorderly conduct. Those who describe Gates of innocence seem to not know how to read.

    4. The officer made sure that Gates was comfortably cuffed, had a cane, and that his house was secured before Gates was taken to jail. Not exactly the actions of a race-bigotted clansmen that Gates claims he was.

    Finally, you completely ignore the most important part of the article you recommend, you know the one where Gates is reading the police officers mind and intentions, and accusing him of wrong-doing without any reason or evidence. OK, so Gates finally proves himself a Harvard professor, that doesn’t prove that he lives at the house. If Gates had given the officer time to cross reference his name with DMV address records, maybe teh officer could have followed standard protocal, proved that there was NO break in, and that Gates had truly had a door-way malfunction.

    I disagree with the articles use of stereotypes to nullify Gates’ reaction. Yes its true that often stereotypes have hints of truth, there can be racist cops and racists Black harvard professors. There can be white and black house-burglars. But Gates lost control of himself, not the officer, and he needs to be held accountable. Racism is bad, but that doesn’t justify disorderly conduct.

  12. Moral of the story: Do not forget your house key.

    Maybe the officers were threatened by the cain Gates uses to walk.

  13. The number one reason why Obama should have refrained from taking sides in this issue is that it makes him look tiny. He has the biggest megaphone in the country and is trying to change the world, and jumping into petty disputes with the police makes him look bad, like he doesn’t take his job seriously, and he has nothing better to do than wield his enormous influence in relatively trivial matters.

  14. Mark,

    Come on, I am not sure if we blogger-types have room to complain about anybody talking about trivial matters.

    This instance might seem trivial to you. The larger issue, however, is not.

  15. The police officer Geoff B. describes in the original post was more than a little bit out of line. I don’t see anything that these officers did out of line at all. More patience would be nice, but this guy was basically asking to be arrested. A Harvard professor ought to know a lot better than that. Is there any reason that a police officer should be given less deference than a judge?

  16. I don’t deny that it is an issue worthy of serious discussion. I simply claim that it demeans the President to jump into the middle of it.

  17. @Geoff B.

    The chief of police for the agency where I volunteer stresses courteous interaction with the community at all times. I am proud to say that I work with some fine and upstanding officers. With a prior agency, I wrote thousands of dollars worth of tickets each month. Now, after 3 years, I still have the original ticket book issued to me in 2006. I prefer to give warnings and educate people.

    I’m sorry your experience has been negative. Police officers should focus more on serving, while protecting.

  18. “But the moment the man stepped outside of his house and kept yelling at the policemen, he began to be disorderly. Therefore the arrest was warranted.”

    This article:

    http://www.slate.com/id/2223379/

    explains that the arrest was not warranted, probably the reason that all charges were dropped.

  19. Gates *refused* to provide any evidence that he was the homeowner, after a neighbor (who apparently did not recognize him) reported witnessing a BREAK-IN. What in the world were the police supposed to think? If Gates had just been willing to actually show his ID to show that he lived there, end of drama right there. Nope, that makes too much sense, and doesn’t make anybody a victim and martyr who can get all sorts of press time.

    If I were a police officer in that area, I’d be sorely tempted to just ignore any future break-in reports from that address, since the homeowner objects so strongly to having police on his property, and I wouldn’t want to be crucified in the national press for doing my job.

  20. I agree that Gates comes across as a bit of a pompous fool, especially with statements like this:

    “If [Crowley] apologizes sincerely, I am willing to forgive him. And if he admits his error, I am willing to educate him about the history of racism in America and the issue of racial profiling. . . That’s what I do for a living.”

    Compare that attitude with the one on display in Obama’s speech on race, for example, although it may also be slightly generational — Obama is more willing to accept that progress has been made and to extend the benefit of the doubt, while Gates seems to prefer the rhetoric of the aggrieved. The difference in tone is one reason why Obama is president and the Sharptons and Jacksons were never serious candidates, however much they addressed real injustices.

    I agree that Obama’s comment in this case was somewhat diminishing (although much less so than flying back to DC in order to sign a law interfering with a Florida court case), but that the question was asked at all is a reflection on the superficiality of the media and their focus on the famous. Episodes similar to this one happen all the time, but they don’t make it into presidential news conferences:

    http://andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com/the_daily_dish/2009/07/is-this-the-instance-of-police-misconduct-to-obsess-about.html

  21. Maybe it all those unpaid Cambridge parking tickets which caused Obama to become incensed, or perhaps it was Rev. Wright’s black-power sermons which caused Obama to assume Prof. Gates was being “profiled”. In any event it was unwise for him to become embroiled in this controversy (unless he wanted to distract the MSM from Democrats’ attacking his healthcare initiative).

