So President Obama sat down today for beers in the Rose Garden with professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. and the cop who arrested him for being uncooperative and making loud insulting remarks to the police while inside the comfort of his own home. Apparently, Obama felt bad for having called the Cambridge police ‘stupid’ after receiving news of the arrest for what the police call ‘disorderly conduct’. Many disorderly conduct laws have actually been ruled to be unconstitutional and the idea that a person could be arrested for insulting a police officer while on his own property is frightening. Anywhere in the United States, a person is free to insult police officers without fear of arrest. Such speech is fully protected by the U.S. Constitution. We are also free to not cooperate with a police officer when asked questions or when asked to step outside of our homes. We can refuse totally without any fear of arrest whatsoever. Any police officer who arrests someone under such circumstances is breaking the law and is denying someone their clear constitutional rights. I would not have any beers with such an officer. I would not attend any meetings with him and the president. The officer said in his press conference that both men had agreed to ‘look forward, rather than backward.’ I’m really not sure what forward he could possibly mean. It would be more productive to look squarely backward at his illegal and shocking arrest of a man who simply didn’t like him.
I watch the officer in the video above and I see a person of limited intelligence, with no understanding of his unlawful act. Harvard University needs to move itself the heck out of Cambridge if this guy is an example of how the locals are thinking up there. What an embarrassment.
Christopher Hitchens has written an excellent short article about why race is not as important a factor in this episode as one’s constitutional right to mouth off at police officers.
Also, in Washington, D.C. this week a young attorney was out with his friends discussing the Gates arrest. He decided to have some fun and test the constitutional principal which gives protection to people to who express their dislike of police. He walked past several police cars that had stopped another vehicle and he chanted ‘I hate the cops. I hate the cops.’
According to him, he was immediately rushed by an angry D.C. police offer who pushed him against a utility box and said, “Who do you think you are to think you can talk to a police officer like that?” The officer arrested the young attorney for disorderly conduct. The young man now has an actionable claim against the police department and is probably going to sue them and win because, contrary to what the cop thinks, the young man does have the right to talk to a police officer like that. Many police seem to think that because they protect security they have rights and privileges beyond what the U.S. Constitution provides. This problem is getting worse, not better. The fundamental right to freedom of speech and the right of free assembly in this country is under direct and heavy assault from police who see their responsibility to protect security as trumping all other rights and constitutional safeguards.
Police who do not understand that people can insult them and dislike them and say nasty things to them should be dismissed immediately from duty wherever they serve. And our president should feel free to call them stupid.