  22. @Seanette

    If I were a police officer in that area, I’d be sorely tempted to just ignore any future break-in reports from that address, since the homeowner objects so strongly to having police on his property, and I wouldn’t want to be crucified in the national press for doing my job.

    And that is probably the end result for Cambridge PD. There is probably a note in the premise history in their CAD system that says: “Do not respond to any calls at this location. Forward all calls to Harvard Campus Police.”

  23. @Geoff B.

    I think the WSJ did a beautiful job stating why the officer was wrong. The officer was well within his rights to arrest Professor Gates for disorderly conduct. Professor Gates was disorderly in public, but the officer didn’t do anything to defuse the situation and de-escalate the tensions. The officer had the greater authority and therefore the greater responsibility in that situation to calm things down.

    Finally, I applaud President Obama for standing up for his friend. That is what friends do. I would have done the same for my friend.

  24. The problem with that Brian, is that such an action can also be construed to be racially motivated. I have no idea if the campus police can act as quickly or as strongly as the cambridge police. I can already hear the headline, “Because of my past trouble-making, the police decided to not treat me equally, and only send the campus police, individuals that have less training, and less protection ability.” See, as soon as the race card gets played unfairly, we all lose.

  25. Hey Brian, so, when you are President, will speak out against the Rexburg Police on my behalf. I would do the same for you, but I am totally unelectable.

  26. That should say “will you speak out against the Rexburg Police on my behalf.” There is a reason that I am not a Harvard prof.

  27. could the situation been handled better? Of course.

    However, you have to realize that the most dangerous events for a cop are domestic disturbances. This includes home break-ins. It is quite common for the abused spouse to call the cops, and when they step in to handle things, the abused person wigs out and attacks the cop.

    And just because the Prof was in his 60s with a cane, doesn’t mean anything. I work in as a counselor in a prison, and we have a guy that fits that description. We often have to take his cane away from him, because he uses it to strike both offenders and staff.

    Given the officer did not know who the professor was, he had to approach the situation with caution. Would the professor prefer that no cops show up when someone is suspected of breaking into his house? Gates’ improper attitude towards police brought this on. Had he done what the police officer asked, he could later have sent in a complaint and it would have fully been believable.

    Pres Obama should not have given any comment on the event. It was a local event, and not all the information was available at that time. He is showing his own ignorance and prejudices by commenting on it – right OR wrong.

    Do cops abuse their position? Sometimes. But this is clearly a case of a threat towards the police officer’s safety. Imagine what would happen if cops allowed everyone to shout, argue, or be insolent towards them. Eventually they would have no control whatsoever. Often, ignoring small stuff just leads to bigger and more dangerous situations later. I see this all the time in the prison system, and it is the same for police, also.

  28. @MadChemist

    Campus police do NOT have less training than the Cambridge Police and arguably have as much protection capability. IIRC, Harvard campus police showed up shortly after Cambrigde PD did. Handing off that location to Harvard PD would not be out of line and I think a prudent thing for Cambridge PD to do. In fact, I think Professor Gates would welcome such a move.

    Playing the race card is never a good thing. I think we can both agree on that point.

  29. @Rameumptom

    You raise some valid issues, Rameumptom, but the officer knew the identity of Professor Gates and had already established that a break in had not taken place prior to the arrest.

    I agree that officers need a great deal of latitude when responding to any crime in progress. You will get no quarell from me on that point. However, once the officer determined that a crime had not taken place, he should have backed down and left the premises.

  30. Pres Obama should not have given any comment on the event. It was a local event, and not all the information was available at that time. He is showing his own ignorance and prejudices by commenting on it – right OR wrong.

    Sorry, have to disagree with you on this. The story became a national issue and free for comment. Gates is Obama’s friend and he did what any friend would do. True, Obama is the President, but I don’t think he said anything that was out of line. In fact, he went out of his way to clarify his comments and make sure his message was clear and concise. This is one rare case where I will defend Obama.

  31. “I work in as a counselor in a prison, and we have a guy that fits that description. We often have to take his cane away from him, because he uses it to strike both offenders and staff.”

    Ummm, but that guy is already in prison.

    “But this is clearly a case of a threat towards the police officer’s safety. Imagine what would happen if cops allowed everyone to shout, argue, or be insolent towards them.”

    Maybe they should have some….

  32. I love the dashcam video of the officer who pulls a gentleman in an SUV over for speeding. The man is verbally abusive to the officer from the word go, but the officer stands his ground and remains courteous and calm throughout the traffic stop. When the man tears-up the ticket and throws it out the window, the officer calmly informs that man that he will be summoned for littering if he does not pick it up. That officer would have been justified for arresting the man for disordely conduct, but he chose to keep things from getting any worse. That is the type of model behavior that every officer should seek to emulate.

  33. Uh, Brian, when did Gates actually identify himself? Everything I’ve seen on this story states that he flatly refused to do so, and I’ve seen no report that includes him actually condescending to do so. I would think that any police officer with an IQ over body temperature would insist on some proof of the identity of someone observed breaking into a house, not just take that individual’s word for it.

  34. You mean a uniform, a badge, and a patrol car don’t at least suggest you’re probably dealing with an actual police officer?

    All the pompous, arrogant jerk had to do was actually behave like a civilized adult human being, you know, such as by not behaving abusively toward the police officer investigating a reported BREAK-IN. Of course, if you act like a reasonable human being, you don’t get to go on TV dramatically crying and whining about what a victimized martyr you are, never mind how much better you have it than 95%+ of the world’s population.

    I think Gates needs a good shot of humility, a perspective check, and perhaps a ride-along with police to see just what they deal with on a daily basis.

  35. You mean a uniform, a badge, and a patrol car don’t at least suggest you’re probably dealing with an actual police officer?

    Gates has a right, as does any other citizen, to request official credentials from any law enforcement officer.

    Look, I agree that Gates behaved badly. I am not disputing that. What I am saying is that the officer had a greater burden and responsibility to defuse what was happening.

    Gates is definitely making it worse for himself by playing the martyr card in the media. I think the WSJ article summed it up better than I can. I recommend that you read the article.

  36. Whether the cop acted stupidly or not in arresting Gates, Gates takes the prize for stupid behavior:

    1) By assuming that the police response to the neighbor’s call had something to do with his race;

    2) By acting belligerently towards a man who has a gun and who has the power (if not the right) to arrest him;

    3) By assuming that his status as a professor at Harvard somehow freed him of any responsibility to act decently toward another human being.

    But, what would he know about human interaction? He’s only a sociologist.

    If there was any racism in the whole incident, maybe we should look at the neighbor. Would she have called the police if two white men had been trying to push their way into the house? But don’t blame the Cambridge police for racism. They simply responded to a citizen’s call.

    Finally, what kind of neighbor is Prof. Gates? Maybe he, or the woman who called in, is a newcomer. If not, then I’d hate to live in that neighborhood–maybe it fits Alfred E. Newman’s description: too many hoods, not enough neighbors. Even in my big city, Brooklyn, NY, my neighbors know me at least by sight. And if I were locked out of my house, and trying to get in, I don’t think they’d call the cops. Because they know me.

    As to Obama wading in–impolitic at best to say what the cops did was stupid, unless he’s also willing to say what Gates did was stupid. The key for him should have been “I wasn’t there and don’t know all the facts” after which he should have said “so I’m going to shut [intensifier omitted] up.”

  37. “But, what would he know about human interaction? He’s only a sociologist.”

    Actually his Ph.D. is in English. That might explain a lot.

    It was somebody who worked in the area, not a neighbor.

  38. Mark, haven’t you heard the Kitty Genovese story? In New York, somebody could be stabbing you outside your house and they still wouldn’t call the police. Thought that was in Queens, maybe things are different in Brooklyn.

  39. “Actually his Ph.D. is in English. That might explain a lot.”

    About the essential uselessness in real life of certain academic degrees, perhaps? :-)

  40. Madchemist, there are two details that have emerged today that support your take on this issue: 1)I heard an interview with Sgt. Crowley who explained that when he got to the house only Prof. Gates was there, and the call had said two people were trying to break in. Sgt. Crowley said one of the things he was trying to do was determine if the two people were still in the house, and the lack of cooperation from Gates was preventing him from doing it. Gates looks more stupid than ever. 2)I would agree with some commentators who have said the president using his bully pulpit on this issue will have a chilling effect on the police responding to break-ins, and that would not be a good thing.

  41. Mark B.,

    The woman who made the call, Lucia Whalen, is from Malden, several towns away.

  42. In the actually press conference, Obama says that he invited them to have a beer together. Not sure if I can go that far, but I will let you all choose your own beverage.

  43. Chris H, I am unfortunately very rarely in Utah. I have many relatives there asking when I will be there so I can get together with them. I wish I could get there for FAIR conference, but I will be on vacation that week with my family.

  44. I think Pres. Obama’s invitation to meet at the White House was excellent and should have been his first comment. The president claims he wants to bring people together and his first response was very divisive!

    Many have wrongly asserted that this wouldn’t have happened to a white man. These people have clearly not watched any episodes of cops. Whenever someone starts screaming at police officers outside their homes, sometimes inside, they are awarded two nickle-plated bracelets. An officers job is already hard enough and they don’t need to take “stupid” comments from anyone. That said, I will agree that the smartest course of action may have been to treat Gates as the member of a “protected class” that he wants to be. In other words treat him better than a similarly situated person who is not part of a “protected class.”

    I’ve also read the ridiculous comment that if Gates was white they would not have asked for ID. Clearly, these people have never watched cops or had any interaction with the police.

  45. I don’t know for sure that Gates was race baiting. It may appear that way from the officer’s report, but you have to remember that this report was issued by the very officer who is being accused by Gates of committing a racist act. It may have felt to Gates that this officer was being a racist by coming to his house and demanding that he proves that he lives there.

    A lot of times people may feel like they have been prejudiced against regardless of whether or not any prejudice has actually occurred. Until you have lived your life as a member of an oppressed group, then it is difficult to say whether or not you can fully understand what was going through Professor Gates’ head.

    Also the commentary above about English degrees being useless is rude and unnecessary. Without majors in English, you would not be able to learn the language and appreciate its complexities. I don’t go around making snarky remarks about people that have majors/degrees in fields I am not interested in because such comments are entirely useless and are really wrong in most cases. Every degree contributes something to some field that makes this world a better place. If he were a sociologist, then that too would be an important field. We cannot just judge people because they didn’t get a degree in medicine or engineering or any other field that has become venerated in American society.

  46. The value of the study of English literature and language notwithstanding, contemporary humanities departments are notorious for being hot beds of fevered radicalism. Sociology nearly as much. Departments of medicine and engineering are respected in part for not appearing to be dedicated to promoting the proposition that contemporary society is a fraud.

  47. Janet,

    Your first two paragraph are right on. Thank you.

    The English major comments were meant to be silly. I am a professor in the humanities and social sciences. Just trying to break the tension on the thread. I am one of the fevered radicals that Mark speaks of (I am far to the left of Gates).

    Mark D.,

    I love you (I would say what I really think, but I am pretty sure that Geoff would erase it).

  48. Radicalism is fine, but as I said radicalism is rarely the high road to respectability. Secondly, there is no reason why people should be required to fund the promotion of non-empirically establishable doctrines they completely disagree with. Science is respectable largely because its internal methodology and empirical results give weight to its claim to truth.

    Where on the other hand, the humanities these days tends to be taken with the idea that truth is something we make up, and indoctrinate every passing student accordingly. Such relativism is incompatible with the very idea of the academy. If some private organization wants to promote their own brand of manufactured ethics or religion, that is fine, but there is no reason why the public should be compelled to do so by force of law.

  49. Hmmm, now we’re discussing academic disciplines on a thread about Gates’ arrest? Guys, please try to keep on-topic. Thanks.

  50. This one is all Gate’s fault, and has nothing to do with race. I’m no fan of police when they abuse their power, and have given one or two a hard time myself. (Albeit in a very respectful and lawful manner to insure I don’t end up in jail.)

    What would you want the police to do if they responded to a breaking and entry call at your home address? I would expect them to request ID from me. I would happily provide that ID and thank them for following up on the person’s tip. Explain I had to force my way in to my own home because I didn’t have my key, and wish them a good afternoon. At which point the officer would leave.

    Had Gates done likewise, this incident would not have made national news. Gates would not have been arrested, etc.

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